For the shortbread:
175g unsalted butter, softened
75g golden caster sugar
175g plain flour
75g rice flour or ground rice
For the filling:425ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
45g icing sugar, sieved
450g fresh strawberries, washed
8 whole strawberries
1. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas3.
2. Place the butter into a large bowl and, using a wooden spoon, cream until softened. Add the sugar and blend together.
3. Sift both the plain flour and ground rice together into the creamed mixture.
4. Cut it in half and set one half aside. Using a rolling pin roll out the paste onto a large baking tray. Use a 20cm/8in plain flan ring as a guide around the ring.
5. Remove the flan ring and decorate the shortcake mixture by crimping the mixture with your thumb and forefinger to form scalloped edges. Prick the surface of the shortcake with a fork. Repeat the process with the remaining shortcake mixture.
6. Place the shortcakes in the fridge and chill for 30-40 minutes until hard. Meanwhile, reserve eight whole strawberries. With the remaining strawberries remove the stalks (or hull) and cut in half. Set aside.
7. Remove the shortcakes from the fridge and bake for about 30 minutes until pale golden brown.
8.Prepare the vanilla cream filling: pour the cream into a large bowl. Split the vanilla pod with a knife lengthways, scrape out the seeds and add the seeds to the double cream with the icing sugar. Whisk until the cream forms soft peaks.
9. Allow the shortcakes to cool for 2 minutes. Carefully release from the baking sheet with a palette knife. Using a large knife mark into eight equal wedges. Allow to cool completely.
10.To assemble: place eight of the shortcake wedges onto a large plate. Lay the wedges closely together. Spoon over half of the whipped cream; pile the halved strawberries onto the cream. Spoon over the remaining cream and place the remaining eight shortcake wedges at an angle with the reserved whole strawberries underneath to keep each piece at an angle. Dust with icing sugar and serve with a sugar basket garnish.
The Nigel Brown Cookery Academy