This is guaranteed to be the easiest and most delicious strawberry shortcake recipe you’ll ever find! Fresh strawberries and cream, served with a buttery, soft biscuit with a crunchy topping!
Lemon & Strawberry Shortcake – easy to whip up and ready in 30 minutes!
Spring is just around the corner, and I’m here to celebrate! This is our first Spring in Ottawa, and we are ready. To say the least. While I don’t like slushy, melted snow, I’m ready to ditch the heavy jackets and boots.
This simple dessert is perfect all year round, but especially so in the Spring when fresh strawberries are in season.
Why you should make this recipe
- These biscuits take 5 minutes to make and only 20 minutes to bake!
- Perfect for novice bakers.
- The addition of lemon brightens up the flavor even more.
- You can make these lemon buttermilk biscuits ahead of time and freeze for later too. Then bake the biscuits whenever you feel like treating yourself to a delicious strawberry shortcake.
- The sugar on top adds a nice crunch to this dessert.
- These lemon buttermilk shortcakes/biscuits are delicious on their own.
- This recipe gives you 9 beautiful, tall, flaky, soft shortcakes, and there’s NO re-rolling required.
There are three parts to this strawberry shortcake recipe
- The biscuit (shortcake). Instead of making a regular buttermilk or cream biscuit, I add a generous amount of lemon zest to add more flavor to an otherwise bland biscuit.
- Strawberry filling. Made with fresh strawberries, macerated with a little sugar and lemon juice. Lemon juice helps to enhance the sweetness of the strawberries.
- Whipped cream. Creamy and soft whipped cream, slightly sweetened and flavored with vanilla.
Each of these components is really easy to make. But here I’m going to give you step by step instructions on how to make these lemon buttermilk biscuits, so you can perfect these on the first try! 🙂
This is the filling for the strawberry shortcakes.
You’ll need fresh strawberries for this. Don’t be tempted to make this with frozen strawberries. Look for fresh, bright red, juicy strawberries. I like to make more than I’ll need because you can REALLY load up on the strawberries in the shortcakes.
Smell the strawberries. They should smell sweet and fruity. If there’s no discernible smell, the strawberries are most likely not sweet/ripe. If they smell a little “boozy”, then they maybe overripe.
For 9 shortcakes, I use at least 1 lb of strawberries. Hull the strawberries (remove the top green part) and cut them into small pieces (roughly about 1 cm pieces, doesn’t have to be exact). You can also choose to have sliced strawberries. You can slice them in either direction. Totally up to you.
Place the cut strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle a little sugar and lemon juice. Stir to combine, cover and keep in the fridge for at least 25 – 30 minutes.
Instead of the sugar, you can also use an equal amount of honey.
Can I use different fruits for the strawberry shortcake?
You can also use other berries like raspberries, blackberries, blueberries.
Peaches, apricots and plums are fantastic variations as well.
Whipped cream for strawberry shortcake
For best results, make sure your whipping cream (at least 35% fat content) is nicely chilled and your mixer bowl is chilled too. This ensures really nice whipping of your cream.
You can use either a stand mixer (with the balloon whisk), hand mixer (with whisk attachment) or if you’re brave enough, you can manually whisk to whip the cream.
Place the cream sugar and vanilla extract in a mixer bowl, and whip the cream until stiff peaks form. After you whip cream, place the bowl in the fridge until needed.
A shortcut for stable whipped cream – Add dissolved gelatin (1/2 tsp gelatin + 1 tbsp water – bloomed and dissolved per 1 cup whipping cream) while the cream is being whipped. OR add 1 tbsp of clear piping gel per 1 cup of cream.
What if I don’t want to use cream?
I used whipped cream for these strawberry shortcakes. But you can switch it up with anything creamy and airy.
- Whipped cheesecake filling (cream cheese + cream + sugar + vanilla).
- Whipped mascarpone (mascarpone + cream + sugar + vanilla).
- Clotted cream (A thicker, richer option).
- Whipped coconut cream (for a dairy free/vegan option. However, you’d have to use dairy free/vegan butter for the shortcakes too then).
- Lemon curd (for a tangy, creamy alternative).
- Chocolate whipped cream (melted chocolate + cream + sugar + vanilla).
Making the lemon buttermilk shortcakes
Making the dough
This is arguably the “hardest” part of the strawberry shortcake recipe, but it’s still easy. I adapted my cream scone recipe to make these shortcakes, because it’s my favorite scone or biscuit recipe base!
Shortcakes, like shortbread, are made with solid fat rubbed into the dry ingredients (flour). The only difference between shortcakes and biscuits is that shortcakes are just a sweeter version of biscuits (the US biscuit, not the UK biscuit). So this shortcake is made the same way as biscuits.
Start with cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes. To amp up the flavor further, you can use cultured butter. But that’s an optional step. Keep the cubed butter in the fridge until needed.
Get the dry ingredients ready. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar together in a large bowl. A large bowl makes it easier to mix these ingredients.
Add the butter, and use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut the butter into the flour. You could also do this in your food processor to make things easier. The butter should be no larger than the size of a pea.
Add COLD buttermilk to the flour mixture, and MIX WITH A FORK. DO NOT do this part in your food processor or mixer because you may overwork the dough and end up with a tough, rubbery shortcake.
Mix in the buttermilk until it’s all absorbed. You may end up with dry flour at the bottom of the bowl. To get the dry flour mixed in properly, use the tip of your fingers to “toss” the dough to mix the dry bits into the wet clumps.
Please be aware that this dough is very wet and sticky, so don’t hesitate to lightly flour your work surface and the top of the dough to prevent sticking. The wet dough makes for very light, soft shortcakes!
Turn the dough clumps out onto a lightly floured surface and gently press them out to form a rough square (about 5 – 6 inches). Cut the square into four pieces, and stack them up on top of each other.
Flatten this again, and repeat the above process once more. Flatten this into a 7 inch square, that is about 3/4 inch tall. This process will help create tall and flaky layers.
Cutting the dough
This recipe will be enough to make 9 strawberry shortcakes. I prefer square shortcakes, but you can make round ones too.
Cut the dough into 9 equal, square pieces using a very sharp knife. Wipe down the knife after each cut to make sure you make nice, clean cuts.
When cutting the dough, make sure you press the knife right down into the dough, without using a back and forth motion.
You can also use a biscuit cutter (2.5 – 3 inch diameter). However, in this case, you will need to re-roll the scraps to get more shortcakes.
The cut shortcakes can be frozen and stored in the freezer for later as well. You can also keep them in the fridge overnight.
Baking the shortcakes
When you’re ready to bake the shortcakes, preheat the oven to 400°F/205°C. Place the cut shortcakes on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. You can also use a 9 inch square cake pan/baking pan instead of the sheet. Make sure the biscuits are kept about 1 cm apart.
The reason why it’s important to keep the shortcakes close together is because as they bake and expand, the shortcakes start coming into contact with each other. This helps them rise, creating tall shortcakes. Also, this will keep the sides of the shortcakes soft.
You can also keep these shortcakes about 2 – 3 inches apart to create baked sides that are not so soft. These shortcakes will also rise, but just slightly less, since they will expand more.
Just before baking, brush the tops with a little milk or cream and then generously sprinkle some raw sugar on top. The sugar will create a sweet, crunchy layer on top. This will be an irresistible contrast to the soft, creamy texture of the shortcakes.
Bake the shortcakes in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes (25 minutes if baking from frozen), until they are golden brown on top. Once baked, remove the shortcakes from the oven and let them cool down a little.
Assembling the strawberry shortcake
Now that all the components of the strawberry shortcake recipe are done, they can be assembled.
Slice the lemon shortcake on top.
Place a generous dollop of whipping cream on the bottom half. Spoon the macerated strawberries over the cream. It’s absolutely OK for the strawberries (or the cream) to spill over! 🙂
Place the sliced shortcake half over the strawberries and serve!
Optional – place another dollop of cream and strawberries on top. I don’t particularly like doing this because it makes the sugar topping soggy, and I prefer to keep that crunch.
How to store strawberry shortcakes
This strawberry shortcake recipe is perfect to make ahead. The shortcakes can be frozen ahead of time, before baking or after baking. Only the strawberries and cream need to be made just before serving.
If you haven’t baked the shortcakes, they can be frozen and baked when needed.
If you want to store baked shortcakes, then they will be great in an air-tight container overnight, at room temperature.
They can go stale in the fridge if kept longer than 24 hours, so if you want to store them for longer, use the freezer. Then thaw them out at room temperature, or reheat them in an oven (200 – 250°F / 93 – 120°C) for about 10 – 15 minutes.
These homemade strawberry shortcakes are absolutely irresistible! The soft, buttery shortcake with the crunchy topping and the whipped cream and sweet strawberries is the perfect example of how a simple, elegant dessert can be far more than the sum of its parts.
Plus, they are so easy to whip up, I’m sure you’ll be looking for any excuse to make them. 🙂
The lemon zest in the shortcake and lemon juice in the strawberries brighten up the flavors even more.
These are the perfect celebratory dessert for Spring and Summer (and any time of the year really!)
Easy Strawberry shortcake
- 1 lb fresh strawberries hulled and cut into chunks
- 3 - 4 tbsp sugar to your taste
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 ½ cups whipping cream 35% fat
- ⅓ cup sugar use ¼ cup if you like it less sweet
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Lemon buttermilk shortcakes
- 14.1 oz AP flour 3 ¼ cup, measured by spoon and level method
- 4 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1.7 oz sugar ¼ cup
- 6 oz unsalted butter 12 tbsp, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 2 medium lemons (zest) or 1 large lemon
- 1.1 cups buttermilk 1 cup 2 tbsp
- Extra milk or buttermilk to brush the tops
- Extra raw sugar to sprinkle on top
- First, zest the large lemon (or two medium lemons) and set aside. Set aside 2 tbsp of lemon juice as well.
- Cut the strawberries into chunks and place them in a bowl. Sprinkle the sugar and lemon juice over the strawberries. Mix and cover the bowl.
- Let it macerate in the fridge for 20 - 30 minutes.
Whipped cream (make this while the shortcakes are baking).
- Place the chilled cream in a mixing bowl (preferably chilled). Add the sugar and vanilla.
- Start whisking on medium speed. When the cream starts to thicken, increase the speed to medium high and continue whisking until the cream gets to stiff peaks. DO NOT be tempted to whisk on high speed, as this will deflate the cream faster.
- Once the cream is at stiff peaks, stop immediately. Whipping it further will cause the cream to look curdled.
- Place the cream in the fridge until needed.
Lemon buttermilk shortcakes
- Preheat oven to 400°F / 205°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
- Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk to mix well.
- Add the butter. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut/break the butter. Rub the butter into the flour to get a mealy flour mix. The largest pieces of butter should be no larger than the size of a pea.
- When butter has been cut into the flour, mix in the lemon zest.
- Add all of the buttermilk to the flour-butter mix and stir with a fork.
- When all the buttermilk has been absorbed by the flour, use your fingers to scoop the bottom of the bowl and toss the flour clumps a few times until all the flour is absorbed into the flour clumps.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Dust the surface with a little flour, and flatten the dough into a rough square.
- Cut the dough into 4 equal portions. Stack each portion on top of each other. Flatten the dough into a rough square again. Cut into quarters again and stack these up again.
- Flatten the dough into a square. If the dough is sticky, lightly dust with flour. The square should be about 6 - 7 inches, and ¾ inch in height.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the square into 9 equal portions. When you're doing this, press the knife straight down into the dough. DO NOT use a back and forth motion to cut the dough. To keep the cuts clean, wipe the knife between each cut.
- Place the cut shortcakes on the prepared baking tray, with about 1 cm of space between each. Brush the tops with milk or buttermilk and sprinkle the tops with raw sugar.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 18 - 20 minutes, or until the shortcakes are golden brown in color on top.
- Remove the shortcakes from the oven, and transfer the parchment paper to a wire rack to cool down. These can be served while warm, or at room temperature.
- Slice the shortcake on top.
- Place a generous dollop of whipped cream on the bottom half of the shortcake.
- Top with a generous amount of strawberries.
- Place the sliced shortcake half over the strawberries and serve.