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Shortcut to Healthier Shortcake

Shakespeare named a character Alice Shortcake in his play, The Merry Wives of Windsor. And strawberry shortcake was an American favorite even before the Civil War. But the term meant different things to different people: Were the strawberries sliced or mashed? Did they top sponge cake, a cornmeal biscuit, piecrust dough or even a crisp meringue?

Today, it's easy to use those little store-bought individual sponge cakes that have indentations to hold berries – but they’re often scanty on taste and heavy on saturated fat. That’s why it’s worth taking 20 minutes to make this classic biscuit-style shortcake.

It contains just enough butter (3/4 of a teaspoon per serving) to ensure rich flavor and “shortness” – i.e., flakiness. But it relies mostly on healthful ingredients like canola oil and whole-wheat flour. The strawberries burst with vitamin C, fiber and phytochemicals called polyphenols. Top it off with vanilla frozen yogurt, a healthier substitute for whipped cream.

Strawberry ShortcakeShortcake Biscuits with Berries

  • Canola oil spray
  • 1 lb. fresh strawberries
  • 1 pt. fresh blueberries or 2 cups frozen
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 4 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla nonfat frozen yogurt, softened slightly

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray nonstick cookie sheet with oil spray. Set aside.

Hull strawberries and slice into bowl. Add fresh blueberries, if using. Mix in orange juice and sugar to taste. (If using frozen blueberries that are defrosted, stir in just before assembling shortcakes.)

In medium bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Use pastry blender or fork to cut butter and oil into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add milk all at once. Stir until just incorporated and there are no lumps.

Form 8 biscuits by dropping well-rounded quarter cups onto cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until biscuits are done. (Use toothpick to test centers). Cool on wire rack.

Use serrated knife to gently slice off top third of each biscuit. Layer the bottoms with some berries and juice. Lay top third of biscuit on berries. Top with more berries and juice. Place remaining berries around each biscuit. Garnish with frozen yogurt and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 300 calories, 11 g. total fat (2 g. saturated fat), 48 g. carbohydrate, 5 g. protein, 3 g. dietary fiber, 405 mg. sodium.

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