Well, summer is on the way. Bringing with it strawberry season and delectable strawberry shortcake! Strawberry shortcake can take on many forms, it can be a scone-like cake, a sponge or a thin biscuit with lots and lots of whipped cream.
Strawberries were first cultivated by the Romans around 200 BC but what about the origin of the Strawberry Shortcake? In Medieval times newly-weds were presented with a soup made of strawberries and sour cream topped with borage (a herb with edible leaves and flowers) and sugar. They believed strawberries to be an aphrodisiac, yet no biscuit or cake of any kind accompanied the dish.
Short meaning crumbly from the Old English ‘cruma’ is a term that came to be in the 15th century, adding a large amount of fat or ‘shortening’ to flour resulting in a crumbly or ‘short’ texture. In the Elizabethan cookbook The good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin. (1594 -1597) one can find the earliest record of the term ‘short cake’. Unfortunately, none of the manuscripts of this book are complete.
Native Americans were very fond of strawberries and mixed crushed berries into a cornmeal mix from which they baked strawberry bread. Colonialist sampled this delicacy, and this may have given way to what would become the modern shortcake.
The earliest known shortcake recipe dates to 1588 from an old English cookbook. In the early 1600’s the treat was made popular when William Shakespeare used the name Alice Shortcake in “The Merry Wives Of Windsor.”
Although the actual origin cannot be pinpointed as both the British and Americans claiming this as a traditional dessert. Fact is the British has been enjoying Strawberry shortcakes as long as anyone can remember, and in America by 1850 the traditional strawberry shortcake was a well-known biscuit and fruit dessert, served hot with butter and sweetened cream. In the USA, strawberry shortcake parties were held in celebrations of the summer fruit harvest. This tradition is still upheld in some parts of the US on June 14, as National Strawberry Shortcake Day is celebrated.