Editor’s note: Cook Like a Chef is designed to help you master cooking techniques that will give your homemade meals professional style and carefully crafted flavor. Each month, a chef/instructor from Cascade Culinary Institute at Central Oregon Community College will walk us through a skill or recipe. For more stories and videos, see bendbulletin.com/chef.

Berry season is here, and there’s nothing better for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert than a mixed-berry shortcake with whipped cream.

You don’t have to turn to a box of store-bought biscuit mix in order to make a shortcake. It’s easy to learn how to make a tender, homemade shortcake biscuit that complements beautiful berries. Adding a dollop of homemade vanilla whipped cream makes this a knockout dish.

Cascade Culinary Institute Chef Instructor Laura Hagen, who is also a certified pastry chef, explains the process of making a perfect shortcake biscuit.

Before you start making the shortcake, prepare the mixed berries (see recipe on Page D2) by combining berries, sugar, citrus zest, and a splash of triple sec or citrus juice.

“The berries taste best if they sit for 45 minutes or an hour in the sugar at room temperature. The longer they sit, the more flavor you get,” Hagen said.

They key to making a tender shortcake is a light touch.

“It’s the opposite of bread dough. You don’t want to knead it, and you don’t want to overwork it,” Hagen said.

Hagen’s recipe is for a shortcake biscuit, not a cream biscuit. She explained the difference.

“The cream biscuit is more enriched. It uses the creaming method: beating the butter and a little sugar until it’s light and fluffy, like making a cookie, and then adding dry ingredients and wet ingredients and mixing until they’re incorporated. It’s more like a drop batter, and Bisquick (mix) is more like that.

“Our shortcake recipe uses more of a pie dough method, cutting the shortening into the dry ingredients — that’s where the word “short” in shortcake comes from, you’re shortening the gluten in the flour, and you’re making a more tender, flaky biscuit,” Hagen said.

To start the shortcake, sift together the dry ingredients (see recipe), and then shred one frozen stick of butter on the large holes of a box grater.

“It gives you nice, long shreds of butter,” Hagen said.

Toss the shredded butter with the dry ingredients until lightly coated.

Next, make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients.

“You want the wet ingredients cold. Pour the egg, half-and-half and zest mixture into the well, and then fold the dry ingredients over and combine the ingredients lightly. Then I plop the dough onto the bench, and pat it and fold it over two to three turns, gathering and pushing it. Pat it into a circle or rectangle about an inch thick, and then cut the dough into 2½-inch rounds with a cookie or biscuit cutter, or a (drinking) glass,” Hagen said.

Brush the tops of the shortcake biscuits with lightly beaten egg white, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar before baking at 400 degrees (or 375 in a convection oven) for about 18 to 22 minutes, or until golden brown.

To make sweetened, flavored whipped cream, Hagen suggested doing it by hand with a whisk.

“With this amount (1 cup), I whip it by hand because it’s fun, and then I don’t over whip it. If you prefer to use a mixer, put the bowl and beaters in the refrigerator to keep them cool,” Hagen said.

Hagen said the general rule of thumb is to add any flavoring, such as vanilla, at the end.

“Vanilla has a little bit of alcohol, and it may keep it from whipping properly. But I’ve added vanilla in the beginning, and it’s worked out fine,” Hagen admitted.

Whisk the cream, or whip it in a mixer until it has light or soft peaks.

“It’s really easy to over whip cream. If it starts to curdle, you’ve whipped too much. You’re looking for whipped cream to have a little shine on it. If you over whip, it’ll lose that glossiness. The whipped cream should be thick, and have body, but it will still be soft. Have your kids whip the cream. It’s something fun for them to do while you’re doing the other things for the shortcake,” Hagen said.

Whipped cream can be made before dinner and kept in the refrigerator.

Assemble the dish by cutting the shortcakes in half, horizontally, and putting the bottom half on each plate. Spoon on a quarter cup of berries and juice, scattering some of the berries around the edges of the cake. Top the berries with a big spoonful of whipped cream, and then put the top half of the shortcake on top.

We hope you’ll add homemade mixed berry shortcake with homemade whipped cream to your culinary repertoire. The scratch-made biscuits are really worth the effort.

“This gives you a light, tender, crumbly shortcake biscuit that soaks up the juice from the berries, and that’s what you want, without making it soggy,” Hagen said.

— Reporter: ahighberger@ mac.com

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