This Very Strawberry Shortcake marries juicy macerated strawberries with a soft a crumbly strawberry shortbread cake, topped off with a light and airy strawberry whip cream. It is inspired by a recipe I found in the “New Orleans Cookbook” by Lena Richard. Before Julia Child or Martha Stewart, Lena Richard paved the way as one of America’s first celebrity chefs, building a culinary empire that celebrates cuisine from the black diaspora. This Juneteenth I am paying homage to Chef Richards with this very strawberry shortcake, the perfect dessert for all your summer cookouts.
Join me in celebrating Juneteenth with 18 other Black culinary creators. This year, we are honoring 19 Black American cookbook authors by recreating their recipes, amplifying their work, and sharing our connections to Freedom Day. Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day, the final emancipation of those enslaved in the US announced in 1865. Share these recipes with your family and help us continue the legacy of celebrating progress. Additionally, you can easily follow each participant by using the hashtag #JuneteenthCookout2022 on Instagram. View the full list of participants down below. This collaboration is brought to you by Eat the Culture.
Very Strawberry Shortcake (Recipe Inspired By Lena Richard)
In honor of Juneteenth, the celebration of the end of slavery, I’m shining a light this month on some of the incredible Black chefs that have paved the way and served as culinary inspirations to many of us over the years. Since I know we’re all in the process of choosing what to cook at our upcoming Juneteenth cookouts, I thought I’d start with Lena Richard and her cookbook entitled New Orleans Cookbook.
In this blog post, you can expect to learn a little about culinary icon Lena Richard, her amazing cookbook, and snag a peek at one of my all-time favorite recipes from that cookbook—classic Strawberry Shortcake. This amazing cake is soft, fluffy, and beyond flavorful. It’s easily one of my favorite summer cookout recipes, so I know I’ll be whipping it up for everyone next weekend. I can’t wait to hear what you think!
Who Is Lena Richard?
Lena Richard, known by everyone in her life as Mama Lena, was an African American Creole chef, author, TV host, and entrepreneur. Often referred to as the “Martha Stewart of the South,” Richard was a force of nature who shattered racial barriers and improved the lives of African Americans in her community and around the nation.
Born just 30 years after the end of slavery, Richard was part of the domestic servant workforce since that was often the only job African American women could get in the years following the Civil War. During this time, she quickly learned how to cook like a pro. In 1937, Mama Lena opened her very own cooking school where she taught African Americans in the South cooking skills to enable them to get better-paying jobs.
Just one year later, Richard started a highly successful international frozen food company. The following year, she published the first Creole cookbook written by an African American. Over the next ten years, she opened two restaurants and made history once more by becoming the first African American woman to host a cooking show in the United States. Basically, Lena Richard was a total and complete boss!
New Orleans Cookbook by Lena Richard
Lena Richard’s famous cookbook, originally titled ‘Lena Richard’s Cookbook’ and later re-titled ‘New Orleans Cookbook,’ is composed of over 300 Creole recipes. With a public endorsement from renowned food critic James Beard, the cookbook quickly became a best-seller.
In her cookbook, Lena Richard recorded generations of African American cooking traditions in New Orleans, making sure to give credit where it was due. The collection of recipes includes ideas for both formal and informal meals, featuring dishes inspired by Richard’s southern roots and Creole cuisine.
A Love Letter To Chef Lena Richard
If no other colored woman could get places I certainly couldChef Lena Richard, written in a brief 1944 autobiography
The above quote represents the unwavering determination that draws me to the incredible story of Chef Lena Richard. She is my culinary hero because paved the way for me and many other culinarians to do the work that we do. I can’t even imagine the levels of audaciousness, tenacity, courage, and willpower it took for her to tear down racial and economic barriers in the heart of the Jim Crow South. She reshaped public understanding of New Orleans’ cuisine by showcasing and celebrating the black roots of Creole cooking in a time when pervasive racial stereotypes surrounded the food industry and for that she should be honored and recognized as an American hero.
Strawberry Shortcake Recipe Remix
Lena Richard’s Strawberry Shortcake recipe is made with basic pantry ingredients like
flour, shortening, and sugar, along with fresh strawberries to ensure the best possible
flavor. All you have to do is bake the shortcake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, then
slice it in half and place crushed strawberries in the center before putting the cake back
together. Then, you’ll top the cake with whipped cream, garnish with strawberries, and
dig in. This delicious recipe is simple, easy to make and exploding with flavor.
For this version of Very Strawberry Shortcake, I made a few tweaks to her original recipe adding in a tad more sweetness and a ton more strawberries throughout.
Let’s talk about the key ingredients you’ll need to whip up your own Strawberry Shortcake.
- All-Purpose Flour: You can use any kind of all-purpose flour you like. For a gluten-free version, make sure to use a gluten-free variety of all-purpose flour.
- Shortening: Shortening has a higher melting point than butter, which helps the cake to keep its shape while making the inside extra soft and fluffy. Use a butter-flavored shortening to ensure that you get that buttery flavor.
- Strawberries: You’ll need fresh strawberries for the strawberry filling and freeze-dried strawberries to blend into the cake batter. This is my way of infusing deliciously sweet berry flavors into every bite.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: You can use store-bought whipped cream if you don’t want to make your own, but making homemade whipped cream is super easy and tastes way better.
- Sugar: You’re going to need turbinado sugar for the batter, brown sugar for the filling, and powdered sugar for the whipped cream.
How to Make Strawberry Shortcake
Follow the simple steps below to make this delicious strawberry shortcake recipe.
Step 1: Make Strawberry Shortcake Dough
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine flour and shortening until
combined. Crumble in freeze-dried strawberries and mix in flour until combined. Add in
sugar, baking powder, salt, egg, and ice water. Stir with a spoon until combined and the
dough ball forms.
Step 2: Bake the Cake
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and pat down about 1 inch thick. Use a 2 ½
inch biscuit cutter to cut shortcakes. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, brush
with melted butter and evenly sprinkle turbinado sugar over top and bake for 25-27
minutes until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes then split the shortcake in half.
Step 3: Make Strawberry Filling
While the shortcake bakes, in a large bowl mash strawberries, light brown sugar, and
salt with a potato masher or fork until strawberries are crushed.
Step 4: Make Whipped Cream
In a large bowl mix heavy cream, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt for 2-3 minutes with
a hand mixer on medium speed until whipped cream is light and fluffy.
Step 5: Assemble Strawberry Shortcake
Cut the shortcake in half, place strawberries on the bottom half, place the top of the
shortcake, and cover with whipped cream. Garnish with remaining strawberries.
Recipe Tips For The Best Strawberry Shortcake
While Lena Richard’s Strawberry Shortcake recipe is absolutely amazing without any
alterations, there are several ways you can work to ensure perfection or switch things
up based on your flavor preferences. Here are some of my favorite tips to help you
make the best strawberry shortcake:
- Make sure to use ice-cold water to make your shortcake dough for the best results. Keeping the dough cold is the key to achieving the softest, fluffiest shortcake.
- If you can’t get fresh strawberries, you can use frozen strawberries instead. Thaw them first and pat dry with paper towels to remove the excess moisture so you don’t wind up with a soggy strawberry shortcake.
- If you’re making your own whipped cream, you can store it in the fridge for up to 24 hours in advance before using it.
- For a healthier dessert, replace the granulated sugar with coconut sugar.
- Don’t forget to save a cup of fresh strawberries to garnish your cake. For an extra pop of color, you could also add a few sprigs of fresh mint.
Ready To Celebrate Juneteenth?
Are you looking for ways to celebrate Juneteenth or curious to learn more about Juneteenth? Check out this Ultimate Juneteenth Guide to learn the history of Juneteenth and ways that you can celebrate with your family.
Also, be sure to check out all the other amazing cookbooks and recipes included in the 2022 Juneteenth Virtual Cookout. A list of participating creators can be found below.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup butter flavored shortening
- ¼ cup freeze-dried strawberry slices
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- 5 tablespoons ice cold water
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 lb strawberries washed, top removed, halved
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- Shortcake: Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl combine flour and shortening until combined. Crumble in freeze-dried strawberries and mix in flour until combined. Add in sugar, baking powder, salt, egg, and ice water. Stir with a spoon until combined and the dough ball forms.
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and pat down about 1 inch thick. Use a 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter to cut shortcakes. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, brush with melted butter and evenly sprinkle turbinado sugar over top and bake for 25-27 minutes until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes then split the shortcake in half.
- Strawberries: While the shortcake bakes, in a large bowl mash strawberries, light brown sugar, and salt with a potato masher or fork until strawberries are crushed.
- Whipped Cream: In a large bowl mix heavy cream, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt for 2-3 minutes with a hand mixer on medium speed until whipped cream is light and fluffy.
- To assemble: Cut the shortcake in half, place strawberries on the bottom half, place the top of the shortcake, and cover with whipped cream. Garnish with remaining strawberries.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.
**The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products I use and love. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
2022 Juneteenth Virtual Cookout – Cookbook Edition
I partnered with Eat the Culture & 18 other amazing black content creators to pay tribute to our favorite black cookbook authors this Juneteenth. In honor of Freedom Day, we would love for you to support these amazing books and recipes. You can also support us by engaging with our posts via hashtag #JuneteenthCookout2022 on Instagram.
Black Pepper Strawberry Slab Pie by Dash of Jazz from the book Watermelon and Red Birds
Grilled Pork Porterhouse Steaks by Food Fidelity from the book Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day
Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Spicy Vegetable Relish by Kenneth Temple from the book In Bibi’s Kitchen
Grape-Tarragon Spritzer by Sense and Edibility from the book Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora
All-Green Everything Salad w/ Creamy Sage Dressing by That Green Lyfe from the book Vegetable Kingdom