Lemon Meringue Strawberry Shortcake

Two summer favorites combined into one incredible dessert: fresh strawberries sandwiched between a layer of lemon curd and vanilla meringue and held together by a tender kefir biscuit. 

 

lemon meringue strawberry shortcake

You’ll laugh when you know where I got the idea for this recipe so I won’t tell you. Perhaps next year there will be an orange blossom strawberry shortcake or a raspberry torte. I really do get my inspiration from the oddest of sources. 

But in all seriousness, this is a genius way to dress up a classic. Both lemon meringue and strawberry shortcake have similar components: a pastry (crust/biscuit or if you are from the midwest, a sponge cake); a fruit as the star, and a creamy whip to bring it all together. To make lemon meringue strawberry shortcake, I took two components of each to come up with this mash-up. And it’s INCREDIBLE. Let’s make some layers and dig in! 

Strawberry Shortcake: a twist on the classic

Summers in CO as a child meant strawberry shortcake with coolwhip and fresh berries. It was a rare treat when mom bought the little sponge cakes (they always came in packs of 6 and were only around in the summer, specifically for strawberry cheesecake, I believe!). When I was in my 20s, I moved to the east coast and became acquainted a different, classic version: served on a homemade, sometimes buttered, biscuit. I can’t tell you I prefer one over the other (the spongecake evokes a nostalgic sentiment) but the textural contrast is definitely more prominent in the biscuit and both are equally delicious. 

On the origins of strawberry shortcake, this was absolutely wonderful to read

Buttermilk biscuits → Kefir Biscuits

I looked at this southern biscuit recipe as a blueprint for how I’d go about making mine: I wanted all the qualities of a good buttermilk biscuit amplified to hold up to all the fillings I’d be adding. 

Kefir, a cultured milk, is similar to buttermilk but has been fermented with kefir grains (as opposed to lactic acid). It’s readily available and lasts longer than buttermilk so I always have it in the fridge. If it’s unusually thick, I’ll thin it out with some water.

To make the biscuits you’ll simply whisk the dry ingredients, cut in the butter with a pastry knife and gather the dough with the liquid. Then, cut, brush, and bake! 

Lemon Meringue Pie meets Strawberry Shortcake 

We’re taking the curd and the meringue part of a lemon meringue pie and incorporating it into a strawberry shortcake. The super lemony curd really takes this dish to another level and adds tart, bright dimensions here. 

The meringue takes the place of the cool whip/chantilly cream; it’s only a bit more effort than you’d put in to make whipped cream but it has the upside of using up those two leftover egg whites from the curd AND being both creamy and marshmallowy at once. Plus PLUS you get to toast it!!! As the biscuit sets the meringue develops a slightly firm shell but retains the creaminess within. 

Last component is, of course, the strawberries! The best ones are found in farmer’s markets or wherever you can find them locally. They will be redder, smaller, juicier and punch with flavor! 

 

How to make Lemon Meringue Strawberry Shortcake 

  1. Make the lemon curd (cook eggs with sugar, zest and juice, then add butter)
  2. Macerate the strawberries (toss berries with sugar and zest, let set) 
  3. Make the biscuits (cut butter into flour, shape and bake) 
  4. Make the meringue (whip egg whites and sugar to stiff peaks) 
  5. Assemble and serve! 

Tips for making the perfect Lemon Meringue Strawberry Shortcake 

  • Keep the butter and kefir cold for the biscuits, this helps the butter melt in the oven instead of before it goes in to give us those flaky layers. 
  • Bake biscuits close together: this helps them rise taller in the oven. 
  • Cook the curd until it thickens, covering the back of a spoon, and let it set for at least a few hours or overnight before using – this will keep it thick. 
  • Strawberries should macerate for about an hour, the process helps to amplify the flavor. 
  • When making the meringue; the sugar should have completely dissolved before you remove it from the heat (pinch to check) and should reach stiff peaks before you stop whipping. 

Ingredient Info and Possible Substitutions 

  • All-Purpose Flour: When it comes to flour brands, White Lily holds the crown for best flour to use for biscuits. It’s fine mill and low protein content create an airy, flaky ultra tender biscuit. 
  • Kefir: Tangy and rich and creamy, kefir lends the most wonderful qualities to the biscuit. A full-fat buttermilk will work too if you can find it. 
  • Eggs: For the meringue I’ve had followers able to make it with aquafaba instead of the egg whites. Getting the curd to set without eggs will take some cornstarch and milk; find a recipe that uses both. 
  • Lemon: I think that lime would work really really well here; you’ll need more limes as they are smaller to get the same amount of juice and zest but it would be delicious! 

 

 

Recipe for Lemon Meringue Strawberry Shortcakes 

lemon meringue strawberry shortcake

Lemon Meringue Strawberry Shortcakes

Fresh strawberries sandwiched between a layer of lemon curd and vanilla meringue and held together by a tender biscuit.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Dessert
Servings 10

Equipment

  • stand mixer to whip meringue

Ingredients
  

Biscuits

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour (low protein content is best) 335g
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar 50g
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold 113g
  • 1 cup Lifeway's low-fat kefir or buttermilk 235g
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

Macerated Strawberries

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries sliced
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Zest of a lemon

Meringue

Instructions
 

To make the biscuits:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Whisk the dry ingredients together and, using a pastry knife, cut in the butter until you have a mix of black and kidney bean sized bits.
  • Pour in the kefir or buttermilk and stir with a rubber spatula until dough comes together in a ball.
  • Turn onto a floured surface and pat down with your hands until the dough is 1 inch thick. If you want more layers, roll the dough out as thin as you can and fold it over itself. You can do this twice. Pat the sides so that the
  • Use a biscuit cutter to cut out dough. Place them on the baking sheet fairly close together (this helps them rise higher).
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the bottoms are just golden.

For the strawberries:

  • About an hour before you plan to assemble and serve the cakes, combine the strawberries with the zest and sugar and let rest.

For the meringue:

  • Bring a pot filled ⅓ of the way with water to a simmer. It should be sized so that a heatproof bowl will fit on top without touching the water.
  • Whisk together the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl and set it over the pot. Keep whisking until you can pinch the mixture and you cannot feel any sugar granules.
  • Add the salt and vanilla and whip the mixture (in the same bowl with a hand mixer or transfer to a stand mixer, the latter is quicker and easier) until you have stiff peaks; the meringue holds shape when the whisk is turned upside down.

Assemble the cakes:

  • Slice the biscuits in half and spoon some meringue into the bottom half; pressing down with the back of the spoon into the center to create a well. Use a kitchen torch to toast it, if desired. Spoon the strawberries into the ‘well’ and spoon some curd on top. Top with the other half.
  • Cakes should be served the day of assembly.
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