Hi! This might be one of the weirdest springs of our lifetimes, but it’s spring all the same and I’m making strawberry stuff! This delicate vegan strawberry cake is light, fluffy, not-too-sweet and full of strawberry flavor. It’s made totally from scratch!
The base of this cake is a sponge cake modeled from my classic vegan white cake. To infuse strawberry flavor directly into the batter, I pureed and strained a bunch of fresh strawberries and cooked them down into a reduction – this packs in the most strawberry flavor without ruining the texture.
To compensate for the strawberry reduction, the other sugar and liquid in the cake are reduced slightly.
Finally, I added a little bit of pink food coloring to the batter to get that gorgeous, inviting hue! I tried this recipe with “natural” food colors and I wasn’t happy with the results at all. The brand I used made my cake tie-dyed… so I redid this with some decidedly not-crunchy neon gel food coloring and was much happier.
Just check the ingredients list of your food coloring to ensure no milk, gelatin, or confectioner’s glaze are used, if eating strictly vegan.
Sandwiched between the two cake layers (after a thin crumb coat of frosting) is a spread of fresh strawberry jam. And to complete the strawberry trifecta, I pulverized freeze-dried strawberries and mixed them into my frosting before decorating the rest of the cake.
I’m sure most of you can come up with better vegan strawberry cake decorations than I can – as you know, I’m all about making these cakes taste amazing and have a very clunky hand with the presentation. Here’s the top of my cake. The decoration is a little chaotic 🙂
I can tell you that this cake is phenomenal, raved about by vegans and omnivores alike, back when I was still allowed to go to my office and serve it to people. It’s bursting with strawberry flavor and perfect with afternoon tea.
Where the heck have I been for two months, you might ask? 1) Facing off against this strawberry cake about 7 times; 2) Experiencing some personal upheaval that has changed my routine; and 3) Fortunate to be able to telework, and trying to support local businesses by ordering takeout and delivery often, and otherwise focusing on pretty spartan meal prep. I’m sure I’ll get back in the cooking groove soon!
If you give this vegan strawberry cake a try, let us know in the comments section or by tagging me on Instagram with @yupitsvegan. Bon appetit, and hang in there, everyone!
Vegan Strawberry Cake
A fluffy but moist vegan strawberry cake, made with fresh strawberries infused into the batter, strawberry jam sandwiched between the layers, and strawberry frosting. Makes two 9-inch layers.
I recommend preparing the strawberry reduction in advance. Prep time does not include time for decorating and frosting the cake!
- 450 grams fresh strawberries (16 oz.) stems removed
- 78 grams aquafaba room temperature (6 tbsp) (see note)
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 450 grams vegan white frosting of choice (16 oz.)
- 3/4 cup strawberry jam or preserves
- 30 grams freeze-dried strawberries (1.2 oz.)
For the strawberry reduction:
After removing the strawberry stems, add them to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Optional but recommended: strain the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds.
Add the strained strawberry puree to a saucepan over medium heat. Once bubbling, reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced significantly and thickened, about 20 minutes. You should end up with about 2/3 cup of the mixture, weighing approximately 115 grams; this doesn't need to be exact.
Set the strawberry reduction aside to cool. It should cool completely to room temperature before using it in the recipe.
For the vegan strawberry cake:
Before starting, make sure all of your ingredients for this vegan strawberry cake are at room temperature, otherwise your cake will bake up weirdly. Trust me!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (make sure you are not using convection mode; this will cause the cake to bake unevenly). Line two 9-inch cake pans with circles of parchment paper on the bottom. Do not flour or grease the pans.
In a small bowl, whisk together the aquafaba and cream of tartar vigorously until the aquafaba is fluffy and foamy, and set aside. No need to whip it to stiff peaks (you can if you want to though), just get it foamy.
Measure the volume of the strawberry reduction, and add enough soy milk so that the total volume of the strawberry reduction and soy milk is 2 cups. So, if your strawberry reduction is 2/3 cup, you should use 1 and 1/3 cup of soy milk.
Stir together the strawberry reduction soy milk, 2 tsp vinegar, vanilla and butter flavors, and set aside. The soy milk will curdle a little bit; this is normal. If using food coloring, stir it into this mixture too, using an amount according to package directions.
Sift all of the dry ingredients (including the sugar) into a mixing bowl and stir well, sifting a second time if the mixture still appears lumpy. Don't skip this step - sifting is important!
Add the vegetable oil and shortening into the bowl. Use a strong fork to break up the shortening and then mix everything together well. The mixture will first turn crumbly like a shortbread dough and then as you continue to mix, will start to resemble wet sand (see photos in blog post). This will take some elbow grease. Make sure to scrape around the bottom of your mixing bowl to get any flour pockets hiding out there. Don't continue until the mixture is fully smooth.
Add 1/3 of the wet ingredients to the bowl and mix until combined. Add another 2/3 and repeat. Finally, add the remaining 1/3 and mix until the batter is very smooth and runny, which will take a minute or two (see photos in blog post).
Give the aquafaba mixture another whisk to get it foamy again, as it may have deflated a bit while you were mixing the rest of the cake. If it's still partially liquidy, take only the foamy part and not the part that is liquid. Then, whisk it into the cake batter until mixed in evenly (if you only fold it in, you might get streaks or a gummy layer - mix well if needed). Divide the cake batter between your two cake pans.
Bake the vegan strawberry cake layers for approximately 24-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and dry. Be sure not to open the oven until it has been at least 15 minutes (preferably longer), otherwise you will risk your cakes deflating when you open the oven door.
Let the cakes cool in their pans on top of a cooling rack for about 10 minutes. You can then run a sharp knife around the edges of the pans before very gently inverting the cakes to cool completely. I recommend lightly flouring or spraying your cooling rack before flipping the cakes onto it; they are very moist and have a tendency to stick. After flipping them over, gently peel off the parchment paper.
These cakes can be layered and frosted once completely cooled (and the layers can be gently evened out if needed, although they tend to bake pretty flat). Take care in handling them; they are rather delicate. Leftover cake can be stored covered in the fridge for a couple of days. If your layer cake is fully frosted it can also be stored covered at room temperature. If stored in the fridge, it's recommended to bring it to room temperature before slicing, to reduce crumbliness.
To use my suggested filling and frosting:
To make the strawberry frosting, add the freeze-dried strawberries to a food processor and pulverize into a fine powder. Stir into the white frosting until evenly combined.
On the bottom layer of the cake, add a thin coating of frosting to the top, then add a slightly taller ring of frosting, about 1/2 inch wide, around the outside (this is to hold in the jam). Spread strawberry jam evenly onto the top of the cake layer, excluding the thicker frosting on the outside.
Carefully place the second layer of cake onto the first one, and then frost the top and outsides with the remaining strawberry frosting. I don't recommend decorating this cake with fresh strawberries; they are watery and will ruin your frosting. Royal icing strawberries would be a great touch if you're more ambitious than I am!
AQUAFABA - This is the cooking liquid from beans; it has properties similar to egg whites. For this recipe, I recommend draining the liquid from a can of low-sodium or unsalted white beans such as cannellini beans.
STAND MIXER - You can use a stand mixer for this. Use low speed throughout, increasing to medium-low speed at the liquid-adding step if needed to mix fully.
NUTRITION - Nutrition facts do not include the freeze-dried strawberry frosting or strawberry jam. They include the cake itself only.
GLUTEN-FREE - Unfortunately this cake cannot be made gluten-free in any straightforward ways.
For additional step-by-step photos and a video of this cake making technique, which is a little bit unusual, please head over to my original vegan cake recipe!
If you’re loving this flavor twist, then you should also check out my vegan orange creamsicle cake!