Skip the cornbread or the biscuits, and try this shortcake instead. The base of the cake is soft like a biscuit with a creamy buttermilk, sour cream, onion custard top.
The Runaway Spoon
Here is a classic old recipe I have had to reconstruct from memory. I can’t remember where I first had it, but it definitely stuck with me. It’s the kind of dish that you ask the recipe for as soon as you eat it and the cook rattles it off from memory, but you never manage to actually jot down what she says. I searched online, but most of the recipes I found for onion shortcake used packaged corn muffin mix, which is not what I remember at all.
This is what I remember — a soft biscuit base with a creamy onion custard on top. I added thyme, because I think it goes so wonderfully well with sweet onions. And when Vidalia onions are in season, I use them in every way I can. Serve wedges of this with a saucy barbecue meal, I particularly like it with a sticky, burnished chicken.
Vidalia onion shortcake
2 tablespoons oil
1 large Vidalia onion (or other sweet onion)
1 bunch fresh thyme leaves
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1. Thinly slice the onions into half-moons. I like to do this quickly on a mandolin. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and the leaves from 3 or 4 thyme sprigs and salt. Stir to coat the onions. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and caramel brown, being careful not to scorch the onions. Leave the onions to cool slightly.