I suppose there are Southerners who stoop to using those small commercial sponge cakes to make strawberry shortcake, the way most people in the country foolishly do, but I don’t know any. Genuine Southern strawberry shortcake is and always has been made with only one style of bread: split and buttered baking powder biscuits. Nor do I know any respectable Southern cook who would destroy a strawberry shortcake with something so atrocious as Cool Whip instead of fresh whipped cream. And, finally, shortcake prepared with anything but fresh, ripe, sweet strawberries (no white cores) defeats the whole idea of strawberry shortcake, meaning that serious folks make strawberry shortcake only when summer berries are at their peak. In short, Southerners are unapologetic elitists when it comes to the ritual of strawberry shortcake—always served warm, of course.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix well. Add the butter and, using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the mixture till crumbly. In a small bowl, combine the egg and half-and-half and beat till well blended, then add to the flour mixture and stir till thoroughly moist. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead very briefly. With your hands, pat out the dough to about a ½-inch thickness, then, using a floured 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out 6 biscuits. Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and
While they’re still hot, split open the biscuits, spread lightly with butter, and arrange close together on a crystal cake plate. Spoon the berries and cream onto the biscuits and serve while still warm. (For attractive individual servings, prop one biscuit half at an angle on the other on small dessert plates and spoon berries and cream over the tops.)
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