Cardamom Shortcake - GF/CF

My grandmother Lucy was a good cook. Not in a fussy sauces and exotic ingredients kind of way, but in a simple old-fashioned way. She knew how to get the most out of what she had, as did most cooks of that era. She used to whip together this soft, delicious shortcake out of a few staple ingredients and top it with whatever fruit was fresh and local. My mom made this shortcake all the time when my sisters and I were growing up. If there was any leftover, the next morning we would slice it, butter it, and put it under the broiler to toast it for the most awesome breakfast treat.

What you consider to be shortcake depends on your family cooking heritage. Some people were raised on strawberry shortcake made from drop or rolled biscuits. I hate to tell you that you have been horribly deceived! Shortcake made from biscuit dough is not shortcake. It is biscuits. Shortcake made from sponge cake or angel food cake is not shortcake either. Shortcake is a tender-crumbed cake made with shortening.

This is shortcake. 

Adapting this recipe to gluten-free took some experimenting. I found that it needed a little something to counter the tastes of the gluten-free flours, so I added vanilla and cardamom, which adds a nice new dimension. Serve it topped with your favorite sauce made from fresh fruit. Strawberries are classic. My favorite is with rhubarb compote, as pictured above.

Cardamom Shortcake (GF/CF)
adapted from my grandmother Lucy's 1930s recipe

1/3 cup shortening (Spectrum Organic)
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice*
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup millet flour
3/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp xanthan gum
dash salt
2/3 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375º. Grease an 8x8 baking pan.

1. Cream together the shortening and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. (It is very important to cream this by hand. Don't use a mixer. The tender crumb depends on it!). Stir in the egg and vanilla until smoothly combined.

2. Combine the dry ingredients, whisk, then sift into a bowl.

3. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the shortening mixture alternately with the milk, stirring until smooth. Spread the stiff batter into the prepared 8x8 baking pan.

4. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it. Let it cool, then cut into squares, slice in half, and fill with sweetened soft fruit. If desired, top with soy whipped cream.

*A tip about organic sugar: Have you noticed that organic evaporated cane juice is a larger granule than traditional white granulated sugar? Have you also noticed that it sometimes makes baked goods grainy because it doesn't dissolve all the way? Here's how to get a smaller granule. Pour it into your heavy-duty blender and process for a few seconds. (7 seconds with the dry blade of a Vitamix on variable I, speed 7). Be careful not to process too long or it will become powdered sugar.

Rhubarb Compote

I can't get enough fresh local rhubarb! I crave it. It starts growing in late winter, so it's ready to harvest by April into May. Rhubarb's playful sweet/tart wake-up call to your taste buds signals the beginning of fresh spring produce. If seasonal fresh produce was a marching band, rhubarb would be the drum major.

Serve this compote warm on shortcake, on ice cream, on cheesecake, or just by its lovely self.

Rhubarb Compote

1 tbsp water
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
3 cups sliced rhubarb (1/2 inch chunks)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup organic cane sugar

1. In a small bowl, whisk 1 tbsp water and cornstarch together until smooth. Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water, lemon juice and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the rhubarb. Lower the heat, gently moving around the rhubarb until it softens a bit. (If the rhubarb is stirred too much, it will quickly loose its shape and turn a little too mushy. It is nice for the compote to retain some of the rhubarb in chunk form.)

3. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the rhubarb, return to a boil (stirring occasionally) and remove from heat. Cool and refrigerate until ready to use, or freeze for a lively taste of spring in the dead of next winter.

Makes about a cup and a half of compote.


Rhubarb Huckleberry Cobbler

It's rhubarb time at the local farmers markets. Rhubarb is one of the first vegetables to ripen in the spring. It is certainly the most beautiful. Rhubarb looks like celery dressed up for prom in a shimmering crimson gown. 

Rhubarb has the most delightful flavor - when mixed with sugar that is. A raw bite will send you into pucker spasms. When we were little, one of my sisters liked to break a stalk off the rhubarb plant in our back yard and eat it raw. I tried to do the same thing, but found that I much preferred to dunk that bitter bite into the sugar bowl first. I wasn't as brazen as my sister.
Rhubarb is actually related to buckwheat. It is a vegetable that prefers being treated like fruit, as in transforming it into cobblers, crisps, compotes, crumbles, cakes, and pies. You know I'm happy to do that.

GF Rhubarb Huckleberry Cobbler

6 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 cup fresh or frozen huckleberries (or blueberries)
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 cup water
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup potato starch (or tapioca starch)
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup pecans, roasted and chopped
1/3 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, cold
1 large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a 9x12 baking dish.
1. Stir together chopped rhubarb, berries, and cornstarch. Pour it into the baking pan, distribute evenly. Stir 1/2 cup sugar into one cup water and pour over fruit. 

2. Combine sorghum flour, millet flour, starch, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the chopped nuts. With a pastry cutter, cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir the egg and vanilla together in a small bowl, and add it to the flour and butter mixture. Stir until the dough is moistened. The dough will be stiff.

3. Sprinkle the dough in crumbly chunks over the fruit. Bake 40-50 minutes until golden brown and done in the middle.



Flourless Chocolate Cookies

Brownie cookies!
I just have to share this recipe for an amazing cookie with the texture and flavor of a brownie. It's flourless!! Egg whites do the magic. It is a very simple recipe - my favorite kind. The original recipe calls for dutch-processed cocoa. I used organic cacao powder instead because I like the deeper chocolate flavor. I also added a teaspoon of espresso granules to add depth the the chocolate. The recipe says to beat in the egg whites just until the batter is moistened, but that resulted in a very flat cookie for me. So I beat in the egg whites for about 3 minutes to get a cookie that is about 1/2 inch or so high. The longer you beat in the egg white the stiffer it gets, so be careful or you will end up with brownie balls, (which might actually be kind of good).

François Payard’s Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies
from Payard’s book Chocolate Epiphany
(slightly adapted)

2 3/4 cups walnut halves
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2/3 cup organic cacao powder
1/4 tsp instant espresso granules
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Line two large-rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

1. Spread the walnut halves on a large-rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant.  Let cool slightly, then transfer the walnut halves to a work surface and coarsely chop.

2. In a large bowl, whisk (or combine in an electric mixer on low speed) the confectioners’ sugar with the cacao powder, espresso granules and salt followed by the chopped walnuts. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat on low speed for 3 minutes.

3. Scoop the batter onto the baking sheets in 12 evenly spaced mounds, and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through to ensure even baking. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks. Let cookies cool completely, and store in an airtight container for up  to 3 days.

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