Champagne Summer Shortcakes

Shortcakes:
2 cups flour (all-purpose, whole wheat pastry, or white whole wheat)
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a scant 1 cup milk
1 egg white
A bit of coarse sea salt

Honey-champagne syrup:
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup champagne (alternately, sparkling water or just water)

Summer fruit: about 1/2 cup of fruit per shortcake

Pint of good vanilla ice cream


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Make the shortcakes: Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar into a large bowl or food processor. Using a pastry cutter or 25 quick pulses of the food processor, blend until the mixture resembles tiny, sandy pebbles. If you are using a food processor transfer the mixture to a big bowl and using a fork stir in the milk until just combined.

Either drop directly onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (like drop biscuits), or turn the dough out onto a floured countertop, knead just once or twice to bring the dough together, roll out 3/4-inch thick and stamp with 1 1/2-inch biscuit cutter. Brush each shortcake with egg white and sprinkle with just a bit of coarse sea salt (and a bit more sugar if you like). Bake on the middle rack for about 12 minutes.

Make the syrup: Put the honey and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the honey loosens up and the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and
whisk in the champagne. Toss the fruit wedges in the syrup.

To serve: Split each shortcake open and top with a scoop of fruit and a dollop of ice cream.
from Heidi Swanson.