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June 4, 2024
This Strawberry Shortcake Is Extra Fancy but No Extra Work

The classic dessert gets a glow up, thanks to sugar, spice, and everything nice.

The term “strawberry shortcake” can apply to any number of desserts featuring strawberries and cream, from layered cakes to Good Humor’s iconic ice cream bar. But a true shortcake is essentially a tender, lightly sweet scone with a “short,” crumbly texture. Shortcake isn’t as rich as buttery pound cake, nor as sweet as angel food cake, making it the perfect canvas for the season’s first candy-like strawberries. Plus, it’s faster and easier to make. My take on shortcake is just a little bit fancier, thanks to the addition of nutty whole wheat flour and a sprinkle of spiced sugar. It’s no fussier than the original—just tastier.

A great shortcake, while somewhat plain, should still taste delicious in its own right. I use whole wheat flour for its heartier, savory flavor and balance it out with a little extra sugar: a bit of brown sugar inside the dough, and a generous finishing sprinkle of cinnamon-and-clove-spiced sugar that bakes into a sparkly, crunchy topping. These warm spices may feel like unexpected players in a summer dessert, but they complement whole wheat’s nutty, earthy notes and balance the strawberries’ brightness.

When it comes to choosing a good whole wheat flour, I prefer to use whole wheat pastry flour. It’s finely milled from soft, white wheat, and it has a milder flavor and a less gritty texture than ordinary whole wheat flour, which is milled from hard red wheat. In a pinch, a fifty-fifty blend of (non-pastry) whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour works well too. Whole wheat treats have a reputation for being dry and crumbly, but the addition of plain yogurt keeps these shortcakes light and moist. I’ve found that runnier, European-style yogurts works best in this recipe, but Greek yogurt or skyr can simply be thinned out with a bit of water or milk.

The shortcake isn’t the only part of this dessert that gets a glow up. Roasting the strawberries in a mixture of sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla paste brings out previously hidden floral notes. It’s also a perfect way to use up strawberries that are bruised or overripe. After just a short time in the oven, the berries remain plump, and their juices cook down into a glistening, cotton-candy-scented syrup. Spoon the berries over warm shortcakes, and top it all off with a cloud of soft whipped cream. It’s strawberry shortcake as you know and love it—the same nostalgic tumble of berries and cream, just as simple to make—but, dare I say, even a little better than the original.

RECIPE: Whole Wheat Shortcakes with Spiced Sugar and Roasted Strawberries

Zola Gregory

Zola Gregory is a writer and recipe developer based in Seattle. Having previously worked as a pastry chef and baker, she now enjoys helping others find success in their own kitchens through her stories, recipes, and baking classes.