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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
In late spring and early summer, strawberries are at their peak. Choose berries with shiny red skins and firm green tops. Smaller berries are preferable to larger ones, as their flavor is sweeter.
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For the strawberries:
- 3 to 4 cups sliced strawberries
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbs. sugar
For the shortcakes:
- 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 8 Tbs. (1 stick) softened unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 cup chilled heavy cream, whipped with 2 Tbs.
Directions:To prepare the strawberries, in a nonreactive bowl, combine the strawberries, lemon juice and sugar and stir together until well blended. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries are tender and have released much of their juices, at least 2 hours.
To make the shortcakes, position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease and flour a 6-well shortcake pan.
Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; repeat until well blended.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 30 to 45 seconds. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sugar, beating until blended. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue beating, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the zest. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating each addition until well blended before adding more, until the mixture is thick and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Stop the mixer occasionally and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and fold in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour, until just blended and no lumps of flour remain.
Divide the batter among the wells of the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cakes comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully turn the cakes out onto the rack and cool completely, bottom side up, at least 1 hour. If not serving the cakes immediately, store them in an airtight container at room temperature.
To serve, slice each shortcake in half horizontally. Place the wide shortcake halves, sliced side up, on individual plates. Top each with some of the strawberries and whipped cream, then top with the other half of the cakes, cut side down. Garnish with additional strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. Serve immediately.