blackberry & elderflower gluten-free shortcake with vegan coconut whip

Easy Elderflower Shortcake with Blackberry Smash (gluten-free & vegan)

Is there anything that captures the true essence of summertime more than fresh berries and a crusty-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside, and fresh-out-of-the-oven shortcake? The answer is: no, there isn’t. When summer hits and the blackberries are bursting, try this gluten-free shortcake scented with aromatic elderflowers, covered in juicy smashed blackberries, and topped off with a classic dollop of coconut whip or vanilla ice cream. You choose; shortcake is your oyster.

SEARCH THIS POST:
An Ode to Shortcake
Health Benefits of Elderflower
How to Make Gluten-Free Elderflower Shortcake
Tips, Tricks, & FAQs
Recipe for Elderflower & Blackberry Shortcake

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blackberry & elderflower gluten-free shortcake with vegan coconut whip

An Ode To Shortcake

We all have those memories or things, oftentimes foods, that bring us right back to a particular season. In fall, it’s pumpkins, apple pies, and cranberries. Winter is for hearty soups and stews. And in spring, the first spotting of bundles of fresh, vibrant greens at the farmer’s market can be such a sweet reminder that winter is over and warmer weather is on its way.

In summer, it’s all about the berries. Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries all start to burst into our lives, onto our plates, and into our bellies. And where there are bushels of berries, there’s usually shortcake to be found.

Growing up in Florida, where there really isn’t a winter, at least not one that can stand up to a “real” winter, a sure sign of spring was hand-painted roadside signs advertising fresh-picked strawberries and you guessed it, strawberry shortcake.

In a place without the strong reminders of seasonal change, those hand-painted signs let us know that spring had arrived, summer was on its way, and lots of shortcake was soon to follow.

The shortcake I’m sharing with you here isn’t the kind you’ll find at those roadside stands. This one is much healthier, but still every bit apropos of the season. Plus, it’s full of edible flowers that not only add flavor but extra health benefits too!


The Health Benefits of Elderflower

Into the batter of this gluten-free shortcake, you’ll stir a handful of edible flowers from the elder tree.

Elderflowers are the delicate floral precursor to the herbal superstar elderberry. At the end of spring and early summer, these delicate little creamy white flowers will appear before giving way to the small bluish-black berries known for their incredible immune-boosting benefits.

Elderflowers, like elderberries, are quite medicinal. In medicine, elderflowers are often used in the following ways:

  • Diuretic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Nervine (nourishing and soothing to the central nervous system)
  • Vulnerary (promotes wound healing and works to ease inflammation)
  • Demulcent
  • Expectorant (helps the body to remove excess mucus (often used in sinus infections))

To this gluten-free shortcake, elderflowers add a fresh herbaceous and light floral hint that pairs so incredibly well with sweet blackberries.


decorated earl grey lavender cake balls on a cookie sheet
vegan & gluten-free elderflower peach upside-down cake on a plate with a fresh peach
slice of strawberry tart with lavender and fresh strawberries

Try these other botanical sweets…

Stinging Nettle Cake
Elderflower & Peach Upside-Down Cake
No-Bake Earl Grey & Lavender Cake Balls
Strawberry Lavender Tart


How To Make Elderflower & Blackberry Shortcake

This gluten-free shortcake is simple to make and comes together quickly. The recipe, adapted from Minimalist Baker, results in shortcakes that rise beautifully, form a nice crust on the outside, but stay nice and fluffy on the inside.

And I don’t know about you, but any dessert I can throw together in 15 minutes of my hands-on time is my kind of dessert.

Here you’ll find a quick rundown of what you’ll need and how to make this recipe. If you’re ready to skip ahead to the full, detailed recipe, you can find it at the bottom of this post.

Equipment

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Measuring Cups & Spoons
  • Pastry Knife or Fork (A pastry knife makes good work of cutting the solid coconut oil into the dry ingredients, although a fork works too!)
  • Microplane or Citrus Zester (It’s kind of an obsure kitchen utensil, but it’s so incredible useful to have on hand. A microplane makes zesting citrus so quick and easy!)
  • Fork or Citrus Reamer (to juice the lemon)
  • Parchment Paper
  • Small Sheet Pan (or Cookie Sheet)

Ingredients

For the blackberries, you’ll need:

  • Fresh or Frozen Blackberries
  • Elderflower Cordial, Liqueur, or Simple Syrup (You can either make your own by making a simple syrup with elderflower tea or use a store-bought cordial or liqueur. Otherwise, substitute coconut or cane sugar.)
  • Lemon Zest (Since you’ll be suing the outermost skin of the lemon, organic is best is accessible.)

For the shortcake, you will need:

  • Full-Fat Coconut Milk
  • Lemon (Use organic if possible as you’ll need both the zest and juice.)
  • All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill.)
  • Almond Flour (not almond meal)
  • Arrowroot Powder (or tapioca or non-GMO corn starch)
  • Coconut Sugar (You can also substitute granulated cane sugar.)
  • Sea Salt
  • Baking Powder
  • Coconut Oil (It’s better if it’s solid, not liquified.)
  • Fresh or Dried Elderflowers (I used dried in this recipe.)

Optional toppings or accompaniments:

Method

  1. Prepare the blackberry mixture. You’ll want to do this step first so that the blackberries have time to get real sweet and juicy. The juicier the better! In a small bowl combine the elderflower cordial or liqueur, blackberries, and lemon zest. Use a fork to smash the berries a little bit. Give it a good stir and set aside.
  1. Make the vegan buttermilk. Combine the full-fat coconut milk and fresh-squeezed lemon juice in a small bowl, stir, and set aside while you mix together the dry ingredients.
  1. Mix together the dry ingredients. Use a fork or whisk to thoroughly combine.
  1. Cut the solid coconut oil into the dry ingredient mixture. Add the solid coconut oil to the dry mix and use a fork or a pastry knife to “cut” the coconut butter into the mixture.
  1. Slowly add in the vegan buttermilk to the dry mixture. You likely won’t need all of the vegan buttermilk. Start with adding ~1/3 of a cup and add more if needed. You want a thick and semi-sticky dough that’s relatively easy to handle and will hold its shape when formed into biscuit.
  1. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions and bake. Form the dough into 6 equally-sized round biscuits. (Coating your hands in a little extra flour can make handling the shortcakes a little easier. Then arrange the shortcakes on a sheetpan lined with parchment paper in 2 rows in the middle of the pan so that the shortcakes are all touching each other. Bake until they’re a light, golden brown color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  1. After the shortcakes cool, assemble and enjoy! Slice the shortcakes in half horizontally, add about 1/3 of the blackberry mixture on top of the bottom half. If using, top the blackberries with dairy-free whipped cream, homemade coconut whip, or vegan vanilla ice cream.

Tips, Tricks, & FAQs

Can I substitute the blackberries for another fruit?

Yes! If you don’t have access to blackberries (or don’t really care for them), you can use any berry you’d like. Strawberries and raspberries are excellent choices. You can even dice peaches or plums. Prepare these alternative options the same way called for in the recipe.

Where can I find elderflowers?

If you’re lucky enough to have elder trees growing in your area, you can harvest them fresh! Elderflower does have some toxic look-alikes (especially if you’re new to foraging), so just make sure to be 100% certain of your plant identification. While elder is an easy plant to correctly ID, it’s good to always stay vigilant for your safety and the safety of others.

Alternatively, you might be able to purchase dried elderflowers from local herbalists or foragers. Farmer’s markets are great places to find these amazing folks. Otherwise, consider buying dried elderflowers online from a reputable herb supplier.

I highly recommend Mountain Rose Herbs for any of your bulk herb needs. They offer a plethora of high-quality products that are organic, fair-trade, and take into consideration ethical growing and harvesting practices.

organic herbs and spices from mountain rose herbs

What can I use instead of elderflower cordial?

If you don’t have an elderflower cordial or alcohol-free liqueur, you can make a simple elderflower simple syrup instead. To make an elderflower simple syrup at home, you’ll begin by making a strong elderflower tea. While you can make as much or as little of this syrup as you want, I recommend just making a small amount if you’re only going to be using it for this recipe. (Although, it does have many uses!)

Bring ~1/4 water to a boil. Remove from heat and add in 2 teaspoons dried elderflowers. Cover and allow to infuse for 8-10 minutes, then strain. Add ~1/4 cup granulated can sugar to your strong elderflower tea and stir to dissolve.

Voilá! You’ve just made a quick and easy herbal simple syrup.

For more detailed instructions and all the ways you can use herbal simple syrups, check out this post on homemade lavender simple syrup. You can substitute an equal amount of dried elderflowers for the lavender in this recipe.

(Note that while you can use honey instead of cane sugar in your simple syrup, it will considerably change the flavor and will likely disguise the delicate flavor of the elderflowers.)

What’s the best way to store leftover shortcakes?

Store leftover shortcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days and store leftover blackberry filling in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

If you’re unable to enjoy the shortcakes within 3 days, I recommend freezing them in an airtight container for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, remove them from the freezer and allow them to thaw out at room temperature. Once, they’re thawed, my favorite way to serve them is to slice them in half horizontally and then lightly toast in the toaster oven or conventional oven before dressing in berries and whipped cream or ice cream.


For more plant magic & herbal wellness in your life, be sure to follow along on ➡️ Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, & snag my herbal 📚 eBooks Nourishing Herbal Gifts & Holiday Pies from the (Un)Bakery. 🌿 And please don’t forget to tag me in your snaps 📸 @_botanyculture_. I love to see all the plant magic you make happen!


Elderflower & Blackberry Shortcake (gluten-free & vegan)

Course: DessertCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes

When summer hits and the blackberries are bursting, try this gluten-free shortcake scented with aromatic elderflowers, covered in juicy blackberries, and topped off with a classic dollop of coconut whip or vanilla ice cream. The shortcake recipe is adapted from Minimalist Baker.

Ingredients

  • Blackberry Filling
  • 2 cups organic blackberries, fresh or frozen (If using frozen, allow to thaw & reserve the juice.)

  • 1 tablespoon elderflower syrup or liqueur*

  • zest of 1 lemon (optional)

  • Elderflower Shortcakes
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour**

  • 1 cup almond flour (not almond meal)

  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

  • 3 tablespoons coconut sugar (or substitute granulated cane sugar)**

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 tablespoon dried elderflowers***

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, solid (or use vegan butter like Earth Balance)

  • Optional Add-Ons
  • vanilla ice cream (dairy-free if vegan) or coconut whipped cream

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400℉. Line a small sheet pan with parchment paper and set it aside.
  • Prepare the blackberry mixture. In a small bowl combine the elderflower cordial or liqueur (or granulated cane sugar), blackberries (fresh or frozen), and lemon zest.

    Use a fork to lightly smash the blackberries, then give the mixture a good stir and set it aside. (If you’re using frozen blackberries, you’ll need to let them thaw a bit before smashing.)
  • Make the vegan buttermilk. Combine the full-fat coconut milk and fresh-squeezed lemon juice in a small bowl, stir, and set aside while you mix together the dry ingredients.
  • Mix together the dry ingredients. Add the flours, sugar, sea salt, and baking powder to a mixing bowl and use a fork or whisk to thoroughly combine.
  • Cut the solid coconut oil into the dry ingredient mixture. Add the solid coconut oil to the dry mix and use a fork or a pastry knife to “cut” the coconut butter into the mixture.

    When it’s thoroughly combined, the mixture should appear crumbly, but uniform. Keep cutting the mixture until there are no noticeable chunks of coconut oil left.
  • Slowly add the vegan buttermilk to the dry mixture. You likely won’t need all of the vegan buttermilk. Start with adding ~1/3 of a cup and add more if needed. You want a thick and semi-sticky dough that’s relatively easy to handle and will hold its shape when formed into biscuits.

    If the dough is too wet, add in 1-2 tablespoons of all-purpose gluten-free flour or almond flour at a time to get the right texture. Conversely, if the dough is too dry and crumbly, add in 1 tablespoon of the vegan buttermilk at a time to compensate.
  • Divide the dough into 6 equal portions and bake. Form the dough into 6 equally-sized round biscuits. (Coating your hands in a little extra flour can make handling the shortcakes a little easier.)

    Then arrange the shortcakes on your prepared sheet pan in 2 rows down the middle so that the shortcakes are all touching each other. Bake for 15-17 minutes until the cakes begin to brown slightly.

    Then, increase the oven temperature to 450℉ and continue to bake for another 3-5 minutes until the shortcakes turn a more golden brown color. Watch carefully so they don’t burn.

    Then pull the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool for at least 15 minutes (or entirely).
  • After the shortcakes cool for at least 15 minutes, assemble and enjoy! Slice the shortcakes in half horizontally, add about 1/3 of the blackberry mixture on top of the bottom half. If using, top the blackberries with dairy-free whipped cream, homemade coconut whip, or vegan vanilla ice cream.
  • Store leftover shortcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Leftover berry filling can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.

Notes

  • *ELDERFLOWER SYRUP, CORDIAL, OR LIQUEUR: These terms can all mean the same thing and they’re essentially all sugar syrups made with elderflower. Although, note that both cordials and liqueurs can also be found with alcohol in them. I recommend using one without alcohol in this recipe. You can also make your own following the instructions in this recipe for lavender simple syrup. Otherwise, just substitute an equal amount of cane or coconut sugar.
  • **ALL-PURPOSE GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR: I have not tested this recipe with any other gluten-free flour blend, but this recipe is pretty forgiving as long as you get the amount of liquid right. Experiment at your own risk! 🙂
  • ***ELDERFLOWERS: You can also use fresh elderflowers in this recipe. Substitute 2-3 tablespoons of fresh elderflowers for the dried.

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Homemade Gluten-Free Shortcake with Elderflowers and Blackberries

DISCLAIMER: The information given in this article is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before consuming certain herbs & medicinal foods, especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking any prescription medications.

Find Organic Herbs & Spices at Mountain Rose Herbs

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