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The Caterer

Shortcake uncovered

30 June 2006
Shortcake uncovered

It's hard not to get excited about warm shortcake biscuits adorned with seasonal fruit and soft dollops of cream.

This article first appeared in the 15 May 2006 issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I).

R&I is the USA's leading source of food and business-trend information and exclusive research on operators and restaurant patrons. Editorial coverage spans the entire foodservice industry, including chains, independent restaurants, hotels and institutions. To find out more about R&I, visit its website www.foodservice411.com.

Based on seasonal fruit, they require minimal fussing. But quality is paramount as is flexibility regarding available produce. Take a cue from Magnolia Grill in Durham, N.C. When strawberry season wanes, Pastry Chef and co-owner Karen Barker uses fresh blueberries for shortcakes. And like all things simple, every detail counts.

  • Ripe fruits, particularly berries, have short shelf lives. When possible, buy fruit often and in small quantities to ensure optimal ripeness.
  • Refrigeration can change the taste and texture of berries so Barker stores fruit that won't be used that day in the restaurant's wine cellar.
  • Fresh fruit can be unkind to food costs, so when the price drops, think ahead and bulk up on purees, compotes and preserves.
  • Individually quick-frozen fruits are a sensible solution in many operational settings. Make sure they are handled properly-no thawing and refreezing.

Accent lessons
While it's hard to beat lemon with blueberries, at Magnolia Grill in Durham, N.C., Pastry Chef-owner Karen Barker instead uses cassis to accent the sweet-tart flavor of the local crop.

Batch baking
Shortcake biscuits - whether made from scratch or prepared using a mix - can be baked in small batches and warmed to order; the extra step ensures that fruit isn't hampered by stale pastry.

Fresh or cooked? Stirring raw whole berries with a cooked compote offers appealing texture differentiation and concentrated flavor. The approach works whether berries are fresh or frozen.

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