170g/6 oz (generous 1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
50g/2 oz (¼ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
110g/4 oz (½ cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-cm/½-inch cubes
1 tablespoon icing (confectioners’) sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
500ml/16 fl oz (2 cups) whipped cream
225g/8 oz strawberries, hulled and sliced, plus extra to decorate
12 sprigs mint or sweet cicely leaves

Only attempt to make this dessert with fragrant, flavourful strawberries, as there really isn’t any point otherwise. Dull strawberries result in a dull shortcake, though when the berries are good this shortcake will shine. To go one step further, fold elderflower cordial through the whipped cream, to taste.

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2.Preheat the oven to 180°C.
3.Place the flour and sugar in a bowl and rub in the butter by hand until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
4.Gather the mixture together and knead lightly until it forms a smooth dough.
5.Alternatively, this can also be done using an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed.
6.Divide the dough in half and roll each piece directly on a sheet of baking paper into a thin circle 18cm/7 inches in diameter.
7.Trim each circle so the edge is smooth and neat.
8.Slide each piece of paper onto a baking sheet and place in the centre of the oven. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
9.Remove from the oven, and while still warm, cut one of the disks into twelve equal segments. Allow to cool completely.
11.Place the un-cut circle of shortbread onto a round, flat serving plate.
12.In a bowl, fold the icing (confectioners’) sugar into the whipped cream.
13.Fill a canvas piping (pastry) bag fitted with a wide star-shaped tip with the mixture.
14.Pipe two thirds of the cream onto the shortbread, keeping the edges neat and pretty.
15.Lay the cut strawberries over the cream.
16.To create a fan pattern on top of the shortcake, arrange each segment from the second circle of the shortbread, one at a time, on top of the strawberries.
17.Pipe the remaining cream under each segment as you position them in place, so each tilts and slopes down towards the next segment of shortbread.
18.Sprinkle icing sugar over the top and decorate with sprigs of mint or sweet cicely leaves, and extra sliced strawberries.

Recipes and images
extracted from Ballymaloe
Desserts: Iconic Recipes
and Stories from Ireland by
JR Ryall
. Photography by
Cliodhna Prendergast.
Published by Phaidon, $95.