Gluten Free, Dairy Free Strawberry Cake

cakeI had some friends over this past weekend.  One of them has both a dairy and gluten sensitivity, which can make cooking for her a bit challenging.  She is very good about bringing her own food, but I hate inviting someone over with the caveat that they have to feed themselves.  We did a cook-out and our friend was able to eat the burgers and brats (sans cheese and buns, of course), and the salad and veggie sides.  While I know my way around the kitchen, I’m more of a baker than a cook, and I love to try out different desserts.  But all of my go-to recipes have gluten and dairy.  When I asked my friend if she had a dessert recipe she wanted me to try and make, she responded that all the GF/DF desserts she has tried (both homemade and store-bought) aren’t great, so it wasn’t worth it for me to make something and subject the rest of the guests to it.  Being the competitive person I am, I saw this as a challenge.  There had to be something I could make that would be good!

One of my other friends has a daughter who has Celiac disease, and so she has become a gluten-free expert.  I have eaten GF dessert several times at her house, and have always liked the cupcakes, brownies, etc. that she makes.  After consulting her, I learned that her “secret” ingredient when baking GF is pudding.  She said she adds pudding mix to everything, and it helps balance out the “off” texture that many GF desserts can have.  That is a great tip, except that pudding is dairy, so I couldn’t use it.  But I did learn that King Arthur makes a very good GF vanilla cake, the best vanilla mix according to my friend.

Next I turned to my old stand-by, Pinterest.  I came across this recipe for a strawberry upside cake, using a box mix as a base.  I decided to go with it, making these amendments, some of which were suggested by Amanda, the original poster:

-King Arthur gluten free vanilla cake mix.   I prepared according the directions on the box, substituting Earth Balance “butter” and Silk in place of the butter and milk.  The box says you can use water instead of milk, but I was afraid it would further mess with the consistency.  Also, I dumped some vanilla in there, probably about a tablespoon.

-The recipe calls for “crushed” strawberries.  I used fresh, as they are in season.  I wasn’t sure the best (and quickest, to be honest) way to crush them, so I stuck a bunch of berries into my food processor.  I had barely pushed the button and then I had puree.  😦  I went ahead and spread the puree in the bottom of the pan, then chopped up a few more whole berries and scattered the chunks in the puree to give it more texture.

-As Amanda put in her post, I also had large marshmellows instead of minis, so I just cut them up into quarters.

Once it started cooking, I was pretty skeptical.  It looked pretty messy, the marshmellows coming up over the cake in some spots, the cake browning but the whole dish still appearing liquid-y.  Even once the time was up, it didn’t appear like it had set, but somehow my cake tester came out clean.  I cooked this in a 13×9, and again, the top looked messy when I went to serve it, so I tried to flip it over so the strawberries were on top.  Everyone except my DF friend put whipped cream on top.

Now the moment of truth- IT WAS GOOD!  I would never have known it was GF/DF.  In fact, my fiancé is one of the pickiest eaters I know (I didn’t tell him there was anything special about the dessert or he wouldn’t have tried it), and he had seconds!  My GF/DF friend’s husband said this was the first dessert he’d tried that his wife could eat that he liked.



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