For a real summer treat, serve fresh strawberries with our homemade shortcakes and lemon whipped cream. Besides making a delicious complement to a backyard barbecue, this dessert is great for teaching kids basic cooking skills such as beating cream and using a pastry blender.
When you whip cream, you create air bubbles, which become trapped in its butterfat. This is what causes the cream to grow in volume and stiffen, and why it's important to use cream with a butterfat content of at least 30 percent, such as whipping or heavy cream. But be careful not to whip too much! If you overbeat it, the cream will curdle and separate, leaving you with lumps of butter floating in a pool of buttermilk!
Heat the oven to 400°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly greased aluminum foil. Set the pan aside.
Place a hand sifter in a large bowl, then measure the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg into it. Sift the ingredients into the bowl.
Scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, work in the butter until it has the consistency of fine bread crumbs.
Lightly whisk the egg in a medium bowl. Add the milk, sour cream, and vanilla extract, then whisk to blend. Set aside 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mixture in a small bowl for brushing on the dough later.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the remaining egg mixture into it.
Stir briskly with a wooden spoon until the dough pulls together, about 2 minutes. Then let the dough rest for about 3 minutes. This will give the flour a chance to absorb the liquid and make the dough less sticky.
Flour your hands well. Gently shape the dough into 8 balls and set them on the baking sheet about 3 inches apart. Be sure to keep your hands well floured throughout the process. Using a pastry brush (or a paper towel), lightly coat each ball with the reserved egg mixture. Sprinkle the tops with sugar.
Bake the shortcakes on the center oven rack until golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. Transfer the shortcakes to a rack.
To make the Lemony Whipped Cream: Chill a large (preferably metal) bowl and beater from an electric mixer in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes. (This helps keep the cream cold so it will whip faster and hold its shape better.) Pour the cream into the bowl and beat it on medium speed until it starts to thicken. Add the lemon extract and sugar. Continue to beat the cream until it is soft and billowy and holds slight peaks. If the cream shows the slightest sign of becoming lumpy, stop beating immediately. Cover the bowl and refrigerate it until serving time.
Using a strawberry huller or paring knife, remove the stems from the strawberries. Thinly slice the berries and put them in a large bowl. Sprinkle them with sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring gently after each addition and waiting a minute for the flavors to meld. Taste the berries before adding more sugar. Add the lemon juice and stir again. Transfer a third of the berries to a separate bowl and crush them with a potato masher or fork. Combine them with the sliced berries and stir.
Once the shortcakes are cool, split them with a fork, spoon on the berries, and top with Lemony Whipped Cream. Serves 8.