Low Fat Strawberry Shortcake

She called for the doctor, and the doctor said // Give that baby some shortnin’ bread!

In my mind, there are only two ways to eat amazing strawberries, and one of them doesn’t require a recipe. If you want to just eat them raw, rinsed, straight out of the container, you now have my permission. For the rest of you, those who can delay gratification for about 30 minutes, I have this recipe.

Strawberry shortcake is my all-time favorite summer dessert. There is nothing else like it. Smother fluffy, flakey, buttery biscuits in sweet and tangy local strawberries and you have heaven on a plate. Let the strawberry syrup soak the inside of the biscuit so it is fully infused with flavor, while the outer crust remains slightly crisp and flakey. Would you like whipped cream with that?

In peak June strawberry season, it would be a crime to cook the juicy fresh berries that find their way to our local farmer’s market. This recipe showcases the berry like none other, so use the best strawberries you can find. This is the time to try out those little heirloom varieties that had you have been admiring. But if you only have those plastic containers of Driscoll’s available, don’t let that hold you back. They will still make the shortcake sing. I promise; I’ve been there too.

And for those of you who are convinced strawberry shortcake begins with angel food cake or grocery store yellow cake? Give this a try, and thank me later. There’s nothing in the world like a shortbread biscuit.

It is the flavor and texture contrast that makes this dessert so good. Try to make the shortcake immediately before you’d like to consume it. It is a quick recipe and tastes best straight out of the oven. If that’s not possible, or you end up with leftovers, don’t fret–warm them in the toaster oven and you will be good to go. Feel free to top with vanilla soy ice cream or vegan whipped cream. It’s good that way too, but it definitely doesn’t need it. We didn’t miss it.

The last secret about this recipe? The fat is way cut back from your usual biscuit recipe. Shh! Don’t tell. Everyone will be too busy tucking into their shortcake to notice.

Strawberry Shortcake
Serves 6

Strawberry Topping

1 1/2 pints strawberries
3 tbsps sugar (or to taste)

Directions:
1. Remove the tops from the strawberries and slice them into thin cross-sections.
2. Put them in a bowl, add 2 tbsps of sugar. Gently stir together.  Taste for sweetness and add sugar as necessary.
2. Cover the bowl and set it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.  The sugar will dissolve and form a syrup with the strawberry juices.

Shortcake Biscuits

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp chilled Earth Balance margarine
1/2 cup soy milk, or other nondairy milk
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and wait until it is hot before proceeding. This recipe comes together quickly.
2. Add the lemon juice to the bottom of a glass liquid measuring cup. Add the soy milk to the container until the total volume equals 1/2 cup. Stir the liquids, and set aside in the refrigerator. (The lemon juice will curdle the soymilk into a vegan buttermilk over the next 5 minutes.)
3. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking oil.
4. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar together in a bowl.  If any of your dry ingredients are at all clumpy, you may want to sift them together.  If not, the sifting step may be omitted.
5. Add the cold margarine to the dry ingredients.  Cut the fat into the flour mixture as quickly as possible, using a pastry cutter or two knives held together in your hand.  Cut until there are no large clumps of butter remaining.  Small bits are okay.
6. Add the vanilla to the buttermilk and stir the liquid ingredients together.
7. Pour the liquid into dry ingredients and stir until the mixture just comes together as a dough and incorporates.  Do not overwork the batter, and minimizing handling with your hands.
8. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto the greased cookie sheet to form 6 cakes. Bake until they are lightly golden on the top and bottom, 10-14 minutes, depending on your oven.  Enjoy them piping hot, just out of the oven.

Assembly

Strawberry Topping
Shortcake Biscuits
Non-dairy whipped cream, optional
Non-dairy ice cream, optional

Directions:
1. Slice each biscuit in half across the center and place on a plate or bowl.
2. Spoon strawberry topping generously into the center of the biscuit, replace the biscuit’s “cap”, and spoon more strawberries on top.
3. Top with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.
Enjoy!

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