If I had to pick a favorite dessert, albeit a difficult task, it would probably be strawberry shortcake. I always asked for it as my birthday cake as a little girl. There are many variations, some with pound cake, angel food cake, or a genoise. But my favorite and perhaps the most classic is to serve fresh picked berries and cream with flaky buttery biscuits. You can never go wrong with this combo of summery goodness.
Strawberry season is in full swing here in the northeast, so get out to your local farm to pick some while you can. There's nothing like fresh local berries. You can swap any fruit for strawberries in this recipe, I'm sure we will be eating these all summer when the raspberries, blueberries and blackberries ripen.
Lets talk about these biscuits for a moment, shall we? You never thought a vegan biscuit was possible, right? Well let me introduce you to my friend, the almighty coconut! Coconut cream makes these just as or even more so rich than dairy cream. A little splash of apple cider vinegar and you have buttermilk?! Oh yeah! I was pleasantly surprised that using whole wheat pastry flour still resulted in a light flaky biscuit. You can always go with all all-purpose flour, but seriously, the whole wheat works great! These have a perfect hint of sweetness from the natural rapadura sugar. If you happen to have left over biscuits (not likely) they are excellent warmed the next day with a generous heaping of preserves!
I hope you try this recipe out-I think its a winner. If you do please share your thoughts, triumphs, and tribulations in the comments. We are so excited for summer here! Hope you all had a lovely solstice this past weekend! Lots more strawberry picking excursions planned for this week. We freeze as much as we can and also make preserves with them. You can't beat fresh berries!
makes 12 cakes
Equipment: blender-high powered is best-I use Vitamix, biscuit cutter, baking sheet
1 Cup whole-wheat pastry flour-organic is best
1 Cup unbleached all purpose flour-organic is best
1 Tablespoon baking powder (non-aluminum)
2 teaspoons rapadura (real whole cane sugar) + 1 Tbs for sprinkling on top of biscuits
1/2 cup (8 Tbs) vegan shortening-I used earth balance
2/3 Cup coconut cream (see how to make it below)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons soymilk or nut milk for brushing biscuits
1 quart fresh strawberries cleaned and halved (sliced if berries are large)
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Optional splash of liquor-bourbon, rum, whatever you got!
Coconut Cream-makes about 1 1/2-2 cups
1 large mature coconut-make sure to save the coconut water inside
For the coconut cream topping on the shortcakes: add 1 Tbs of maple syrup and a pinch of vanilla bean seeds or powder to the remaining cream not used in the biscuit recipe.
Make coconut cream: you need the water inside the coconut to blend with the coconut meat. I use a hammer to crack off the bottom of the nut and pour the water out. You can also pierce one of the eyes and drain the water out before cracking. Smell and taste the water-if it tastes sour discard the nut and try again. Use a hammer to break the coconut into pieces and then use a butter knife carefully wedged between the coconut meat and outer shell to remove the meat.
Blend the coconut meat and water on high until very fine. You can add fresh water if the mixture is too thick to blend. The water will be separated out in the final result. Strain mixture through fine cheesecloth into a vessel and refrigerate for at least 1 hour up to 1 day, the longer the better to separate out the cream. The coconut cream will rise to the top leaving the water below. Carefully scoop out the cream, avoiding mixing back into the water as much as possible.
Alternatively, if this sounds too daunting to you, you can use canned coconut milk or cream and refrigerate the can over night then scoop out the cream in the same manner. It will never taste as good as fresh but is much less work.
Make Biscuits: Preheat oven to 425°F with rack placed in the middle. Ready an ungreased baking sheet.
Stir apple cider vinegar into coconut cream and let sit to thicken (vegan buttermilk!). Whisk flours, baking powder and rapadura together in a large bowl. Cut shortening into flour mixture using your fingers, pastry cutter or two knives until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add coconut cream mixture all at once and stir with a fork until the dough comes together in a cohesive mass.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead 14 times (no more no less!). roll out dough to 1/2" thickness. Use a 2" round cutter to cut out round biscuits. Gently rework scraps and re-cut. You can also pat dough out into a square instead of rolling it and then cut into into 2" squares or any shape you wish.
Transfer rounds to ungreased baking sheet just touching each other. Brush biscuits with soy milk or nut milk and sprinkle with rapadura. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. 20 minutes is the perfect time in my oven, but every oven is different so check them at 15 minutes.
Make berries while biscuits are baking: Toss cleaned and cut strawberries with maple syrup and vanilla extract- a little splash of liquor never hurt either!
Assemble cakes: Use a fork to halve hot biscuits (best right out of the oven!), spoon lots of fresh maple-marinated berries onto bottom half of biscuit and then pour fresh maple and vanilla sweetened coconut cream over the berries. Place the top half of biscuit on top and eat them up right away!