Meet the half-cake, half scone taste of summer

Lilly Higgins: These strawberry shortcakes – half cake, half scone – are filled with jam and whipped cream

Lilly Higgins’s strawberry shortcakes: like scones, they’re perfect with jam and cream

Lilly Higgins’s strawberry shortcakes: like scones, they’re perfect with jam and cream

 

Strawberry shortcakes are so pretty, so delicious and pure summer. They look similar to scones but are softer and lighter. Whereas a scone has a shorter, more biscuity crumb, a shortcake is almost half cake and half scone. (These shortcakes also have cream in the dough, to add a further layer of indulgence. No run-of-the-mill buttermilk here.) Irish strawberries are plentiful now, and making jam is the perfect way to preserve the season.

I love to add sweet geranium for a wonderful floral twist. Pelargonium graveolens grows well in Ireland as a houseplant and can be left outside during milder months. It is a hardy plant that exudes an intoxicating rose scent – it always reminds me of Turkish delight – and a few leaves are delicious added to apple or rhubarb tart. (You can buy some good strawberry jam instead of making your own, of course.)

Using cold, softly whipped cream provides a blanket of cool creaminess to offset the sweet and floral jam.

Strawberry and sweet geranium shortcakes

Serves eight and makes four jars of jam

Ingredients
For the strawberry jam
Juice of 2 lemons
1kg strawberries
1kg sugar
6 sweet geranium leaves

For the shortcakes
300g plain flour
85g sugar
2tsp baking powder
100g butter, cold and cubed
250ml cream
1 egg, lightly beaten, with 1tbsp water to glaze

To serve
500ml softly whipped cream
A few extra sliced strawberries

Method
To make the jam, spread the sugar on a large baking tray and leave it in a warm oven – about 100 Celsius – for five minutes.

Wash and hull the strawberries, then put them in a large heavy-based pan with the geranium leaves and lemon juice, and crush lightly with a wooden spoon. Bring to the boil, then add the warmed sugar. Boil for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and test the jam by spooning a little on to a cold saucer. If it wrinkles when you run your finger through it then it’s ready to be potted.

Leave the jam to cool a little, then pour into dry, warm, spotlessly clean jam jars. (I usually warm and sterilise mine by putting them in the oven when I warm the sugar; keep your jam in the fridge once you’ve opened a jar.)

To make the shortcakes, heat the oven to 200 Celsius, then put the flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. Use a whisk to mix everything together. Now, using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mix. (It’s fine to leave some butter visible.)

Create a well in the centre and pour in the cream. Use your hand, in a claw shape, or a round-bladed knife to bring the mix together. Work quickly with a light touch to form a soft dough. Pat it down gently and cut out eight rounds using a biscuit cutter.

Place on a tray lined with baking paper. Brush each shortcake with the egg wash and scatter sugar on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until risen and lightly golden.

Leave to cool on a wire rack before serving with the jam, whipped cream and extra sliced strawberries.

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