Thursday, June 19, 2014

Martha Stewart's Strawberry Shortcake with Basil. The Perfect Cake to celebrate Uncle Andrew's Day!

Uncle Andrew...there from the very
Last weekend, we celebrated Father’s Day with all the necessary cards, salutations on Facebook, telephone calls filled with praise for Dear Old Dad.   I know how much it meant to me and how much I admire the Dad in my own family who is raising one spectacular grandson.  And how spectacular is he?  Well, at age almost 4, he came to visit Uncle Andrew and me for Father’s Day two years ago.  As he proudly handed me an oversized
There for Mason always.
Father’s Day card, he turned to his mother and said “There really ought to be an Uncle Andrew’s Day”.  And well there should be.  When I think of how much Uncle Andrew does for Mason, the grandson in question, and then when I multiply it out for a lifetime of giving to his nieces and nephews and god children, there likely should an Uncle Andrew month.  Then, when I think of all the other uncles –the Terrys, the Shawns, the Jeffs, the Dons, the Michaels, the Jims, the Hueys, the Bills and the Peters—this ought to be a national holiday. Add to them all the single Moms –the Annas, the Cindys, the Zoilas--who are both mother and father to their children and Father’s Day just does not cover all the people it takes to raise a child.  So here’s to all of you on Uncle Andrew’s Day!  And what better way to celebrate than with a cake! 

         Granted there’s no holiday in it for Uncle Andrew. In our house, he bakes the cake, which, all told, takes a total of 8 hours and 40 minutes to make.  Mercifully, the prep time is just 30 of those minutes but still…  However, this cake rewards its baker with a luscious, fresh berry-filling in a buttery shortcake that’s topped with the aroma of fresh basil leaves.  Dip your fork into the whipped cream topping and savor the flavor of fresh basil whipped cream! Turns out  Strawberries and Basil, like Strawberries and Balsamic, were made for each other. And that’s just about the taste.  The look of the cake is equal to the flavors, those green basil leaves against the white and red background of cream and berries is Instagram-worthy.   So make this cake this weekend and celebrate Uncle Andrew’s Day with your favorite uncles. They deserve every bite on their own special day.

Recipe for Strawberry Shortcake with Basil from Martha Stewart  Serves 8.  Takes 30 minutes to prep and 8 hours and 40 minutes of cooling and cooking.

2 1/4 cups cold heavy cream, plus 2 tablespoons, for brushing
20 large basil leaves, plus 1/3 cup small or torn basil leaves
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more if needed
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups sliced strawberries (1 pound 4 ounces)
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Bring 1 1/2 cups cream to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bruise large basil leaves by hitting repeatedly with the dull side of a knife, and stir into cream. Remove from heat, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let steep for 25 minutes. 

Strain through a fine sieve, pressing solids to extract liquid. Refrigerate until very cold, at least 5 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together flour, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, the baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or rub in with your fingers. (The largest pieces should be the size of small peas.)

Whisk together 3/4 cup heavy cream, the eggs, and vanilla. Stir into flour using a fork until ingredients are moistened but not fully incorporated. (Do not overmix.)

Turn dough out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and pat into a 9 1/2-inch circle. Brush dough with remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar.

Bake until light golden brown and just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, macerate strawberries with remaining 1/4 cup sugar, plus more if needed, depending on sweetness of the berries, stirring occasionally, for at least 1 hour.

Toss berries with small basil leaves. Whisk basil cream with confectioners' sugar in the chilled bowl of a mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Mound basil cream on shortcake. Spoon berries with juice over top.


Shortcake is best served within 4 hours of baking but can be stored, untopped, at room temperature for up to 8 hours. Basil cream can be refrigerated for up to 1 day; whip just before using. Berries can macerate for up to 3 hours.


  1. Monte,
    What a beautiful blog. Andrew is the best brother, uncle and godfather.He is always there for all of us to listen, advise and help. There should, indeed, be a Uncle Andrew's day.

    1. So true Lauren and a hero who is so un-heralded and so quiet about all he does for other people. He deserves his own special day, for sure! XOXO Monte

  2. Love card in the guise of a cake recipe? I love it!! Uncle Andrew's day, you bet! (and I'll take the cake too....)

    1. OHHHH you nailed me Ana. Love letter combined with a great recipe. But both are so worthy! (Sorry it's not gluten free! ) All best, Monte

  3. Here! Here! Monte, I totally agree! There most definitely be an Uncle Andrews Day declared in observance of all the people it takes to raise a child! Perhaps you should request one for Uncle Andrew. Chase's Calendar of Events is a good start:)

    I can still remember the very first time I ventured to sprinkle Balsamic Vinegar on Strawberries. "Do I dare" I asked myself. I did and never looked back! At the moment, I can only imagine the heavenly scent of basil and strawberries melding together. I must change that ASAP! 8 hours and 40 minutes will be worth every morsel, I'm sure:)

    Thank you so much for sharing, Monte...I hope you are enjoying this fine weather, finally:)

    P.S. Saint Andrew's Day is celebrated on November 30th, (I think:)

    1. Louise, it's always such a pleasure to read your comments. You are quite right: There's a big St. Andrew's Day Ball annually in Montreal and when I took part we would rehearse Scottish dances for weeks beforehand. The Gay Gordons were a particular favorite...which is ironic to say the least. All best to you and do try this cake! Monte

  4. To all the unsung heroes: parents, uncles, aunties, grandma's and grandpa's ... Thank You!

    1. Jeff, I am so sorry but somehow this wonderful response got buried and I didn't see it until just now! Thanks so much for the kind words, they are most appreciated. XOXO M

  5. Thnxoxox for the mention - and DINNER!! xox U. Terry