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This Classic Strawberry Shortcake with Whipped Cream is soft, tender and biscuit-like. This double-baked shortcake features macerated strawberries in the middle and is piled high with fresh strawberries, their strawberry sauce, and lemon whipped cream.
While the final product looks involved, Classic Strawberry Shortcake is one of the easiest baked desserts just like this strawberry rhubarb pie or strawberry rhubarb crumble! The shortcake only took 5 minutes to get in the oven, and the rest of the preparations are done while the shortcake bakes.
This old fashioned recipe makes one large shortcake complete with an easy whipped cream topping. It is more like a biscuit in texture, which sets it apart from the modern scone-like shortcake you might have experienced. If you are looking for a sweeter, scone-like shortcake, try my strawberry shortcake for two. And, if you want even more lemon flavor, my lemon curd whipped cream is the way to go!
Table of Contents
- Why you will love this classic strawberry shortcake:
- Tips for the Best Strawberry Shortcake:
- Why do they call it strawberry shortcake?
- Classic Strawberry Shortcake Ingredients
- Strawberry Shortcake Variations
- How to Make Classic Strawberry Shortcake
- Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip
- How do you choose the right strawberries for baking?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Old Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake with Whipped Cream Recipe
- Before You Go
Why you will love this classic strawberry shortcake:
- Soft, tender, and perfectly sweetened, this strawberry shortcake with lemon whipped cream is the ideal special-occasion breakfast for a loved one.
- Strawberry shortcake only takes five minutes to get in the oven. You can even prepare the strawberries while the shortcakes are baking!
- You’re in control! Shortcake provides a tasty base for your favorite toppings, so decorate them exactly how you like them.
Tips for the Best Strawberry Shortcake:
- Bake some of the macerated berries in between the shortcakes! This melds the flavors and amplifies the strawberry!
- Dotting the baked shortcakes with butter before putting them back in the oven adds flavor and an extra level of decadence.
- Taste your strawberries for ripeness! How ripe they are helps determine how much sugar you will want to use. If your berries are exceptionally sweet, add a squeeze of lemon juice to balance the sweetness.
Why do they call it strawberry shortcake?
The ‘short’ in shortcake refers to an Old English cooking term which used the addition of a fat, in this case butter, to create a crumbly or crispy pastry. In modern baking, ‘short’ can refer to the process of shortening the gluten strands by cutting in butter or lard. The fat coats the gluten protein molecules and inhibits them from forming long strands, thus shortening them.
Strawberries have historically been the fruit of choice for layering between shortcakes in the United States (since around 1845), but you can absolutely make them with a different fruit!
Classic Strawberry Shortcake Ingredients
- Strawberries: You can use fresh or frozen strawberries in this recipe. Fresh berries are better to use, but yes you can use frozen berries for strawberry shortcake in a pinch or when strawberries are not in season. I would recommend you taste your berries so you can balance out their sweetness with the right amount of sugar for your palate.
- Baking Powder: Double acting baking powder will react instantly when it is mixed with an acid and then again when it is heated. Because it is double acting, it has a slower, more stable rise than baking soda alone. This will also allow you to make the shortcakes ahead and freeze.
- Whole Milk: I generally use whole milk in shortcakes for the added flavor and fat. It has a lower water content and the extra fat helps keep the shortcakes tender and moist.
- Butter: Unsalted butter has all the benefits of butter without adding salt to the dish.
- All Purpose Flour: I prefer to use all-purpose flour for this recipe because it has just the right amount of gluten to make a tender, and not tough, shortcake.
- Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is less salty than table salt. A teaspoon of kosher salt weighs less than other finer ground varieties. It adds flavor but also contributes to the shortcake structure.
- Sugar: There is a little bit of sugar here for the more obvious flavor reasons, but also to retain moisture and to improve texture and stability.
- Confectioner’s Sugar: Confectioner’s sugar grinds finely into a powder so it is useful for glazes, frostings, and in this case whipped cream. It creates a smooth, silky whipped cream without the application of heat.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: It is necessary to use full fat heavy cream, which is sometimes called heavy whipping cream. Light whipping cream will not whip the same. It will over-whip easily and not be as smooth.
- Lemon Rind: Be sure to zest only the bright yellow parts of the lemon peel for the most concentrated flavor and to avoid the bitter white pith.
Strawberry Shortcake Variations
- Other Berries: Blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries all make phenomenal shortcakes! When substituting berries, be aware of their natural sweetness. You might want to adjust the sugar in the recipe. Blueberry shortcake is one I’d like to try sometime soon. Let me know in the comments below which fruits you try!
- Other Citruses: The whipped cream for strawberry shortcake does not always have to be lemon. You could play with different citruses (hello, clementine!) or even substitute the zest for one of your favorite extracts.
- Other Shapes: Want to make a festive version? Maybe hearts for Valentine’s? I see you, and I’m here for it. Roll out the dough and cut with a cookie cutter.
- Other Textures: Looking for a more ‘scone-like’ strawberry shortcake? My easy lemon strawberry shortcake for two has you covered!
- Milk: I generally use whole milk in my shortcakes for the added flavor and fat. You could substitute low fat milk, alternative milks, or water if desired, just be aware your shortcakes will have a different texture and flavor without the fat from the milk.
- Flour: You could certainly substitute pastry flour or cake flour for the all-purpose flour if you wish.
- Sugar: You can reduce the sugar by half with good results. I love the flavor it adds and we’re already in it, so why not go all in?
- Baking Powder: If you find yourself without baking powder, you can substitute baking soda. Baking soda is about 3 times as potent as baking powder. It is not the same because baking soda only reacts one time in the presence of an acid. In this recipe that would be 1 teaspoon of baking soda. If using baking soda instead, you should also substitute the milk for buttermilk or add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the milk before mixing. This is necessary since there are no other acids in this recipe for the baking soda to react with.
How to Make Classic Strawberry Shortcake
Use these instructions to learn how to make a classic strawberry shortcake! Further details can be found in the recipe card below.
Make the shortcakes:
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400°F (not convection).
Step 2: In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add butter, working it thoroughly into the flour mixture. Lightly mix in the milk to make a light, not sticky, not crumbly dough.
Step 3: Divide dough in half and pat each portion on the bottom of an inverted 8-inch cake pan. Bake in the preheated 400°F oven for about 15 minutes or until golden.
Prepare macerated strawberries for shortcake:
Step 1: While the shortcakes bake, wash and hull the berries.
Step 2: Crush half of the berries and sprinkle generously with sugar.
Step 3: Lightly sugar the remaining whole berries.
How to make whipped cream for strawberry shortcake:
Step 1: Chill your whisk and bowl.
Step 2: Pour whipping cream into your chilled bowl and sift powdered sugar directly over the whipping cream. Add the lemon zest.
Step 3: Whisk briskly to combine. Whisk vigorously until soft peaks form, which will take about 5 minutes. Now you have homemade whipped cream!
Step 1: Take shortcakes from the oven and, while still hot, dot surfaces with butter.
Dotting the baked shortcakes with butter before putting them back in the oven adds flavor and an extra level of decadence.
Step 2: Drain crushed berries in a colander (save the juice) and spoon berries on one layer of shortcake, cover with a second shortcake. Place drained whole berries on top.
Step 3: Return to the oven for about 5 minutes, then pour reserved fresh strawberry juice over the top and serve warm with whipped cream.
Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip
The dough should not be crumbly or sticky. You want to add milk just to the point where it all holds together when lifted. Just like with pie crust, you want to add the milk as quickly as possible to ensure a light, flavorful shortcake.
How do you choose the right strawberries for baking?
In an ideal world, I choose strawberries that are ripe but not so ripe that they have sections that are too mushy to the touch. I find this to be the peak flavor for the finest berries! It does absolutely help to make these shortcakes, or any whipped cream strawberry dessert, when strawberries are in season. In most of the U.S., strawberry season is April-June. But, these shortcakes are so delicious, do not limit yourself to a few months a year!
Taste your strawberries for ripeness! How ripe they are helps determine how much sugar you will want to use. If your berries are exceptionally sweet, add a squeeze of lemon juice to balance the sweetness.
Store the reserved strawberry sauce separate from the shortcake. Store baked shortcake in an air-tight container at room temperature, refrigerated, or frozen. Baked shortcakes will keep 3 days at room temperature or 7 days in the refrigerator. They will keep for 3 months pre-baked and frozen. If you freeze the cut dough you can bake them when the occasion arises!
Homemade whipped cream can be made up to three days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. It’s best to add whipped cream right before serving!
Frequently Asked Questions
The difference between cake and shortcake lies in the texture. Cake tends to have a moister and more aerated crumb, while shortcake leans towards the biscuit side of the spectrum. Cakes often incorporate fruits by baking them inside the batter. Shortcakes incorporate the fruits separately–in this case adding them for the last five minutes of baking. In some cases, shortcakes do not bake the berries at all!
The difference between biscuits and shortcake is the sweetness. Shortcakes are slightly sweeter than biscuits, whereas biscuits are a savory food. However, I’d totally pair my favorite Buttermilk Biscuits with some honey and berries for a delightful treat, now that you mention it!
You can freeze baked or unbaked shortcakes.
You can prepare the shortcake dough ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can freeze it for up to 3 months.
I have tested this shortcake recipe in large batches in a professional commercial bakery setting. You are only limited by the capacity of your particular mixer!
Yes! Preheat the oven to 325°F convection or 350°F regular. Place the shortcakes on a baking sheet or cake pan. Bake in a preheated oven for 19-22 minutes or until edges are golden. Bake time will depend on the thickness of the shortcake and the size. Assemble just as you would regularly, and don’t forget to put it in the oven at 400°F for that extra 5 minutes with the macerated berries!
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Old Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake with Whipped Cream
For the Shortcake:
Make the shortcakes:
- Preheat oven to 400°F (not convection).
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add butter, working it thoroughly into the flour mixture with hands by rubbing it between your fingers or using a pastry blender. The butter should be no longer visible and should look like wet sand.
- Using a fork, lightly mix in the milk – just enough to make a soft dough. Start with 1/4 cup and then add more as you go. The dough should not be crumbly but it shouldn't be sticky either. You want to add milk just to the point where it all holds together when lifted. Just like with pie crust, you want to do this step as quickly as possible to ensure a light, flavorful shortcake.
- Divide dough in half and pat each portion on the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan. The dough is cohesive enough that you can press it into two square pans or rimmed baking sheets – whichever you have on hand is fine. The dough will not reach the edges but press it until it is a little fatter than 1/4 inch thick.
- Bake in preheated 400°F oven for about 15 minutes or until golden.
Prepare the macerated strawberries:
- While the shortcakes bake, wash and hull the berries. Divide the strawberries between two bowls. Crush half of the berries in one bowl and add ¼ cup of granulated sugar. Leave the remaining berries whole and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup sugar. This makes a perfectly sweet strawberry sauce. If you want it less sweet and more healthy, then I think you could safely cut this back to ¼ cup for the full recipe (⅛ cup for each half of strawberries).
- Cover the berries and allow to sit at room temperature to release their juices.
Make the lemon whipped cream:
- Pour whipping cream into your mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sift powdered sugar directly over the whipping cream.
- Add the lemon zest. You can taste it at this point to see if you would like to add more zest.
- Whisk briskly to combine. If whisking in a stand mixer, it is best to whip on medium-low speed. This will give you a dense, rich whipped cream that is akin to having whipped it by hand.
- Whisk vigorously until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Continue whisking if you want stiffer peaks or if you want to pipe the whipped cream.
- Take shortcakes from the oven and, while still hot, dot surfaces with butter.
- Drain crushed berries in a colander (save the juice) and spoon the strained berries on one layer of shortcake. Place the second shortcake on top. Return to oven for about 5 minutes, then pour fresh strawberry juice over the top and serve warm with whipped cream and whole macerated strawberries.
Before You Go
I hope you enjoyed this professional chef tested recipe. Check out our other delicious, chef-developed Dessert Recipes!