Strawberry and vanilla shortcake

Whipped cream and fresh, juicy strawberries are sandwiched between layers of buttery shortbread to make this afternoon tea recipe. Traditionally, the top is cut into wedges and arrange on the filled, whole base, then cut right through when serving.

300g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp baking powder
100g chilled unsalted butter, cubed
60g caster sugar
1 large free-range egg, lightly beaten
2-3 tbsp milk
For the strawberry and vanilla filling

2 punnets (about 500g) strawberries, hulled, halved or quartered depending on size
2-3 tbsp icing sugar, to taste, plus extra for dusting
½ vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped
284ml pot double cream
25g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a food processor. Add the butter and whizz briefly until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Tip the mixture into a bowl and stir in the sugar. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with 1½ tablespoons milk and add to the flour mixture. Stir with a fork until the mixture starts to stick together in small clumps. If it’s a little dry, gradually add the rest of the milk until the dough comes together into a ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead briefly and very gently until smooth.
Lightly roll out the dough to form a 24cm round x 1cm thick disc and transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes in the oven or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool the shortcake on a wire rack, then cut horizontally into 2 rounds using a serrated knife. Store in an airtight container until ready to assemble the complete cake, or for up to 2 days.
Make the filling. Put the strawberries in a bowl with the icing sugar and vanilla seeds. Mix gently, cover and chill. In a second bowl, lightly whip the cream to soft peaks with the caster sugar.
Put the shortcake base on a plate. Spread with cream and spoon over the berries. Cover with the shortcake top, dust with icing sugar and slice.


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