Here’s a recipe you can literally have on the table less than an hour after you start making it. I love to use really sweet height-of-the-season strawberries for this, but don’t hesitate to try it with other fruit or berries such as peaches, mixed berries, or even fresh figs.
Makes one 8-inch shortcake, 6 to 8 servings
2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 large egg
2/3 cup buttermilk, light cream, or half-and-half
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, for buttering the split biscuit
One 8-inch round pan 2 inches deep, buttered and the bottom lined with a disk of parchment or buttered wax paper cut to fit
Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 450˚F.
Combine the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, or until the butter is finely mixed into the dry ingredients.
Whisk the egg and buttermilk together and add to the food processor. Pulse repeatedly until a very soft dough forms.
Carefully remove the blade from the bowl and use a metal spatula to scrape away any dough stuck to it. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and use a small metal offset spatula to spread it evenly. For individual shortcakes, place eight 3- to 4-inch mounds of dough on a parchment paper-lined, jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle the top of the dough(s) with the remaining tablespoon sugar.
Bake the shortcake until it is well risen, deep golden, and firm in the center when pressed with a fingertip, 15 to 20 minutes, 10 to 15 minutes for individual ones.
While the biscuit is baking, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla by hand or by machine with the whip attachment on medium speed. Set aside in the refrigerator.
Gently stir the berries and sugar together and keep at room temperature.
When the shortcake is ready, unmold it onto a rack and let it cool for a few minutes. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut through it horizontally to make 2 layers. Place the first layer on a platter and spread with the softened butter. Top with half the berries and their juices and half the whipped cream. Add the other layer, cut side down, and top with the remaining berries and juices and cream. For individual shortcakes, split the biscuits in half horizontally and place the bottom halves on dessert plates. Top each half with 1/8 of the berry mixture and 1/8 of the whipped cream. Place the remaining halves on top. Serve immediately.
Serving: Cut the shortcake into wedges at the table. Use a spoon to put a little of the stray berries and cream next to each portion.
Storage: For advance preparation, whip the cream and macerate the berries earlier the same day and keep them refrigerated. You can also prepare the biscuit up to adding the butter, just leaving the liquid to be added. But the biscuit must be baked immediately after mixing and served warm from the oven. While I wouldn’t throw away leftovers, they certainly aren’t as good after they have cooled off. Wrap and refrigerate leftovers and eat at midnight or later while standing in front of the refrigerator.