Monthly Archives: April 2012

chocolate strawberry shortcakes

Recently, I was doing a study on gospel friendships through a theology training program I am in. It was challenging and refreshing, and reminded me of how blessed I am to have so many wonderful friends who remind me who I am in Christ and spur me on in my relationship with Him daily. This little gem from Proverbs stood out to me:

“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” (Proverbs 27:9 ESV)

Dictionary.com defines earnest as “serious in intention, purpose, or effort” and counsel most simply as “advice or instruction”. I think that definitely describes the sweet friend I made this dessert for and I hope the Lord continues to grow our friendship in this way! In fact, it was my friend who encouraged me to post this recipe even though I’d not had time to photograph it for you. She told me to use her picture and post it anyway, because people would still want to read it, even if it wasn’t perfect. How encouraging!

This is a wonderful twist on strawberry shortcake, perfect for spring strawberry season! Recently here we’ve had an unseasonably warm March, tricking us into thinking it was an early Spring, and just as soon as we’d gotten comfortable… here comes a cold snap in April. The one good thing to about this cold snap is that strawberries are going to be popping up at the farmers markets a little longer. There’s really nothing like a fresh, local strawberry – beats the ones in the grocery stores by miles!

The one change I’d make to this recipe is to use a lighter cocoa. My go-to cocoa powder is normally Hershey’s Special Dark, which I love. However, in this recipe, I felt it was too dark, making the biscuits a little less sweet and more bitter than I wanted them to be. In this recipe, I’d definitely go for a classic cocoa instead of a darker or Dutch process one.

Make this soon before strawberries are out of season. Don’t forget to sprinkle the biscuits with sugar – and, if you can – share it with friends. I can tell you it definitely tastes much better when paired with good conversation and a cool Spring evening outside on the porch.

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes

makes 10-12 servings

For the shortcakes:

  • 1 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 3 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (you can also use chocolate chips)
  • 1½ sticks (12 tbsp.) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the strawberries:

  • 1½ lbs. strawberries, hulled and sliced or quartered
  • 3-4 tbsp. sugar
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

For the whipped cream (Please make this – it is worth it. Do not sub Cool Whip if you can!):

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2-3 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • Dash vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the milk, vanilla and egg, and whisk to blend.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ½ cup of sugar. Whisk to combine.  Working quickly quickly with a pastry blender or your a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the pieces of butter are no larger than small peas.  Mix in the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips and toss to combine.

Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and stir gently until a sticky dough forms.  Very gently knead the dough just until most of the dry ingredients are incorporated, being careful not to overwork the dough.

Scoop the dough in about 1/3 cup mounds onto the baking sheets, leaving a few inches in between.  Gently pat the mounds to about 1-inch thickness.  Sprinkle the tops with sugar.  Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the shortcakes are puff and give just slightly when lightly pressed, about 15-18 minutes total. Make sure you watch them closely. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

While the shortcakes are baking, combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl.  Toss the berries in the mixture and let them set for at least 30-60 minutes.

Just before serving, make the whipped cream.  Place the chilled cream and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Whip on high speed until medium-stiff peaks form, being careful not to overbeat.  Blend in the vanilla.

To serve, split each shortcake horizontally.  Top the bottom half of each shortcake with a dollop of whipped cream, spoon some of the berry mixture over the top, and replace the top half of the shortcake.  Serve immediately.

Recipe source: Annie’s Eats, who adapted it from the book Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (both of which are excellent, by the way).

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green eggs & “ham” with whole wheat biscuits

Hi everyone! I apologize for another picture-less post, but I am having some issues getting the Instagram photo I took of this meal to upload here. However, I still wanted to post the recipes for you, because they are just that good!

Like I told you in my last post, my husband and I are making an effort to eat more whole, real food and less processed food. These recipes came from one of my new favorite blogs, 100 Days of Real Food. I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting much, but this was so easy to do and so delicious I think it will make it into our regular rotation. We like have breakfast for dinner – or, “brinner” as we call it – about once a week. I admit that starting out on this recipe, I felt a little like Sam I Am from the Dr. Suess classic – I really wasn’t sure that I would like it. However, with one taste, I was delighted. This is really, really delicious!

The eggs are made green by the addition of kale. This is a great way to get some more leafy greens into your diet, and you can barely taste them in the eggs. I am sure this recipe would be great for kids as well. If you do make it for kids, go easy on the onion. This dish had a distinct onion flavor. I didn’t think it was overpowering or anything. In fact, I quite enjoyed it. However, if even the slightest hint of onion will be off putting to your kids, I’d leave them out.

I served this with bacon (I buy organic bacon without nitrates, such as Applegate Farms brand from Publix, or local bacon from a local farmer when I can get it) as the ham component and whole wheat biscuits also from 100 Days of Real Food. Let me tell you, the biscuits were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I didn’t miss the white flour at all!

Green Eggs

makes 2-3 servings

  • 6 eggs (preferably local and/or organic)
  • 1 tablespoon organic whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh kale, washed, stems removed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp organic butter

Put first 5 ingredients into a blender, and blend until kale is in very tiny pieces. Melt the butter in a medium to large skillet over medium-low heat and pour the mixture into the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally (I use a figure-8 motion) until eggs are set. Serve immediately.

Simple Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

makes 6-7 large biscuits

  • 2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour (organic preferred)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I made my own by adding a splash of vinegar to whole milk)
  • 1/2 stick cold organic butter, cut into small pieces.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl until well combined. Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry blender, until it resembles small peas. Add the milk, and stir until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a flat, floured surface. I put a big piece of parchment paper on my counter, flour it, and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough 6-8 times, and then pat it out until it’s 3/4 inch thick. Using a large, round, biscuit cutter, cut out rounds. Place them onto a silicone baking mat lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until puffy and golden.

Recipe Tips:

This dinner probably took me thirty minutes to prepare, start to finish. I was able to do this largely because of my freestanding range with double oven. But, you could also use the stovetop for the bacon and do it in the same amount of time. Here is how I did it:

1. I preheated my top oven for the biscuits.

2. I prepared the biscuit dough using the recipe and instructions below. Once the biscuits were cut out, I dusted off the excess flour and placed them on a plate. I put the plate in the refrigerator until I was ready for them.

3. Next, I made up the egg mixture in the blender and set it aside until I was ready for it.

4. I placed the bacon slices on a rimmed baking sheet that had been lined with foil, and placed it in my bottom oven. Then, I turned the oven on to 375 and set the timer for fifteen minutes. (Or, you could begin cooking them in a pan on the stovetop).

5. When the time said 12 minutes remaining, I pulled the biscuits out of the fridge, put them on a Silpat lined baking sheet, and put them in the top oven.

6. I poured the egg mixture into a pan after the butter melted and cooked them as the bacon and biscuits finished cooking. I even had time to slice up some local strawberries for dessert!

Recipe Source: 100 Days of Real Food

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reconciling baking with a healthy lifestyle

You may or may not have noticed, but things have been a little quiet around here at Sarah June Bakes. Part of the reason for that is overall life busy-ness; it’s been a little crazy around here. Another reason is I’ve been doing a little soul searching lately in regards to food and wasn’t sure what it might mean for the blog, so I’ve been hesitant to post.

Healthy eating is something that’s been on my mind for quite some time. It’s something that I’ve always struggled with because I love food so, so much. However, after watching the documentary Food, Inc. a couple of years ago, my eyes were opened to all kinds of new information, and ever since then, I’ve been processing that and slowly changing the way I eat.

Most recently, I have had some health issues pop up that have made me delve into this topic a little more. Over the course of the past few months, I’ve been researching all kinds of diets and gathering lots of information. The conclusion / philosophy I’ve finally landed on is the one on Lisa Leake’s popular blog – 100 Days of Real Food. I find this approach refreshing, achievable, and it makes a lot of sense to me.

I had a hard time, however, reconciling this with my love of baking. After all, white flour and white sugar are pretty much the building blocks of traditional baking. This is what has held me back from fully committing to a “real food” (unprocessed diet) for so long. I didn’t want to give up the hobby that had become a true passion of mine. It just didn’t make since to me. I believe that it’s a God-given thing and it didn’t seem right to just quit.

So, I’ve decided to keep on doing what I love. Life is all about balance. The conclusion that I arrived at is that it is okay to treat yourself every once in a while as long as you’re doing it in moderation. I still believe in the power of a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie – white flour, white sugar, and all.

Also, after reading this article and learning all of the downright scary ingredients that are in store-bought cakes, I believe it is ever more important that people learn to bake from scratch. Yes, you may be using refined ingredients like sugar and flour; but it is far, far better to make a dessert as an occasional treat at home than to purchase one from a supermarket. Even places like Fresh Market, Earth Fare, or Whole Foods, in a lot of cases. The same goes for boxed cake mixes and canned frostings.

So, I will continue to feature classic baking recipes on my blog, but also hope to feature others that also cater to a more healthy lifestyle and that are more for every day. I may also write some posts about my experience with trying to switch over to a diet completely free of unprocessed foods (which is harder than it sounds!) if you, my readers, are interested in that. I hope to make baking from scratch easier for you so that you will feel empowered to bake at home.

Thank you for your patience and be ready for some delicious things coming up soon! Please let me know your thoughts on this topic – whether you agree or disagree, or what your own story is. As always, I love hearing from you.

Love,

Sarah

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