I can feel Summer coming, it’s really close. The days are long and every morning I gently wake to the sound of birds chirping. In the NW, many say Summer is never truly here until after the 4th of July. After that, it’s one of the most pleasant and beautiful places to be.
In the mean time I’ve been eating strawberries by the fist full to compensate for the lack of sun. After picking up my first little blue basket a couple weeks ago, I went back and bought an entire flat. I couldn’t help myself. And I wouldn’t mind going back to get more from a farm nearby to pick my own. They were perfectly ripe red jewels. I set aside a few baskets to eat as is, baked with them, placed them in salads, pureed some and put them into pancakes and the rest were cleaned up and placed into the freezer for a little December strawberry delight.
But I couldn’t think of a better way to start July than with strawberry shortcakes. I don’t think there was ever a childhood Summer where I didn’t enjoy one of these tasty cakes. I always preferred mine loaded with fresh strawberries and not as much whipped cream, the same is true today.
These aren’t your traditional shortcakes though. And definitely not the spongy little cakes that come wrapped in plastic, that for some reason I remember were always slightly sticky. What was that?
The inspiration for these shortcakes actually comes from a favorite cornbread recipe that I’ve been making for years (although I’ve yet to share it here, I’d better get on that). A subtle taste of lemon and a grassy earthiness from the thyme makes these something different. The cakes themselves are actually vegan, but you wouldn’t know it.
They bake with a perfectly thin and crisp crust on the outside and a soft, delicate crumb interior. I could eat them on their own, like a scone with a cup of tea, but when topped with strawberries and a dollop of fresh whipped cream well, lets just say I went in for seconds.
I also wanted to share something sweet with you as a sort of bribe for info from all of you. In about a week we’ll be headed down to San Francisco for the Renegade Craft Show. We’ve only spent a brief amount of time in this incredible city, and even though this trip is more work related, I’d love to get inside tips on places to go, see, and of course good places to eat.
Budget friendly places are always most helpful, but really anything you’ve got I’d love for you to share. And if you happen to be in the bay area on July 9th and 10th you should come and stop by.
Lemon Thyme Strawberry Shortcakes / makes 6
This recipe make 6 single serving shortcakes, but can easily be doubled if you’d like more. If you’re unsure about the lemon or thyme, leave them out, you’ll still have a perfectly delicious vegan shortcake, sans the whipped cream of coarse. I used white whole wheat flour to keep them from straying too far from their original light color, but feel free to use whole wheat pastry flour or all purpose flour if that’s what you have.
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cane sugar
zest of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or 3/4 tablespoon fresh
6 tablespoons coconut oil, not melted
3/4 cup almond milk
juice of half a small lemon
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoons cane sugar
a pint of strawberries, sliced for serving
Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat baking mat.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, lemon zest, and thyme. Using your fingers, rub in the coconut oil until little pebbly pieces begin to form and mixture is crumbly.
Pour the almond milk and lemon juice into the bowl. Gently stir until a soft dough starts to form. It will be a pretty wet and sticky dough, but make sure that you incorporate all the flour at the bottom of the bowl. You just don’t want to over work it.
Divide the batter into 6 equal portions, about a half cup each. I like a more rustic look and just plop the onto the baking sheet, but you can try patting them into a more uniform shape.
Place them in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. They should be puffed up, slightly golden, and have a slight give with lightly pushed with your finger. Transfer them to a wire cooling rack.
To make the whipped cream, pour the cream into a mixing bowl along with the sugar. Whip at a high speed until soft peaks begin to form, do not over-beat. Keep covered and chilled until ready to serve.
When ready to assemble, carefully slice the cakes in half with a serrated knife. Place strawberries and whipped cream on the bottom half, then cover with the top half and serve.
I think the cakes are best eaten on the first day, but stored in a tightly covered container they will keep for a couple days.