When strawberries are small and young, their leaves are still tiny and tender. Keep them on the berries for both aesthetics and the earthy taste they impart that balances the sweet fruit and rich biscuit. If you’re using kumquats, thinly slice them just like the mandarinquats because their skin is edible too. But if you’re using another citrus with a bitter, thick rind, peel the rind from the citrus and slice the fruit into thin wheels or segments.
From the story: The new way to strawberry shortcake
Make the compote: Wash and dry the strawberries, then pick off any large, tough or woody green leaves; leave the rest intact. Halve the berries or quarter larger ones, then transfer to a bowl. Thinly slice the mandarinquats, discarding the seeds and ends.
Combine the strawberries and mandarinquats in a bowl, then add the wine and 2 tablespoons honey, adding more if you want the fruit sweeter. Add half the citrus zest and dashes of bitters to taste, then season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Toss the fruit together and let stand at room temperature while you make the shortcakes. In a bowl, stir together the labneh with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons honey and remaining citrus zest and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Make the shortcakes: In a large bowl, combine both flours, the sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla, cardamon and citrus zest, and whisk to combine. Add the butter, toss it with the dry ingredients, then pinch it with the tips of your fingers until the butter breaks down to the size of peas. Using a fork, slowly stir the dry ingredients while you pour in the buttermilk, mixing until the dough just comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a generously floured work surface and dust with more flour. Pat the dough into a 6-by- 10 1/2-inch rectangle that’s 3/4-inch thick. Halve the rectangle lengthwise, then cut crosswise to make 6 equal rectangles. Transfer the dough rectangles to a foil-lined baking sheet and freeze for 15 minutes.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the tops of the shortcakes with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until risen and golden brown all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
To serve, divide the shortcakes among 6 serving plates and top each with the labneh, followed by the fruit. Crumble half a handful of freeze-dried strawberries over the top of each and garnish with more freshly grated citrus zest, chopped nuts or edible flowers, if you like.
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