Fraises à la Crème

1 pound (500g) strawberries, hulled and sliced, lengthwise

1 tablespoon vanilla sugar

For the shortcake

1 cup (130g) all purpose flour

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

5 tablespoons (70g) sugar

6 tablespoons (3 oz.; 90g) unsalted butter, chilled

1 cup (250ml) heavy, non ultra-pasteurized cream

For the crème fraîche

1 cup (250ml) crème fraîche, chilled

2 tablespoons (25g) vanilla sugar, ground fine

For garnish

Lavender blossoms

  1. Combine the strawberries and the tablespoon of sugar in a medium bowl, toss, and set aside for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Chill a large-size bowl and a whisk or whisk attachment or rotary blades of an electric mixer (for whipping the cream).
  3. In a large bowl, or in a food processor, combine both flours with the salt, baking powder, and 4 tablespoons of the sugar. Stir well, or process once or twice, to mix. Add the butter and process, or cut it in with a pastry blender or two knives until it ranges from the size of coarse cornmeal to the size of a pea. Add the cream all at once, and lightly mix until the dough gathers together but does not completely adhere. Be very careful not to overmix. If you are using a food processor, pulse just two or three times.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, dust it lightly with flour, and press it down with a rolling pin until it is somewhat rectangular in shape and about ½ inch (1.3 cm) thick. Fold it in thirds like a business letter, and turn it one quarter turn (90 degrees). Lightly flour it and gently press it out again until it is an even rectangle about ½ inch (1.3 cm) thick, fold it in thirds, and turn it another quarter turn. Lightly flour the dough again if necessary to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin, and roll it out to form a very even rectangle measuring 6 x 12 inches (15 x 30cm). Cut it in half, crosswise, then cut an X through each half so that you have eight triangular pieces. Sprinkle the pieces with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet, leaving about ¼ inch (½ cm) between them. Bake in the center of the oven until the shortcakes are golden and puffed, about 12 minutes. Slide the parchment paper off the baking sheet and onto a wire rack to cool.
  5. Whisk the crème fraîche in the chilled bowl until it holds a stiff peak. Whisk in the sugar and taste—add additional sugar if necessary.
  6. To serve, arrange a piece of shortcake on the center of each of six plates. Top with equal amounts of berries, and a dollop of cream. Garnish with lavender blossoms.

8 servings

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