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“I used to serve my family Strawberry Cake before I became gluten-free,” said Alice.  Any chance you could create one like that?” 

I told her I had seen a bunch of recipes.  Some used Jell-O and others used real strawberries.  What did she have in mind? 

“Not the one with Jell-O.  Mine was like a white cake with pureed fruit in it,” she told me.

“I know how to make a gluten-free cake and I’m a sucker for strawberries,” I told Alice.  I mean, I’ve been known to plan vacations to coincide with the local strawberry crop, I explained.  I was eager to give this a try.  But, as it turns out, our local crop of berries has gone by and the fresh strawberries come from across the United States or South America this time of year.  I ended up using frozen, whole, unsweetened strawberries.  They were easier and tastier.  The flavor was more concentrated and more consistent.  So, you’ll see that my recipe calls for frozen berries.  Unless your local berries are in season,  I suggest you do the same.  Use fresh berries for garnish and even dip a few in chocolate for an added touch. 

And use a good gluten-free cake flour blend, one that includes sorghum and cornstarch.  Sorghum is light and less grainy than rice flour.  Plus it has nutrients and fiber.  Cornstarch lightens the texture and adds structure to the cake.  If you are able to have corn products, use it in this recipe.  Otherwise, tapioca or potato starch are okay, but a distant second.  If you can’t tolerate dairy products, Earth Balance products work well.

Now about color.  That’s a matter of preference.  I’ve seen versions of strawberry cake that are bright red.  That’s not from the berries, I’m afraid.  Rather, it’s from red food coloring.  If you like that stuff and that color, by all means, add a drop or two to the batter.  I prefer the subtle pink and don’t really like food dyes.

So, here’s a really, truly completely from-scratch, fresh strawberry cake. No Jell-O, food coloring, or artificial flavors!  Using frozen strawberries makes this easy and means you can celebrate strawberry season anytime of the year.

Strawberry Cake

1, 16-ounce bag frozen, unsweetened whole strawberries
1 cup white rice flour, more to dust pans
¾ cup sorghum flour
½ cup cornstarch
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
1 ¾ cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk or milk of choice, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly oil 2, 8 or 9 inch round pans.  Dust with rice flour.  Set aside.

Slightly thaw strawberries.  Puree in a food processor.  Transfer to a mesh strainer and set over a bowl large enough to set the strainer over the opening.   Using a rubber spatula, scrape the puree through the strainer, then scrape the underside of the strainer, catching the puree in the bowl.  Repeat until just seeds and pulp remain in the strainer. You should have about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups of puree.  Set aside and discard the seeds and pulp.

Combine rice flour, sorghum flour, cornstarch, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda.  Mix well.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add dry ingredients and beat to combine.  Fold in ¾ cup strawberry puree.  (Reserve remainder for frosting.)  Add milk and beat until smooth.  If you would like a deeper pink color to the batter,  add a drop or two of pink or red food coloring here.

Divide the batter evenly among the pans and smooth tops.

Bake for about 23 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cakes cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto wire racks. Let cakes cool completely before frosting.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 ounce) package of low-fat cream cheese, softened
½ stick of butter, softened
½ cup pureed strawberries from above
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon milk (if needed)

Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth.

Slowly add the sugar in 1 cup batches until desired sweetness and consistency is achieved.

Stir in puree and vanilla. Add milk slowly if you need a looser consistency.

Frost cake and garnish with sliced or halved fresh strawberries.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

You can also make 24 cupcakes from this recipe.