Hello again. I hope you are all keeping well. Time for something sweet this week on my blog to celebrate the start of the soft fruit season here in central Scotland. The area I live in is well known for its soft fruit production. A couple of weeks ago, the first of the new season strawberries arrived in the shops, and very delicious they are too. Sweet with a slight acidic note, aromatic and fruity, they are one of the best soft fruits around.
What better way to enjoy them than with shortcakes and cream. I’ve been working on a thick vegan cream for a while. As much as I like coconut yogurt, sometimes you just don’t want the flavour dominating whatever you are eating. I am able to buy a pouring cream made from soya milk as well as various crême fraîche-style non-dairy alternatives, but I haven’t been able to find anything that resembles whipped cream. What I have come up with I think makes a great alternative to any of the above.
On with the recipe for the cream and shortcakes. Make the cream first because it needs time to cool and then chill to allow it to firm up. Ideally, start the day before for less faffing around. The shortcakes are best eaten freshly baked but do freeze fine.
Makes: 8 filled shortcakes
For the vegan cream:
- 100ml readymade soya pouring cream
- 40g white vegetable fat such as Trex or flavourless coconut oil (this needs to be a solid fat, not a margarine)
- ¼ tsp xanthan gum
- A few drops vanilla extract, optional
For the shortcakes:
- 250g gluten-free plain flour blend
- 4 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 80g dairy-free margarine
- 40g caster sugar + extra to sprinkle
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- approx. 80ml dairy-free milk (I use oat milk) + extra to glaze
- Strawberry jam
- Fresh strawberries, hulled washed and sliced
- First make the cream. Pour the soya cream into a small heatproof bowl and add the fat. Place on top of a small saucepan of barely simmering water and leave to melt, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from the heat, mix well, then stir in the xanthan gum until completely blended. Leave to cool, stirring occasionally. The mixture thickens on cooling.
- When cold, have a taste and see if you like the flavour as it is. Otherwise add a few drops of vanilla extract (or you might prefer a pinch of salt). Whisk for about a minute with an electric whisk, then cover and chill the cream for at least 2 hours. After this time, the cream should be the consistency of thick, spoonable yogurt. It will keep covered in the fridge for up to a week.
- For the shortcakes, preheat the oven to 220°C, 200°C fan oven, gas 7. Lightly grease 8 muffin tins. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the margarine and rub into the dry ingredients until well blended.
- Stir in the sugar and xanthan gum along with sufficient milk to bring the dough together in a soft ball. Turn on to the work top, dust with flour and knead lightly until smooth.
- Divide into 8 equal portions, form each into a ball and press into the muffin tins.
- Brush with a little more milk and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake for about 15 minutes until risen and lightly golden. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then loosen and transfer the shortcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
Just before serving, slice the shortcakes in half and add a dollop of cream, jam and a few sliced berries. The shortcakes are also good simply spread with dairy-free margarine and jam.
Here’s one I sampled earlier……..
Until next time, I hope you have a good, safe and healthy few days. I look forward to posting again in a few days time 🙂