Preheat oven to 450°F. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Using a hand grater, grate the cold butter into the flour mixture, mixing occasionally to evenly distribute the butter. Mix the butter and flour together with your hands until the texture is like coarse cornmeal. Make a well in the center of the butter/flour mixture. Add the cream to the center of the well. Stir until the dough is fairly free from the sides of the bowl. Do not over mix.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured cutting board. Knead gently and quickly, making 8 to 10 folds. Do not overwork the dough. Roll out the dough until 1/2-inch thick. Using a 3-inch ring mold or cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds and place them on an ungreased sheet pan. Brush the tops with melted butter. Bake in a 450°F oven until light golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer the shortcakes to a cool pan or container. When the shortcakes are completely cool, store them in an airtight container until ready to serve.
To serve: ladle 1/4 cup of strawberry sauce onto each serving plate. Slice the shortcakes in half and place the bottom halves onto each serving plate. Place about 3/4 cup of sliced strawberries on each shortcake. Top the berries with a generous dollop of whipped cream (or use a pastry bag). Place the shortcake tops on top of the whipped cream. Garnish the top of each shortcake with a small dollop of whipped cream, a slice of strawberry and a sprig of fresh mint. Serve immediately.
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 cups strawberries, stems removed
Make a simple syrup: In a small pot, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat to very low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and refrigerate until fully chilled. Combine the strawberried and the simple syrup. Purée. Strain through a chinois (fine mesh strainer). Refrigerate until use.
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a chilled mixing bowl, add all the ingredients. Using a thin wire whisk, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to serve.