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Strawberry Lemonade Layer Cake

This moist cake is grain-free, dairy-free, and lower in sugar--but super BIG on flavor!

For the printable recipe click here.

"That one! That one!" shouted my boys when they saw photos of Ms. Janice's towering Strawberry Lemonade Cake. We were looking for our next baking project, and it was quickly clear we had found it.

If you viewed my Chocolate Avocado Cake or Carrot Cake Cupcakes post, you may know I've been working my way through my friend Janice's list of 42 Classic Southern Desserts, attempting to transform tantalizing Southern desserts into paleo perfection.

Today we tackle Strawberry Lemonade Cake.

Janice doctors up cake mix for her scrumptious recipe, but we start from scratch for our paleo version. I use a combination of cassava flour, almond flour, and potato starch to get the perfect texture. Unlike yeasted recipes like my Easy Paleo Focaccia, this recipe does not call for xanthan gum because the added structure is not necessary. To sweeten the cake, I use organic granulated sugar. It would be more "paleo" to use something like honey or coconut sugar, but the colors and flavors of those compete too much with the intended colors and flavors of the cake. I know that the organic sugar I use is processed in a manner that I feel ok with from a paleo perspective, and since desserts are best in moderation anyway, I'm not worried about it. Same goes for the organic powdered sugar in the frosting.

The frosting also uses considerably less powdered sugar than traditional buttercream recipes, which I often find too sweet. However, if you like a more sugar-heavy frosting, feel free to add up to a cup more powdered sugar if desired. If the frosting becomes too stiff, you can add a small splash of almond or coconut milk. ​Since we're not using strawberry cake mix, the most challenging part of this strawberry lemonade cake recipe is getting good strawberry flavor in there without compromising the structural, textural or paleo-ingredient integrity of the cake.

To conquer this beast, we roast frozen strawberries to drive off some of the moisture and concentrate the flavors, then blend them into a smooth puree to incorporate into the wet ingredients. Using frozen strawberries is a huge time saver because they are already washed and stemmed, and they are usually picked and frozen when perfectly ripened, which means great flavor--even when it's not strawberry season.

The first time I made this cake I alternated layers of lemon cake and strawberry cake, but I decided the recipe worked best simply with strawberry cake layers and lemon frosting. I do not add any lemon zest or essential oil to the batter so the strawberry flavor won't be completely overshadowed. ​Similar to Janice's recipe, I employ a "chiffon" method of separating the egg whites and yolks and beating the whites with a little bit of sugar before gently incorporating them into the batter. The air pockets in the whipped egg whites expand in the oven, giving the cake a little extra lift and lightness.

This recipe does not follow the standard cake batter method of "creaming" the fat and sugar together, so if you're used to making cakes and the method seems a little weird to you, you'll just have to trust me! To replace butter or Crisco in the frosting, I use a mixture of palm shortening and coconut oil. It is imperative not to use all coconut oil because the frosting will be very loose and drippy instead of thick and fluffy. Since this combination yields a bright white frosting, I like to add a little natural yellow food coloring just to bring it to a light, buttery yellow color. Like Janice, I like to leave the sides of the this strawberry lemon cake unfrosted. This way, you can catch little glimpses of the strawberry jam I add between the layers for extra strawberry flavor and visual appeal.

If you prefer to frost the entire cake, you will want to double the ingredients in the frosting recipe. With sweet, refreshing flavors, and mouthwatering aesthetics, this moist cake is the perfect summer dessert!

Here's what you'll need:

For the Cake:

  • 10 oz frozen strawberries

  • 1 ¼ cups organic granulated sugar, divided

  • 1 cup cassava flour

  • ¾ cup almond flour

  • ¾ cup potato starch

  • ½ tsp fine sea salt

  • 2 tsp baking soda

  • ¾ cup coconut oil

  • 1 cup almond (or coconut) milk

  • 1 T lemon juice

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • ¼ tsp almond extract

  • 4 eggs, separated

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup palm shortening

  • ¼ cup coconut oil

  • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted

  • 2 tsp finely chopped lemon zest or 4-5 drops lemon essential oil

  • Pinch fine sea salt

  • 1 T lemon juice

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Natural yellow food coloring, as desired.

For Assembling:

  • 1 cup organic strawberry jam

  • Fresh strawberries for decorating

Here's what you'll do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Place the frozen strawberries in a small Pyrex baking dish or loaf pan and roast at 425 for 40 minutes. When done, take the strawberries out to cool, and reduce oven temp to 350.

  2. Meanwhile, grease the bottoms and sides of 4 (8-inch) round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Once the strawberries have been in the oven about 30 minutes, proceed to step 3.

  3. Using an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed, gradually adding ¼ cup of the sugar, just a little at a time, beating till the whites are very fluffy and holding soft peaks.

  4. If you do not have another large bowl for your mixer, carefully transfer the whipped whites to a clean bowl for now, and use the mixer bowl to combine the dry ingredients. Otherwise, set the egg-white bowl aside and grab a clean mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment to combine the cassava flour, almond flour, potato starch, sea salt, baking soda, and remaining sugar. Add the coconut oil, beating on low speed to combine.

  5. Once the roasted strawberries have cooled at least 5 minutes, transfer them to a blender or food processor and process till smooth. Add the almond milk, lemon juice, extracts, and egg yolks to the strawberry puree, and blend briefly, just to combine.

  6. With the stand mixer (not the blender) on low, stream the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Increase the speed to medium and then high, beating about 30 seconds, or till very well blended.

  7. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold about ⅓ of the whipped egg whites into the batter, then gently fold in the remainder, trying to incorporate just until there are no visible streams of whites, but being careful not to deflate the mixture.

  8. Evenly distribute the batter among the prepared pans, and cook for 20 minutes at 350. Let the cake cool completely before assembling. You can use this time to clean out a mixing bowl for the frosting.

  9. For the frosting, beat palm shortening. coconut oil, salt, and lemon zest or essential oil on medium speed with the balloon whisk attachment of an electric mixer till light and fluffy. Add sifted powdered sugar and beat on low to begin, then increase speed to medium and beat till thoroughly combined. With mixer on, add lemon juice and vanilla, beating till combined. Beat in desired amount of natural yellow food coloring, and transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with desired tip.

  10. To assemble, turn one cake out onto a cardboard cake round, place the round on a decorating turntable, and carefully peel off the parchment if necessary. Use a spoon to vigorously stir the strawberry jam to loosen it up, then gently spread ¼ cup of the jam in a thin layer on top of the cake. If the jam is not loose enough, you can heat it gently with just a tsp of water in the microwave or on the stovetop until it is loose enough to spread well.

  11. Pipe a border (decorative if desired) around the edge of the cake layer (on top of the jam), then pipe zigzags across the inside of the circle (they don’t have to be super-tight).

  12. Carefully turn out the second cake layer and place on top of the frosted layer. Repeat the process with jam and frosting and continue with remaining layers of cake. On the top layer, use an offset spatula to gently spread out the zigzags to create an even layer of frosting in the center of the circle.

  13. Decorate with halved strawberries as desired. Once the strawberries are on the cake, it will need to be refrigerated to store if made in advance. Without the strawberries on top, the cake can be left at room temperature overnight, covered with a cake dome. If refrigerating, let sit at room temperature for at least an hour before serving. Can be made up to 3 days in advance, but best served same day.

For the printable recipe click here.

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Hey Y'all!

I'm the Monster Momma.

I'm a Christ-follower, wife, mother to five sweet paleo monsters, writer, and

paleo food fiend.

Join me and my family on our paleo journey!

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