Do you think of yourself as a fearless person?
I certainly don’t. Or at least historically, I have not been. I’ve been kind of a scaredy-cat since, I don’t know, forever? And it prevented me from doing a lot of things that I’d otherwise like to do.
But there are different kinds of fear, right? So sometimes I’m wearing the fear-of-rejection hat, like when I chose not to go to this space camp in 6th grade because I was afraid none of the other kids would like me. I missed out on some powerfully nerdy fun, I’m sure. And now I really want to go to space camp. Do they make one for fully grown adults?
Fear of abandonment is another one, I guess. I have a desperate need to keep everyone around me riiiiight here. Don’t move away. Those jobs aren’t important. What’s important is you staying in Columbus. With me! Who needs life experiences? Move next door. I’ll make you cookies. Meanwhile, one of my best friends just moved to St. Louis and another one has been in China for almost a year. Sometimes people ask if my friends left because of me. The answer is a definitive yes.
(SARCASM. They totally still love me. Ben sends me pictures of him and his cat on Snapchat. Like, a lot. And I’m helping Nikki plan her wedding because I’m the Matron of Honor. Can we talk about how I’m a “matron,” now? That’s the worst word in the history of words. I digress.)
Fear of failure is my biggest scaredy-cat obstacle. For some reason it gets out of control when testing a recipe that I invented or modified. That is what I did with these shortcakes, and my stress levels were high. Especially since I had $12 of rhubarb on the line. Why is that stuff so expensive? I am told it grows all over the place, but I went to three stores before I finally found it. There was a tiny little bin of the pink celery-like stalks, and I piled handful after handful into my bag, grimacing at the $5.99/pound price tag and hoping it wouldn’t taste like crap.
I had never had rhubarb before these shortcakes. I know that it is often paired with strawberries, but I had just recently made something with strawberries (coming soon!), so I turned to my favorite recipe-invention tool: The Flavor Bible.
There are apparently lots of things that go with rhubarb, but I settled on orange, because those are at the tail end of their season, and cardamom, because yum. I haphazardly zested my orange into the wine bath that the rhubarb gets roasted in (I used some seriously cheap wine to offset the rhubarb cost. It’s pretty terrible stuff to drink), and squeezed in some juice from the orange for good measure, not knowing if either would be enough for the rhubarb to pick up the citrus flavor. To me, that is fearlessness. Doing something even if there is no guarantee things will work out. It felt like a triumph.
And it totally paid off. The rhubarb picked up the wine flavor and the orange, so the filling of these shortcakes is reminiscent of sangria. I was having flashbacks to Spain just smelling it.
My other fearless feat was making the actual shortcakes. Totally not difficult, but I’ve never done it before. When we had strawberry shortcakes as a kid, we’d just buy those sweet, yellow mini-bundts at the store. I am totally Team Biscuit now. I did add some turbinado sugar to the tops, though, because is there ever enough sugar in life?
Finally, cardamom whipped cream. With vanilla bean paste. Ugh. It is just so amazing. My husband and I were eating it out of the mixing bowl with spoons long after the shortcakes had been eaten and the dishes washed.
Never had rhubarb? Get on board. Be fearless.
- 2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed, sliced 1-inch thick
- 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- Zest from 1 medium orange (about 1-2 tablespoons)
- Juice from half of a medium orange (about 1-2 tablespoons)
- 1 cup (120 grams) cake flour
- 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1½ cups chilled heavy cream
- ¼ cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- 1½ cups chilled heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, or seeds from ½ vanilla bean)
- ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
- Preheat oven to 350°F. In a 13x9-inch baking dish, combine rhubarb, sugar, wine, vanilla bean seeds, orange zest, and orange juice. Toss with a spoon to combine. Roast until rhubarb is fork tender, about 30-40 minutes. Set on a wire rack to cool while you make the biscuits.
- Turn up the oven to 375°F. Whisk cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together in a medium mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir while you slowly pour in 1½ cups of heavy cream. Gently mix until the dough just holds together.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and form the dough into 9x6-inch rectangle about 1 inch thick. The thickness is the most important part, because you need to be able to slice the biscuits in half. So err on the side of thickness! Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 4 equal pieces. You will end with 8 rectangular biscuits.
- Place biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat, about 1 inch apart. Brush tops of biscuits with butter, and sprinkle turbinado sugar over the tops. Bake until golden, about 20-22 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Combine 1½ cups heavy cream, sugar, vanilla bean paste, and ground cardamom in a mixing bowl. Beat until soft peaks form.
- To assemble the shortcakes, take the slightly warm or room temperature biscuits and split each in half. Spoon rhubarb filling onto the bottom halves, and cover with the top halves of the biscuits. Add a dollop of cardamom whipped cream on the side of each plate. Alternatively, you can sandwich the whipped cream between the biscuit with the rhubarb filling.