Strawberry Shortcake

For the shortcakes:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
3/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into
small pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the strawberries:
4 cups strawberries, hulled and cut into slices
1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup sugar

whipped cream to taste

To make the shortcakes, preheat an oven to 400?F.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and salt until well blended. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the pieces are no larger than peas. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and gently toss with a fork or rubber spatula until the flour is just moistened and the ingredients are blended.

Turn the shaggy dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently press the dough into a thick rectangle about 6 by 4 inches. Using a large sharp knife, trim the edges even, then cut the dough into 6 equal squares.

Place the squares on an ungreased baking sheet, spacing them well apart. Bake until they are puffed and golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly or completely.

Meanwhile, prepare the strawberries: In a bowl, toss together the strawberries and sugar with a fork, lightly crushing some of the berries. Cover the berries and refrigerate until well chilled or until ready to serve.

To serve, split the warm or cooled shortcakes in half horizontally and place the bottom halves, cut side up, on serving plates. Spoon some of the strawberries, including the juices, over each half and top with a dollop of the whipped cream. Top with the remaining shortcake halves, cut side down. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

from Williams Sonoma.