The Going Away Luncheon

by | Aug 18, 2011 | Dessert, Entertaining, Recipes

Strawberry shortcake

Throughout my career in IT I have had the opportunity to host and mentor interns. Several years ago I participated in a program that brought native Hawaiians to the mainland to learn a variety of technologies, such as networking, computer hardware repair, and vacuum technology. I really enjoyed working with the Hawaiians. I learned a lot about the islands and the Hawaiian culture. Also, most of the Hawaiians would bring me macadamia nut shortbread. If you have not had these cookies before, you ought to try them. They are awesome.

This summer I had the opportunity to mentor a student named Whitney from a small college in South Carolina. She is the sweetest and most polite young lady I think I have ever met. I’m hoping some of her southern manners rubbed off on me.

The time Whitney was here just flew by–it seemed like she had just arrived and it was already time for her to go back to South Carolina. To send her off, I hosted a luncheon at my house.  Since the luncheon was during a workday, I had to make things that were quick to make, but  I also wanted the food to be good. I ended up serving chicken Marsala (click here to go to the recipe. I am telling you folks, this chicken Marsala rocks!), baked potatoes, Caesar salad, fresh fruit display, strawberry shortcake, and Trader Joe’s tiramisu.

Chicken Marsala

When it came to the strawberry shortcake, instead of making individual shortcakes, I made one large cake. In the interest of time, I used canned whipped cream instead of whipping my own. I found the recipe on-line and it looked beautiful when served. Unfortunately it looked a lot better than it tasted. The cake was heavy, hard, and I could taste the shortening.

Since this cake looked so nice when it was ready to serve and was fairly easy to make, I was determined to tweak the recipe to make one that tasted as good as it looked and I think I succeeded.  Here is my tweaked recipe:

Strawberry Shortcake


  • 3 to 4 cups sliced strawberries
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipped cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease and flour one 9 inch round cake pan.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar onto the strawberries. Mix in and let the sit. 

Into a medium sized mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1/3 cup sugar and mix. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter with the flour until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. 

Break the egg into a small bowl and beat the egg.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the milk and beaten egg. Use a fork to mix the ingredients. Mix until nearly all of the flour is mixed in. Roll up the mixture and kneed two times, while still in the bowl to mix all of the flour in.

The egg and milk poured into the “well” in the center of the flour

Spread the batter into the greased and floured cake pan. Sprinkle a bit of sugar on top. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack.  To remove the cake from the pan, place a platter that is larger than the cake pan over the top of the pan. Hold the plate onto the pan and turn the pan upside down. The cake should drop onto the plate. Cut the cake in half, making two layers. If part of the shortcake breaks while you are cutting it, no worries. You can use the whipped cream to hold it together.

The dough spread into the cake pan

Shortcake baked to a golden brown

Pour the whipped cream into a mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and sugar. Whip the cream until you can form peaks.

Spread 1/3 of the whipping cream on the bottom layer of the cake. Spread half of the strawberries on top of the whipped cream. Place the top layer of the cake on top of the bottom layer. Spread 1/3 of the whipping cream on the top layer of the cake and spread the rest of the strawberries on the top.

Serve each piece of shortcake with a dollop of whipped cream.