Like every other gluten-free blog around I couldn’t let the final day of Wimbledon pass without mention of Djokovic’s win (hooray) and inevitable uptick in badly written, sloppily researched and generally misinformed articles about gluten and gluten-free food it will no doubt generate (boo). I’ll keep my rage in check until I read any of the aforementioned articles. For now though I shall talk about strawberries. And cream. A food so closely entwined with the Wimbledon fortnight that M&S this year made it into a sandwich. That’s right, strawberries and cream between two slices of thick white bread. Whilst this sounds a little odd, it’s not so far off that southern American dish, the strawberry shortcake, which is, as far as I can tell anyway, a cross between shortbread and a scone, halved, and stuffed with strawberries, whipped cream, and perhaps a little fruit syrup. It therefore seems fitting at the close of Wimbledon, with a gluten-free winner no less, and it being Independence Day as well, that gluten-free strawberry shortcakes are made. I’m not quite sure what my excuse is going to be next time I want to make these (and I will be looking to do so quite soon) but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
These shortcakes are not to be confused with shortbread. In fact the name shortcake is, for once in the world of food, rather apt. They are a biscuity cake, very light and flaky and fragile due to the awesome fat content, from bringing the dough together with double cream, rather than milk or water. Due to the baking powder though they do rise and spread a touch, as evidenced by the beautiful cracking on the surface, meaning the overall product just hints at sconiness. Needless to say, although you may be able to carefully balance the lid of the shortcake on the fruit and whipped cream for decorative purposes, on no account should you attempt to eat this like a sandwich; this is a dish for a fork and spoon only.
150g (1 cup) gluten-free flour blend
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons butter
100ml double cream
100g strawberries, hulled and halved
100ml double cream, softly whipped
I also added a tablespoon of redcurrant sauce over the strawberries, but Molly suggests macerating them for 15 minutes in sugar before serving, or you could have them dry.
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 220 C. In a large bowl whisk together the gluten-free flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut the butter into chunks and rub into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
2. With a fork stir in most of the 100ml of double cream. When the mixture starts to come together, knead it with your hands. Add enough cream so that the dough is cohesive and a little sticky.
3. Using your fingers break the dough into 4 even pieces. Shape each of these into rough rounds, about the size and shape of an ice hockey puck, 1 inch high, and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 17 minutes, or until a light sandy colour.
4. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking sheet. When ready to serve very carefully cut them in half with a big knife. Arrange the strawberries on the bottom half of the shortcake, drizzle with fruit sauce, or strawberry syrup, top with a tablespoon of the whipped cream and balance the lid on top. Then dive in with a fork and make a big mess.
Serves 4. The shortcakes last for (at least) a day at room temperature but taste best the day they’re made.