Vegan This: Strawberry Shortcake

Taste summer with every little bite and savor the slow, sweet life.

Nothing says summer like strawberry shortcake. Sure, there’s sand, sunscreen and bikinis. But nothing encapsulates the sweetness, coolness and delightful deliciousness of the season like a bite of this American classic.

On a recent lunchtime picnic in midtown Manhattan, our EcoSalon editor-in-chief gathered with a few friends to simply celebrate and savor the sweet life together. As we lingered over this vegan and gluten-free shortcake—naturally taking many a food porn photo op—time seemed to stand still. We truly tasted the essence of slow food. Three hours later, we seemed to float from our seats, back to our businesses and filled with the joys of good friends and good food. They are, after all, the perfect pairing.

An adventurer’s note:
Making this seasonal treat vegan is like diving into a science lab—but local, fresh and organic. Lucky for you, I’ve conducted all the in-kitchen experiments, so all you need to do is follow along. The most fun and challenging part, you may find, is to create a vegan version of heavy whipping cream. I started with a coconut-based creamer, and then blended in prepared (dissolved, cooled and gelatinized) agar-agar—a red algae based thickening agent. Not only does it give just the right texture, thickness and creaminess to the mix, it’s also reported to provide a healthy dose of minerals and fiber, all the while suppressing the appetite. With those benefits to boot, it’s the perfect complement to a beach time sweet treat.

The Original – Strawberry Shortcake
from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

• 1 ¾ pounds (6 cups) strawberries—rinsed, hulled and quartered
• 1 ¼ cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
• 3 cups all purpose flour
• 4 teaspoons baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 12 tablespoons cold (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 2 large eggs
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

The Vegan & Gluten-Free Version – Strawberry Shortcake
Makes approximately 6-8 shortcakes

Ingredients

• 1 ¾ pounds (6 cups) strawberries—rinsed, hulled and quartered (For the fullest flavor, I recommend using local and fresh strawberries.)
• 1 ¼ cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
• 3 cups gluten free flour blend:
• (1 cup sorghum flour)
• (1 cup white rice flour)
• (1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour)
• (1/2 cup potato starch flour, minus 2 tablespoons)
• (2 tablespoons almond flour)
• 4 teaspoons baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 12 tablespoons cold (1 ½ sticks) unsalted vegan butter, cut into small pieces (I used Earth Balance coconut butter)
• 2 cups coconut cream (I used So Delicious coconut creamer, blended with approximately 3 tablespoons of dissolved agar-agar to thicken)
• 2 egg substitutes (I blended 2 tablespoon ground flax seeds with 6 tablespoons warm water)
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F
2. In a medium bowl, toss the prepared strawberries with ¾ cup sugar. (I suggest starting with ½ cup and tasting to see if more sweetness is needed.) Let sit to bring out the juices.
3. In a food processor, pulse together your gluten free flour blend. Add the baking powder, ½ cup sugar and the salt, and pulse until combined. Add the cold butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles course meal with some pea size bits of butter remaining (pulse approximately 10-12 times).
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together ½ cream (before the agar agar has been added to thicken) and the egg substitute. Pour over the flour mixture, and pulse until some large clumps begin to form (pulse approximately 20-30 times).
5. Using a half-cup measuring cup, gently pack dough into the cup, invert and tap out on to a lightly buttered or parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat to form 6-8 biscuits.
6. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for at least 15 minutes.
7. Beat the remaining 1 ½ cups cream, with the prepared agar-agar mixture, 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy (Note, this will not form peaks like a traditional heavy whipping cream, however, I assure you the taste and texture will not leave you craving cream.)
8. Slice the biscuits horizontally with a serrated knife. Spoon the strawberries and their liquid over the bottom of each biscuit just before serving. Spoon your whipped cream over the strawberries, and top with the other biscuit half.

Enjoy the sweet moments of summer!

Author Jennifer Barckley making her Strawberry Shortcakes for friends in Bryant Park, New York City

Image: Amy DuFault

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