Its that wonderful time of year when we have fresh strawberries from our garden. I have always been very partial to strawberry shortcake and it is especially good with homegrown strawberries. However, I've wasn't satisfied with the short cake recipe I had been using (from the back of the Bisquick box) so I've been looking for a better recipe. I hit the jackpot the other day when I looked in my Fannie Farmer cookbook. It is a reprint of the Original Boston Cooking-School Cookbook published in 1896. They had not just one, but three short cake recipes. I tried recipe II from page 83. The ingredients were 2 cups of flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 3/4 cup of milk and 1/3 cup butter. I only used half of the salt required by the recipe but I was a bit liberal with the sugar and used a heaping tablespoon. The only difficulty with the Fannie Farmer cookbook is that the recipes don't include precise oven temperatures as it was written in the days of wood burning cook stoves. The instructions were simply to bake for twelve minutes in a hot oven.
The shortcakes turned out much lighter than my previous efforts. I don't know why I didn't think to look in the Fannie Farmer cookbook sooner. It also happens to be the source of my favorite cornbread recipe. Oddly enough, most of the modern cookbooks I checked didn't even have a shortcake recipe. I consider that to be a sign of a serious decline in our culture.