When I wrote the recipe for my strawberry shortcakes I mentioned that the wee village I live in becomes carpeted with tiny wild strawberries during the summertime and this year is no exception. Continue reading
I live in a small village called Cambusbarron which is in Stirling, Scotland. Every summer when the sun beats its rays down and encourages nature to bloom Cambusbarron is carpeted in tiny native wild Scottish strawberries, the majority of which grow no bigger than my pinkie nail, but are blessed with the perfect combination of sugary sweet and fruity tart flavours.
Last summer I took a walk up to the old quarry behind Cambusbarron and I was astonished to discover that these tiny wild strawberries completely covered the gravelled land on the approach to the water. I couldn’t put a foot down without stepping on them, so tightly and thickly were they spread across the ground.
This year we’ve cleared a lot of unnecessary trees and shrubs from our garden (well, my Dad has cleared them for me, to be honest!) and as a result wild strawberries have sprung up all over the garden. They’re beautiful plants, providing steady, long-lasting greenery that is dotted with bright crimson coloured tiny fruits. I certainly have no intention of getting rid of them, as I would with any other invasive plant life.
When I first started seeing them appearing in the garden I resolved that I would make something with them for the website and after giving it some thought I decided on strawberry shortcakes. The shortcakes are made of two pieces of crisp, buttery lemon shortbread biscuit that sandwich a rich smooth buttercream icing that is interspersed with the tiny wild strawberries from my garden and topped with a dot more buttercream and fresh baby mint leaves. You could just use slices of fresh strawberries though, if you’re not blessed with living in Cambusbarron.
I’m absolutely over the moon with this strawberry shortcake recipe and the shortbread it’s made from is most definitely now my favourite gluten-free biscuit recipe. The soft, smooth-textured cornflour makes the biscuits really crumbly while the butter adds a lovely crisp shortness to the overall crunch of them. You’d never in a million years believe they were gluten-free. As I optimistically said to my partner after I’d tried them for the first time, “Oh my God! They’re definitely going in the cookbook!”.
Ingredients for the shortbread biscuits:
150g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)
95g icing sugar
125g cold salted butter (cubed)
1 tsp lemon extract
2 tbsp cold water
Ingredients for the buttercream icing:
50g soft butter
110g icing sugar
2 tsps of rice milk
1 tsp lemon extract
Fresh mint leaves
Preheat your oven to 210C/190C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.
Lay greaseproof paper out onto two large baking trays.
Weigh the cornflour, gluten-free flour, icing sugar, lemon extract and butter into a large mixing bowl.
Rub the butter through all of the dry ingredients until it resembles fine sand. Add the water and mix until a smooth dough is formed.
Leave the dough to rest in the fridge for half an hour. (The cold temperature makes it easier to roll out.)
In the meantime make the buttercream by putting the icing ingredients into a jug and whisking together until light and airy. Place in a piping bag.
Once the shortcake dough is cold, use a rolling pin to roll it out on a floured surface until it is approximately 1/2 a centimetre thick. (I roll it out on floured greaseproof paper so it doesn’t stick to my work surface.)
Use a biscuit cutter to stamp out your biscuits and then lay them on the greaseproofed baking trays, leaving a generous gap between each.
Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 mins or until light golden brown.
Using a fish slice to lift gently them, lay the shortcakes on a cooling rack and scatter with caster sugar.
Once the shortcakes are cool, decorate the base with dots of the buttercream icing, strawberries and fresh mint leaves and then top them with another shortcake biscuit. Serve.
For all that I enjoy cooking and baking complex things involving a number of components, sometimes it’s the simplest marriages of ingredients which result in being the tastiest meals.
My mother-in-law came along the other evening with a little treat of raspberry meringues for us which was very welcome indeed. They weren’t fancy and they weren’t complicated, but they were sweet, fresh and creamy and was the perfect light dessert for eating while sitting in the garden on a summer’s evening.
The beauty of these raspberry meringues is the way the crisp meringue breaks into sugary shards in your mouth while being encapsulated in the sweet cream, but then a raspberry will explode between your teeth, zapping your tastebuds with sharp, yet sweet, fruit juice. When you taste something as perfect as this, it reminds you that it truly is the simplest things in life which bring the most pleasure.
Oat or coconut cream or freshly whipped lactose-free double cream (Add a little icing sugar while whipping to sweeten the cream, if you’d prefer)
Raspberries or sliced strawberries
Top each meringue nest with a generous dollop of whipped cream and then place your fruit on top. Enjoy.