Summer Shortcake

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. 
--Julia Child

It was a beautiful weekend here on the East Coast and I had two big bowls of local, just-picked strawberries and blueberries that were begging to be turned into a lovely summer treat.

Chris's birthday is approaching (next week) and he usually prefers strawberry shortcake over birthday cake, so since we're going to be traveling for his birthday, I thought I'd take a lazy Sunday afternoon and start the celebrating a bit early. (Birthday celebrations always last a few weeks around here, anyway.) Besides, with cake in the house, every day is a day to celebrate!

In the past, I've made strawberry shortcake using a variety of recipes -- sometimes they come out more biscuit-like, other times, more like angel-food. For this one, I wanted to make the shortcake I grew up eating, so I asked my mom to email me the recipe for my grandmother's shortcake -- which, my dad thinks actually came from my great-grandmother, so that's about four generations of shortcake baking!

I was a bit confused at first--the recipe is referred to as a "Butter" cake, but there's no butter in the recipe, only oil. (Maybe the next time I make this, I will experiment and actually use butter instead and see how it turns out.) But, as I went through the easy steps and stirred the batter, I felt as if I my mom, my grandmother, "Mama," and  great-grandmother,"Granny," were all in the kitchen with me.  I could hear their voices and wondered how many times I ate this cake growing up without a second thought about its history. Neither Mama nor Granny are around to tell me now...

When the cake was finished baking and had cooled, I cut a piece into chunks, put them in a bowl, topped them whipped cream and the ripe, juicy berries (I could have just used strawberries, but it's almost July 4, so in went the blueberries, too), and then added a splash or two of milk so the cake would get nice and soggy...the way we always ate it growing up.

Chris was happy and I thought it tasted just like I remembered it.  One bite and I was nine years old again--sitting in the kitchen with grass-stained knees, eating shortcake with fresh-picked strawberries from the garden.  

Oh, to be a kid in the summer again...those days sure were sweet.

Mama's Plain Butter Cake

1/2 c. oil
3/4 c. sugar
2 1/4 cups flour (note: I used cake flour)
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

To Do:
  • Cream oil and sugar; blending thoroughly.  
  • Mix the powders together in a separate bowl; beat the eggs and add to the powders. 
  • Then add the sugar mixture alternately with the milk to the egg and flour mixture.
  • Add the vanilla lastly.
  • Bake in a buttered and floured baking dish for 25 min. at 375*
Happy Summer and Happy Birthday, Chris!