I can’t imagine a spring birthday without a strawberry cake. It has been the cake of choice for my girls, and my guys love it, too. And we’re all in favor of this gluten-free version. I think it’s even more intensely strawberry flavored. Plus it’s pretty, fancy, fun—all the right elements for a great party cake.
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly mist two 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable oil spray, then dust them with the rice flour. Shake out the excess rice flour and set the pans aside.
2. Rinse and drain the strawberries, then pat them dry with paper towels. Select the 6 prettiest berries for garnish and set them aside. Set aside one large strawberry to use in the Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting. Cut the green caps off the remaining berries and mash the berries with a fork or place them in a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth puree, about 10 pulses. You need 3/4 cup of pureed strawberries.
3. Place the cake mix and strawberry gelatin in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the strawberry puree, oil, eggs, and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are just incorporated, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter until smooth, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared cake pans, smoothing the tops with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side.
4. Bake the cake layers until they are golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer the cake pans to wire racks and let the cake layers cool for 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each cake layer and give the pans a good shake to loosen the cakes. Invert each layer onto a wire rack, then invert it again onto another rack so that the layers are right side up. Let the layers cool completely, about 20 minutes longer.
5. Meanwhile, make the Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting. Click here to see the frosting recipe.
6. To assemble the cake, transfer one layer, right side up, to a serving plate. Spread the top with about 1 cup of the frosting. Place the second cake layer, right side up, on top of the first layer and frost the top and side of the cake, working with smooth, clean strokes. To make slicing easier, place the uncovered cake in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 10 to 15 minutes.
7. Just before serving, garnish the cake with the 6 whole berries or slice the berries and pile them in the center of the cake. Or slice the berries lengthwise 2 or 3 times, slicing up to but not through the green stem end. Gently spread out the berries to form fans and arrange these on the top of the cake.
Keep It Fresh! If your kitchen is cool, store the cake, lightly wrapped with aluminum foil or in a cake saver, on the kitchen counter for twenty-four hours. Or, store it in the refrigerator for three days. Freeze only the cake layers, wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to one month. Let the layers thaw overnight on the counter before assembling and frosting the cake.