Sunday, July 20, 2014

A New Twist on a Favorite Shortcake Recipe with Lifeway Kefir

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Peaches are here!

Yes, strawberries get the most attention in our house because they are the first crop to fruit each year on the farm, then come the cherries, but peaches kinda slide into home base quietly. Don't let there subtle entrance fool you though, they are sweet, fragrant and juicy.

Normally I would throw any overly ripe counter peaches into my morning smoothie with a little Lifeway Kefir but today I decided to makes something completely different. Since this year's strawberry season came and went without me making shortcake biscuits, I thought it would be fun to give a few peaches the same treatment. The fun thing is I can also use the tangy flavor of my favorite blueberry kefir, with all the probiotic benefits I love, in place of the buttermilk in the recipe. I just happened to be all out of buttermilk.

Oh, darn...

These are the light and tasty biscuits that I make year after year. This time around I modified the recipe a little more. With a little less sugar because of the great blueberry taste in the kefir and just a little more flour to keep the biscuit dough from being too wet.

You may have seen Lifeway Kefir before.  I usually drink it straight or add it to a cold fruit smoothie, but I am also learning about how easy it is to bake with. Now I just have to find the plain kefir so I can try it in my homemade pizza crust recipe. I have heard that kefir makes a fabulous and flavorful crust, much like a sourdough crust but without all the extra waiting. Want to get creative with your own #KefirCreations? Try substituting kefir in your favorite recipes in place of milk. It's that easy.

Not sure what Kefir is? Well, similar in someways to drinkable yogurt, think of it like yogurt's cousin, it came from Eastern Europe over 2000 years ago. If you are looking for an easy way to add probiotics into your diet, this is a great option. You may have remembered some of my other posts on probiotics and cultured foods, sauer kraut and kimchee, to help with my overall digestive health. I even remember drinks like this being very popular in Asia while I lived there. I am so glad I can now find it locally.

I already love making fresh biscuits. They are one of the few baked goods I make regularly because they are so fast and easy. One of the tricks is to have good, cold ingredients, especially the butter. I use a pastry cutter for incorporating the butter. I don't want it to melt in a food processor or between my fingers. Cold little clumps of butter will bake up to create flakier biscuits.

The other key is to work the dough as little as humanly possible. Push the biscuit cutter straight down with no twisting. Twisting is tempting isn't it? Well, don't. Biscuits cut straight down will rise higher.

Trust me, okay?

For fabulous golden brown tops with a bit of crunch, I brushed the tops of the biscuits with more kefir and sprinkled them with sanding sugar. I used clear sanding sugar on my biscuits here.

The filling was really easy. I am always a fan of peach pie, so I grabbed my ripest (aka: mushiest) peach and mashed it down for a compote with a little sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla bean paste and a touch of corn starch for thickening.

After slicing my biscuit in half I put a few heaping spoonfulls of compote on the bottom half, stacked on some sliced peaches, sprinkled on some blueberries, added a little kiss of whipped cream before topping with the other half of the biscuit.

Just perfect, let me tell ya.

But, you don't have to take my word for it. Go ahead and try this easy recipe for yourself.

Kefir Shortcake Biscuits with Spiced Peaches and Blueberries

You Will Need:

  • 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 c. Lifeway Low Fat Kefir Cultured Milk Smoothie in Blueberry + more for brushing the tops
  • sanding sugar
  • 5 ripe peaches
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch + enough water to dissolve it
  • fresh whipping cream
  • 1 c. blueberries
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk together the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in the chilled butter until you have pea sized pieces. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vanilla bean paste, egg and kefir. Fold this into the dry mixture until moistened.

Turn onto a floured surface and pat down to about 3/4" thick. With a large biscuit cutter (or glass) cut biscuits and transfer to a non-stick baking mat lined sheet. Do not twist the cutter, cut up and down. Brush the tops with a little more kefir and dust with sanding sugar.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

For the compote, peel and slice the ripest peach. Mash it in a small saucepan and add in the cinnamon and nutmeg. Bring up to a simmer, add in the cornstarch and stir till it begins to thicken. Turn off the heat and allow it to come to room temperature before building your shortcake.

To assemble, Cut the biscuits in half. Divide the compote between the biscuits, top with peach slices, blueberries and whipped cream. Replace the biscuit top and serve.


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