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Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcake

It’s that time of year again when I just can’t get enough fresh strawberries. The little gems I’ve been buying are plump, juicy, and 100% organic. I use them in fresh fruit smoothies, as a topping on waffles, and sometimes dip them in chocolate sauce. Yum! But my very favorite way to enjoy them—other than plain out of the carton—is in strawberry shortcake.

Strawberry shortcake has an amazing blend of textures and flavors and is great fun to make and eat. If a family member is allergic to strawberries, just substitute another typeof berry; there are lots to choose from.  This gluten-free version is as easy to make as it is delicious.

Gluten-free strawberry shortcake. It’s berry, berry good!

Strawberries rank high on the list of healthy food choices: one cup contains 140% of the RDA for Vitamin C, only 46 calories – and no fat.

Selecting good strawberries isn’t rocket science. I check the cartons from all sides to make sure there’s no mold. I hate getting home from the store or farmers market only to discover I just bought a science project.

Driscoll Strawberry Associates, Inc., a producer of berries for over a century, including organically grown, offers the following tips on how to select the best and keep them fresh.

  • When examining a box of strawberries in the grocery store, look for symmetrically shaped fruit with a brilliant sheen and a rich, even, red color.
  • Look for strawberries that are clean and dry with fresh, unwilted green caps (calyx).
  • Avoid strawberries with seedy tips or white shoulders.

Driscoll recommends storing strawberries in their original container and keeping them chilled. Always handle berries with TLC. Rinse just before using, stems on, under cool water. When clean, remove stems and allow them to reach room temperature. This brings out the natural flavor.

The “short” in shortcake comes from the shortening, traditionally butter or (gasp!) lard. According to historyking.com, strawberry shortcake became a popular lawn party treat in the United States in the mid-1800s. Today the dessert is more likely to be made with commercially baked sponge cake than real shortcake, which has a crumbly texture.

The following recipe can be used in both gluten and lactose free diets. Ingredients are readily available at local grocers and health food stores. Coconut oil, long thought to be kin to the devil for its saturated fat content, actually contains the good kind of fat, with medium-chain fatty acids.  I think I’ll whip up a batch tonight!

Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcake

Yield: 12 servings

Total prep and cooking time: 30-40 minutes

Preheat oven to 350⁰ F

Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable shortening or coconut oil

Strawberry Topping

To me, there’s no need to sweeten strawberries. I think they’re sweet enough.  But if tradition dictates, wash, de-cap and slice 3 pints of strawberries several hours in advance. Sprinkle with 1/3-1/2 cup raw sugar. Cover and store in refrigerator.

Shortcake Ingredients:

½ cup brown rice flour

½ cup arrowroot starch

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. xanthan gum

½ tsp. salt

½ cup natural all-vegetable shortening (OR ¼ cup butter and ¼ cup canola or coconut oil)

½ cup turbinado (raw) sugar

2 large eggs

¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk (OR regular milk)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Whipped topping: Either non-dairy (OR low-fat regular whipped cream)

Instructions:

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, cream sugar and shortening (or butter and oil) with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and beat again for 30 seconds.

Pour dry ingredients into sugar/shortening/egg mixture. Add milk and vanilla and mix on medium speed for about one minute. Batter should be light and fluffy.

Fill muffin cups ½ full with batter.

Bake 20 minutes or until the tops of the cakes are golden brown. Toothpick should come out clean.

Cool pan on wire rack before removing cakes.

How to serve: Slice each cupcake in half and place on serving plate.  Top with either strawberry topping or unsweetened washed and sliced strawberries. Garnish with non-dairy whipped topping or low-fat whipped cream.

Serve with love and enjoy! FFG

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