When strawberry season begins it’s hard not to buy baskets filled with lush sun ripened berries! Strawberry shortcakes are a classic way to highlight the juicy, sweet and jammy flavors of strawberries. This strawberry shortcake recipe combines fresh berries tossed with Grand Marnier orange liquor, fresh mint, lemon and sugar. Overtime the strawberries release their natural juices and infuse the citrus and mint flavors.
When testing this shortcake recipe, I wanted to try a gluten free flour for the first time. There are many gluten free flour options in the market, however I really wanted to experiment with Cup 4 Cup, a flour blend designed by Chef Lena Kwak and Chef Thomas Keller of the famous French Laundry in Yountville, CA. The flour is a combination of all-natural gluten free ingredients; cornstarch, white rice flour, brown rice flour, milk powder, tapioca flour, potato starch, and xanthan gum.
My curiosity was of course not satisfied until I baked a batch with wheat flour for comparison. The texture of the gluten free shortcake was more delicate and lacked grittiness, whereas I could detect a courser texture from the wheat flour shortcakes. The surface was much smoother on the gluten free cakes and the biscuits gave a nice lightly golden brown color. I preferred the flavor of the wheat flour cakes, however overall the gluten free cake had a better visual appearance and texture was pleasing.
A light dusting of powdered sugar adds just the right amount of extra sweetness to the strawberry shortcake.
The shortcakes were a perfect light golden brown, slightly crispy on the outside and they had a very tender interior crumb structure. I noticed a slight residual cornstarch taste of the shortcake, but the delicious strawberry and cream filling made me quickly forget!
The Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour can actually be used cup for cup to replace wheat flour, and is a wonderful substitution for those who prefer a gluten free alternative. I can’t wait to bake some more new recipes with this gluten free flour! I also submitted this recipe to Shine Supper Club, so be on the look out for it on their website (fingers crossed!).
TIP #1 – Fat is your friend! What?!? You will notice in biscuits, shortcakes and pie dough recipes, a higher amount of fat (like butter, lard, margarine) is used. When fat is incorporated into the flour the fat coats the protein, which limits the formation of the protein bonds. The fat creates the soft crumb that is light, flaky and tender. Nobody likes hockey puck biscuits or pie crust that you have to chisel away to eat!
TIP #2 – What are some gluten free flours? Alternate flours that can be used to substitute wheat include arrowroot, buckheat, corn, potato, tapioca, amaranth, beans, flax meal, millet, quinoa, sorghum and ground nuts. Many gluten-free products are a combination of various flours along with a stabilizer (starches or gums) to achieve similar textures to wheat flour in baked products. If you are sensitive to gluten, make sure to stay away from products that contain wheat, barley, and rye! Oats may be processed in the same manufacturing facility as wheat, so make sure you buy only gluten-free oats.