When I was fourteen, one of my first jobs was raking blueberries. It may be a rite of passage into the work force for young Mainers. If you’re not raking blueberries all summer then you’re hauling lobster traps in your family boat at 5am. If you’re lucky, I guess you get to turn over tables at a local eatery that’s brimming with tourists who are willing to wait an hour for a lobster roll and a blueberry shortcake. (I did that, too.) None of these jobs are for the faint of heart, of course, though raking blueberries is particularly grueling work. Maine blueberries are the small, low-bush berries, so being bent over in a hot, shadeless field all day is inevitable if you’re going to earn any kind of living during the season. Blueberry style rake in hand you are assigned a “lane” in a field that stretches on without sympathy. For a teenager that has the summer off of school, it’s its own circle of hell-only hotter. I didn’t last long. Certainly not all summer.
Despite my naive and voluntary leap into a careful concoction of scorching sun, shadeless fields and minimum wage labor, I never lost my taste for Maine blueberries. Quite the opposite actually; I appreciate them all the more. I know the work that goes into harvesting these nutrient packed gems. Every summer I always buy up as many as I can- mainly because they’re delicious, but also because I love supporting local farmers. Traditional New England recipes generally have Maine blueberries somewhere if your rifle through. Muffins, scones, pancakes are all popular and pretty much beloved by all.
There are a few things that rarely enter my kitchen unless they are in season and wild Maine blueberries is one of them. While Fiona will eat them straight out of the container by the spoonful (okay, so do I), I love integrating them into other things. Desserts, salads, or just sprinkling them on oatmeal in the morning. Blueberry shortcake, though not as notorious as strawberry, is one of my favorites. It’s everything I love in a recipe: simple, quality ingredients, and full of delicious flavor. There are quite a few different ways to go about making blueberry shortcakes, but the traditional New England recipe always is more of a biscuit style “cake” than an actual cake. I like to make mine light, fluffy, and fairly small. If you’ve ever made biscuits before, this blueberry shortcake should be a breeze for you to follow. If not, don’t fret- it’s quite simple.
Blueberry Shortcake: Steps and Tips For A Classic New England Recipe
1) The first step is to make the shortcakes. As I mentioned above, these are far more like biscuits than cakes. Start by preheating the oven to 425˚F.
2) Measure out the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a medium sized bowl, and whisk them together.
3) Cut the butter into the flour using a pairing knife. It’s best in small, 1/2″ pieces, because you’ll be using your fingers to crush it up into even smaller pea-size pieces. (Alternatively, you can use a food processor and pulse the butter in until the pieces are pea-sized and evenly distributed into the dry ingredients.)
4) Using your fingertips, mix the butter into the dry mixture, crushing it into small pieces to evenly distribute it into the flour. By the end there should only be small pea-sized pieces of butter and no large chunks. (Again, you can also use a food processor for this part.)
5) Add the milk and mix with a spoon until a dough starts to form. Once it starts to come together into a dough, continue mixing with your hands until a ball of dough forms and there are no dry spots left.
6) Sprinkle flour onto a countertop and gently roll out the dough to about 1/2″-1″ thickness. Use a round cookie cutter, or the opening of a small glass or jar to cut the dough into circular shapes. Roll out the leftover dough and continue cutting rounds until there is no more dough left.
7) Put the shortcakes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 425˚F for about 16-18 minutes, or until they start to lightly brown.
8) While the shortcakes are baking, make the whipped cream. I know you can easily buy whipped cream but I highly recommend making it from scratch because it’s simple and the taste and texture is so much more satisfying! Simply combine the cream, vanilla and sugar into a mixing bowl and whisk on high speed about 2-3 minutes, until the cream holds together and is fluffy. Be careful not to over whip or your whipped cream will turn into butter!
9) After the shortcakes have had time to cool to room temperature, slice one in half (horizontally). Spoon a generous dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with blueberries. Sandwich the other half of the shortcake on top, and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, or another little spoonful of whipped cream and berries.
A Little About Me…
New England Food Photographer and Recipe Developer
Hello! I’m Amber Rogals and I’m a food photographer, food stylist and recipe developer in Maine. I also work throughout the New England area, capturing various food stories, products and recipes. I started my food blog, Downeats, because I love to inspire others to cook and enjoy delicious, healthy meals with their loved ones. I was raised and currently live in Maine with my (gorgeous, amazing, hardworking) high school sweetheart and our (hilarious, talented and wonderful) children. I believe in living slow and enjoying life and I love capturing shared moments. You can read more about me here. If you are looking for a food photographer or recipe developer please contact me here.