8 cups (about 2 1/2 pounds) strawberries, hulled + 8 small strawberries left whole, for garnish
5 tablespoons light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3/4 cup reduced fat buttermilk + 2 tablespoons for brushing over top before baking
1 large egg
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow corn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled
In a large mixing bowl — using a cocktail muddler or potato masher — mash 3 cups of the strawberries until barely mashed. Slice remaining strawberries lengthwise and add to mashed strawberries along with light brown sugar and lemon zest. Fold ingredients in gently — using a rubber spatula — until well combined.
Cover strawberry mixture with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least a half an hour to let all those flavors meld together.
Adjust oven rack to second-from-the-bottom level and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a small mixing bowl — using a fork or whisk — whisk 3/4 cup reduced fat buttermilk and egg together until well incorporated. Set aside.
Using a food processor, pulse all-purpose flour, yellow corn meal, baking powder, baking soda, light brown sugar and sea salt together until well combined. Slice chilled butter into your dried ingredient mixture — using a sharp knife — and pulse again until mixture resembles a coarse meal.
Note: The butter pieces should look slightly smaller than pea-size.
Transfer dried mixture to large, clean bowl and add buttermilk/egg mixture and — using a clean rubber spatula — fold gently until just barely combined.
Note: Do not over-mix as doing so will result in rubbery, tough shortcakes (and no one likes rubbery shortcakes).
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until dough just starts to come together.
Gently pat dough out into a rough, 9-inch circle — roughly 3/4 to 1-inch thick — and using a floured 3 3/4-inch biscuit cutter, cut out 6 dough rounds. You will likely have extra dough left over; if you do, just gently collect extra dough pieces, gently pat down to same thickness and cut out more dough rounds.
Note: When patting dough out, pat down just enough to where it gets to desired thickness. Don’t be too concerned with a smooth surface appearance. The unevenness is what we’re going for here (see pic for reference). Also, be sure to not twist the biscuit cutter when cutting out the rounds, just gently punch and lift. This will help the shortcakes rise properly when baking.
Place dough rounds onto your parchment paper-lined baking sheet roughly 2-inches apart and — using a pastry brush — gently brush tops with the extra 2 tablespoons of reserved buttermilk.
Transfer baking sheet to middle of second-from-the-bottom level oven rack and bake shortcakes for 15 – 17 minutes or until golden brown, making sure to turn baking sheet halfway through baking.
While shortcakes are baking, prepare whipped cream.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl — using a hand mixer at medium speed — add chilled whipping cream, powdered confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract and beat well for a few minutes until soft peaks form. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
When shortcakes are ready, remove baking sheet from oven and transfer shortcakes to wire cooling rack to cool for about 10 – 15 minutes.
When ready to serve — using a serrated knife — split shortcakes in half and place bottoms on individual serving plates. Top each bottom with several spoonfuls of the strawberry mixture, a dollop of whipped cream and cap with shortcake top. Finish each with another dollop of whipped cream and a strawberry for garnish.