Spelt Strawberry Shortcakes with Lemon & Thyme
If you like a bit of alliteration, how about “spelt strawberry shortcakes scream summer”? It’s not a lie. And furthermore they’re totally delicious. Knock up a batch, invite your neighbours around and enjoy them in or out of the garden. Serve them warm with whipped cream and macerated strawberries.
International Scone Week
Every year Lavender and Lime hosts International Scone Week. Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial started this rather wonderful event back in 2011, but Tandy has been holding the baton for the last few years. If you blog and love baking and eating scones as much as many of us do, please join in with #ISW2019. If you don’t blog, just enjoy the recipes.
Last year I made these matcha & honey spelt scones. They were really tasty and I loved the pastel colour created by the matcha green tea powder. In previous years, I’ve made emmer scones, chocolate scones, and white chocolate & whey scones, amongst others.
Strawberry shortcakes are a very British summer bake. The first recipe was recorded in the 16th century. Everyone seems to have their own recipe, but really they’re a type of scone – just slightly sweeter and shorter and they’re made with cream rather than milk. They’re really quick and easy to prepare, so just perfect for the summer season. It’s true you’ll need to turn on your oven to make them. But they only take fifteen minutes or so to bake, so they shouldn’t make your kitchen too hot.
Having just said that strawberry shortcakes are scones, there is another version. Strawberry shortcake can also be layers of thin shortbread biscuit, filled with macerated strawberries and cream. My mother made me one of these for my birthday one year. It was terrific and the most delicious birthday cake I’ve ever had. Sadly, I was unable to partake on the day. I’d spent the day in hospital where I’d had a general anaesthetic. This meant that when I arrived home, I was fit for nothing but my bed.
Spelt Strawberry Shortcakes
The list of ingredients may look long, but it’s not as bad as you think. Apart from the strawberries and cream, you’re likely to have everything you need in your store cupboard. I’ve used a mix of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tarter as the raising agent. That’s how I’ve always made scones. But you can use two teaspoons of baking powder instead, if that’s what you have. I’ve also added lemon zest and fresh lemon thyme to the mix. This makes these spelt strawberry shortcakes even more delicious. But if you don’t have lemon thyme, you could try using ordinary thyme instead, or just leave it out altogether.
Wholemeal Spelt Flour Dough
As a whole food baker, I’ve made these shortcakes with wholemeal spelt flour. This means they won’t rise as much as you’d expect scones to rise, but they will taste even more delicious and they’ll be a bit healthier too. You could sieve out the biggest bits of bran, if you can be bothered. I didn’t on this occasion.
If you want to use ordinary wholemeal flour or even plain flour, go carefully with the liquid. You might need to add a little more or a little less, respectively.
Forming the Dough
All you need to do, is place the dry ingredients into a bowl. Grate in the lemon zest. I find a microplane* makes zesting lemons a breeze. Add cold cubed butter, or as I do, cut it up with a knife once it’s been added to the flour. Then rub it in to the dry ingredients with your finger tips. It’s important the butter is cold as you don’t want it to melt whilst you’re rubbing it in. Some people grate the butter into the flour to make the process easier, but I find this too faffy and it creates extra washing up.
Once you’ve got a mixture that resembles rough breadcrumbs, add the wet ingredients. I’ve used a mix of cream and kefir rather than straight cream. Kefir is a brilliant ingredient for baking, but if you don’t have any, use buttermilk or soured milk instead. Bring the shortcake mixture together with a round-bladed knife rather than a spoon, as this will be lighter on the dough. Once it starts to come together, gather it up with your hands and form it into a ball.
The main thing to take into account with any shortcake or scone dough, is to handle it as little as possible. The more you handle it, the heavier and tougher your finished bakes are likely to be.
Ideally, you should roll out the dough for these spelt strawberry shortcakes to about 2 cm (¾”). This will give you eight good sized shortcakes. With this batch, I rolled them out too thinly. I made ten, but they were a bit tricky to cut into halves once they were cooked.
Once rolled, stamp the dough into 6 cm rounds. You’ll need to roll all the leftover bits together again to make the final one or two. Brush with milk, then sprinkle with a little demerara sugar. This will give a nice crunchy top.
To macerate strawberries, you just need to let them soak in sugar for a while. This will cause them to release their juice which mixes with the sugar to create a gorgeous sweet, tart and glossy concoction. I’ve used rose syrup instead of sugar which gives a few welcome floral notes. The flavours really pop. If you have the right sort of roses, it’s very easy to knock up a batch of homemade rose syrup. If, however, you’re not able to make your own or can’t find any to buy, just use a couple of teaspoons of golden caster sugar instead. You won’t have those floral tones, but it will still be delicious.
You can also macerate your strawberries in a liqueur instead of, or as well as sugar. Lemon juice is an excellent addition and I’ve added some in this recipe. I find it helps to bring out the flavours.
Prepare the strawberries whilst the shortcakes are baking.
These spelt strawberry shortcakes are best consumed on the day of making. Ideally, serve them warm from the oven. Whip up the cream whilst they’re cooling on the rack. Cut each one in half, spoon on some cream then top with the macerated strawberries.
Show Me Your Strawberry Shortcakes
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Spelt Strawberry Shortcakes – The Recipe
Strawberry shortcakes scream summer. These ones are made with wholemeal spelt flour and flavoured with lemon. You can also include thyme if you're feeling adventurous. Serve with macerated strawberries and whipped cream.
- 225 g (8 oz) wholemeal spelt flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp cream of tarter
- pinch of fine sea or rock salt
- 40 g golden caster sugar + a little extra for sprinkling
- 1 unsprayed lemon (I use organic lemons when I can get hold of them)
- small sprig lemon thyme (optional)
- 60 g (2 oz unsalted butter - fridge cold and cubed
- 60 ml (4 fl oz) kefir, buttermilk or sour milk
- 60 ml (2 fl oz) double cream + 125 ml (¼ pt) for serving
- a little milk to brush the tops with
- 1 tsp demerara sugar for sprinkling
- 225 g (8 oz) ripe strawberries - quartered
- 1 tbsp rose syrup (can substitute 2 tsp golden caster sugar)
Set oven to 200℃/400℉/Gas6.
- Place the dry ingredients into a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Finely grate in the lemon zest. I microplane is ideal for this. Add the lemon thyme leaves.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the kefir and cream. Stir with a round bladed knife from the inside to the outside until the ingredients are just combined and starting to form a dough. Bring this together with your hands, handling it as little as possible.
- Roll out on a floured surface to about ¾" (2cm) thick, then cut into rounds with a 2 ½" (6cm) cutter. Combine the leftover bits, re-roll and cut again until the dough has all been used.
Place onto a greased baking tray and brush with milk then sprinkle with a little demerara sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until the scones are golden and the bases sound hollow when tapped.
Place onto a cooling rack, but best eaten whilst still warm.
Whilst the scones are baking, place the strawberries in a bowl. Squeeze in a tbsp of lemon juice and add the rose syrup. Stir and leave to macerate.
Whip the cream.
Cut the shortcakes in half and top with the whipped cream and macerated strawberries.
You can use 2 tsp of baking powder instead of the bicarb and cream of tarter.
These shortcakes don't rise as well as ordinary scones due to the bran in the wholemeal flour, but they are still light and delicious.
Best eaten on the day they are made. Or can be frozen once cooled.
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