For the topping


  • STEP 1

    Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7 and lightly flour a baking sheet. Put the flour, butter, sugar, half of the vanilla seeds and ¼ tsp salt into the bowl of a food processor, then pulse until fine. Tip into a large bowl. Beat the milk, egg and a good squeeze of lemon together, then tip into the bowl and bring together with a knife, using a cutting action, until you have a clumpy dough. Finally bring together with your hands if you need to.

  • STEP 2

    Lightly flour the work surface, tip the dough onto it, then quickly shape into a smooth-ish disc. Using a rolling pin, pat out to 2cm thick. Cut out 8 rounds with a smooth 7cm cutter (you’ll need to pinch together the trimmings). Glaze just the tops with beaten egg, transfer to the floured sheet, then bake for 10-12 mins until risen and golden, and they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack.

  • STEP 3

    Beat the remaining vanilla seeds and icing sugar into the clotted cream. It will get runnier at first, but keep beating and it will thicken again. To serve, slice the very top from each shortcake to give a flat surface, then spoon over about 1 tsp jam. Top with a good dollop of the vanilla clotted cream and finish with the strawberries.

What is a shortcake?

A shortcake is a sweet biscuit that is typically made with flour, butter, sugar, milk or cream, and often eggs. In contrast to a more aerated sponge cake, this has a texture somewhere between a scone and shortbread – slightly crumbly with a soft centre. Shortcakes are commonly served with whipped or clotted cream, jam and strawberries, making them a classic summer dessert or afternoon tea treat.

Tips for making strawberry shortcake

  • Try not to overwork the dough as this will make the shortcake texture too dense.
  • If you don’t have a food processor, mix together the flour, butter, sugar and vanilla as well as possible to ensure there are no lumps before adding into the buttermilk mixture, otherwise you may get clumps of flour in the finished bake. Sifting the flour will also help it to distribute evenly into the mixture.
  • We’ve served these shortcakes whole topped with jam, cream and strawberries but they can also be sliced in half and filled as well.
  • To enhance this dessert even further you could macerate the strawberries by chopping into thin slices and sprinkling over some sugar plus a squeeze of fresh lemon, then letting it stand for two hours. This process will draw out the natural fruit juices, resulting in soft berries and a syrupy juice to coat the shortcakes.

How do I know when the shortcakes are cooked?

After baking for 10-12 mins in a pre-heated oven they should be risen and golden, and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

How can you store them?

They can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days. We’d recommend storing the shortcakes without the cream and strawberries on top as it will make the shortcake wet and mushy.

Can shortcakes be frozen?

You can freeze shortcakes in an airtight container for up to two months. To defrost, leave them at room temperature overnight.

How can this recipe be customised?

Instead of strawberries you could use blueberries and add the zest of two lemons and 1 tsp of poppyseeds to the shortcakes.We’ve flavoured the clotted cream with vanilla, but you could use elderflower cordial for a summery twist, or even lemon juice for extra zing. You can also replace clotted cream with whipped cream for a more classic version.

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