Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcake
AKA: Strawberry Shortcake. It's What's for Dinner!
I grew up in a traditional nuclear family of the ’70s and ’80s. Dad worked, Mom stayed home to raise us kids and we always had a "square meal" for dinner: meat, starch, two veggies, rolls and dessert.
Come summertime, though, the notion of a healthy balanced meal went out the window and Mom got a little crazy. How? She made us strawberry shortcake — for dinner. Yes, siree. It was not for dessert or a special treat. It was for dinner. Warm, flaky, sweet shortcake and sugared strawberries, all served in a bowl with cold milk. And, because she wanted to have some modicum of nutrition, there were two slices of Velveeta cheese on the side. Oh, and sometimes we even had dessert after that. Because it was the ’70s. And who wouldn't want a bowl of chocolate pudding after eating strawberry shortcake and Velveeta? That, my friends, was dinner at least one night a week for many weeks during the summer. And those were some of the best dinners ever.
When I tell my friends that I used to eat strawberry shortcake in milk for dinner, I get a lot of strange looks. Then they try it and the emails come flying in about what a great idea it is, and wouldn't a glass of rosé be lovely with that? (Why, yes, it would.) Some of them even serve a few slices of cheddar on the side and aren't horrified by it. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
If you can't eat gluten, and you miss strawberry shortcake — whether for dessert (boo!) or for dinner (yay!) — I've got the recipe for you. These shortcakes have just the right amount of flake and crumble, and they don't get too mushy dunked in milk. They hold up quite nicely, actually.
Go get yourself some nice deep-red strawberries, and make this for dinner tonight, cheese optional.
Sure, you could use a store-bought gluten-free mix to make shortcakes, but making your own from scratch lets you amp up the buttermilk if you want, and adjust the sweetness in whichever direction you prefer. You will end up with a buttery, flaky, slightly sweet shortcake that does well in milk (the way I like to eat strawberry shortcake), or with whipped cream or ice cream if you prefer.
Remove stems and cut strawberries in half or quarters and toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar in a mixing bowl. Let rest at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Place all dry ingredients for the biscuits in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse 5 to 7 times to combine.
Add the butter and pulse 8 to 10 times to combine.
Add the wet ingredients and the egg, and process for about 30 seconds — the dough will come together in a ball.
Place the dough ball between two pieces of wax paper or parchment, and roll to 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter or the rim of a drinking glass, cut out a few biscuits and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Ball up remaining dough, roll out, and cut more biscuits. Repeat until dough is gone (you should have 8 biscuits).
Brush the tops of each biscuit with heavy cream, and sprinkle with raw or turbinado sugar.
Bake for 14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.
Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
To serve, place 1 to 2 biscuits in a shallow bowl, top with strawberries, and pour in as much or as little milk as you'd like.