We anticipate sweet summer fruit all year long, so as soon as it arrives we celebrate by baking up a few shortcakes, stuffing them with fruit goodness, and topping it all with freshly whipped cream. Long live summer!
Game plan: The dough for the shortcakes is slightly dry and crumbly; resist the temptation to overmix it to get it to come together. Just pack the dough lightly until it forms a circle and gently shape it with a rolling pin.
Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Place a large, clean metal or glass bowl and a clean whisk in the freezer while you prepare the fruit and shortcakes. Combine berries and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a medium bowl. Let sit until sugar dissolves and berries release some juice, at least 10 minutes.
Combine flour, baking powder, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt in a large bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps. Grate the butter on the large holes of a box grater and add to the flour mixture along with 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon of the cream. Mix briefly with your hands or a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together, about 1 minute. (The dough will be dry and slightly crumbly.)
Turn dough out onto a dry, clean surface and pat into a circle. Using a rolling pin, shape dough to about 3/4-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, stamp out as many shortcakes as possible. Reroll and stamp dough until you have a total of 6 shortcakes.
Place shortcakes on a baking sheet and bake until they are puffed and the tops are golden and flecked with brown, about 20 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, combine vanilla, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and remaining cream in the chilled bowl and whisk with the chilled whisk until thick and fluffy and medium peaks have formed, about 3 minutes.
Split a shortcake in half horizontally and set the bottom half on a serving plate. Scatter berries over the shortcake and top with a dollop of whipped cream. Close with remaining shortcake half and serve. Repeat to make 6 servings.
Beverage pairing:Chateau Doisy-Védrines Sauternes, France. Sauternes combines multiple fruit flavors with honey, spice, mineral, and herb notes, bringing lovely complexity to this fresh, bright dessert. The wine has some viscosity and a whiff of alcohol, so serve it well chilled.