Strawberry Shortcake traditionally involves biscuits, cream and berries though there's nothing wrong with making it with say, doughnuts or red velvet cake. When strawberries are in season I support strawberry shortcake in all forms and this recipe is quite possibly the easiest strawberry shortcake ever. All you need are fresh strawberries, a bit of orange juice, graham crackers and homemade whipped cream. Strawberry shortcake desserts can easily veer into cloyingly sweet territory, but this version is low on added sugar, putting the natural sweetness of ripe, in-season berries center stage. Best of all, you can throw it together in a matter of minutes the night before you want to eat it. Just before serving, top it with freshly sliced strawberries.
Because this recipe is so simple, it's only going to be as good as the ingredients you put into it. Make sure that your strawberries are sweet and ripe. For this recipe I used Whole Foods' 365 brand graham crackers (which came out on top in the SF Gate graham cracker taste test), though you're welcome to use whatever brand you prefer. The Whole Foods brand of graham crackers and the perhaps more traditional Nabisco Honey Grahams both weigh 14.4 ounces, and you will need nearly a full box, so look for a box with at least that many ounces of grahams.
I used the fairly standard 3 quart Pyrex baking dish which measures approximately 16- by 9 1/2- by 2-inches.
- 32 ounces fresh, ripe strawberries, washed, hulled and dried
- 3 ounces orange juice
- 1 (14 ounce) box of graham crackers
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place whisk attachment and the bowl of a stand mixer in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
Set aside 7 large strawberries to be sliced and layered on top of your cake just before serving. Add remaining strawberries and orange juice to bowl of food processor. Pulse until berries are broken up but small berry chunks remain, 10 to 15 short pulses.
Remove whisk attachment and the bowl of the stand mixer from freezer. Add cream, sugar, and vanilla extract and whip until soft peaks form.
Line the bottom of your pan with graham crackers. Cover with half of the strawberry mixture and one third of the cream mixture. Repeat. The top layer of graham crackers (the third graham layer) will just be covered by whipped cream. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving thinly slice reserved strawberries and use them to cover the surface of your cake. Serve chilled. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to a day.
electric mixer or stand mixer, food processor, 16- by 9 1/2-inch glass baking dish