Strawberry Layer Cake with Dairy-Free Whipped Icing


This melt-in-your-mouth Strawberry Layer Cake will be the star of any celebration. Guests will be amazed that it’s gluten-free and free of the Top 9 allergens.

The secret to the finished layer cake’s intense berry flavor is the use of freeze-dried strawberries.

While the strawberry puree requires three cups of frozen strawberries, it’s those freeze-dried berries that punch up the flavor in the Strawberry Layer Cake. They do so without adding excess moisture.

Then I use the freeze-dried berries again in the filling and icing. The result is a strawberry lover’s perfect cake.

With my gluten-free whole grain flour blend, it makes six cups, so store the remainder in an airtight container and place that in a cool, dark place for up to one month. If you need longer storage, keep the flour blend in the refrigerator up to six months or in the freezer up to one year.

Photo: Erin Kunkel

Makes: one 8-inch layer cake (12-16 slices)
Free of: gluten and all top allergens


Strawberry Puree

  • 3 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup freeze-dried strawberries
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp strawberry jam

Strawberry Cake

  • 9 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp ground flaxseed meal
  • 3 cups Cat’s Gluten-Free Whole Grain Flour Blend (see recipe below)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dairy-free rice or coconut milk beverage, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup cooled strawberry puree (above)
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free, soy-free margarine (such as Earth Balance)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

Icing, Filling and Garnish

  • 2 13.5 oz cans (398 mL) original full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight (see Recipe Tip)
  • 1 1/2 cups freeze-dried strawberries, processed to a powder in blender or food processor
  • 1/4-1/2 cup powdered confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries

Cat’s Gluten-Free Whole Grain Flour Blend

Makes: 6 cups

  • 2 cups sweet sorghum flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1 cup potato starch (not flour)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk sorghum flour, rice flour and potato starch until well combined.
  2. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place up to 1 month. (See introduction for longer storage.)
  3. Before using, bring to room temperature. Just before measuring, whisk the flour blend to aerate. Sifting is not necessary if you whisk.

Recipe Tips

A Note on Coconut       Coconut is technically a fruit. While most allergists do not consider it a tree nut, if you are nut allergic, ask your doctor if coconut is safe for you.


  1. For the strawberry puree, combine frozen strawberries, freeze-dried strawberries, sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves. Continue to cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until thickened and fruit can be easily mashed with a spoon.
  2. Transfer mixture to a shallow dish and let cool 15 minutes. Pour into a blender and puree until smooth. Add jam and blend again. Pour mixture into a bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cooled, at least 30 minutes. Puree may be made 2 days in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.
  3. For the cake, preheat oven to 350° F and lightly grease two 8-inch cake pans.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk water and flaxmeal until smooth; let sit 10 minutes.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk flour blend, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt. In a small bowl, mix milk beverage with 1/2 cup cooled strawberry puree.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat margarine and sugar on medium for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl. While beating on low, slowly add reserved flaxmeal gel. Increase speed to medium for 20 seconds then scrape down bowl. Add one-fourth of flour mixture and beat on low until fully incorporated. Add one-third of milk beverage mixture and beat on low until almost fully incorporated. Repeat with remaining flour and milk beverage mixtures, starting and ending with dry ingredients. Scrape down bowl and beat on medium 10 seconds.
  7. Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake in center of oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s center tests clean. Cool on wire racks 10 minutes, and then invert cakes onto racks to cool completely.
  8. For the icing and filling, scoop all thick coconut cream from coconut milk into the bowl of a stand mixer with whip attachment. Add strawberry powder and 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar. Beat on high until thick and whipped. Taste and add more sugar, if desired.
  9. To assemble a four-layer cake, cut each layer in half horizontally with a long serrated knife. Drizzle 2 tablespoons strawberry puree over one layer and evenly spread. Smoothly spread 1/2 cup filling on top of puree, and then top with a second cake layer, pressing down firmly. Repeat with second and third layers and then ice cake top and sides.
  10. For the garnish, slice strawberries and arrange on top of cake in decorative pattern or center cluster. Finished cake can be stored in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

is a pastry chef and the author of the best-selling Let Us All Eat cake: Gluten-Free Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Cakes (Ten Speed Press). Find more recipes from Catherine Ruehle at