The Empress' Ol' School Strawberry Shortcake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 stick butter, chilled
2/3 to 3/4 cup half and half, milk, or cream
1 quart strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups whipping cream for topping, or non-dairy whipped topping
Rinse the berries under cold water; drain well. Hull and slice the berries; place in a bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar; cover and let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour. Whip the cream (sweeten with 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar, if desired) until it holds a soft peak. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Set rack at center level.
In a food processor (you can use a pastry cutter or fingertips) combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar and pulse to mix. Cut butter into about 8 pieces and add to the mixture. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, but with few pea-size chunks of butter left in the mixture. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and make a well in the center. With a fork stir in the cream or milk, just until dough is moist. Be very careful not to overwork. The dough doesn't have to hold together well at this point. Let the dough stand for a minute. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Fold the dough over on itself (knead) 2 or 3 times, until it is holding together and is less sticky.
Gently pat the dough into a 6 by 12-inch rectangle about 3/4-inch thick and cut into 8 (3-inch) biscuits with a floured round cutter. Transfer to a buttered foil-lined cookie sheet. Brush on a little milk or cream and sprinkle tops with some sugar, if desired. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until risen and golden brown. Remove to a platter and split each biscuit horizontally with a serrated knife. Butter the hot biscuits then top with about 1/3 cup of berry mixture. Replace the tops and top with a tablespoon or so of berries. Serve with whipped cream for topping. Serves 8.