According to the cookbook “Dishing Up Maryland” by Lucie Snodgrass, from where I have adapted this recipe, “In the South, strawberry shortcake is always made with biscuits rather than sponge cake; in this and many other culinary leanings, Maryland seems to side with the South over the North.” Truthfully, I can’t imagine it any other way. I could eat this strawberry shortcake for every meal of the day (but I won’t admit here how much I’ve already indulged in so far this weekend!)
1/2 cup sugar
2 quarts strawberries, hulled and cut in half
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup half and half
1 pint whipping cream
Optional: 2 stalks rhubarb, diced, 1 tablespoon pectin
While you make the biscuits, macerate the strawberries by sprinkling with 3 T sugar and placing in the fridge for about an hour.
Yesterday, I happened to have some rhubarb on hand so instead of plain strawberries, I made a quick compote by combining the rhubarb and strawberries in a saucepan with the sugar and a dusting of pectin, bringing to a boil and simmering until a nice, saucy consistency. This was pretty awesome but pure, unadulterated strawberries are good too.
To make the biscuits: preheat oven to 425. Whisk together the flour, 3T sugar, baking powder, lemon and salt. Combine butter in with your hands until mixture is crumbly.
Beat the egg together with the half and half. Mix into the dry ingredients. Dough should be very soft and pliable, but should not be so sticky you can not work it. Add a bit more flour as necessary.
Turn out onto a well-floured surface and roll or press down with your hands to about a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into rustic squares and bake them on an ungreased sheet for about 10 minutes, until lightly golden brown.
Whip the cream, about 2T sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla until it forms soft peaks.
Split the biscuits in half and generously spoon strawberries and whipped cream.
Pause and take in this delicious moment. Summer has begun!