Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Better Strawberry Shortcake

As a child of the eighties, only one thing comes to mind when I hear the words 'strawberry shortcake.'  That would be the adorable girl with red hair wearing an oversized pink hat.  I'm almost positive I had a strawberry shortcake doll, stickers, and maybe even a few pencils.  I thought I dressed up as strawberry shortcake for Halloween, but my mother confirmed it was in fact Raggedy Ann, not strawberry shortcake. Apparently I had a thing for striped tights and red locks (looks like I'm not the only one).  What I never had a thing for was strawberry shortcake, the dessert.  I've had a few versions; the ones made from yellow spongy supermarket discs, and others made with very dry, perhaps even stale, biscuits.  Sugary pink sauce was a constant, as were the mountains of redi whip and cool whip.  But I'm ready to put all that behind me.  So I took a stab at a better version; better tasting, better for you.  If there was ever a time to make strawberry shortcake, it was right now.  Could the strawberries be any more amazing right now?

There are two ingredients I've immediately become smitten with on the baking front.  The first is almond flour, a fabulous gluten free option.  Not only is it high in protein and good for you, but it's delicious too.  It lends a rich, buttery flavor to cakes, cookies, and muffins.  I've been experimenting with it more and more and I'm always surprised at how moist and flavorful everything turns out.  My second of-the-moment smitten ingredient is ghee.  Ghee, widely used in Indian cuisine, is clarified butter.  It's made by gently simmering butter to remove casein and lactose.  It's high in antioxidants and contains vitamins A, D, and K.  Best of all, it tastes so incredible.  It's like a better version of butter, if that's even possible.  Because it's so rich and flavorful, it works wonders in baking.  These biscuits utilize both almond flour and ghee and are sweetened with a just a smidgen of honey.  They're pretty phenomenal.  

I split the biscuits open, stuffing them with super sweet red berries.  Nothing fancy.  No macerating, no extra sugar, no syrupy mess.  I let them be because there's nothing better than a juicy June strawberry.  Nothing I can think of at the moment anyway.  Ask me next month and I will say the same thing about raspberries.  Instead of making whipped cream, I topped the strawberries with Greek yogurt.  I used plain yogurt but you could add some orange or lemon zest if you wanted to gussy it up.  If you're looking for something sweeter, you could stir in some honey to taste.  These biscuits are buttery, dense, and moist, and suddenly have me keen on strawberry shortcake, the dessert not the character, but you knew that.

I'm also keen on food festivals of any kind.  And if you've been following along, you may remember the asparagus festival from last month.  Last Saturday, Donny and I went to a local strawberry festival and left with three quarts in hand.  When he asked me how many quarts we really needed, my answer was the same as it always is when it comes to berries, "more."  The fields were full of kids picking and sampling.  Everyone seemed to be carrying around those light green-overflowing containers.  Those who were more serious had a flat.  I picture these individuals canning strawberry jam into the next millennium.  I kind of want to join them.  There were old-fashioned strawberry doughnuts and strawberry shortcake too.  But shhh, I like my version best.  I hope you do too.  I picked these shortcakes right up with my hands and ate the most delicious 'sandwich' I have in a long time.  My cutting board and hands are also stained a nice shade of red for the time being.  It's a small price to pay.

~A Better Strawberry Shortcake Recipe~
Biscuits adapted from Elana's Pantry
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup melted ghee
2 eggs
2 tbsp honey

For the shortcake:
sliced strawberries
Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, and baking soda.  In another bowl, blend together melted ghee (I do this in a small bowl over a saucepan-avoid microwaving), eggs, and honey.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until the dough forms.

Drop batter onto parchment paper using heaping 1/4 cups, leaving a few inches between each biscuit.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the biscuits are lightly browned on the bottom and golden.  Allow biscuits to cool thoroughly.  Carefully cut each in half with a serrated knife (they're delicate).  Put bottom halves on a plate and top with strawberries and a few dollops of Greek yogurt.  Cap each biscuit with top half.  Makes 6 biscuits.


Inside a British Mum's Kitchen said...

A beautiful post - and one that really celebrates summer - lovely!
Mary x

Sue/the view from great island said...

Definitely a better shortcake, I like your idea of using yogurt for a change...and those strawberry doughnuts don't look too shabby, either!

Amy said...

Oh you're right, those strawberries look perfect. Gosh your pictures are making me want to go out and buy some right now. And this is so cool, my older sister has digestive issues that don't allow her to break down gluten, most grains (beans, soy, rice), refined sugars, and dairy. These are perfect for her! I'm excited to make these for when she visits in a couple weeks.

Colleen @ Culinary Colleen said...

There are so many things I love about this post. For one, I never even thought of baking with ghee! Your strawberry pictures are absolutely amazing. I wish I could walk down to the farmers market right now and pick up some!

Stephanie said...

Mary and Sue-thanks! and yes, the doughnut station was pretty busy ;)

Amy, I hope she likes them! I'm really starting to love almond flour :)

Colleen-baking with ghee is great! Thanks for the compliment on the photos. I hope you get your hands on some strawberries.

Bree said...

Looks delicious and love the healthier twist. Gorgeous pics too!

Stephanie said...

Thanks Bree :)

Clair said...

SO beautiful. You're right...the strawberries look just perfect. And your recipe looks perfect too.

And that strawberry shortcake room is TOO funny! Can you imagine living in a space like that?

thyme (Sarah) said...

Those biscuits look really incredible. I love using almond flour too...but I hate to say it...I can't tolerate nuts too well so I have to be careful I eat small portions. I would love to try ghee and am going to keep an eye out for it. I wonder if my Whole Foods carries it. Those cinnamon sugar donuts kinda sent me over the edge...we used to get apple cider donuts at this little country market outside of Schenectady, NY in the fall....we've never had any like them since and that donuts look just like them!

Stephanie said...

Sarah, that's funny. Raw nuts will do that to me sometimes but I've had good luck using almond flour. Whole foods should carry ghee, yes. Oh I love apple cider donuts in the fall! They're a must. Guilty pleasure.