Learn how to make gluten-free dessert shells for strawberry shortcakes. This fluffy gluten-free yellow spongecake recipe will bring back all those nostalgic memories of those little cakes from the grocery store. Make them in a special pan or use a muffin tin, either way is delicious! This recipe is also dairy-free!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
When I think of strawberry shortcake from my childhood, those little yellow dessert shell cups from the grocery store are what come to mind. Maybe you know the ones, they aren't angel food cake, pound cake, or a biscuit. They are lighter and fluffier than regular yellow cake and they always came in a pack of four or six in the bakery section.
If those tasty cakes are what you also want to make, then you've come to the right place! A lot of strawberry shortcake recipes are more biscuit-like, which is not what those dessert shells were. Those dessert shells are actually yellow spongecake, a special type of yellow cake that is extra light and fluffy.
This gluten-free dessert shells recipe is reminiscent of the regular store-bought version and is perfect for making easy strawberry shortcakes. Once you've made the dessert shells just top them with macerated strawberries and whipped cream! The spongecake soaks up the strawberry juice and it's so good!
The cakes are delicious all on their own and could also be frosted or topped in other ways, too! And if you like your desserts in cups, check out this tortilla option!
The ingredients needed for this recipe are basic pantry staples, including flour, sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
Gluten-free Flour Blend: This recipe was tested and works well with Namaste Perfect Blend and King Arthur Measure for Measure. Since all gluten-free flour blends behave a little differently, I recommend using a flour that was tested. If you cannot, use a gluten-free flour blend that is a 1:1 substitute for baking.
Almond Flour: Almond flour goes a long way in adding to the perfect flavor and texture to these cakes. Don't skip it if at all possible.
Dairy-free: Extra bonus, this recipe is also dairy-free since it calls for water and oil.
You can make this recipe two different ways and either is just as delicious! You can invest in a special pan to make actual dessert shells like this Nordic Ware pan or this USA pan, or you can bake the cakes in a muffin pan and split them apart to make shortcakes that way.
The only negative to the Nordic Ware pan was that the cakes were a little tricky to remove from the pan and the sides of the cake aren't quite as smooth. If you go that route, be sure to grease and flour the pan very well.
Making Gluten-free Dessert Shells
The key creating these light and fluffy gluten-free spongecakes is all in the technique! There are several steps in the process that will incorporate as much air as possible into the batter which is what makes the cakes airier than regular cakes.
Step 1: Sift the dry ingredients and set them aside.
Step 2: Beat the eggs until frothy. See all those bubbles?
Step 3: Gradually incorporate the sugar.
Step 4 & 5: Continue mixing for about 5 minutes, until the egg and sugar mixture reaches the ribbon stage.
This simply means that the mixture is thick with volume and light in color. When you lift the beaters from the mixture, it should ribbon, meaning the batter falls back from the beaters in thick trails and the ribbon lines stay suspended on top of the batter for a few moments before disappearing back into the mixture.
Step 6: Blend in the oil and vanilla.
Step 7: Gently, fold in the dry ingredients so as not to lose all the air you just incorporated!
Step 8: Gently, fold in boiling water. Boiling hot water is key here!
Step 9: The batter will be thin. That's ok! Divide into greased pans and bake!
Once the cakes are baked allow them to cool before serving!
Simple Strawberry Shortcake
Now that the hard work is done, it's time to make strawberry shortcakes! All you need is strawberries, maybe a little sugar, and whipped cream.
Strawberries: You can use plain cut up strawberries, or you can macerate them to bring out their juices!
To Macerate Strawberries: Wash, hull, and slice the strawberries. Toss them with sugar, just enough to lightly coat them. You don't have to measure but about 1-2 tablespoons per pound of strawberries is enough. Let that sit for 30 minutes, up to overnight.
You can leave some strawberries un-macerated and mix them together with the macerated strawberries at the last minute to have some varied texture. This is good to do especially if you will be letting the strawberries macerate overnight.
Whipped Cream: Use the whipped cream of your choice; store-bought, homemade, or dairy-free!
To Assemble: Pile strawberries and whipped cream on a dessert shell. For the cupcake version, split the cupcake in half and layer the strawberries and whipped cream with the cake.
Yield & Storage
This recipe makes six dessert shells or cupcakes. The dessert shells are best fresh but will keep for several days at room temperature, if tightly wrapped. The cakes can be frozen for later use if needed.
Store the cakes, strawberries, and whipped cream separately. Only assemble just before serving.
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More Nostalgic Recipes
Gluten Free Dessert Shells for Strawberry Shortcake (Dairy-Free)
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons gluten-free flour blend, , Namaste Perfect Flour or King Arthur Measure for Measure
- ¼ cup finely ground almond flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 Tablespoon oil
- 2 Tablespoon boiling water
- 1 ½ pounds strawberries
- 1-3 Tablespoons sugar,, optional to macerate
- whipped cream
Make the Cakes
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 6 cup dessert shell baking pan or muffin pan.
- Sift together the gluten-free flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until frothy.
- Gradually beat in the sugar. Continue to blend on high speed for a total of 5 minutes, or until the mixture is thick with volume and pale yellow, ribbon stage.*
- Blend in oil and vanilla.
- Gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the boiling water.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared dessert shell or muffin pans.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and tops spring back when touched.
- Cool for 5 minutes before removing the cakes from the pan to cool completely on wire rack.
- Slice the strawberries and toss with granulated sugar, just enough to coat.
- Allow the strawberries to macerate for 30 minutes up to overnight.
- Layer strawberries and whipped cream on cooled dessert shells or cupcakes split in half.