strawberry shortcake

I have some of my best blog ideas in the shower.

Maybe it’s because I think better without clothes on (which would actually be a shame because then I am seriously not living up to my full mental potential).


Maybe it’s because this balsamic and black pepper syrup was so earth shatteringly delicious that I wanted to bathe in it.  Maybe I did bathe in it.

And so maybe it’s that I really have my best blog ideas when smothered in balsamic and black pepper syrup.

Does this call for a randomized controlled double blinded clinical trial?  I think so!

(Any excuse to make these again.

I have more excuses if you want to borrow some.  It’s Monday.  And cloudy.  Or.  It’s Monday.  And I have two exams this week.  Or.  It’s Monday.  Take your pick.)

strawberry shortcake2

You see.  This month over at Have the Cake it was my turn to choose our theme.

So I hemmed.  And hawed.

And after all that hemming and hawing.  I was kind of sweaty.  (Okay YES the majority of my hemming and hawing took place at the gym.  That’s the only time I have for introspection.)  So I took a shower.

While showering, I realized I don’t take part in as many food holidays as I would like to.  And I would really like to. Because then you guys end up posting fabulous things and saying “HAPPY “insert random food here” DAY!”.  And I feel kind of like that kid running after the school bus. Saying, “Hey, wait for me!  I wanted to celebrate peanut butter day too!”


So for once I took matters into my own hands.

Ready?  Here goes.


Didn’t remember it was strawberry shortcake day? Have no fear.  Over at Have the Cake it’s strawberry shortcake month.  So you’ve still got fifteen days.  Or so.

Time to get baking.


Serendipitously enough.  It is also MY MOTHER’S BIRTHDAY!  Happy birthday Mom!

And yes, she was the welcome recipient of these babies.

Ever the enabler, I believe her direct quote upon tasting them was, “Maybe you should have been a baker.”

If only, mom.  If.  Only.

Strawberry Shortcakes with Balsamic and Black Pepper Syrup
Serves 8, adapted from Bon Appetit

2 cups flour
5 tbsp sugar, divided
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, cut into small pieces and chilled in the freezer for 20 minutes
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 large egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)

2 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
6 tbsp sugar, divided
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 large pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 425. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, 4 tbsp sugar, and salt.  Cut in the butter until until it resembles large peas.  (NOTE – Bon Appetit has you do all of this mixing and cutting business in the food processor.  My roommate took our food processor with her when she left for CA and so I had to do it by hand.  No biggie.)  Add the cream, cutting it in until moist clumps form.  Using your hands, form the dough in to a ball.  On a lightly floured work surface, flatten it into an 8×4 inch rectangle.  Cut it in half lengthwise, then widthwise into four equal strips making 8 biscuits in total.  Transfer to the baking sheet.  Chill in the freezer for 20 minutes.

2. Brush the top of the biscuits with the egg wash.  Sprinkle the last tbsp sugar on top.  Bake until biscuits are golden brown and a tester inserted comes out clean.  Bon Appetit says this takes 15 minutes but in my oven it took around 22.

3. Mix the strawberries, 5 tbsp sugar, balsamic vinegar and black pepper in a medium bowl.  Let macerate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, stirring every ten.

4. Using an electric mixer, beat the heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and 1 tbsp sugar in a chilled bowl until peaks form.

5. To assemble, cut each biscuit in half horizontally.  Layer on a scoop of whipped cream and a scoop of strawberries.  Cover each with top half of biscuit.  Try to restrain yourself from drinking the leftover vinegar syrup.  Give in and drink the leftover vinegar syrup. Or bathe in it.  Your call.

I am also submitting this to Two For Tuesdays, a new blog event that celebrates REAL FOOD.  Seeing as how every part of this was homemade, I think it qualifies!


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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85 Responses to Strawberry Shortcakes with Balsamic and Black Pepper Syrup – Have the Cake

  1. This takes this classic up a notch. I love strawberries with balsamic and pepper but have never thought to put my 2 favourites together. You should shower more often:D:D

  2. LOL! I wish I could get more creative ideas while taking a shower…
    The first picture looks very magazine!

  3. Did I have to wake up to this. Now my breakfast seems so crappy to me:)

  4. Raina says:

    Strawberry shortcake is my favorite. I have never tried to make my own biscuits, though. With the homemade biscuits and that wonderful strawberry sauce, these sound amazing.

    Happy Birthday to your mom:)

    Now go take a shower so you can get more ideas for us!

  5. Simply Life says:

    oh I think I now love this holiday! Sounds like a happy day to me! 🙂

  6. I just saw this post on the other site, I didn’t realize it was yours. It looks SOOO good! I get many ideas while laying in bed trying to sleep!

  7. Pam says:

    This looks delicious! I’m not a big fan of strawberries but all the rest of the family is. I will have to try it this way as it sounds so good with your filling. A great twist that I would like! Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Lea Ann says:

    This truly looks incredible. I’ve got to try that balsamic mixture.

  9. elra says:

    Strawberry and balsamic is like married people, sweet and sour, yet work together. Well done Jo!

  10. wow amazing and so gourmet now I know how to use balsamic in a sweet recipe yummy

  11. Marisa says:

    Happy birthday to your mom! What a lucky lady she is to have an awesome short-bread baking daughter like you.

  12. Kim says:

    Happy Birthday to Mom! She sure was a lucky lady to celebrate with such a tasty looking strawberry shortcake:) The balsamic and black pepper sauce sounds good enough to eat with a spoon!

    P.S. Loved your idea of the egg in a sweet potato. I think I’m definitely going to try that!

  13. i wanted scones. I really really wanted scones. But now I want shortcake. with whipped cream and berries. But mostly whipped cream and buttery shortcake!

  14. Happy Birthday to your mom! The Shortcake looks incredible 🙂

  15. Ameena says:

    I wish my showers were more productive! These looks fabulous. 🙂

  16. Mary says:

    What a lovely birthday treat. Your version of strawberry shortcake really looks and sounds terrific. You had me as soon as I saw you were using balsamic vinegar with your strawberries. Have a great day. Will you have any time off this summer? Blessings…Mary

  17. Joanne, I had sweet black pepper biscuits over the holiday and thought they were divine… can’t wait to try the sauce for strawberries. I use nearly as much pepper as salt so anything with pepper makes me happy. Thanks for the great recipe!!!

  18. Katerina says:

    Such a sweet present for your mother. Your pictures this time are by far the best and the shortcake and strawberries look fantastic.

  19. Amy says:

    “…so maybe it’s that I really have my best blog ideas when smothered in balsamic and black pepper syrup.” Lol. Don’t we all? Actually I think I want to be smothered in butter, whipped cream, and strawberries. I may end up solving world peace.

  20. Mo Diva says:

    this needs to get in my belly. or be poured on me. whichever is more enjoyable.
    I adore a good Aged balsamic Vinegar. When i visited an old friend in ATL a few years back she presented me with a mug of creamy vanilla homemade ice cream and a thick and inexplicable syrup on top. And at her home I never ask questions, i just dig in. while i was eating my ice cream she asked if i liked the syrup. I said “yes, but i cant put my finger on what it is…” and she showed me the VERY EXPENSIVE bottle of imported aged balsamic vinegar. And I have been dreaming of it ever since. I know this post is about shortcake but its been years you see, and Im still dreaming of my vanilla and balsamic vin ice cream… LOL

  21. Luigi says:

    As always I leave your blog starving! Another fine offering.

  22. R. says:

    Wow! That sounds amazing! I do some of my best thinking in the shower too 😀 Hah!

  23. knk says:

    yummy cake , i like decoration looks awesome, nice cake
    thanks for lovely and yummy cake

  24. Kelsey says:

    i never liked strawberry shortcake as a kid and i dont think i do now either. i was always like “no, just give me a little ice cream with strawberries instead please!! no shortcake!!” .. maybe cuz the ones i had were more spongy and flavorless. and i bet id probably become such the shortcake fan if i tried yours- im almost certain! <3

  25. Bob says:

    I would like to volunteer for that study. Heh. Sounds great and it’s funny, I was just talking about black pepper/balsamic strawberries earlier.

  26. happy bday to mom and happy strawberry shortcake day too! i seem to have my best blog ideas when i run… that you do naked and in the shower. good luck with your exams this week….oh monday-i hate you!

  27. Bridgett says:

    Balsamic strawberries are just amazing. Happiest Bday to your mom. This looks fabulous.

  28. I want to eat this strawberry shortcake 365 days! Looks gorgeous! 😉

  29. Justin says:

    that is a craaazy-sounding recipe. now i’m curious about how it tastes.

  30. it does sound delicious. do you think you could use those flavor combos for a jello? or maybe a fizzy alcoholic drink?

  31. Pam says:

    Brilliant. I really wish I was eating this for lunch instead of my sandwich.

  32. Sippity Sup says:

    Black pepper syrup really got my attention! GREG

  33. Juliana says:

    Joanne, I love the strawberry with balsamic vinegar…what a nice twist 🙂

  34. Eliana says:

    Love the flavors, love the colors, love the textures, love it all. It looks beautiful.

  35. Faith says:

    I completely agree — balsamic and black pepper are an amazing combo in sweet dishes. I just made a cupcake version of strawberry shortcake — great minds think alike! 🙂

  36. I just have to try this balsamic combo with strawberries; the black pepper I am already converted to! Looks so good, your mom is lucky to have you!

  37. Karen says:

    Yum! I love balsamic with strawberries. I bet this was wonderful!

  38. You seriously crack me up, this sounds savory and amazing!!

  39. Kris says:

    This is gorgeous!!!

  40. RamblingTart says:

    Happy Birthday to your Mom!! 🙂 Wow – that syrup sounds incredible, Joanne! You are so creative, lady. 🙂

  41. tigerfish says:

    Happy Birthday to your mom 🙂

    The black pepper in the syrup must be making the usual strawberry-in-balsamic-combination exceptionally exotic.

  42. Chris says:

    I’m already trying to figure out how to make that strawberry/syrup/black pepper combination into a glaze for something grilled, like maybe a grilled romaine.

  43. Jen says:

    yum!! can’t wait to make mine!

  44. strawberries with balsamic, my favorite!!!

  45. Deborah says:

    This is taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary!!

  46. This falls under the category of ‘different but delicious’! I would love to try all these flavors together. The biscuits sound quite heavenly all on their own.

  47. What’s better than Balsamic and strawberries? Nothing!

  48. The stawberry shortcake sounds amazing with balsamic and black pepper syrup, wow!

  49. There’s a day for any food! If this is an excuse to eat strawberry shortcakes, then let’s do it.

  50. Happy Birthday Mom. Make sure she knows, I sent my best wishes.

    I have a whole bunch of things to talk about so perhaps, you should get in the shower.

    I am trying to decide if I come her to read the comedy routine which I love or the recipes, which I adore and want.

    Next on the list, is why haven’t I posted my Have a Cake delish when I did it a few weeks ago, before you decided what you wanted. You knew I made that, didn’t you? You are so good to me.

    Third and last, how come everyone else’s almost fell apart and yours looks fine and don’t tell me, it is because you used a different recipe.

    That should keep you busy in the shower.

  51. I love strawberries and balsamic but have never tried with black pepper! Looks and sounds awesome!

  52. sra says:

    It looks lovely – I had strawberry shortcake for the first time last year!

  53. girlichef says:

    Oh yeah, definitely qualifies!! I’ve had strawberries with balsamic and black pepper before…and I may have bathed in it, too… LOL! The whole thing looks delicious 😀 Thanks for sharing at Two for Tuesdays, too Joanne! YUM!

  54. polwig says:

    I know a lot of people get creative in a shower or bathtub. I know Dale Chihuly spends hours in the bathtub thinking about his next glass creation.

  55. how come anything i bake doesn’t turn out like that?!?!!

    anyways, YES. moving on. wish i could defriend but that would make me rude

    TOTALLY can’t believe i was hit on. and dressed like THAT! imagine what i’d get if i was wearing tight stuff! =D haahahhahahaha

    i’m scared to scrape down this blister on my hand. eeck!!!!!

    and btw are you SURE about strawb’s, balsamic AND black pepper!?!!

  56. Tasha says:

    What a beautiful and delicious sounding treat. I’ve never had the strawberry, balsamic, pepper combo but I want to now!

  57. Julie says:

    hahaha i NEVER participate in food holidays. unless the occasional “pancake sunday” counts. ia ctually REALLY want to partake in is waffle wednesday but those dont even count as food holidays hahaha whatevs! everyday is a food holiday to me 🙂

    the shower is where geniuses are born

  58. Beth says:

    Looks delicious! Summer just screams strawberry desserts, doesn’t it? Years ago when a friend offered me vanilla bean ice cream with raspberries and blackberries covered in balsamic vinegar for dessert I was aghast… until I tasted it. Who knew balsamic is the new chocolate sauce 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  59. Karla says:

    I made these last night as the finale to a chopped salad with blue cheese and yeast rolls–splendid! I omitted the black pepper (I’m just not that brave!) and accidentally forgot the baking powder, and they were still a hit! I love a biscuit-y shortcake!

  60. Barbara says:

    Happy Birthday, Joanne’s Mom!!

    I love balsamic strawberries. Have never added pepper though, which would be such a fun surprise, let alone delicious!
    Good shower brainstorm!

  61. Stella says:

    Hey Joanne, I have ideas in both the shower and at bed time while falling asleep. I’ve even had a dream sequence about food when i worked in the kitchen of a nice restaurant (crazy).
    This looks so delicious. your strawberries look great with the balsamic sauce over them…

  62. sweetlife says:

    Happy Birthday!!! to your mom
    I love your holiday, yummy and your shortcakes are perfetc, I love the sweet and salty aspect…hey I do my best thinking at the grocery store..


  63. Oh I saw that recipe too and fell in love. I’m glad you made it and have given it rave reviews. It will make great use of the strawberries I constantly find in my cart and then in my fridge. Your shortcakes look beyond perfect. Happy birthday, Mommy!! She’s a lucky lady to have a daughter who makes such yum food!

    I do all my thinking at the gym and in the shower too. Or while driving. But sometimes that can lead to accidents.

  64. My mouth is watering just looking at these babies!! They look fabulous! Hope your Mom had a great day!

  65. Katy says:

    this is gorgeous — those strawberries are breathtaking!

  66. Paul Wynn says:

    Whoa… now I’m feening for strawberries..

  67. Kristin says:

    This looks heavenly good. I just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for a Beautiful Blogger award. Your pictures always make me so hungry! The information and award are on my page.

  68. Shannon says:

    fabulous additions to the strawberries! and a whole month to strawberry shortcake?? wonderful 🙂 i picked up some balsamic cream that i can’t wait to play with. i bet it would be good in this!!

  69. theUngourmet says:

    Yum! The balsamic and black pepper syrup does sound crazy good! Gorgeous photos too! Happy Bday to your mama! 😉

  70. Carolyn Jung says:

    I think the shower is a magical place for inspiration. When I’m writing articles for magazines and newspapers, I often come up with the exact way to begin my story when I’m in the shower. Then, of course, comes the mad dash to rinse off and towel off while I still can remember what I came up with. Hah!

  71. Little Inbox says:

    Hmm…so sweet! Is now strawberry season in US?

  72. Bethany says:

    This recipe looks divine! And your comical banter kept me laughing throughout! I’m definitely adding you to my google reader! Thanks so much for adding your post to our Two for Tuesday blog hop. I’m so glad you did! Hope you join us next week too!

  73. msmeanie says:

    This sounds awesome. Love the balsamic and pepper in the syrup. So different! I’m definitely intrigued..

  74. Look at all of the comments! Do you think people love strawberry shortcake or is it you. Both, I think! This sounds like a fantastic recipe and I’m snagging a copy right now.

  75. Wow Joanne, your photograph is so terrific, I want to lick my monitor! 😉 Thanks so much for joining the two for tuesday recipe blog hop and I hope to see you again next week! I didn’t see a button to subscribe in a reader, so I will just send you some real food love! Keep it real! alex

  76. J L Health says:

    Those pictures are unbelievable….What a great recipe. Thanks for joining the two for tuesday blog hop.

  77. Jess says:

    Ooh, I’m conducting a a randomized placebo-controlled double-blinded clinical trial at the moment, I’ll see if I can add balsamic and black pepper syrup in for my remaining participants! Then I reckon we pitch it at Nature or Science, for sure.

  78. I didn miss this post , but look at it this way, i come here, write a line and am stuck, re start, write a line again and am stuck!!!
    I thought this time if it aint gng thru i am gng to email u!!!
    U know i ”write” lods of posts , in my mind while doing the dishes or whipping a dream ,every single day , barely anything gets written!!!
    i Love ur choice for this month and am looking for a little tweak!!!
    Besides that will u tell me which is the best parchment paper and baking powder around?

    Hey i so want to ask u about the visiting cards, what happenned?

  79. grace says:

    outstanding. incidentally, i’m almost positive i do my best thinking when i’m completely or at least partially nude. there’s something about that freedom, i guess…

  80. Ty'sMommy says:

    Ok, yum. That’s all….just….yum.

  81. ejm says:

    I agree! Strawberries with balsamic vinegar and pepper on shortcake (biscuit-style) are the best. The only thing I’d change is to use creme fraiche rather than whipped cream. Or maybe add some creme fraiche to go beside the whipped cream….


  82. Danielle says:

    when I first heard about strawberries and balsamic….I thought the person was “weird” and had some real funky tastebuds. But yes….it is a wonderful combo. Who invents these culinary combos?

  83. Kerstin says:

    Happy Birthday to you Mom! What unique strawberry shortcakes – they look absolutely amazing!

  84. Can you believe I’ve never made strawberry shortcake? I’ve made lots of scones and biscuits but never put together strawberry shortcake like this. I really should though. And I’m completely in love with the balsamic black pepper syrup!!

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