Today we celebrate a redheaded doll and her cat, Custard!
Oopsie. Scratch that. We celebrate a dessert, not a cartoon character. June 14 is Flag Day…and it’s also National Strawberry Shortcake Day! And how fitting, because few dishes are as American as strawberry shortcake.
Shortcake is named for the butter, or shortening, added to dough to soften it up. It’s actually a European invention that dates to the 16th century. And even though strawberries were enjoyed in ancient Rome, putting the two ingredients together was an American concept that occurred in the 1840s. When transcontinental railroads were built during that decade, strawberries – which before had only a limited local following – were shipped all over the U.S., and became an extremely popular summertime fruit. An early American colonist was quoted as saying, “Doubtless the almighty COULD make a better berry, but doubtless he never did.” The first strawberry shortcake recipe was printed in Eliza Leslie’s 1847 cookbook Lady’s Receipt Book: A Useful Companion for Large or Small Families. Soon, strawberry shortcake parties became all the rage as a celebration of summer’s approach. This recipe has stood the test of time, and remains popular to this day.
Tara and I met up for lunch at Burgerville, which sells fresh, seasonal, individual strawberry shortcakes. We split one, and wow, was it good!
Coming tomorrow: we asked, and you shared. Our readers describe their klutziest kitchen moments ever. Stay tuned!