I teach French cooking, but I'm a Midwestern girl at heart, and I grew up on shortcakes made from feathery biscuits. So I brought biscuits to Provence. The flavors in these biscuits are very typical of Provence, and I think you'll find this dessert a delightful combination of French and American! —ChefJune
toasted, coarsely chopped hazelnuts
White Lily or other soft winter wheat flour (or use 1 cup cake flour with 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour)
Rumfords baking powder
fine sea salt
3 tablespoons superfine cane sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons
anise seeds, finely chopped or freshly ground
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet for 8 minutes. Turn out onto a terry towel and rub off the skins. Chop coarsely.
In a medium sized bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, salt and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Stir in the anise seeds. Mix the lard in with your [clean!] fingers until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal, with a few pea-sized pieces of lard remaining. Stir in the toasted hazelnuts.
Pour the 2/3 cup of light cream into a measuring cup (with a lip) and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into it. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the vanilla cream. Quickly combine the ingredients (using your clean fingers or a wooden spoon) until the dough comes together. Don't forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl. It will take only 5 or 6 strokes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead gently 2 or 3 times. Shape the dough into a large oval, about 1 inch thick. With a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out 4 circles. Gently re-knead the dough scraps to gather them together. Pat the dough to 1-inch thickness and cut out two more circles. Brush the shortcakes with the remaining 1 tablespoon of cream and put them on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes.
Bake the shortcakes for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Be sure they are baked completely. Underbaked biscuits have an unappetizing, gluey texture. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.
Meanwhile, (save 6 raspberries to top your shortcake) use a fork to toss the remaining raspberries and sugar in a bowl. Toss with the Cointreau, and let macerate for at least 1 hour.
Using a fork, split each shortcake in half. There will be syrup that will gather in the bottom of the fruit bowl. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of this syrup onto each of six dessert plates. Place the bottom of one shortcake on each plate and cover with some of the fruit mixture. Top with the biscuit lid and drizzle more syrup over the top so that it runs down the sides. (Put some whipped cream on top, if you like, and) Top with a whole raspberry.