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How to Make Shortcakes

Created January 10, 2017

Easy-does-it mixing

  • Cut the shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Use a pastry blender or crisscross two knives.
  • Stir the milk into the flour mixture just until a soft dough forms. Easy does it! Over mixing will toughen dough.

Lightly-does-it kneading - If you're not making easy drop shortcakes, you'll need a few quick kneads.

  • Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll the dough to coat it with four to prevent sticking.
  • Fold the dough in half toward you. With the heels of your hands, press and push the dough away from you in a quick, short, rocking motion. Move the dough a quarter turn and repeat.
  • Lightly does it. Too much kneading will make dry, tough shortcakes.

Into-the-pan: drop, roll or pat

  • If you're using a recipe that doesn't require kneading, just drop dough by spoonfuls; baked shortcakes will have a rougher, rounded top.
  • Roll or pat the dough until about 1/2 inch thick for even baking. For the same thickness every time, roll dough between two 1/2-inch-thick wooden dowels.
  • Dip a 3-inch round cutter into flour before cutting the dough. Cut the shortcakes as close together as possible. Lightly press the scraps of dough together and roll or pat then cut.
  • No cutters? Use the end of an open 1-pound can, or cut dough with a knife into 3-inch squares.
  • For a large shortcake to be cut after baking, pat the dough (made with 2 cups flour) into a 9-inch round or 8-inch square baking pan.

Into-the-oven baking

  • Place oven rack in the center position for the best heat circulation.
  • Use an ungreased shiny cookie sheet. A dark, cookie sheet can make shortcakes have dark brown bottoms. Reduce the oven temperature 25° if using a dark cookie sheet.
  • For shortcakes with soft sides, place cut dough with sides touching on cookie sheet.

Signature Shortcakes

Mix one of the following into the dough:

  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or lavender
  • 1 teaspoon grated fruit peel

Use a 3-inch star, heart or scalloped-edge cookie cutter.

Before baking, sprinkle shortcakes with:

  • Coarse decorating sugar
  • Chopped or sliced nuts
  • Poppy seed

After baking, drizzle shortcake with:

  • Powdered sugar glaze
  • Melted white or semisweet chocolate

Try it Out in a Recipe