They have since ancient times denoted purity, passion, and healing. A symbol of Venus, the Goddess of Love, because of its heart shape and bright red color. These sweet, red jewels are in abundance for May, making them the first spring fruit to make an appearance and brighten our lives with the promise of warmer days and sunshine.
In time for Mother's Day, we have two strawberry recipes to share from Brian Noyes, founder of the beloved Red Truck Bakery in Marshall, Virginia, and author of the Red Truck Bakery Cookbook. With more than 95 all-new, comforting recipes celebrating ingredients and traditions from the bakery’s home on the edge of the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge mountains. With small-town charm, an emphasis on local, seasonal produce, and country comfort inspiration from the 170-year-old farmhouse where the bakery began, the "Red Truck Bakery Cookbook shares the food Brian cooks at home as well as for the bakery’s thousands of nationwide customers to the world. Brian brings his extensive culinary expertise and experience—from his training at the Culinary Institute of America to his beloved two locations of the bakery—to fruition through what we are all craving—unfussy, homey, Southern-leaning dishes that focus on local produce but don’t shy away from decadence.
An old-timey buckle delivers the most bang for the least amount of work, and it’s one of my favorite breakfast treats. The classic buckle is a cross between a light coffee cake and a cobbler, with fresh fruit gently pressed into a quickly made batter. A hefty scattering of turbinado sugar across the top adds a solid crunch, while it also protects the fruit from scorching. Enjoy it throughout the year with other fresh fruit, such as peaches or blackberries (or a combination of the two). When using strawberries or peaches, a pour of heavy cream on top of each serving wouldn’t hurt anything—but that’s still pretty much true no matter what fruit you choose.
Makes: One 9-inch buckle
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup full-fat buttermilk
½ cup heavy cream, plus more (optional) for serving
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 pint (about 12 ounces) strawberries, hulled and rinsed (if large, cut into halves)
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan, pie pan, or cast-iron skillet with vegetable oil spray.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, use a fork to stir the lemon zest into the granulated sugar until well mixed. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes to infuse. Add the butter to the sugar mixture in the bowl. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until well combined and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle (where the zest may collect).
3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt onto a sheet of parchment paper.
4. In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, heavy cream, and vanilla.
5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour and alternating with the buttermilk mixture; beat well on medium speed after each addition. The batter will be thick.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan all the way to the edges without smoothing the surface. Distribute the strawberries evenly on top, pressing them lightly into the batter, skin-side up if cut. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar evenly across the top.
7. Bake for 45 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly, then serve directly from the pan, pouring some heavy cream on each portion, if desired.
OLD FASHIONED STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKES
We were always excited about strawberry season in California, which meant picking our own berries for my mom’s homemade strawberry shortcake that we enjoyed nearly every Saturday from April through July. She would make a heavy biscuit dough, with extra sugar and cream, as the base to soak up the juice of the berries. Inspired to make that dessert at the farmhouse, I played with my biscuit recipe, sweetening it up and replacing some of the buttermilk with cream just like my mom did. It stayed a little lighter than hers, but the juices soaking into the shortcake took me right back to her kitchen.
FOR THE SHORTCAKES:
2¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more as needed
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus 4 tablespoons (½ stick), melted
¾ cup heavy cream
1 cup full-fat buttermilk
Turbinadosugar, for sprinkling
FOR THE FRUIT:
2 quarts hulled strawberries
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 cups whipped cream for serving
1. Make the shortcakes: In a large bowl, use a fork to whisk together the flour, baking powder, bakingsoda, salt, and granulated sugar. Add the butter to the flour mixture and use your fingers or a pastry cutter (do not use a mixer) to incorporate it, until the butter is broken down into pea-size pieces.
2. Whisk together the heavy cream and the buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients all at once, and use a spatula or a plastic scraper to fold in the liquid mixture as quickly and as gently as possible. Flour your hands and reach into the bowl and under the dough, flipping it around to combine. The dough will be wet but manageable.
3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and, working lightly, use your hands to pat it into a rectangle about 1 inch tall. Lightly sprinkle flour across the top of the dough and pat it with your hands until the flour has been absorbed.
4. Flour the bottom of the dough and your work surface. With the scraper, fold the dough in half lengthwise and repeat flouring it and patting it out with your hands. Repeat the process a total of four times. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch tall.
5. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
6. Dip a 3-inch biscuit cutter into flour and cut as many shortcakes as you can from the dough, pressing straight down with the cutter without twisting. Place the shortcakes on the baking sheet so they are nearly touching one another. Reshape the scraps as needed to form a total of 8 shortcakes. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, rotating the baking sheet from front to back halfway through, until the tops are golden brown. Transfer the finished shortcakes to a wire rack, brush the tops with the melted butter, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Let cool.
7. Meanwhile, prepare the fruit: Place 1 cup of the strawberries in a medium bowl and mash them with a fork or the back of a spoon. Cut the remaining berries in half (or quarters if they’re large) and add them to the bowl along with the granulated sugar, mixing to coat them evenly. Let sit for 30 minutes to macerate and allow the syrupy juices to develop.
8. To assemble the shortcakes, use a fork to deeply poke around the equator of each shortcake, creating a top-and-bottom line of separation, and carefully pull them apart. Set one or two bottoms on each serving plate. Spoon the macerated strawberries and their juices evenly over all of the bottoms and replace the tops. Add a dollop of whipped cream to each plate and serve.
Reprinted from Red Truck Bakery Farmhouse Cookbook” Copyright © 2022 by Brian Noyes.
Photographs copyright © 2022 by Angie Mosier. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.