Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Pete Seeger Hearts Strawberry Shortcake

Blogging to: Universal United House of Prayer, Buddy Miller.

Until today, I knew very little about Pete Seeger--mostly that he sang songs like "If I Had a Hammer" and "We Shall Overcome." I knew that he is a folk singer and activist who sang about the Civil Rights Movement. (In this article, he compliments evangelicals on the way they encourage everyone to sing in church--and the spirituals and gospel music for the repetition that also makes them singable.) But now, thanks to my friends at GetReligion.org and the Dallas Morning News, I also know that Pete Seeger makes great strawberry shortcake. Ain't a' that good news? (Seriously! It is!)

Who knew that I could combine my loves of folk music and my favorite dessert of all? According to Pete, he makes the best strawberry shortcake in the world. And his Beacon Sloop Club holds a strawberry festival in New York every year, so it's possible to test his theory for yourself.

Here's his recipe, courtesy of the Dallas Morning News and reported by Jeffrey Weiss.


Just before dinner (not earlier), rinse and hull 2 quarts of fresh, ripe strawberries. Then slice about 1 ½ quarts of the fruit into large chunks. (Crushing the berries would make the sauce too juicy.) Set the remaining whole strawberries aside to use later as decoration. If desired, sweeten the sliced fruit to taste. (A few tablespoons of sugar or honey should sufficiently please your palate.) "Put in icebox," Pete writes.

Next, whip 1 pint of heavy cream, adding ½teaspoon of vanilla and a little sweetener (Toshi, Pete's wife, used honey at the festival) to taste as the cream becomes lighter. Then chill the topping.

Now, with clean fingers, combine 2 ½ cups of unbleached flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, 3 tablespoons of sugar and ½teaspoon of salt with 6 tablespoons of butter until it is smooth – no lumps. (At this year's festival, the flour was half whole-wheat.) Set the mixture aside while you grease a cookie sheet.

With that done, you can relax and eat your dinner – but preheat the oven first. You'll want it to be medium-hot (425 to 450 F) before you put the biscuits in. About 20 minutes before you plan to serve the dessert, go back to the kitchen.

Next, quickly stir a scant cup of milk into the flour mixture. The consistency of the batter should be much thicker than that for a cake, but not as dry as typical rolled biscuit dough. Spoon the batter onto the cookie sheet in eight (2-inch) lumps, and pop the works into the preheated oven.
The biscuits generally take 15 to 20 minutes to bake. When the dough has turned golden brown, take the shortcakes out of the oven and carry them to the table. ("Now comes the time when seconds count!" Pete writes.) Working as fast as you possibly can, slice a piping hot biscuit, insert a pat of butter between the halves and place the cake in a serving bowl. While you're slicing the next biscuit, have a friend dollop a generous spoonful of the sliced strawberries on top, followed by a great blob of whipped cream and a garnish of whole strawberries.

Then eat the treat right away.
"Now you know why Clearwater Strawberry Shortcake is the best in the world! And why most restaurants cannot serve it," Pete writes.

Freedom songs and strawberry shortcake? Does it get any better than this?

Image credit: www.peoplesmusic.org

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