Strawberry Shortcake For Haters / Farmshare Cooking


Here is the report on Week #3 of my farmshare.  Last week I got…


Let me say in apologize in advance to any fans of the Strawberry Shortcake dolls and cartoons of the early 1980s who may decide to read this post.  I have no intention of masking my true feelings, so read on at your own risk.

I spent most of my life hating strawberry shortcake.  I attended a one room school in British Columbia from 1st to 3rd grade. Most of my memories of this school are truly wonderful.  However, for all three years my best friend, Thea, and I were excluded from the games of the other prettier, tidier and better behaved girls  because we did not own strawberry shortcake dolls.  For those of you who are younger than I am, strawberry shortcake, her cat custard (I do think that custard is a fantastic name for a cat) and her friends (each named for different dessert and each with their own pet) were extremely stupid dolls produced in the early 1980s.  They smelled like desserts that I was not allowed to eat.  I think they had a TV cartoon show, but I’m not sure because I didn’t own a TV.  Your getting the picture right?

Before you shed too many tears for me though, you should know that the girls who played with strawberry shortcake were mean and very boring, whereas my best friend, Thea, was a spectacularly interesting and kind person.  She had an extraordinary number of older brothers and sisters whom she would beat on when I came over for dinner.  She’s scream,”Stop eating all the food!  Erin is an only child!  She eats slowly!  She won’t get enough to eat!”  She was sassy and imaginative and she loved me.  I was not an especially kind little girl, but at least I was not boring.  Thea and I spent our time building gnome houses out of sticks and moss, tromping around in forests, and picking real berries to eat.

I also liked the boys at my school, who would often base their pretend play at recess off of my story ideas (I favoured pirates and story lines roughly imitating the plots of the star wars movies).  Setting the theme and providing structure for the pretend play of children has pretty much become my career path ( I have taught puppetry residencies in public schools for 12 years).  The strawberry shortcake girls never had any good stories in their play.  They avoided conflict and  stories are boring without conflict.

And another thing about strawberry shortcake!  The original strawberry shortcake was a plump cheeked, freckle faced, little girl in an old-fashioned costume.  As a little girl, I did not want to pretend to be a little girl.  I wanted to be a robot princess, or a fairy queen, or a pirate mermaid, or a circus performer with a sparkly costume who was secretly a super hero…in a sparkly costume.  If I had been forced to pretend to be a character provided by pop culture, it would have been a villainess like Cruella De Vil  or the Wicked Queen from Snow White.  They had the best costumes and green or purple eyes.  I liked Princess Leia too, even though she was “good”.  She was tough and had good hair.  The villain in Strawberry Shortcake was called the peculiar pie man…or something stupid (and upon reflection homophobic sounding) like that.  Creepy old man villains are not fun.  A powerful yet deranged villainess with arched eyebrows and  a dramatic cape is fun.

Not to go on too much about my villainess obsession, but,  I have a vivid memory of being read a folktale about three sisters who were told that they could take whatever they wanted from the sea king’s chest.  The first two sisters are greedy and compete to see who can pile the most gold, silver and jewels onto their body.  The kind, wise and virtuous youngest sister chooses one very beautiful and useful object to take to her sick mother.  Something bad happens to the greedy villain sisters and something good happens to the virtuous sister…but I can’t remember what, because I stopped listening to the story and set to work imagining myself covered in jewels at the bottom of the sea.   I am making myself out to be a horrible person.  I promise you that I have grown up to be a functioning member of society who is neither particularly cruel or greedy.  All I’m saying is at age eight, I was so busy identifying with the villain I couldn’t be bothered to continue to listen for the moral of the story.

When I finally did get to try strawberry shortcake (the dessert) I did not like it much.  This was partially because of my associating it with boring, mean little girls and partially because in was too sweet, even for a dessert deprived sugar fiend like me!  In my neck of the woods, strawberry shortcake consisted of a very sweet white cake, with very sweet strawberries and very sweet whipped cream.

My opinion of Strawberry Shortcake did not change until I started spending time with my friends who live in Maine.  In Maine, strawberry shortcake is served on a buttermilk biscuit, and ideally you make it when you have picked the strawberries yourself.  We made Strawberry Shortcake after setting up many, many jars of homemade strawberry jam for the wedding of two of my very best friends, Alex and Katherine.  Since we were flush on jam, we made our shortcake with jam AND fresh strawberries.  This was before I had to give up gluten so I made my famous buttermilk drop biscuits.   If can eat gluten, please make my biscuits and eat them for me.  They are so good.  We topped it with some cream that we whipped by vigorously shaking in its carton.  It was not too sweet.  It was a strawberry shortcake that even a hater and would be villainess could love.IMG_0099

Thank you for reading my traumatized rant about girl fads of the early 1980s.  As a reward, here is a recipe for a not too sweet, buttermilk biscuit-like gluten-free shortcake with homemade strawberry jam, fresh strawberries and cream.   I fed some strawberry shortcake to some of the beautiful, creative, powerful, generous, stylish women who I work and play with every summer.  As you can see, we each had our doubts about letting strawberry shortcake hang out with us, but in the end we were won over.




I won’t judge if you use store-bought jam.  I will say this though…this is a VERY easy jam recipe and the results will make you feel very proud of your cooking ability.  I went through a very silly phase recently of trying out fancy strawberry jam recipes.  None of them were anywhere near as good as this very simple recipe.  In my opinion there is not a lot that you can do to improve on strawberry jam.  Salt and vinegar? No.  Wine? No. Jalapeno Peppers? God no. I am usually a supporter of jams that use no additional pectin.  However, strawberries don’t have much pectin and if you cook the jam long enough to set it with only sugar, the jam looses its fresh flavour. This recipe will make way more jam than you need for one batch of strawberry shortcake.  If you eat a lot of jam, you can just keep it in the fridge and eat it up over a few weeks.  If you want to set the jam up to store in your cupboard for a year follow the instructions for potting the jam below.

  • 4 cups of hulled, crushed fresh strawberries
  • 7 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 pouch of liquid pectin
  1. Put a plate in the fridge.  You will need it later to test the set of the jam.
  2. Combine the fruit, sugar and lemon juice in a large pot.  Turn the flame on high and slowly stir the mixture until it reaches a hard boil that cannot be stirred down.
  3. Squeeze the entire contents of the pouch of liquid pectin into the pot and stir.  Continue to cook the jam at a hard boil for one minute and then remove it from the heat.
  4. Skim the fluffy light pink foam off of the top of the jam and discard it.  I think that you can also de-foam jam by dropping a pat of butter into it, but I have never tried this myself.
POTTING THE JAM (optional)
  1. On another burner, you can be sterilizing 7 half pint canning jars.  Boil the jars and lids for 10 minutes in a canner or a large pot with some sort of rack in the bottom.  Be sure to add the glass jars before the water is boiling (to prevent cracking) and start the timer only after the water has reached a full boil. Allow the jars to air dry on a clean rack.
  2. Fill the jars with jam, leaving 1/4 inch head space at the top.  Wipe the rim of the jars with a clean cloth and seal the jars with the lid and the ring.
  3. Drop the sealed jars into to a boiling hot water (don’t forget the canner or rack) and process for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the jars and leave them alone.  The next day, tap the top of the can to make sure that the lid is sealed.  If the lid gives at all, the seal is no good.  Just put the unsealed ones in your fridge and eat them soonish.


If you can eat gluten use this recipe for buttermilk drop biscuits.  Just throw a tablespoon (or a few) of sugar in to the batter.  Makes 8 shortcakes.

  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 4 Tablespoons arrowroot starch
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar ( you can decrease or increase the sugar to taste)
  • 2 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2  cup very cold butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt (use only if your butter is unsalted)
  • the zest of 1 lemon
  • The seeds scraped from  a vanilla bean (optional)
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 egg yolk whisked with a bit of heavy cream for a glaze
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Combine the tapioca flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, baking powder, xanthan gum and sea salt in a large bowl.
  3. Cut the butter into the flour until it is the size of small peas.
  4. Toss in the lemon zest and vanilla.
  5. Stir in the buttermilk until the dough is just combined.
  6. Drop the dough into eight balls on a greased large cast iron skillet (preferably) or a greased baking sheet.  The will spread and flatten while baking, so start out with nice high mounds and leave an inch or two of space around each one.
  7. Brush the tops with the egg yolk and heavy cream mixture and bake for 17 minutes at 450 degrees.  The glaze should be nice and golden on top.  If not, bake for 2-3 additional minutes.  Allow them to cool completely on a rack while you prepare the berries and the cream.


Buy or pick small local strawberries, during strawberry season.  There is no point going to all of this trouble to glorify those horrible giant tasteless things that are sold year round.  I like to add sour cream  to my whipped cream for tartness.

  • Fresh Strawberries
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 cup sour cream
  1.  Wash, hull and slice the strawberries. Toss the sliced berries with some sugar, so that they will release some of their juices and take on a bright red hue.  If the berries are very ripe you can use just a couple of teaspoons.  If your berries are tart you can add more.
  2. Combine the heavy cream and sugar to taste (I use just a Tablespoon or two) and beat with a hand mixer or whisk until you have stiff whipped cream.
  3. Beat in the sour cream.   Taste it and add more sugar if you like.
  4. When the shortcakes are totally cooled, split them open with a sharp knife.  They will seem very thin, but the tapioca starch in the dough give them enough structure to prevent them from crumbling.
  5. Top each bottom half with a generous smear of jam, a mound of strawberries and a dollop of cream. Place the other half of eachshort cake on the tops of each serving and eat them right away.

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. I love this post! I love the story! I wish I was there to eat it!

    1. I wish you were here to eat it too!

  2. Erin Loughran says:

    Ugh, there was a cartoon and if you’d ever seen it you would have hated the characters habit of using “berry” as an adjective to describe everything! It was in every sentence uttered on the cartoon. I wasn’t a fan either.

    Also, you are going to get a lot of zucchini, so look for or suggest a swap box at your CSA pick up.

    1. See, if we had known each other as children we could of been friends.

      Yes! I just found the swap box and I traded the second batch of zucchini for a big bag of lettuce!

  3. Ema Jones says:

    What cute expressions!!
    I love strawberries!!
    I made Strawberry Marshmallow Cake..

  4. Glenda Berry says:

    Love this story. It is true, you were never boring. Let’s make this shortcake on Gabriola this summer. Perhaps with fresh blackberries.

    Sent from my iPad

    1. Yes! Oh we have so much baking to do!

  5. jmbnewsgirl says:

    I have now read your story, admired your photos, and scanned the recipe. I hope to make both soon, but will have to supplement for more strawberries. Also, where can I find liquid pectin? Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. You can find it in a regular super market, usually in the same area as the Jello and Gelatin. I have to admit to having had a bit of trouble tracking it down in Brooklyn. I guess that there are not so many people making jam here? It is totally common in any suburban or rural supermarket. I hope that you enjoy the dish!

  6. Mona says:

    I have strawberry’s and raspberrys fresh from the garden and cherrys picked this morning. So good. I’m just eating them fresh and loving every bite.

    1. Oh the fruit is always so good in Kamloops! I miss it!


  7. Rima Fand says:

    What a fantastic post. Gosh, I can relate! Good for you for transforming the strawberry shortcake into something delicious and beautiful. xo

    1. Rima, it is a fact that you and I would have been friends if we had met in our childhood.


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