Nothing says spring quite like fresh strawberries and I was craving them in cake form. I looked around for Strawberry Cake recipes and was kinda disappointed that all I could really find were recipes that used Strawberry Jello. Not what I had in mind. I wanted a cake that tasted fresh and light, so I decided to come up with my own. I don’t generally think of myself as a recipe developer, but on some level, I suppose I am. Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve gotten a feel for how things will translate into a gluten free recipe, the kind of texture I’ll end up with and how the flavors will interact with each other. Here’s a little insight to my reasoning when coming up with this recipe that might help when you’re converting your own to gluten free. I REALLY liked the way this Strawberries and Cream Cake turned out and I hope you will all love it too!
1 – I knew that I wanted to use fresh strawberries, but the flavor has a hard time translating when baked, so I decided to make a strawberry sauce on my stovetop and strained the extra liquid, leaving the reduced strawberries to add flavor to the cake itself. You can add some pink or red food coloring, if you like the look of a pink strawberry cake, but I wanted mine au naturale.
To make the sauce, simply rough chop about 2 cups of fresh strawberries and put them in a sauce pan with 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar and about 1/4 cup water. Heat on medium to boiling and reduce the heat, but allow to simmer for several minutes to cook off some of the liquid and create a syrup. Allow to cool either on the stovetop or in the fridge and strain the extra juices.
2- I also knew that I wanted something light and spongey, so I planned straight off to whip up a few egg whites and fold them in at the end. I knew this would add an airiness to the cake that would make it feel and taste light. In a bowl separate from your cake batter, add three room temperature egg whites and whip with beaters on a hand help mixer or the whip attachment on your stand mixer on high for several minutes until they form stiff peaks. As always with egg whites, make sure that your bowl is clean and that no water or egg yolk contaminate the whites, or they won’t whip up. You’re going to gently fold these in at the end with a rubber spatula to give your batter some fluff.
3- Gluten free flours can be very dry and brittle, so my go to trick to combat that is buttermilk. This recipe got a cup. I was worried the buttermilk would weigh down the egg whites, but they worked beautifully together.
To start off, I used my favorite gluten free baking blend, which I literally prepare in 5 gallon buckets full and keep in a large jar on my countertop. I use Asian white rice flour (available at an Asian Market in 1 lb. bags for around $1.00) in my blend because its so much finer. I find that when I use regular white rice flour, the texture is ok as long as I’m serving something hot, but as it cools and especially sits over night, it gets gritty. And we don’t want gritty cake. Here’s the recipe…
- 2 cups Asian white rice flour
- 2/3 cups potato starch
- 1/3 cup tapioca starch
- 1 tsp. xanthan gum
Mix it all up and if you don’t go through it very quickly, put it in an airtight container and stick it in the freezer to keep it fresh.
I’m also including my recipe for fresh strawberry buttercream. I used a whipped vanilla buttercream and more sliced, fresh strawberries to fill the cake, but next time I’d probably just stick with the Strawberry Buttercream. Keep in mind that since you are using so many fresh berries, this cake needs to be refrigerated and will have a little shorter shelf life than usual. But that probably won’t be a problem. I really hope you love this recipe, its s new favorite in this house!
STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM CAKE
- 2 cups gluten free flour blend (recipe above)
- 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup cooking oil (canola or vegetable)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. coconut extract
- 3 egg whites at room temperature
For Strawberry Sauce
- 2 cups strawberries, rough cut
- 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare either two 8″ round cake pans or one 9×12″ pyrex by spraying lightly with cooking spray and coating with gluten free flour. Set aside.
- Start with your strawberry sauce on the stovetop and allow to cool as you prepare the other ingredients. Add all sauce ingredients to a pan on the stove and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and allow to simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently and watching closely so it doesn’t burn. When about half the liquid has cooked off, remove from heat and allow to cool. You will add this to your cake batter at the very end.
- Put the flour blend, xanthan gum, 1 1/2 cup sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a large mixing bowl and using your paddle attachment, turn on low until all the dry ingredients are mixed well.
- In a separate bowl, add 2 whole eggs, buttermilk, cooking oil, vanilla extract and coconut extract and mix well.
- In a third bowl, whip your 3 egg whites with whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and form stiff peaks, set aside.
- Add the liquid contents of your second bowl to the dry ingredients. Mix on low and scrape the sides of the bowl a couple times to ensure everything is evenly mixed, then turn the mixer up to high for 10-20 seconds to beat it well.
- Using a rubber spatula, slowly and gently pour the egg whites into the batter and start to fold the egg whites it. This can take a couple of minutes to make sure that the egg whites are well incorporated. Start by scraping the sides of the bowl, down to the bottom and pulling up, folding the batter into the egg whites.
- Gently add the strawberry sauce to the cake batter, swirling it with the rubber spatula to give it a natural look.
- Bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes, keeping an eye on cake since all ovens are a little different. Cake is done with a toothpick (or sharp knife) is inserted and comes out clean.
- Allow to cool completely before frosting (I always wrap my layers in saran wrap and allow to chill in the fridge for at least an hour before frosting)
FRESH STRAWBERRY BUTTERCREAM
*Note that a layer cake requires a lot of buttercream. More than you think its going to need. Man, I always make more than I think I need and so often, I end up short. This is for a single recipe and should probably cover an entire layer cake, but you won’t need as much if you bake it in a pyrex
- 2 sticks room temperature butter (i know i’m not supposed to use salted butter, but i do anyway)
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- about 1/4-1/3 cup strained strawberry puree (chop up a bunch of fresh berries, mash them or blend with a stick blender and strain the extra juices or your frosting will be super runny)
- 6-8 cups powdered sugar (this part can be a but sketchy. you really need enough to get the frosting to a workable texture, so if it is too runny to smooth over your cake, add some more, about half a cup at a time, until it works for you.)
- put your butter in a large mixing bowl and beat it on high for several minutes until the butter has increased in volume and turned a much lighter shade
- add 3-4 cups of powdered sugar and beat again for several minutes
- add your salt, vanilla extract, whole milk and strawberry puree and (that’s right) beat again for several minutes (this will help your buttercream get light and airy)
- if your buttercream is too runny, go ahead and start adding more powdered sugar to it, a little at a time and making sure its well incorporated before you add too much more. If you overdo it and your buttercream gets too stiff, you can add more milk, 1/2 a tablespoon at a time until it balances out
- frost your chilled cake and put back in the fridge until you are ready to serve!