Midsummer Strawberry Shortcake

Most of my strawberry shortcakes are quick affairs involving some biscuits (sometimes even biscuits from a tube…gasp), fresh strawberries, and freshly-whipped cream. But here’s a more elegant version by Bon Appetit’s Chris Morocco, and it’s a quintessential midsummer dessert. This is a rare treat, but I belong to the “no bad foods, only small portions” camp, and I enjoy it wholeheartedly when my birthday rolls around.

Midsummer Strawberry Shortcake
4 servings (though it makes 6 biscuits)

—Shortcakes
2 hard-boiled egg yolks, cooled
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons semolina flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Sanding or granulated sugar (for sprinkling)
—Strawberries
1-1/2 pounds strawberries (about 1 quart), hulled and halved (quartered if large)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (4 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Sea salt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
—Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise (or 1/4 tsp. Madagascar vanilla extract)

Make the Shortcakes
Pulse egg yolks, semolina flour, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until only pea-size pieces remain. Drizzle in 2/3 cup cream, then pulse 2–3 times to barely incorporate. Transfer dough to a work surface and gently fold on top of itself several times just to bring it together and work in any dry spots.

Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop, make 6 balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Do not flatten. (Or measure out mounded scoops with a 1/4-cup measuring cup.) Cover and chill until cold, 20–25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush tops of shortcakes with remaining 2 tablespoons cream and sprinkle with sanding (or granulated) sugar. Bake until golden and sides are firm to the touch, 28–32 minutes. Let cool.

Macerate the Strawberries
Toss the strawberries, sugar, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl to combine. Let half the strawberries macerate for 15 minutes, then stir in 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.

Make the Strawberry Compote
Transfer the other half of strawberries to a large saucepan and add 1 tablespoon water; bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally and reducing heat if needed to keep at a low simmer, until strawberries are starting to break down and become jammy and liquid is syrupy, 12–18 minutes. Let cool, then stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice.

Sweeten & Whip the Cream
Combine heavy cream, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; reserve pod for another use (or use Madagascar vanilla extract, instead). Beat cream until soft peaks form.

Assemble
Split the shortcakes in half and spoon strawberry compote, then macerated strawberries, and finally whipped cream on each bottom half. Close with shortcake tops.

Note—
Shortcakes can be baked 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature. Reheat before serving. Strawberry compote can also be made 1 day ahead.