In a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour, ground pecans, the first 1/4 cup sugar, and the baking powder. Cut in the margarine or butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
In a mixing bowl combine egg, milk, and 2 teaspoons of the orange peel; add all at once to dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Drop the dough into 8 or 10 mounds on an ungreased baking sheet; flatten each mound with the back of a spoon until about 1/4 inch thick. Bake in a 450 degree F oven for 7 to 8 minutes or until golden. Transfer shortcakes to a wire rack; cool about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together the sliced strawberries, the second 1/4 cup sugar, and remaining the 1 teaspoon orange peel; let stand about 20 minutes.
To whip cream, in a chilled medium mixing bowl combine the whipping cream, the 2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla. Beat with chilled beaters of an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form.
Using a sharp serrated knife, cut each shortcake in half horizontally. Carefully lift off top layers. Spoon half of the strawberres and half of the whipped cream over the bottom layers. Replace the shortcake tops. Top with remaining strawberries, then spoon remaining cream directly onto strawberries. Top with a whole strawberry, if desired. Serve immediately. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
For a large shortcake:
Grease an 8x1-1/2-inch round baking pan; set aside. Prepare shortcake dough as directed. Use a rubber spatula to spread dough in the prepared pan. Build up edges slightly so that as cake bakes the center will rise to same level as sides. Bake in a 450 degree F oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool shortcake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pan.
Using a serrated knife, cut shortcake in half horizontally. Using a wide spatula, carefully lift off the tender top layer of shortcake. Spoon half of the strawberries over bottom layer, then about half of the whipped cream. Replace shortcake top. Add remaining strawberries, then spoon remaining whipped cream directly onto strawberries. Top with a whole strawberry, if desired. Serve shortcake immediately. Makes 8 to 10 servings.