We went to a strawberry festival this weekend.  There was a muddy hayride around the farm, a pen of lovable baby barnyard animals, and — to our four year old’s utter delight — a hands-behind-the-back strawberry shortcake eating contest.  His milk allergy precludes him from diving face-first into a bowl of whipped cream and buttery biscuits, but this quintessential early summer dessert is easy enough to adapt for his dairy-free diet.  I made it that night at home, with a lightly sweetened version of our usual baking powder biscuits, berries from the farm, and vanilla frozen soy yogurt.  The whole family gobbled it up (George most enthusiastically, as he was permitted to reenact the messy contest to his heart’s content).

Strawberry shortcake

Yield:  Serves 8.

For berries:

2 lb. strawberries, quartered

A spoonful or two of granulated sugar, depending on sweetness of strawberries

For biscuits:

2 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. granulated sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. fine sea salt

6 tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces

3/4 c. whole milk

For serving:

Lightly sweetened, whipped cream (or vanilla ice cream)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, toss strawberries with sugar and let macerate while you make the biscuits.  (Seasonal, local strawberries will be plenty sweet on their own, but you need at least a pinch or two of sugar to draw out their juice.)

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl.  Using a pastry blender (or whatever method you like best), cut butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Pour in milk and stir until just combined.  Dough will be sticky.

Turn dough out on a floured counter and knead gently a few times until smooth.  Press into a roughly 6×12-inch rectangle.  Using a pizza wheel or paring knife, cut dough in half lengthwise, then in quarters crosswise to form eight 3-inch squares.  Transfer squares to a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake until puffed and starting to brown, about 12 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.

To serve, split biscuits and top with strawberries and whipped cream or ice cream.

Make it vegan: Use a non-hydrogenated, vegetable shortening (Earth Balance’s  vegan buttery sticks are my favorite) instead of butter, and soy milk instead of whole milk.  We loved the shortcakes with vanilla frozen soy yogurt, but a vegan whipped topping or even vanilla soy yogurt would do the trick.