6 servings 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface 1½ tsp. baking powder ¼ tsp. baking soda ½ cup plus 1 tsp. sugar, divided 1½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more 1 lemon ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter 1 cup sour cream, divided 2 cups heavy cream, divided 1½ lb. strawberries 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Place a rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk 2 cups flour, 1½ tsp. baking powder, ¼ tsp. baking soda, 4 tsp. sugar, and 1½ tsp. salt in a large bowl to combine.
Finely grate zest of about half of 1 lemon right into bowl (reserve lemon for later).
Cut 1 stick cold butter into ½” pieces and toss with dry ingredients until coated. Work butter into dry ingredients by pinching and rubbing it between your palms until there are lots of flat shards and pea-sized bits remaining. Those small, uneven pieces of unincorporated butter create steam pockets as the shortcakes bake, resulting in a tender, flaky end result.
Combine 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup heavy cream (plus 1/8 cup milk) in a medium bowl. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Scrape cream mixture into well. Working in circles from inside the well outwards with a rubber spatula, mix dough until large, shaggy clumps form.
Knead once or twice (don’t overdo it!) until it forms a mass and most of the flour has been incorporated into the dough.
Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Pat to a 1″-thick square (it should be about 6×6″).
Cut dough into 4 equal squares, then stack them all on top of each other, creating one very tall tower of dough. Press down on stack with your hands, flattening dough back to a square. This stacking method is what will create lots of flaky layers. Pat to a 7½x5″ rectangle about 1″ thick.
Cut rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut each of those 2 rectangles into 3 squares. Transfer squares to prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle tops with 1 Tbsp. sugar. Freeze 10 minutes. (This will help ensure that the shortcakes rise—rather than spread out—in the oven.). ( I did not find this necessary, but I worked quickly so that the butter did not get too soft, but think the freezer step a good idea. )
Bake shortcakes until golden brown all over, 20–25 minutes.
While shortcakes bake, make your strawberries and whipped cream. If whipping cream by hand, place a large bowl in freezer to chill. Trim and discard stems of 1½ lb. strawberries. Cut smaller ones in half and larger ones into quarters. Transfer to a medium bowl. Cut reserved lemon in half and squeeze 2 Tbsp. lemon juice into bowl with strawberries. Add 3 Tbsp. sugarand toss to combine. Let sit at room temperature, tossing occasionally as you wait for the shortcakes. They will naturally create their own syrup through the mingling of the fruit juices with the sugar and lemon juice. ( I added more sugar and the lemon juice really makes a tangy taste difference )
Pour remaining 1⅔ cups heavy cream into chilled bowl. Add 1 tsp. vanilla, 3 Tbsp. sugar, and a pinch of salt. Vigorously whisk with your largest whisk, making figure-8 motions, until soft peaks form. This will take 3–5 minutes of good ol’ elbow grease—but don’t be discouraged if it takes longer! If you’re not feeling up to the challenge, use an electric mixer and beat starting at low speed, gradually increasing to high as cream begins to thicken. You’re still looking for those nice, slightly floppy, soft peaks. Whisk in remaining ¼ cup sour cream until just incorporated. ( I have done bad things like getting real whipped cream in a can before… )
Let shortcakes cool at least 15 minutes. Gently split shortcakes in half with your hands. Place bottom halves in serving bowls. Divide whipped cream, then macerated strawberries among bottom halves. Drizzle any syrupy juices left in bowl over. Close with top halves of shortcake.
Marvel at your creation. Serve and enjoy! These were the best shortcakes, best strawberry shortcake I have ever had. These were fantastic!