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Shortcake was common enough in the 16th century that Shakespeare named a character in the Merry Wives of Windsor after the crumbly pastry.

The first printed recipe combining fresh berries with “short cakes” was in the July 1845 issue ofThe British American Cultivator(Toronto) and described as “ a thick unleavened cookie, split, layered with macerated strawberries, and covered with a basic sugar and egg white icing rather than whipped cream.”