When my parents visited this past weekend, they came bearing a box full of the last Louisiana strawberries of the season. (My parents never visit anyone without bringing a sample of whatever fruit is in season. This makes them very welcome in my house.) I’m a little prejudiced about strawberries, but I think that late season Louisiana berries are the best in the world. My home town was actually known as the “Strawberry Capital of the World” until a neighboring town got the idea to host a yearly strawberry festival in the early 1970′s and appropriated the title for itself. But anyone who knows strawberries knows that Hammond, La., is really the strawberry capital, not that other town which I will not deign to mention.
See? Just a little prejudiced! But our local strawberries truly are deep, dark, juicy, and sweet, and the berries my parents brought with them were no exception.
My parents, being the dessert fanatics that they are, figured that my mother could slice the strawberries up, I could make a vegan cake, and we could all enjoy some delicious strawberry shortcake. I don’t believe in biscuit-like shortcake; I grew up eating regular vanilla cake with strawberries, so that’s what I made–or at least I tried. My cake came out much tougher and chewier than I’d like, and it really wouldn’t have been a success at all except that the juice of the strawberries tenderized it. I probably just tried to healthify this dessert a little too much. (I used half white whole wheat flour and made it fat-free on top of being vegan.) I’m not going to post the cake recipe until I’ve done some heavy revising to make it meet my standards, but you can make this using your favorite vanilla cake recipe. In fact, feel free to leave links and recipes in the comments.
2-3 pints strawberries
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla cake
1-2 pints vanilla soy or rice “ice cream”
At least an hour before serving, hull and slice the strawberries and mix them with sugar (use more or less sugar depending on the sweetness of the strawberries). Let them sit at room temperature for about an hour or in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours, until strawberries are softened and juicy (macerated).
Once the strawberries are ready and the cake is made, place a slice of cake on a serving plate, spoon some strawberries and juice over it, and top with a scoop of ice cream. Or, for big appetites, build a “tower o’shortcake” using two slices of cake and extra strawberries and ice cream. Be careful not to let it topple over on you!