We all win in this competition for the best strawberry shortcake recipe
Jordan Folse and Jojo Ralowicz love working together at Good Dough Kolache Bakery in Texas City, which, in just a matter of months, has built a loyal fan following.
Their different takes on sweet biscuits reflect their love of flavor. They agreed to offer their own twists on strawberry shortcake, a staple summer dessert.
Folse stuck with traditional strawberries and freshly whipped cream for her version, but added lemon zest to the dough and glazed the biscuits with melted butter and honey. Ralowicz doesn’t use sugar in her biscuit dough, so she sprinkled them with sugar, and she substitutes the strawberries with a fresh peach jam.
Folse and Ralowicz both were culinary students at Galveston College, although they graduated a couple of years apart. On graduation, Folse worked at the San Luis Resort in Galveston, while Ralowicz worked at La Cocina by Chef Mary Bass in Galveston. They both adore Bass and were thrilled when she asked them to work at her newly opened Good Dough Kolache Bakery.
Folse originally is from Santa Fe and learned to cook from her mother, she said.
“I love comfort foods and she taught me to make her pot roast and chicken noodle soup,” Folse said. “My earliest cooking memory is of Christmas when we would make so many sugar cookies, they would cover the table.”
Until she found out about culinary school, Folse hadn’t considered she could have a career in cooking, but now she can’t imagine doing anything else, she said. She remembers how baking shows were an after-school obsession when she was growing up, she said.
“At culinary school, I found cooking so stressful as you had to create everything and improvise,” she said. “I loved baking straight away because there’s a formula. I’m a structured person and I like following a structure.”
Folse’s advice for home bakers is to focus on flavor and not worry too much about creating desserts that look perfect in a photograph or on social media.
“Taste wins and it is fine for something to look rustic as long as it tastes good,” she said. “Don’t go for looks, go for taste because there is nothing more disappointing than biting into a dessert that looks amazing but doesn’t taste good.”
Eating raw cookie dough and licking the batter has been frowned on by some, but Folse always scrapes the bowl and licks the batter, she said.
“It’s a perk of being the cook!”
Ralowicz originally is from Liverpool, Texas, where she learned to cook from her uncle, who kept a pristine kitchen, she said.
“He would never lick the batter, so I didn’t grow up with that,” Ralowicz said. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw other people doing it.”
Ralowicz has fond memories of being her uncle’s “kitchen elf” at Christmastime and helping prep vegetables and make a dark roux.
Ralowicz describes herself as a big carbohydrates fan who loves making her own pasta and breads. She likes the structure of baking, but also learned to “wing it” and not overthink things.
“I think that’s why Jordan and I work so well together, because she is so ordered and I’m more improvisational,” she said.
Her advice for home bakers is to follow the recipe but keep the focus on flavor.
“Sweets don’t always have to be overly sweet,” she said. “You can use dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate or create desserts that have more fruit, rather than just piling on the sugar.”
In this battle of the bakers, flavor is certainly the winner because both versions of sweet biscuit are equally delicious.
Jordan’s Sweet Biscuits
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1½ cups cold buttermilk, plus about 6 tablespoons
4 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
Honey and melted butter, for glaze
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and lemon zest in a bowl and whisk together.
Cut your butter in very small cubes, and with your fingers, crumble or “cut” the butter into the flour mixture. (You also can use a pastry cutter if you have it, or Jordan’s secret is to freeze the butter ahead of time and grate it in a cheese grater or even use a zester.)
Add in 1½ cups buttermilk and continue to use hands to combine, or use a spoon if you like, until dough comes together just as the crumbs form into 1 ball. Take dough ball on to a floured surface and flatten with your hands into a rectangle shape.
Fold dough into thirds and flatten out again into a rectangle, turning the dough each time. You’re going to fold 4-6 times so be careful not to add too much extra flour to the dough or it will become too stiff. Flatten out dough to about ¼-inch thick with your hands and with a biscuit cutter or metal measuring cup, cut out your mini or large biscuits, depending on the size you like.
Arrange on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and use remaining buttermilk to brush tops of biscuits before they go in the oven. Bake at 400 F for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and right out of the oven brush with melted butter and drizzle with honey. Serve with fresh whipped cream and strawberries.
Jojo’s Buttermilk Biscuits
6 cups flour
3 tablespoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
2¼ teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons shortening
3 cups buttermilk, chilled
Preheat oven to 450 F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub shortening and butter into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don’t want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough.
Place biscuits on baking sheet so they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. You can sprinkle a little sugar on top if you want.
Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.
4 cups frozen or fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, peaches, raspberries, kumquats)
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 pinch ground cinnamon
Mix fruit, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon in a saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thickened, about 30 minutes.