I have a wonderful landlord. Aside from being a longtime owner of the bar that I live over, she is funny, friendly, very tough, and very knowledgable. She’s sent me to some of the best places I’ve eaten yet in Philadelphia, and on a shoestring budget. But most of all, she let’s me into my apartment when I forget my keys. Which is more frequently than I care to mention. Most recently this happened early on a Sunday morning when the bar was closed and locked and I had to call her to come let me in. Oops.

So as a “Thank-you” I decided to bake for her. After doing a little research with the help of one of my neighbors, I was clued in to the fact that she loves Strawberry Shortcake. I dug up an article from Mark Bittman’s Bitten and found a “Minimalist” recipe.

Real Strawberry Shortcake
6 cups cleaned and sliced strawberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups (about 9 ounces) cake flour, or use all-purpose
Pinch salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons cold butter
7/8 cup milk (low-fat is all right)
Sweetened whipped cream

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the strawberries with 1 cup sugar. Mix remaining sugar with flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl or food processor. Cut the butter into bits, and either pulse it a few times quickly in the processor with the dry ingredients or take a little of the dry ingredients, rub a bit of butter into them with your fingers and drop back in the bowl. All the butter should be thoroughly blended.

2. If you are using a food processor, add the milk in a slow stream, pulsing on and off, just to mix. (It is easier than it sounds.) Or slowly add the milk to the bowl, stirring it in with a large spoon until the mixture forms a ball. The mixture should be sticky; use a little more or less milk if necessary. Drop mixture onto an ungreased baking sheet, one heaping tablespoon per cake. Bake about 10 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown. (Keep an eye on them; once browning starts, it goes quickly.) Let cool a bit; top with strawberries and their juices and the whipped cream.

Yield: 12 servings.
Note: To feed 4 to 6, make the same biscuit recipe, but use only 2 cups strawberries and 1/2 cup sugar for the berries. It’s very likely the extra biscuits will be eaten.
I quickly realized, however, that it would be impossible to give this to my landlord in the form that it is meant to be enjoyed. The only time I see her (aside from key visits) is when she is working at the bar downstairs. If I gave her the shortcake with all the toppings, by the time she’d get to enjoy it it would be mush. Do I risk it and give her the biscuits with the strawberries and whipped cream on the side? I think I am in search of another recipe that will better suit her.

In the meantime, I needed to use this recipe. Every time it caught my eye, my mouth began to water. So I brought it over to Stu’s parents house for Father’s Day. After I made it, Stu informed me that they are not really shortcake fans. But after eating it, I think I converted them.

Pictured below are just the biscuits. They are good enough to eat along, but the stawberries and whipped cream are truly perfection. Try it yourself!

Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits

Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits

And look for more of Mark Bittman’s work on the New York Times website. I just bought his “How To Cook Everything” cookbook, which I am convinced will keep me occupied in the kitchen for the next ten years.

how to cook everything