This recipe is by Brett LaMott, chef/owner of Café Maddalena in Dunsmuir, California. He says, “The shortcake in this recipe is very short, more of a biscuit than a cake.”

Dunsmuir is a quaint town and beloved fishing spot on the Sacramento River just south of Mt. Shasta. If you are driving up I-5 from the Bay Area to Oregon, you might speed right past Dunsmuir without noticing it in the river canyon to the right of the freeway . However, we can tell you that it’s more than worth your while to stop in and enjoy Chef Brett’s inspired Mediterranean cuisine at his charming bistro and wine bar.

Yields 4 large servings

For shortcake:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 3/8 cup cold milk

For topping:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 pints of strawberries, rinsed,
  • hulled, and quartered
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a bowl or food processor, mix the dry ingredients and zest. Cut in the butter (or pulse if you are using a food processor) until the texture is like coarse cornmeal. Whisk together the egg and the milk, then add about half to the dry ingredients, mixing with a fork or pulsing and adding more of the egg mixture as needed until the dough forms a ball.

Divide the dough into 12 equal-size balls and roll or pat each out on a floured board to about 3/8-inch thick. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden on the edges. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

For the topping, bring sugar and water to a boil until clear. Pour over strawberries and let cool.

Whip 1 cup heavy cream. (Don’t add sugar.)

To make 4 servings, place 1 shortcake on each plate followed by a large spoonful of strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. Repeat sequence 2 more times to stack 3 shortcakes on each plate, finishing with berries and cream.

Berkeley-based artist and musician Caroline H. Gould is especially fond of illustrating desserts. carolinehgould.com