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Strawberry Shortcakes

Servings: 6
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.

For The Strawberries:
3 to 4 cups sliced strawberries
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. granulated sugar

For The Shortcakes:
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz./113g) softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk

For Garnish:
1 cup chilled heavy cream, whipped with
2 tbsp. granulated sugar

Special Equipment:
You will need a 6-well shortcake pan to bake the shortcakes in.

Shortcake pans may be purchased online at www.bakerscatalogue.com and at other online stores.

To Prepare The Strawberries:
In a nonreactive bowl (the bowl should be stainless steel, not aluminum or tin), 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 (180°C). 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 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.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Adapted From: Williams-Sonoma Kitchen
Date: May 23, 2002