This is a no-fuss delicious and moist Strawberry Shortcake that the whole family will love. It's perfect for afternoon tea or as a dessert served with vanilla coconut yoghurt or dairy-free cream. When strawberries are out of season, you might like to add diced apple into the cake batter and sprinkle the top with cinnamon (see notes at the end).
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Preheat oven to 170c (fan-forced). Line the base of a 20cm spring-form cake tin (place your sheet of baking paper over the base and clip closed the sides), have 2 - 3cm hanging out. (This will make it easier to remove the cake when placing on a serving plate). Grease the sides and the paper with coconut oil.
Add the almond meal, coconut flour, arrowroot, baking powder and salt to a food processor. Process for approximately 10 seconds to aerate the flours.
Add the eggs, coconut milk, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Process for 12 - 15 seconds to combine the mixture.
Transfer the batter to the prepared cake tin and use a spatula to smooth over the surface. Place the cut strawberries around the outside circle of the cake with the cut side facing upward (I place them in alternate directions to fit more strawberries in). Then add another row and a couple more to fill the centre. Press them gently into the surface of the batter (extra-large strawberries can be cut into thirds).
Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until the top is golden and firm to the touch. Allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then run a soft spatula around the inside of the tin before removing the spring sides. Finish cooling, then gently slide the cake off the baking paper onto a serving plate.
To serve, cut into wedges and add a dollop of vanilla coconut yoghurt or dairy-free cream, plus extra fresh strawberries on the side.
Store any leftovers covered in the fridge.
Note: To make an apple cake, replace the strawberries with finely diced apple and press into the cake mixture, then sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake in the same manner. (Click the arrow in the bottom right corner of the Strawberry Shortcake photo to check out how the apple cake looks).
The most favoured gluten/grain free flour substitute in my kitchen is almond meal. It is finely ground blanched almonds and is also known as almond flour. It has a slightly sweet flavour so you don’t have to add as much sweetener when baking with it. All kinds of nuts can be ground down to make a meal and are excellent for raw cheesecake or pie bases. Nut meals/flours are best stored in airtight containers in the fridge or freezer to prevent them going rancid.
Coconut flour is made by drying and grinding the meat of a coconut to a fine texture. Coconut flour is a low-carb flour that's an excellent source of dietary fibre and protein. It's a good grain-free and nut-free alternative but does require a larger amount of liquid than normal when used for baked goods. When replacing in a recipe that calls for wheat flour (or almond meal), use this guide; 1 cup of regular flour = 1/3 cup coconut flour, add an extra egg and an extra 1/3 cup of liquid. It can be used in soups, gravies and stews as a thickener and adds a boost of nutrition. There are now quite a few brands of coconut flour available and they all seem to perform differently depending on how coarse the texture is. In my recipes I used Organic Coconut Flour from 'Let's Do Organic' and 'Red Tractor Foods' I like their finer texture.
Arrowroot is a herb, the roots are cultivated for its starch properties. It is used in my recipes as a thickener and I also like combining it with almond meal to produce a much lighter texture, more like a gluten flour. I find the starch helps to bind the ingredients together. You can substitute tapioca flour, which is made from the dried roots of the cassava plant. Tapioca can be used in baking, it has a slightly sweet flavour. However, I do not recommend thickening with tapioca, as it has a stretchy, gummy texture. Supermarkets only sell in very small containers, which is not cost effective. Purchase from baking specialty stores, health food stores or online. ( When substituting for cornflour in recipes, 2 teaspoons arrowroot = 1 tablespoon cornflour/starch).
Baking Powder is a rising agent for baked goods. If substituting for baking soda you will need 4 times the quantity. Ensure you purchase a gluten free, no aluminum brand. Alternatively, you can make your own baking powder; 1 teaspoon of baking powder is equal to 1⁄4 teaspoon of baking soda and 1⁄2 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Note, that they should only be combined when preparing your recipe.
Organic unbleached, unrefined organic Celtic sea salt or pink Himalayan salt is my salt of choice as these contain healthy minerals and trace elements that our body needs. Regular table salt has been bleached, refined and processed leaving minimal health benefits. If you choose to use regular table salt in my recipes you will need to reduce the quantity or the end result will be to salty.
I have used large free range or organic eggs from a 700g carton in my recipes. Eggs are one of the few foods considered to be a complete protein because they contain all 9 essential amino acids, also studies have shown that lutein (yellow colour) in egg yolks protects against the progress of early heart disease.
I use this extensively throughout my recipes; from soups to dinners to desserts and cakes. I think it is the best dairy-free alternative. It gives so much flavour and creaminess to a wide variety of dishes. See coconut milk recipe on page 299 of The JOYful Table cookbook. If purchasing in the can read your labels, even some organic brands contain gums and thickeners, choose full-fat not low-fat versions. I use Honest To Goodness organic cream 400ml and Ayam which isn't organic but has no additives or thickeners and is much creamier and thicker than other brands (that's why I love it), it comes in 400ml, 270ml and 140ml size cans.
Coconut oil is one of the most nutritious fats to cook and bake with. Use organic extra-virgin coconut oil which is unrefined and unbleached from non GMO coconuts. Coconut oil has a high smoking point and it is slow to oxidize due to its high saturated fat content, thus, resistant to going rancid. Some studies suggest coconut oil helps with digestion, including irritable bowel, tummy bugs, candida and parasites due to this oil containing short term medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs), which is a healthy form of saturated fat.
Maple syrup is an earthy, sweet tasting amber liquid that is produced by boiling down the sap of maple trees. Use organic 100% maple syrup which is a natural food sweetener, not a flavoured maple syrup. Pure maple syrup contains a decent amount of some minerals, especially manganese and zinc, some traces of potassium and calcium but it does contain a whole bunch of sugar. I try to reduced the amount of sweetness in each recipe to the lowest possible without compromising taste. Feel free to adjust to your liking. I use maple syrup in place of raw honey when I don't want the strong honey flavour coming through in a recipe. I have paleo cookies and desserts in my cookbook made from whole food ingredients with natural sugars but please don’t overindulge. Use as a treat only for special occasions.
Use an organic vanilla extract (not an essence) or vanilla powder. Vanilla makes a big difference to the flavour of a recipe, I recommend keeping to the quantities I have stated in a recipe. I prefer Madagascar pure vanilla extract manufactured by ‘Simply Organic’ and for powder, Vanillamax 100% pure, finely ground Madagascar vanilla beans produced by Bulletproof.
Strawberries are loved for their aroma, bright red colour, juicy texture and sweetness. They are easy to grow in your home garden. Strawberries freeze well, use frozen in smoothies and desserts. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, contain folate and potassium, high in fibre, plus they provide anticancer bioflavonoids. To keep your strawberries fresh for several weeks, wash in a bowl with water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar, don't rinse, lay on paper towel to dry and place in a seal container in the fridge. Organic is best.