May was an exciting month in the Wahlund home. Both of my boys graduated from their respective schools. My older son, Ryan, graduated from law school and my younger son, Kyle, graduated from college. Oh, and my nephew, Andrew, graduated from the same school as Kyle. So, we had a lot of celebrating going on in the family.
Ryan’s ceremony was on a Sunday at 2:00 so afterwards we went out to eat at one of his favorite restaurants in the area. Kyle and Andrew graduated at 4:00 the following Saturday. Their university held four graduation ceremonies that day and theirs was the 4:00 event. Fortunately their majors (Math and Biology) were assigned the same time slot. Otherwise, my parents (the proud grandparents) would have heard the same speaker twice and would have watched a whole lot of kids walk across the stage to get their diplomas. Now, don’t get me wrong, we all are excited for the boys and their achievements, but, seriously, two graduation ceremonies in one day would have been just a little much.
Because they were part of the 4:00 ceremony that day I knew the area restaurants would be overwhelmed when we were ready to eat dinner. I live nearby where the graduations were held so decided it would be easier to just invite everyone back to my house for dinner and dessert. As I’ve mentioned before, dessert is my favorite part of the meal both to make and eat. I needed something I could prepare ahead and I was in the mood for fruit as well. We all love strawberry shortcake but I wanted to do something a little more impressive so I settled on Mixed Berry Shortcake.
What makes this recipe special is that the shortcake includes poppy seeds and lemon peel. And then, instead of just strawberries you serve it with a mixture of strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. Yum! I must say, it really did make a “berry” good dessert for a graduation celebration.
I made the shortcakes the night before so I didn’t have to rush the day of graduation. When we returned from the graduation I prepped the berries and placed them in the fridge. I like the sweet juice that is formed when the berries and sugar spend time “marinating” in the fridge. I don’t recommend prepping the berries too far in advance or the berries can turn mushy.
To make the shortcake, heat the oven to 425°F. In a large bowl combine all the shortcake ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, poppy seed, salt and lemon peel) except the butter and buttermilk. Stir the ingredients to evenly mix and then cut in the butter with a pastry blender. If you don’t have a pastry blender use two knives to cut in the butter.
Keep cutting in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Stir in the buttermilk just until the crumb mixture is moistened. The recipe calls for ¾ cup buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk, do what I did and make your own by adding just a bit more than 2 teaspoons lemon juice to ¾ cup milk.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. This takes about 1 minute of kneading.
Now roll the dough out to ¾ inch thickness.
Cut into 10 (2-inch) biscuits. I used a biscuit cutter, but if you don’t have one a 2-inch drinking glass works too.
Place 1 inch apart onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned.
Because I made these a day ahead I let them cool and then stored them in a plastic container. Just before I left for the graduation ceremony I rinsed the berries, and hulled and halved the strawberries. I placed all the berries in a loosely covered medium bowl in the fridge. When I returned from the graduation I added the sugar and water to the berries (I chose to not add the light rum, but this is when I would have added it too). I gently tossed the berry mixture and placed it back in the fridge to “marinate” until I was ready to serve dessert. I also quickly whipped up the cream and placed it in the fridge so it would be ready to use.
Just before serving, I split each shortcake in half and place the bottom halves on individual dessert plates.
Then I spooned some of the berry mixture over the shortcake bottoms.
Top each with a shortcake “top.”
Spoon more of the berry mixture over the tops and then dollop with the sweetened whipped cream.
Here are pictures of the graduates. This is Ryan after graduating from law school.
And, here are Kyle and Andrew right after their ceremony.
A “berry” good graduation dessert indeed! Just look at how happy the three graduates are as they enjoy their Mixed Berry Shortcake.
Mixed Berry Shortcake is a great dessert to serve regardless of the reason for the celebration, even if it’s just to celebrate a beautiful summer day. I’d enjoy hearing about your celebrations and please take a minute to rate and review this recipe.
Looking for a fun baking activity to do with kids? Come back in a few days when our new blogger, Alex, will share a great idea.
Becky Wahlund is the Director of the Test Kitchens for Land O'Lakes and writes for our Recipe Buzz® Blog.