Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup butter, cold
1 whole egg (optional)
3/4 cup milk, cold

1 quart ripe strawberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and baking powder. Cut in butter until it resembles coarse meal. If using the egg, beat it into the cold milk. Stir milk into the flour mixture. Form into a ball. Knead two or three times, but do not overwork. Divide the dough into two parts. Roll one part to 1/8 inch thickness. Fit pastry into an 8-inch cake pan. Sprinkle the surface with flour. Roll out the remaining dough, and place on top of the first round. Prick the surface with a fork.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove shortcake from the pan, and cool slightly. Gently separate layers.

Strawberries: Stem and slice 3/4 of the strawberries. Sprinkle with sugar, and turn to coat. Let stand for at least one hour — the berries will make their own juice.

While the shortcake is still warm, spoon the prepared strawberries and the juice over the bottom layer. (The juice should soak into the cake.) Spread with 1/3 of the whipped cream. Top with the second layer. Spread with remaining cream, and top with berries. Cut into wedges and serve.

Makes 8 servings

Allergy Warning: Contains milk and eggs and wheat