Strawberry Shortcakes

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Melt-away Strawberry Shortcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter or margarine, in chunks
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 quart sliced strawberries (1/4 in. thick)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers until fine crumbs form. Add 3/4 cup cream and stir with a fork until dough holds together.

On a lightly floured board, knead dough just until smooth, 3 or 4 turns. Coat board with more flour and roll dough into a 4- by 8-inch rectangle. With a floured knife or fluted cutter, cut into 6 equal rectangles. Space rectangles 2 inches apart on a 12- by 15-inch baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon sugar.

Bake in a 375° F. regular or 350° F. convection oven until shortcakes are deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on sheet at least 15 minutes.

As shortcakes bake, in a bowl, gently mix strawberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. In another bowl, with a mixer on medium-high speed, whip remaining 3/4 cup cream, 1 tablespoon sugar, and vanilla until mixture holds soft mounds; cover and chill.

With a serrated knife, split shortcakes in half horizontally. Set bottoms cut side up on plates. Mound strawberries and whipped cream on bottoms. Set tops cut side down on fruit and cream.

NOTES: Prepare shortcakes through step 4 up to 1 day ahead; let cool completely, then store airtight at room temperature.

Makes 6 servings.

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