Cherry shortcake w/ herbed crema

yields 8 dessert portions

This shortcake biscuit relies mostly on the natural sweetness of cherries and good quality dairy. Meanwhile the soft drop-type biscuits, rendered even more tender thanks to malted flour, are easy and quick to make, even for young children.
Source fruit for this and other recipes from local farms! Birchrun Hills Farm at Fairmount, Kennett Square and Farm to City markets, Blueberry Hill Farm at Oakmont Farmers Market, Rineer Family Farm and Rittenhouse Farmers Market, Frecon Farm at Bryn Mawr Farmers MarketB & H Organic Produce at Malvern Farmers Market and West Reading Market, 


5 oz or 115g butter, cold
½ c. or 75g stone-ground barley or oat flour
1 c. or 150g Small Valley Milling All-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
Optional: ½ tsp cinnamon or nutmeg
¾ c. or 180ml buttermilk, cold (e.g. Fiddle Creek  buttermilk)

Preheat oven to 400F and line a tray with parchment or grease lightly. Sift and combine dry ingredients into a wide mixing bowl. Shave butter and add to dry mix and pinch together until you achieve a fine crumb consistency. Chill until butter is firm again. Add all of the buttermilk and use a bowl scraper or large rubber spatula to fold (do not mix) the buttermilk into the crumb, until about 75% of the crumb is hydrated. Use 2 spoons to loosely form biscuits and drop on the sheet tray with 2” space between each other. Optional: dust tops with cane or demerara sugar. Load into hot oven and bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then rotate and reduce heat to 350 for 2-6 minutes, until tops are browned and the biscuit is light when lifted. Remove from heat and cool slightly before slicing.

Cherries in their juices

½-1 pt sweet cherries from your favorite produce farm
Optional: ¼ c tart cherries
2T cane sugar or honey (e.g. Brandywine Bee honey or Whiskey Hollow maple syrup)
Fruity vinegar or lemon juice (Keepwell Malt Vinegar  or your favorite high-quality vinegar)
Salt to taste

Lob off the sides of the sweet cherries and toss in a small amount of acid. Reserve the rest of the cherries, including pit, and heat in a saucepan with the sugar, salt, sweetening, acid, and tart cherries if available. Cook on low heat to make a bright tasting cherry syrup. Cool, strain, and toss with the fresh sliced cherries. Reserve.

Herbed Crema

1 bunch sweet-smelling herbs (lavender, rosemary, anise hyssop, thyme, lemon verbena)
½ c. cream
½ c. crème fraiche, yogurt, or fromage blanc (e.g. Haven Farmstead fromage blanc, Day Spring Farm or Fiddle Creek yogurt, Birchrun Hills or farm crème fraiche)
Honey or maple syrup to taste
Salt to taste

Bruise herbs with in a mortar and pestle or in a small bowl with the back of a spoon and cover with cream. Refrigerate while preparing the biscuits. Strain off herbs, pressing firmly to extract essential oils. Whip the cream gently with the cultured cream to your desired consistency, and season w/ honey or maple plus salt to taste.  Reserve in fridge.

Serve shortcakes with the cherries and crema as you see fit: open-face or in sandwich form.