My daughter Alina had a special request for her recent 12th birthday: Chocolate Strawberry Layer Cake with Vanilla Frosting. Alina specifically requested that her cake be a "gluten" cake; considering that she had to avoid grains for 8+ years due to food intolerances, I can't remember whether she has *ever* had a gluten birthday cake in her whole life.
Alina wanted this to be a special birthday cake, a celebration of her birthday as well as the wonderful healing she has experienced in the last year. She can now eat 2-3 servings of grains daily with no reaction (!!) thanks to constitutional homeopathic treatment combined with isopathic remedies made from wheat, oats, rice, and corn. This was the first birthday in 8+ years on which my daughter could eat cake made with gluten-grains and not have to worry about any negative reactions.
A special birthday cake, indeed!
With Strawberries In the Cake, Not On It!
Alina was very specific about wanting her cake to have strawberries in the chocolate cake, not on top of it. I scoured the internet looking for a recipe, only to find that there were no recipes that had strawberries inside the chocolate cake. There were plenty of recipes for chocolate cake that was topped with strawberries, or with strawberries between the layers, but that wasn't what Alina wanted.
The only recipe I found was my own Grain-Free Strawberry Chocolate Cake from way back in 2012, but that wouldn't work since Alina specifically wanted a gluten cake. There was only one way to fulfill her dream: I'd have to come up with my own recipe. I love creating new recipes, so no one had to twist my arm on that!
For over 5 years, my family has been using Einkorn wheat flour for all of our gluten-baking needs, and Alina's birthday cake was no exception. Einkorn is an ancient variety of wheat that has never been hybridized; as such it is naturally lower in gluten and higher in protein than modern wheat. Some people who have sensitivities to gluten in modern wheat can actually consume Einkorn with no problems. Einkorn also has a superior nutrient profile compared to modern white flour, even though it does not have added vitamins like conventional flour does.
With Vanilla Frosting!
Alina's birthday dessert request also included vanilla frosting. Although I have previously developed a vanilla buttercream frosting recipe that uses honey as a sweetener, for this cake I chose to sweeten the frosting with organic powdered sugar. Honey-based frosting is a bit overly soft at room temperature, so I purposely used powdered sugar to make the cake store better at room temperature. My family generally finds most frosting recipes to be too sweet and overpowering, so I cut the amount of sugar and increased the butter in this frosting recipe.
It's a Win!
This cake turned out even better than I had hoped. The texture is perfectly soft and moist, and the rich chocolate flavor really shines through. The strawberries melded right into the cake batter, and they give some nice sweet-tartness to the cake while helping the cake stay nicely moist over the following days. Alina was very happy with her birthday cake, and this is a recipe I will be returning to again and again!
Einkorn Chocolate Strawberry Layer Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Makes one 2-layer cake
~1 Tb softened butter, for greasing the cake pans
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter, preferably from grassfed cows
1&3/4 cups Einkorn all-purpose wheat flour, plus a little extra for dusting the cake pans
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp fine-ground celtic sea salt
1&1/2 cups sucanat
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
3 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
10 oz frozen strawberries, thawed just enough to be sliced
Vanilla buttercream frosting, recipe follows
Required equipment: two 9-inch cake pans, whisk (or a fork), small saucepan, mixer
Pull the frozen strawberries out of the freezer to thaw. They don't need to thaw all the way; just enough to be able to slice them.
Liberally grease the sides and bottom of two 9-inch cake pans with butter. Dust the pans with a bit of Einkorn flour. Or, if desired, the bottom of the pan can be lined with parchment paper for easy release of the cakes after cooking.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Turn off heat and let the butter cool a bit.
Combine the Einkorn flour, cocoa, salt, sucanat, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
Combine the eggs, milk, sour cream, and vanilla in a small bowl (or a 2-cup glass measuring cup works well for this). Stir or whisk it all together until well-combined.
Slice the strawberries.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Then mix in the melted butter. Don't overmix.
Fold in the sliced strawberries.
Pour the batter into the two prepared cake pans.
Bake the cakes in a 350 degree oven for about 32-37 minutes. They will be done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. My cake pans are dark colored, so the baking time may need to be increased if your pans are light colored.
Let the cakes cool completely at room temperature.
Carefully remove the cakes from the pans. I use a small plastic spatula to go around the perimeter of each cake to loosen it from the pan. Then place a large plate over the cake pan and quickly invert. You may need to tap the bottom of the cake pans a bit to release the cakes.
Make sure the cakes are completely cooled before frosting. Frost the cakes and decorate as desired!
The frosted cake can be stored at room temperature for a day or two, but after that, cover the cake and store it in the fridge.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Beat the butter, powdered sugar, and salt together for several minutes using a mixer, until it is nice and fluffy.
Beat in the vanilla extract and milk for several more minutes.
Using a spatula or butter knife, spread the frosting over the cake. Add decorations and candles if desired!
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