- To make the shortcakes, preheat an oven to 400°F.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and salt until well blended. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the pieces are no larger than peas. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and gently toss with a fork or rubber spatula until the flour is just moistened and the ingredients are blended.
- Turn the shaggy dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently press the dough into a thick rectangle about 6 by 4 inches. Using a large sharp knife, trim the edges even, then cut the dough into 6 equal squares.
- Place the squares on an ungreased baking sheet, spacing them well apart. Bake until they are puffed and golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly or completely.
- Meanwhile, prepare the strawberries: In a bowl, toss together the strawberries and sugar with a fork, lightly crushing some of the berries. Cover the berries and refrigerate until well chilled or until ready to serve.
- To make the whipped cream, in a deep bowl, combine the cream, sugar and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form and the cream is billowy, about 2 minutes. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve or for up to 2 hours.
- To serve, split the warm or cooled shortcakes in half horizontally and place the bottom halves, cut side up, on serving plates. Spoon some of the strawberries, including the juices, over each half and top with a dollop of the whipped cream. Top with the remaining shortcake halves, cut side down. Serve immediately.