Pimms-soaked strawberries and lavender shortcakes

Serves: Makes 6-8

Pimms-soaked strawberries and lavender shortcakes

Shortcakes are the American equivalent of our scones and, dare I say it, more delicious. Their buttery crumbliness is irresistible, especially when matched with British strawberries macerated in Pimms and a billow of whipped cream. The key is not to over-work the dough-both when bringing the mixture together to form a smooth dough and when re-rolling it. They also must be at least 3cm thick when stamping out –any thinner and you will have a problem splitting them after baking as they don’t rise enormously. I have used lavender-scented sugar to make the shortcakes but you can use plain caster sugar. I’ve found too that these shortcakes keep better than our native scone which needs to be eaten on the day of baking.

Ingredients

  • 350g strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Pimms
  • For the shortcakes
  • 230g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 35g lavender sugar (or plain caster sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 75g cold, unsalted butter, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 165g double cream
  • To serve
  • 300ml double cream
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
Pimms-soaked strawberries and lavender shortcakes

Method

  1. Place the strawberries in a mixing bowl and stir in the caster sugar and Pimms. Leave to macerate for 4-5 hours if possible.
  2. For the shortcakes, put the flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the butter and rub in until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. You can do this by hand or in a food mixer. Pour in the cream (165g) and bring the mixture together to form a smooth ball.
  3. Dust a work surface with a little flour and roll out the dough to a rough circle with a thickness of at least 3cm. Stamp out rounds – I used a 6cm cookie cutter. Gently bring together the offcuts of dough and stamp out another 2-3 rounds. Place on a non-stick baking tray or one lined with non-stick parchment. Chill for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Heat the oven to 190˚c, fan oven 170˚c, mark 5. Bake the shortcakes in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and firm. Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack. When cold split the shortcakes horizontally.
  5. Pour the cream into a mixing bowl and add the icing sugar. Whip to soft peaks. Spoon some whipped cream onto each shortcake base and top with the macerated strawberries.
Pimms-soaked strawberries and lavender shortcakes