Buttermilk Shortcakes with Strawberry Sorbet and Vanilla Bean Creme Fraiche Sauce

June 8th, 2009 by megan · 16 Comments

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Buttermilk Shortcakes with Strawberry Sorbet and Vanilla Creme Fraiche Sauce

Buttermilk Shortcakes with Strawberry Sorbet and Vanilla Creme Fraiche Sauce

Whoa – two strawberry posts in a row! I should’ve planned this whole blogging thing out a little bit better. Because strawberries are so delightful and so in-season right now, I guess I don’t really care that I have two strawberry posts in a row. Really, I don’t.

This is Thomas Keller’s recipe from the French Laundry Cookbook, with some minor modifications. I find that some celebrity chefs’ cookbooks are not as fool-proof as I’d want them to be (I won’t name names), but the French Laundry Cookbook is amazing. If you don’t want to go all-out and make the shortcakes and the crème fraîche sauce, at least make the strawberry sorbet. It is truly the essence of strawberry – so delicious and such a good way to use up lots of strawberries that you may have on hand from obsessively going to the farmer’s market and buying strawberries from at least 4 different vendors. There is no way that this sorbet will be good with regular-old conventional store-bought strawberries. They simply do not have the strawberry flavor that locally-grown berries do. So really, don’t waste your time because it’s a big pain to hull 2 1/2 pounds of strawberries. I’m just sayin’.

My flour of choice for biscuits, White Lily, has sadly been bought by Smuckers and the mill shut down. I found an excellent alternative from King Arthur Flour called “Mellow Pastry Blend“, which (gasp!) I liked better than White Lily – it is unbleached and made the most delicious, tender shortcakes. Exciting!

A fun little kitchen project aside: Instead of wasting the seeds and pulp that remain from the straining process (when making the sorbet), you can make fruit leather with the remains: oil a small baking sheet with cooking spray, very thinly spread the leftover strawberry pulp onto the baking sheet using an offset spatula, and bake in a 150°F oven for about 30 minutes, or until the leather is still pliable but no longer super sticky. If you can’t get your oven as low as 150°F, set to 200°F and prop open the door a bit. Keep an eye on the temperature because you don’t want your strawberry leather to caramelize.


For the Strawberry Sorbet:
Makes 1 quart)

2 1/2 pounds fresh strawberries
1/4 cup honey
1 cup raw sugar (as fine as you can find it) or superfine sugar
1 tablespoon rum

For the Shortcakes:
(Makes 8 two-inch shortcakes)

1 1/2 cups King Arthur Mellow Pastry Blend flour or all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading and rolling
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons raw sugar or granulated sugar
4 tablespoons butter, very cold and cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk, well-shaken, plus extra for brushing
1 tablespoon demerara sugar, for topping

For the Vanilla Bean Crème Fraîche Sauce:
(Makes 3/4 cup)

3/4 cup crème fraîche
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 vanilla bean, split

To Assemble:
for 8 servings)
1 cup diced fresh, ripe strawberries

Special Equipment: blender, fine-mesh strainer, ice cream maker, 8-or 9-inch round cake pan, 2-inch biscuit cutter

For the Strawberry Sorbet:

  1. Wash and hull the strawberries. Place strawberries in a blender and blend until smooth (you may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender). Add the honey and the sugar and blend briefly.
  2. Force the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl. Stir in rum.
  3. Freeze sorbet according to your ice cream maker’s instructions, then transfer to the freezer to freeze completely.

For the Shortcakes:

  1. Lightly grease an 8-or 9-inch round cake pan or a small baking sheet. Preheat oven to 500°F.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  3. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, work quickly to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs interspersed with small pea-size lumps of butter.
  4. Stir in the buttermilk with a fork until a shaggy dough forms. If the dough seems too dry, add more buttermilk. If too wet, add just a touch of flour. (Remember: you can always add more but you can’t take it away.)
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead 2-3 times until the dough comes together. Roll out to 3/4-inch thickness and stamp out 2-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter. Take care not to twist the cutter as you stamp out the biscuits (um, I mean shortcakes).
  6. Transfer shortcakes to the cake pan or baking sheet, with sides touching.
  7. Brush with 1 teaspoon additional buttermilk and sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Cool on a wire rack.

For the Vanilla Bean Crème Fraîche Sauce:

  1. Combine the crème fraîche and the sugar in a small saucepan. Scrape the contents of the vanilla bean into the pan.
  2. Whisk over medium-low heat until the mixture just barely simmers and the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Keep warm if using immediately, otherwise cool and refrigerate.

To Assemble:

  1. Briefly rewarm the crème fraîche sauce and shortcakes, if necessary. Spoon a bit of the sauce onto a plate. Split a shortcake horizontally and place the bottom half on the sauce.
  2. Top the shortcake bottom with chopped strawberries, a small scoop of the strawberry sorbet, and the top of the shortcake. Eat immediately.


sivan harlap Jun 8, 2009 at 4:26 pm


Carol Jun 8, 2009 at 6:38 pm

So…time to head to the farm in NJ for wild strawberries? Those babies are sweet, but tiny…so wonder if they would be user-friendly in your recipe– or too labor intensive?

katiek @kitchensidecear Jun 8, 2009 at 7:28 pm

yumyumyum… do you know how to make strawberry cake????

I am dying to figure out a recipe!
I have been putting strawberry puree in my cakes, but keep falling! so sad…

megan Jun 8, 2009 at 8:39 pm

hmmm what if you reduced the strawberry puree to more of a syrup consistency? and then add to a good cake recipe?

Mimi Jun 9, 2009 at 1:33 am

Holy HELL! This looks so delicious. Can I come to The Brooklyn Farmhouse next Time I visit from Cali? You can just throw me a box of this dessert and I’ll leave you alone, I Promise :)

anna Jun 9, 2009 at 7:47 am

That looks SO good. I’m going to have to make strawberry sorbet sometime. And I love the tip about the fruit leather.

Natasha - 5 Star Foodie Jun 9, 2009 at 10:33 am

What a great version of strawberry shortcakes! The sorbet looks so good and I love the idea of the vanilla bean creme fraiche! Delicious!

The Duo Dishes Jun 9, 2009 at 2:02 pm

So creative! This looks like a great dessert. We could eat those shortcakes all by themselves.

megan Jun 9, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Yes, Mimi, come visit! I will make you shortcakes. (incidentally, my childhood nickname was Mimi!).
And thanks, Anna, Natasha, and Duo!

Anticiplate Jun 9, 2009 at 8:42 pm

I just did a post all about Creme Fraiche, but I hadnt looked at my Google reader yet to see if anyone had posted about it. This looks divine. I have a love affair with Creme Fraiche this week:)

gastroanthropologist Jun 11, 2009 at 11:13 am

Oh My Goodness! That strawberry in your picture looks perfect! The dessert looks just as fabulous – I’ve promised a friend who’s moving away a special dessert and I think I’ve got to make her this. Its perfect for summer.

Diana Jun 11, 2009 at 5:17 pm

This looks so beautiful and delicious Megan (Mimi-so cute!) -like everything you prepare . I have to say the fruit leather recipe is the absolute highlight for me and I cannot wait to try it! Fruit leather and I are best-est buddies and good quality ‘fl’ tends to get pricey when you do the math…and count up the amount of leather you actually get! Thank you for including this idea. I’m assuming we could make this using different fruits here (with adjustments of course) too? xo :]

megan Jun 12, 2009 at 9:13 am

Oh totally – I’m going to try the sorbet/fruit leather recipe duo with peaches once they’re in season. Actually, peaches would be a nice substitute overall for this dish – peach shortcakes. mmm.

Vanessa Jun 12, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Megan, these pictures are glorious.
I recently went through a strawberry jam-jag – wish I had saved some for this!

Daily Spud Jun 15, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Love the idea of using the remains of the strawberries to make fruit leather – I must keep that in mind next time I decide to make a fruit jelly and have a lot of strained fruit parts on my hands!

Meg Jun 15, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Now this is the way to enjoy a strawberry shortcake! Delicious!

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