Souped-Up Strawberry Cake with Macerated Balsamic Strawberry Topping

I don't need no stinkin' icing!

I don’t need no stinkin’ icing!


I made this cake for my son’s second birthday party. Believe it or not it was the first real cake I’ve ever made. Truth be told, he would have been happy with anything, but I had wanted strawberry cake for my birthday a few months earlier and didn’t get it, so I selfishly made him what I wanted to eat. (He’s only two, I can’t get away with that kind of deception much longer so I’m enjoying it while I can!)

I’ve yet to find a plant based, no oil cake icing recipe that isn’t just a glaze masquerading as an icing. And I can see why it would be hard. Without the body of some kind of congealed fat, the icing just drips down the side, even the tofu based icings; especially if there’s any kind of heat in the atmosphere. So I said, “screw it” and decided to ditch the icing. I don’t like icing much anyway and I’ve already admitted that the cake was mostly for myself.

In lieu of icing, I did strawberry jam between the layers and jam and fresh strawberries on top. The time and effort I would have spent trying to perfect messy icing was spent artfully arranging strawberries, and honestly I liked the aesthetic and flavor results better.

The Cheatgans liked it so much we made just the plain cake for our next week’s meal plan.

I started with the Happy Herbivore cake recipe, reduced the sugar, and souped it up with powdered freeze dried strawberries and imitation strawberry flavoring. You could probably ditch the imitation stuff, I think most of the flavor comes from the freeze dried strawberries.

The balsamic topping was just something I did at the end because I had time. If you’ve never had balsamic with strawberries, give it a try. Even the ones who scrunched up their faces admitted to liking it.


Prep Time: 20 mins | Cook Time: 20 mins | Makes: 10? servings | Difficulty: Easy


  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t fine salt
  • 1/4 c apple sauce
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 c almond milk
  • 1 t lemon zest
  • 1 heaping cup Freeze dried strawberries
  • 1 t imitation strawberry flavoring (You can stop here if you just want to make a plain cake)
  • Strawberry jam
  • 1lb fresh strawberries
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Sugar


Preheat oven to 350.

Put freeze dried strawberries in food processor and process until it is a powder. A few chunks are fine.

Mix strawberry powder with all other dry ingredients.

Mix all wet ingredients (sugar is a wet ingredient).

Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients in 3 or 4 batches, stirring until just combined. If the batter seems a little dry add a splash on almond milk.

Pour into the pan of your choice. I use a 9″ round spring form pan. Cupcakes or mini cupcakes are good too. Takes about 15-25 minutes depending on the pan.

Transfer to cooling rack.

To make a two layer cake like the one pictured, double the recipe and make two 9″ cakes. Slice a thin layer off the top of each cake so it is flat. Put a layer of strawberry jam between the layers of cake and a thin layer of jam on top. Hull and thinly slice the fresh strawberries then carefully place them on top of the cake in a circular pattern starting in the center.

Add balsamic vinegar and sugar to the leftover sliced strawberries and stir. (I never measure this, all I can say is you don’t want a ton of balsamic that it pools a lot on the bottom; otherwise you have to add a lot of sugar to get the right flavor.) Let them sit about 20 minutes. The vinegar will macerate the berries, leaving them soft, and the sugar will dissolve in the vinegar leaving you with a thin syrup to drizzle on top of the cake.

Serve the balsamic strawberries alongside the cake, letting people spoon them on top of their slice if they are feeling adventurous.

Lastly, a tip about serving – the jam between the layers is a lot more slippery than icing so take your time slicing and serving.

Source: My Collection
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Pistachio Carrot Muffins


The idea for these came from me having a craving for the pistachio cake I used to always get for my birthday. I didn’t find any plant strong recipes so I made up my own by starting with the Happy Herbivore carrot cake recipe and adding pistachio meal. But I’m not much of a baker so the first time I made this they were a gooey disaster because I assumed the pistachio meal would act like a flour. It does not. Now that I’ve got the consistency right, I still think they’re a little too sweet so next time I’m going to cut back on the sugar (maybe leave it out all together?) and see what happens. I’ll update this post with the results but they were SO good as is, I thought they were post-worthy.

Pistachio Carrot Muffins


Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 32 mins | Makes: 24-32 mini muffins | Difficulty: Easy


  • 1.5 c. whole-wheat pastry flour
  • .5 c very finely ground pistachios
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. raw sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • .5 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • Whole Pistachios


Mix the flour, pistachios, baking soda, baking powder, salt, together. Then add the sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and shredded carrot and mix it all together. Spoon them into muffin tin, making them each about 3/4 full, top with a whole pistachio. Then bake on 350 for 22-27 minutes (for mini muffins) until a knife/toothpick comes out clean.

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Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Muffins

Notes: We make these a lot. The only thing I’ve changed from the original recipe is to cut back on the sugar and add the dark chocolate.

★★★★★ Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 25 mins | Makes: Servings 12 | Difficulty: Easy


  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • .5 t ground ginger
  • .5 t nutmeg
  • .5 t salt
  • 1/3 c raw sugar
  • 6 T unsweetened applesauce
  • 1T lemon zest
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • .25 c non-dairy milk
  • 1.5 c shredded zucchini
  • .25 cup dark chocolate, chopped (optional)


Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt together.

In another bowl combine sugar, applesauce, vanilla, lemon zest, zucchini and non-dairy milk. Stir until well combined.

Add wet mixture into dry mixture and stir until just barely combined. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake 18-25 minutes. If making a bread bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. If toothpick pulls out cleanly the bread is done.

(You can also add 1/4 cup chopped dried fruits such as cranberries or raisins, chopped raw walnuts or minced crystalized ginger to this recipe.)


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