Get shorty

Last week, I couldn’t stop thinking about strawberry shortcakes. Despite never actually having eaten one, the perfect summer weather had me craving something decadent and scone-y, with equal greedy measures of jam, cream and strawberries. So I decided to treat the girls at our weekly knitting club to some shortcake goodness. After a brief bit of internet hunting, I found Nigella Lawson’s version. Needless to say, they were delicious. I made them the day before we planned to eat them and they were easily refreshed by warming them up in a pre-heated oven for 5-10 minutes.

These shortcakes are definitely best served warm, with lashings of whipped cream and strawberries. And probably a spoon, too. Because, let’s face it, the best puddings are the messy ones! Let’s go summer, we’ve got the food nailed.

Strawberry shortcakes
by Nigella Lawson

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Ingredients:

For the shortcakes:
325g (11oz) plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
5 tablespoons caster sugar
125g (4oz) unsalted butter, frozen
1 large egg, beaten
125 ml single cream

For the filling:
approx. 300g (10oz) strawberries
1 tablespoon caster sugar
3 drops balsamic vinegar (optional)
250ml double cream or crème fraîche

– Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a large bowl. Grate the butter into these dry ingredients and use your fingertips to finish crumbling the butter into the flour. Whisk the egg into the cream, and pour into the flour mixture a little at a time, using a fork to mix. You will probably not need all of the eggy cream to make the dough come together, so go cautiously.

– Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll gently to a thickness of about 2cm / ¾ inch. Dip a 6½ cm / 2½ inch round cutter in flour and cut out as many rounds as you can. Work the scraps back into a dough, re-roll and finish cutting out. You should get 8 in all. Place the shortcakes about 2½ cm / 1 inch apart on a greased or lined baking sheet, brush the tops with the remaining egg/cream mixture, and sprinkle them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of caster sugar. If it helps with the rest of your cooking, or life in general, you can cover and refrigerate them now for up to 2 hours.

– Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden-brown, and let them cool for a short while on a wire rack. Meanwhile, crush half the strawberries with the spoonful of sugar and the few drops of balsamic vinegar if using, and halve or quarter the remaining strawberries, depending on their size. Whip the double cream, if you’re using.

– The shortcakes should be eaten while still warm, so split each one across the middle and cover with a spoonful of the crushed strawberry mixture, a few halved or quartered strawberries, then dollop some whipped cream or crème fraîche on top, and set the top back on.

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