For my July birthday, I prefer sweet strawberries, ethereal whipped cream, and light, fluffy cream biscuits instead of cake. The ultimate summer dessert.
1 quart fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Makes 8 large biscuits.
In a medium bowl, mash 1 cup of the strawberries with a potato masher or a fork to release their juices. Add the rest of the strawberries and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Set aside to macerate at room temperature for several hours, or refrigerate for up to a day.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and 2 teaspoons of the sugar. Stir in about 1 1/4 cups of the heavy cream, just enough to moisten the dough thoroughly. You should be able to gather the dough together, squeeze it gently, and have it hang together without dry bits falling off. Add more cream, little by little, if necessary. If you have leftover cream, stick it back in the fridge.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter or cutting board and very gently pat it into an 8-inch circle about 3/4 inch thick. Use a sharp 2 1/4-inch biscuit cutter (or the edge of a drinking glass) to cut rounds. Brush the tops with melted butter and place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet.
Evenly sprinkle the tops with turbinado sugar and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. If you have any melted butter left over, brush it on the biscuits when they come out of the oven.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the remaining 2 1/2 cups heavy cream, the vanilla, the remaining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, and the lemon zest. Whip on high speed just until the cream forms soft peaks.
Split the oven-warm biscuits in half and place them on dessert plates. Onto one half of each biscuit, spoon some whipped cream, strawberries, and more whipped cream, then top with the other half. Keep the bowl of whipped cream and strawberries nearby, to add more as you eat!