Orange-Scented Strawberry Shortcakes

For my latest version of this all-American classic, I baked these shortcakes with a hearty amount of cream instead of butter or shortening for a rich taste, and used cake rather than all-purpose flour to make the texture extra tender. Orange zest lends a fresh citrus accent to these little cakes, and orange juice is used to season the berries. The whipped cream topping is also scented with a hint of grated orange peel. The shortcakes, the berries, and the cream can all be prepared several hours ahead, so that all you need to do at serving time is to assemble these scrumptious summer confections.

Shortcakes
2 cups cake flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp grated orange zest, packed
1 1/3 cups heavy cream, plus 1 tbsp extra if needed, and additional for brushing on tops of scones

Strawberries
4 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice

Topping
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
Confectioner’s sugar
8 mint sprigs

1. For the shortcakes, arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Have ready a large, heavy ungreased baking sheet.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to combine well. Stir in the orange zest and mix well. Slowly stir 1 1/3 cups cream into the dry ingredients until the dough comes together. If dough is dry, add the extra tablespoon of cream.

3. On a floured surface, divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Roll each into a ball and place it on the baking sheet; flatten with your fingers until the ball of dough is about 1/2 inch thick and 2 1/2 inches wide. Repeat with remaining dough. Brush the tops of the shortcakes lightly with some cream.

4. Bake until light golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Makes 8 shortbreads. (Shortcakes can be prepared 4 hours ahead; cool, cover loosely with foil, and leave at room temperature.)

5. For the strawberries, in a medium bowl, stir the berries, granulated sugar, and orange juice together.

6. For the topping, with an electric mixer on medium high speed, whip the cream until firm, gradually adding the granulated sugar. By hand, stir in the crème fraîche and orange zest. (The berries and cream can be prepared 2 hours ahead; cover both and refrigerate.)

7. To serve, halve the shortcakes horizontally, Arrange bottoms on 8 dessert plates. Spoon berries over, and top with whipped cream. Arrange tops over berries. Dust shortcakes with confectioners’ sugar and garnish each serving with a mint sprig.

Serves 8.

© Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2011

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