Almost-no-fat strawberry shortcake, summer dessert
Vail, CO, Colorado
Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.
I can live with ambiguity ” a little imprecision. For example, I was going to describe this dessert as “no-fat” (it has only 0.32 grams of fat per serving. Good heavens, isn’t that close enough?) but was warned by others who are more exact in their thinking that if I did someone would take me to task. So, the compromise: almost-no-fat strawberry shortcake.
Whether “low fat” or “fat-free,” this is a pleasing summer dessert. In spite of its lack of butter and egg yolks, it is quite tender, has a fine texture and lovely vanilla taste and proves to be an excellent base for summer berries. No one to whom I’ve served it has recognized it as diet fare.
You may find that the cake has more uses than the one featured in this column. Substitute other berries and sliced fruits in place of the strawberries. And, in the winter, try scattering slices of sauteed apple or pear over it and topping it with fat-free commercial caramel sauce.
If you like your shortcake served sandwich-style, with the filling between two pieces of cake, just slice the cake horizontally before adding the berries. It is easiest to do this after cutting it into individual servings.
The dessert can be topped with commercial fat-free whipped topping instead of the sauce suggested in this column. Both are good; I find the sauce a bit more sophisticated.
Like most baked goods that are low in fat, this cake stales quickly, so it is best served on the day that you make it.
Adjusted for altitudes between 8,000 and 10,000 feet
Make in a 9-by-9- inch metal baking pan.
11⁄2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of cake flour
3⁄4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon of salt
2 large egg whites
3⁄4 cup of skim or no-fat milk
1⁄2 cup of light corn syrup
21⁄2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 cups of strawberries
1-3 tablespoons of sugar
1 pint of non fat vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream
2 to 3 tablespoons of orange liqueur (I use Grand Marnier)
Preheat the oven to 360 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Line a 9-by-9- inch metal baking pan with non-stick Reynold’s Release foil or regular foil. If using regular foil, grease and flour it well. Let the foil extend beyond two ends of the pan to serve as handles to use to remove the cake from the pan after it has baked and cooled.
Combine the dry ingredients (cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) in a medium bowl and whisk well to combine thoroughly and eliminate any lumps of flour. You can also sift the ingredients into the bowl if you prefer.
In another bowl, combine the egg whites, milk, corn syrup and vanilla. Whisk until well combined and then add them to the dry ingredients in three additions, beating well (either by hand or with an electric mixer) after each addition. Beat until the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, level it and bake until the cake springs back when touched, is turning light golden, and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Start checking after the cake has been in the oven for about 28 minutes.
Step Five: Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool completely. Remove it from the pan and cut it into nine pieces.
Step Six: About half an hour before serving, prepare the berries: Wash, dry, and slice the strawberries. Place them in a bowl and add sugar to taste. The berries will release their juices in approximately thirty minutes, so stir them again before serving.
Step Seven: To make the optional sauce, soften the non-fat ice cream or yogurt just until it is stirable; it should be the consistency of frozen custard or thick yogurt. Add the orange liqueur and mix well. You can make the sauce an hour or two before serving and store it in the freezer. The alcohol will keep it fairly soft. You may have to remove it a few minutes before serving to get to the correct consistency. It will melt soon after you spoon it onto the cake and berries. That’s fine; it’s as good in liquid form as it is when thicker.
Step Eight: To serve, place each piece of cake on a dessert plate, cover with berries and their juices and top with some of the sauce if you are using it.
This recipe is an adaptation of one in Light and Easy Baking
Vera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact Dawson with your comments about this column and/or your baking questions at email@example.com.
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