shortcake sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM
Thu Jun 26 20:10:04 UTC 2008

Original Message:
From: Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2008 14:03:37 -0400
Subject: shortcake

Recently my wife and I were served what was announced as "strawberry
shortcake." It arrived in the form of a shallow
cup molded from a sponge-cakey substance (a little like the outside of a
Twinkie), with a few berries in the declivity
on top and a quantity of whipped cream (probaly fake). I muttered that the
pastry was not shortcake--which in my
gustatory lexicon should resemble a biscuit with a little sugar added to
the dough; after baking, it would be served
whole or halved, with berries spooned over it (whipped cream optional).

My wife, from Chicago, opined (folk etymologically) that the cakey pastry
in front of us was authentic shortcake--so
called because it is less tall than sheetcake or tubecake! Evidently, those
"short" cakes of small diameter can be
storeboughten, in packaages (my wife maintains) that are labeled

Is there a regional distinction here, or what? Or have gullible consumers
simply been lied to?

By me, you are right about what shortcake *ought* to be.  The "short" part
refers to a high fat level, not stature,
which makes the substution of spongecake (which, IIRC, is made with no
shortning at all) particularly inappropriate.
In my childhood there was a woman who made delicious patty shells of a
dough about midway between piecrust &
baking powder biscuit that were perfect for strawberry shortcake.  They
were sold door-to-door by her son, a
classmate of mine, & were much in demand.

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