One of the jokes that circulates most often among Torontonians is that this city has two seasons:  winter and construction. All joking aside, winter is very long in this part of the world and as a result, there is an overwhelming pressure to "enjoy" summer.

I was not kidding when I wrote about anxiously awaiting the arrival of cherry season so that I could make my beloved cherry coffeecake. That is precisely how I feel about my very favourite strawberry shortcake in the world.

A few years ago, threatened by the mountain of food magazines that were claiming every corner of the house, I buckled down and forced myself to part with most of them. I diligently flipped through each magazine, allowing myself to clip only those recipes that I felt sure I would try. As the mountain of magazines dwindled, I landed upon the June 2003 issue of Food & Wine. One of my very favourites, Food & Wine is particularly kind to those of us that love dessert. The magazine regularly pays homage to what in my humble opinion, is the most important part of the meal.

Tired, I almost tossed the magazine without looking through it but the little Cream Puff inside me warned that there might just be a recipe I’d like. I’m so glad I listened to that little Cream Puff! For sure enough I found a recipe for one of the best cakes in my humble repertoire.

There must be thousands of strawberry shortcake recipes out there in the big dessert world, but I doubt any of them are as good as this one. While not exactly a traditional shortcake, the batter for this cake has white chocolate in it! And while you’d think that might make the cake overly sweet, it doesn’t. In fact, the cake is moist, light and filled with whipped cream and crème fraîche, God’s gift to Cream Puffs.

This is a cake in which to nestle only the best of the season’s strawberries. And each summer since I discovered this recipe, I’ve gone out in search of the best of Ontario’s strawberries. This year, Forsythe Family Farms in Markham, Ontario gets the honours. Their strawberries were delicious. Sweet and brilliantly red … they were everything a strawberry should be.

We are in the very last days of strawberry season here in Ontario. As much as I’ll miss them, I don’t really mind because I’ve had had my strawberry shortcake and I ate it too!


Strawberry Shortcake

From the June 2003 issue of Food & Wine magazine. For the recipe, click here. I’ve never made the star anise sauce that accompanies the recipe. As much as I love star anise, I don’t want anything getting in the way of me and my strawberries … and crème fraîche!

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