The beautiful thing about berries is you don't have to do much to them. These shortcakes are a great alternative to scones and jam and allow the fresh strawberries to shine. Alternatively, try making them in the height of summer using pitted cherries or raspberries.
2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp castor sugar
110g cold unsalted butter, diced
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
4 cups thickened cream (35 per cent fat)
3 punnets strawberries
1/3 cup pure icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
PREHEAT OVEN to 200°C. Place oven rack in the middle of oven.
SIFT TOGETHER flour, salt, baking powder and castor sugar into a mixing bowl. Place in a food processor with the butter and orange zest. Process until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, then empty this back into the bowl.
MIX IN about 3/4 cup cream, just until most of the dry ingredients have been moistened. Turn out onto a floured board and knead gently until the dough just comes together. Don't overwork it.
ROLL DOUGH out to 1.5 centimetres thick. Using a 7-centimetre diameter cutter, cut out shortcake rounds. Lightly knead together remaining dough, re-roll and cut out until all used. Place on a tray lined with baking paper. Brush tops lightly with some cream. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are light brown and the dough is set.
WASH, DRY AND HULL the strawberries. Using a mortar and pestle, lightly crush about a quarter of the strawberries. Place these in a bowl. Slice the remaining berries and add to the bowl with 2 tbsp icing sugar. Mix through and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
PLACE REMAINING CREAM in a bowl with the vanilla paste. Sift in 2 tbsp icing sugar and whisk until soft peaks form.
SPLIT THE SHORTCAKES in half. Place some cream and strawberries on each base, then finish with the shortcake tops.
Photography William Meppem; Jennifer Soo Styling Hannah Meppem Food preparation Nick Banbury