I couldn’t have chosen a better recipe to try out for Labor Day weekend. This recipe made me work. for. it. It seemed so simple and straight forward! Then crumb-pocalypse happened. Shakily cutting a thin, crumbling biscuit with a dull knife had me sweating from self-induced stress and concentration. And don’t get me started on the whipped cream. I chose the hottest day in weeks to attempt to hand beat cream. No peaks would form. I whisked until my deltoids were bulging through my apron, I cursed the day Grant Wood was born and made a shortcake for company, but I couldn’t form any peaks.
After giving up on whipped cream, I resigned to having a piece. IT WAS ACTUALLY GOOD. The layers might be unevenly cut and a crumbly mess, and there may be a shocking absence of cloudy cream, but it was good. Wouldn’t make it past the judges of Great British Baking Show, but hey, my parents ate it. So my advice? Get an electric mixer, turn on the air conditioning, and pour yourself a summer cocktail.
A Cook’s Tour of Iowa has been my absolute favorite read so far. It’s a collection of recipes, celebrations, and personal histories from around Iowa. One such celebration is the Grant Wood Art Festival that used to take place annually in Stone City. Thanks to Grant Wood, Stone City became home to an art colony in 1932, and was also the subject of his first major landscape in 1930. The colony didn’t financially prosper and only survived for one year. The legacy of Grant Wood and his colony still live on and are celebrated in the area. How can you get more Grant Wood in your life? Easy!
- Cedar Rapids Museum of Art and studio
- Grant Wood Art Gallery in Anamosa
- Stewart Memorial Library art
- General Store Pub in Stone City
- Scenic Byway
Edwin B. Green submitted the recipe for Grant Wood’s strawberry shortcake for a cookbook in Waterloo, and it was introduced by Wood’s sister, Nan. “He was noted for his Strawberry Shortcake. Once when mother and I were away and unexpected company arrived, Grant rose to the occasion and whipped up a Strawberry Shortcake that the guests later described as ‘out of this world.’ In telling mother about it, Grant said in a surprised tone of voice, ‘We could actually eat it.’ After hearing it described as ‘out of this world,’ Grant never dared try making the shortcake again for fear of ruining his reputation as a cook.” (Puckett 1988).
Unlike Wood, I would try this again. In air conditioning with a cocktail.
Grant Wood’s Strawberry Shortcake
- 1 quart of ripe strawberries washed and hulled
- 1/2 to 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 2 cups of sifted all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons of lard (I used vegetable shortening)
- 3/4 cup milk
- whipped cream
- Place strawberries in bowl and bruise and chop with a spoon. Cover with sugar to suit and let stand at room temperature to bring out the juices. Preheat oven to 425°
- Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt, cut in lard
- Add milk and mix lightly, the less the better
- Spread out in a greased pie tin with a spoon
- Bake in hot oven until done (It took about 15 minutes for me)
- Carefully break biscuit dough into two layers, lay top layer to one side
- Butter the bottom layer and cover with crushed strawberries.
- Butter the top layer and put on top of the strawberries. Top with more strawberries. Serve with cream.
For more on Stone City: