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Michael Smith's honeyberry shortcakes with whipped cream (Alanna Jankov for the Globe and Mail)
Michael Smith's honeyberry shortcakes with whipped cream (Alanna Jankov for the Globe and Mail)

Honeyberry shortcakes with whipped cream Add to ...

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.

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  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 15 minutes
  • Ready time: 45 minutes
  • Servings: 6 to 8

Shortcakes

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

Fruit topping

2 pounds honeyberries or other local fruit

1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar

2 cups or more 35% whipping cream

Method

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.

Suggested Wine Pairings

Don't know about you, but my Canada Food Day includes wine. Fruit-based desserts are a natural foil for this country's many splendid sweet nectars. It's hard to go wrong with just about any icewine. But my preference for this shortcake would be the slightly less intense but more affordable and still opulent style known as late-harvest. A late-harvest riesling would be splendid, matching the cakes in sugar level while delivering a solid prickle of mouth-cleansing acidity. - Beppi Crosariol

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