Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour
1 & 1/2 pounds strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and quartered
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 medium lemon)
1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp fine salt, plus a pinch
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into small pieces
2 cups heavy cream
1. Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the upper third. Place a large, clean metal or glass bowl and a clean whisk in the freezer while you prepare the strawberries and shortcakes.
2. Combine the strawberries, 1/4 cup of the sugar, the lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of the vanilla, and a small pinch of salt in a medium, nonreactive mixing bowl. Stir until the strawberries are thoroughly coated, then let sit at room temperature, stirring occasionally, while you make the shortcakes, for 30 minutes.
3. Combine the flour, baking powder, 2 tablespoons of the sugar (you’ll have 2 more tablespoons left), and the measured salt in a large bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps.
4. Add the butter pieces and toss to coat in the flour mixture. Working quickly so as not to soften the butter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until it’s completely incorporated. Drizzle in 1 cup of the cream and mix with your hands until the dough just comes together. (It will be dry and slightly crumbly.)
5. Turn the dough out onto a dry, clean surface, working in any loose dry pieces with your hands. Pat the dough into a circle and, using a rolling pin, roll it out until it’s about 3/4 inch thick. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many shortcakes as possible (press straight down through the dough—do not twist the cutter, or the shortcakes will not rise properly). Gently reroll and cut out the dough until you have a total of 6 shortcakes. Discard any remaining dough.
6. Place the shortcakes on a baking sheet and bake until they are puffed and the tops are golden and flecked with brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool slightly.
7. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, and the remaining cup of cream in the chilled bowl and whisk with the chilled whisk until medium peaks form, about 3 minutes.
8. Prepare 6 small serving plates. Split the shortcakes in half horizontally and set the bottoms on the plates. Evenly divide the reserved strawberries over the cakes, then evenly divide the whipped cream over the berries. Close with the shortcake tops and serve.