My grandparents always had a vegetable garden. Not just a backyard garden, I swear they had at least half of an acre. When I was a kid I thought they had a farm instead of a garden. Planting season was a family affair in the spring. My grandparents had 6 children and 14 grandchildren. I recall heated conversations about which tomato plants needed to go in the ground and how many. I don’t know how many ever got planted, I just know there was enough for the entire family to get their fill. No summer meal was complete at anyone’s house without juicy ripe red or yellow tomatoes and hot buttered corn on the cob.
Planting weekend usually ended with a crappie fish fry. Except I don’t recall fish being fried, I remember grills being covered in small fish and the rush to get the little ones to cram pieces of white bread down their throats when they swallowed a bone. That was supposed to make sure no bones poked through their throats. Bless their little hearts.
The best part of their garden was the strawberries they would grow. I could never eat the fresh ones since I would break out into hives whenever I tried to eat them, any strawberry really. But once they had been macerated or frozen I could eat them. Lucky for me, their freezer was always full of frozen strawberries.
After Grandma passed, I had an aunt that took and cherished the last of those strawberries for several years until they were finally just too freezer burned to use. I’m sure my aunt shed a tear or two when she threw them out. Not over the strawberries silly, my Grandma had been a special lady.
My favorite way to eat them was in my Grandma Grace’s strawberry shortcake. Grace was her last name, Maxine was her first. I can’t bring myself to call anything Grandma Maxine’s since that name brings to mind the Maxine cartoon character and we never called her that.
I don’t know why my grandma made her strawberry shortcake this way, and I have never seen a recipe that mixes in the whipping cream with the berries instead of whipping it up for the top. I suspect that somewhere along the way a step was left out of a copied recipe during one generation or another. It doesn’t matter to me how it happened, this is the only thing I consider to be real strawberry shortcake. Everything else is some kind of biscuit covered in strawberries. Not judging though, my family has been known to bake up a can of biscuits and cover them in macerated strawberries and call it good.
Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
Spray an 8 X 8 square cake pan with cooking spray.
Mix all cake ingredients until combined. Do not over mix. Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake in 350° oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
While cake is baking, clean and stem strawberries. Slice strawberries into pieces. Put into a bowl and lightly mash with a potato masher or use your hands to squish them up. Add sugar and macerate strawberries until you are ready to assemble the cake.
Let cake cool completely. Once cool, remove cake from pan, slice it in half, with a top piece and a bottom piece. Put the bottom piece back into the pan.
Mix macerated strawberries with pint of half and half. Pour mixture of the bottom of the cake that you have put back in the pan. Top with the other half of the cake, cut side towards the berry mix and browned side up. Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Serve with whipped cream on top if you like.
This can be doubled and baked in a 9 X 13 cake pan.
If you are not in a baking mood you can always use frozen pound cake thawed and sliced in place of the shortcake. This version needs to be covered with stabilized whipped cream or non-dairy topping.
Other old family recipes worth looking at: