Adapted lightly from Rich and Tender Shortcakes with Strawberries and Whipped Cream, Cook’s Illustrated, May 1997. Some people like yellow spongecake for strawberry shortcake but I prefer these traditional sweet biscuits.
This recipe makes six shortcakes using a 2 3/4-inch biscuit cutter. My biscuit cutter is a little smaller so I got eight shortcakes. If you are cooking for a larger group, double the recipe. My 14-cup Cuisinart food processor handled the doubled recipe nicely.
3 pints fresh strawberries, hulled; 1 pint crushed with potato masher or fork, 2 pints quartered
6 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface and biscuit cutter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sparkling sugar for sprinkling
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix crushed and quartered berries with sugar; set aside while preparing biscuits (up to 2 hours).
Make Sweet Biscuits
Adjust oven rack to lower middle position. Heat oven to 425 °F. Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and 3 tablespoons sugar in food processor. Cut butter in tablespoon-size pieces and arrange around the top of flour in food processor. Run the food processor for 13 seconds, while you count to 13 slowly.
Mix beaten egg with half-and-half. Pour into food processor and run until the dough forms a clump, about 6 or 7 seconds. Turn the dough out onto floured work surface and make sure all flour is incoporated.
Pat the dough into 9- by 6-inch rectangle, 3/4 inch thick. Flour biscuit cutter and cut the dough into rounds. Place 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Brush dough tops with egg white and sprinkle with sparkling sugar.
Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Place biscuits on wire rack, cool until warm, about 10 minutes.
Make Whipped Cream
Add cream, sugar, and vanilla to mixing bowl. Whip until soft peaks form.
Split each cake crosswise. Spoon a portion of berries and then a dollop of whipped cream over each cake bottom. Cap with cake top. Serve immediately.