To fill your shortcake, look around your community for inspiration. Across the country, berry seasons are in full swing and even our tree fruits are beginning to ripen. Wherever you are, a nearby farmer is producing fruit and it always tastes best when its local.
On Prince Edward Island, Peter and Lynn Townshend are picking a brand new crop this year: Haskap berries. These hearty, fast-growing berries are incredibly sweet and aromatic, which is why they're also known as honeyberries. Whatever you call them, though, they're perfect for tossing into shortcakes. The biscuits outlined here are made untraditionally with cream, which gives them lots of rich, moist flavour. It's also a lot easier to stir in cream than to cut in butter or shortening. And the aromatic nutmeg and vanilla are irresistible.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cups cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 more tablespoon sugar for sprinkling
Fresh mint for garnish
2 pounds honeyberries or other local fruit
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
2 cups or more 35% whipping cream
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and nutmeg, evenly distributing the finer powders amid the coarser flour. Pour in the cream and vanilla, switch to a wooden spoon and quickly stir everything together until a moist dough forms. Fold it in half and press it out, repeating a few times until all the flour in the dough is kneaded and gathered up. Lightly flour and dust your work surface, your hands, the dough and a rolling pin. Roll the dough out into a thick even disc (about 1 inch thick). With a sharp knife, cut into 6 to 8 pie-shaped wedges. Alternatively, cut out rounds using a biscuit cutter. Sprinkle a bit of the remaining sugar on top of each biscuit. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake until golden brown (about 15 minutes).
While the shortcakes are baking, make the fruit topping. Peel, cut, rinse and clean the fruit as required. Toss with a bit of sugar to lightly sweeten. Whip the cream.
Remove the shortcakes from the oven and cool slightly, then gently slice each in half with a serrated knife. Top the bottom halves with a few spoonfuls of fruit, replace the top halves and spoon more fruit over them. Cap with a generous dollop of whipped cream and decorate with a sprig or two of mint.
Chef Michael Smith is the author of Chef at Home and host of Chef Abroad on the Food Network.