Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake {gluten-free}

A beautifully vibrant gluten-free Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake is the perfect cake to usher in our summer baking.

A beautiful Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake {gluten-free}

We don’t get to break out of our routine much these days. Luke is currently working every hour under the sun with his new job and I work from Thursday through to Sunday so if we’re not doing our own work thing then we are each running around after our non-stop toddler, accident prone dog and two crazy cats. Our house constantly looks trashed and the chores of laundry, washing up and tidying toys away are endless. We find it pretty exhausting just thinking about planning a break let alone organising one. When we do sit down together a hearty gin and tonic and an episode of Big Little Lies is about the only thing we’re capable of.

A beautiful Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake {gluten-free}

I find it hard taking time off, mainly because I don’t want to. I love working at the cake stall, baking cakes for my customers and if I ever have a free day then I relish recipe testing or writing the blog. Lately we have been realising though that our little family needed to actually spend time all together, to give the illusion of liking each other at least. So, a couple of weeks ago Luke had a little break in his schedule and we loaded up the car, arranged for cat sitters and hurried down to Cornwall for a few days.

A beautiful Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake {gluten-free}

The holiday may have been a Cornwall classic with long lazy walks on the beach in the beating down rain; plenty of Mr Whippy and fish and chips with seagulls circling ominously overheard. And of course Billy Buddy sanctioned a trip to a vet in Newquay as a must. Our dog is incapable of going a full week without some medical attention. This time it was merely another ear infection. However it was the break we needed and we have returned to the city afresh. We’re ready to take on June, which is pretty jam packed with toddler birthdays, including Cole’s who it turning 2 this month much to our disbelief.

A beautiful Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake {gluten-free}

Number one to-do on my return was to bake this Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake. It’s not the first cake I’ve put basil in recently as I’ve been throwing it into my Blueberry, Basil and Lemon Drizzle Cake for years but I’ve really gone all in on it with this one.

A beautiful Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake {gluten-free}

The sweet pesto is just that, a verdant basil pesto without the garlic but with honey instead. It still retains pine nuts which go wonderfully with strawberries, olive oil for its peppery notes and even a small grating of parmesan for savoury undertones.

A beautiful Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake {gluten-free}

The cake is filled with a fresh strawberry basil jam which is quickly set with chia seeds instead of sugar. A teaspoon of freeze-dried strawberries stirred in is optional but I had them to hand for the strawberry buttercream so in they went. Freeze-dried berries are a brilliant way of injecting a pure intense fruity flavour and here it really amps up the jam. They are also invaluable in buttercreams as they mean you won’t lose any of the structural integrity of the buttercream like you would with a fresh strawberry puree or add any further sweetness if you were to use a strawberry jam.

A beautiful Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake {gluten-free}

The sponge is one of my go-to gluten-free recipes. It makes a rich moist and flavourful cake with my favourite combo of flours: sweet rice flour, oat flour, millet flour, potato starch and tapioca flour. It’s quite a little community of flours but this blend works so well and I’ll be posting a little bit more about different gluten-free flours and the jobs they do in our baking very soon, so please stay tuned for that.

A beautiful Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake {gluten-free}

Don’t get me wrong, going away is brilliant but I’m now really excited to be home with all this extra energy under my belt. I’ve got some great new cakes for the stall and the blog and I can’t wait to share them.

Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake {gluten-free}

A beautiful gluten-free Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake with a fresh strawberry jam and basil filling and a light swiss meringue buttercream
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 716kcal

Ingredients

Cake

  • 400 g caster sugar
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • 225 g unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 240 ml whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 120 g sweet rice flour
  • 85 g oat flour
  • 70 g millet flour
  • 35 g potato starch
  • 35 g tapioca flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Strawberry Basil Honey Jam

  • 200 g strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
  • 2 teaspoons ground chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon freeze-dried strawberry powder optional

Sweet Pesto

  • 60 g basil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 15 g pine nuts
  • 15 g parmesan

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 4 egg whites (120g)
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 300 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon freeze-dried strawberry powder
  • sweet basil pesto (as above)

Instructions

Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C and line and grease 2 x round 8 inch cake tins.
  • In a large bowl or food mixer whisk the lemon zest into the sugar until fragrant.
  • Add the butter one cube at a time and beat into the lemon sugar until pale, light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating on a low speed.
  • Then mix in the vanilla extract.
  • Whisk together the flours, baking powder and sea salt in a separate mixing bowl until completely combined.
  • Add the flour mix alternately with the milk, adding the flour in three additions and the milk in two (begin and end with the flour), scrape down the sides of the bowls as needed and mix until just combined.
  • Divide the batter between the cake tins and bake for 35-40 minutes when the sponge is coming away from the sides of the tin and an inserted cocktail stick comes out clean.
  • Leave in the tins for 5 minutes to rest then gently turn out onto cooling racks and leave to cool completely.

Strawberry Basil Honey Jam

  • Place everything but the chia seeds and strawberry powder in a pan and turn on the heat, crushing the strawberries gently with a wooden spoon into the rest of the ingredients.
  • Bring the jam to a low boil, then simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • Stir in the chia seeds and strawberry powder, cook for a further minute then remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Sweet Pesto

  • Place everything in the food processor and whizz together until smooth.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • Heat egg whites and caster sugar in a bain marie, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature has reached 71°C.
  • Remove the egg whites and sugar from the heat and pour into a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
  • Change the attachment to a paddle attachment. On a low speed add the butter slowly cube by cube. When you have almost added all the butter the mixture will look curdled. Do not fret – this is supposed to happen and just means you are nearly done. Just continue to add all the butter. Once the butter is totally incorporated the buttercream will miraculously become a smooth velvety consistency.
  • Divide the buttercream so you have ¾ of the buttercream in one bowl and ¼ in another.
  • Mix the strawberry powder with the ¾ amount of buttercream and the sweet pesto with the ¼ amount.

Assembly

  • Place one of the cake layers on a cake board or stand.
  • Pipe one circle of strawberry buttercream on the top at the very edge of the sponge. This will act as a dam for the strawberry jam.
  • Spread the strawberry jam evenly on the top of sponge to the edges of the buttercream dam.
  • Place the second sponge on top.
  • Cover the strawberry buttercream over the top and the top half of the cake sides using a palette knife.
  • Cover the bottom half of the sides with the sweet pesto buttercream. Use the palette knife to gentle blend the two flavours of buttercream together where they meet.
  • Decorate the top of the cake with strawberries and basil leaves.

Notes

I am loving Nirvana Cakery’s beautiful blog at the moment and took inspiration for this Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake from her stunning Raspberry Matcha Cake, using the same colour palette. I also adapted her raspberry jam filling into my Strawberry Basil Honey Jam.

Nutrition

Calories: 716kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 151mg | Sodium: 173mg | Potassium: 248mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 57g | Vitamin A: 1485IU | Vitamin C: 11.1mg | Calcium: 100mg | Iron: 1.3mg

SHOP THE RECIPE

Recently I have been using a lot of products from Realfoodsource.com and have been really happy with their service and quality of ingredients. I was excited when I found out they also stocked freeze-dried fruit powder and so for this recipe I really would recommend using RealFoodSource Certified Organic Freeze Dried Strawberry Powder 100G. I am not sponsored by them, I just really love their products.

The cake tins I always use are these PME Anodised Aluminium Round Cake Pan 8 x 4-Inch Deep which are wonderful as they have completely straight sides so your cakes will be beautifully neat, the anodised aluminium means the heat disperses evenly throughout the cake without cooking the sides too quickly, which some darker cake tins do. The cakes slip out of the tins easily and they come in all the sizes you would need, although typically I use the 8 inch tins.

The links above are affiliate links which means if you decide you want to use these links to buy your ingredients then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. I will only recommend products I use in my kitchen and love. It’s just a way for me to fund my shopping list so if you do click through then many thanks!! To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

Favourite Gluten-Free Cakes

I sell my cakes at local farmers’ markets in London but lucky for those who don’t live nearby I also love sharing the recipes for all the cakes I sell and if you want to receive more of my cake stall recipes then I have a FREE mini e-book of the top 3 Favourite Gluten-Free Cakes which are on my stall including Fig, Almond and Salted Honey Cake, Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes and Minted Brownies. The recipes are really special to me and if you want a copy of them then just click the button below!

Download

Strawberry Redcurrant Jam

A beautiful Strawberry Redcurrant Jam, for those that don’t like the strawberry jam too sweet the redcurrants add extra vibrancy and tartness.

I used to have a bit of a problem with jam. The sugar. I was never one for jam tarts or jammy toast, that was my sister. I would pucker up my nose and screw up my face as if it were poisoning me. Suffice to say I no longer do that. I know I’m not the only one who is getting a sweeter and sweeter tooth with age if my Nan’s shopping basket was anything to go by in her later years. It was just cake and sweets, Mum used to have to surreptitiously hide a packet of frozen peas amongst the bags of coconut mushrooms and custard tarts to ensure she at least had the option of health when she got home. However, despite the increasing dominance of sugar in my life, jam has still been a bit of a stumbling block for me.

I enjoy making jam. There is something extremely prudent about conserving the fruits of the season to have later on in the year. I am soothed by the preparation of the produce; washing, peeling and removing stalks and excited by the first boil as the produce slowly starts to break down to achieve intensity. I get an absurd amount of pleasure from pouring in a whole kilo of sugar, the hubble and bubble of the pot and then my fastidious side loves the careful decanting so the sticky jam doesn’t run riot all over the kitchen. I screw the top, test for set the next day, create labels, admire my industrious stack, then offload the whole lot come Christmas time. But I never really ate it myself.

So it was my mission to reduce the sugar content of my jams. Although I achieved some success with the kind of conserves you can eat straight from the jar, my Vanilla Peach Bourbon Jam and my Seedless Wild Blackberry Lime Jam, I was dismally failing when it came to the classic strawberry or raspberry jam. I have been canning the final jams which means you require less sugar, I have been cutting the sugar and adding lemons, limes, herbs, anything to counteract the sweetness. However, all these efforts have led to the same result, boiling and boiling and boiling away my jam as it refused to reach setting point. The end product would eventually work but I seemed to be losing too much fruit.

After a very disappointing time with some strawberry and lemon verbena jam, I was ready to give up jams earlier this summer. Then I had a piece of Victoria Sponge on our WI cake stall a few weeks ago. The intense sweetness was pleasurably sandwiched between two thick buttery vanilla doorstops and for me jam finally had a purpose again. Of course, you are not supposed to eat it by itself with a spoon. The jam needs to be sweet but then used in moderation to bring the best out of the other ingredients it is paired with. I certainly don’t begrudge those whom like to lather it on a crumpet or wodge it in an English muffin but for me, suddenly realising that I could have been using my jam in cakes and desserts has been a revelation. I never bothered using it before as I presumed I didn’t like it, but in the right context and without using the commercially produced stuff jam can be the key ingredient. It is supposed to be sweet, just go with it. Ever since then I’ve been able to see the joy in jam. It has been fully embraced into my life and my baking and my jams have never tasted better.

This has been my favourite strawberry jam adventure yet. These strawberries were just £4 for 2kg from the market and when I brought them home I remembered the redcurrants I had picked up a few weeks earlier which were now lounging around in my freezer drawer for a rainy day. These guys pair together beautifully, the sweet hit of the strawberry is tempered by the tart redcurrants and the ruby beauty as it smudges into the buttercream of the Victoria Sponge is terribly appealing.

Now, when I made this jam I figured I wanted something quick and lovely so I boiled the two fruits together from the off, fully rejecting my rule of de-seeding all jams. The strawberry seeds I don’t have a problem with but the redcurrants may have a little too much bite. I have since read recipes that recommend boiling up the redcurrants first and then sieving them which I think I would do next time. It would be more useful for me to research these recipes before I make 20 jars of the stuff, but ho hum I will not be told.

This recipe makes masses as I had an absolute glut of strawberries, so if you are making the jam just for yourself I would recommend halving the recipe, unless you like giving jam as presents which then makes us samies.

Strawberry Redcurrant Jam

A beautiful Strawberry Redcurrant Jam, for those that don't like the strawberry jam too sweet the redcurrants add extra vibrancy and tartness.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: British
Servings: 80 servings
Calories: 31kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 kg strawberries
  • 500 g Redcurrants stalks removed
  • 1400 g jam sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Instructions

  • Remove the stalks from the redcurrants and then place them in a large preserving pan along with the strawberries and heat gently, bringing to a light boil.
  • When the fruit is boiling then stir in the sugar.
  • Once the sugar has dissolved then add the lemon juice.
  • Bring to a rolling boil, making sure to stir the bottom of the pan frequently so the fruit doesn’t stick.
  • Once the jam reaches 104°C or passes the saucer wrinkle test* then decant into sterilised jars*.

Notes

*The saucer wrinkle test basically requires you to put about 5 saucers in your freezer when you begin making your jam. Once you think the jam might be ready then you can double check by removing a saucer from the freezer, dropping a teaspoon of jam on it then placing the saucer in the fridge. After about 30 seconds remove the saucer and push the jam with your finger. If it wrinkles up it’s ready, if it just pools back into the space your finger has left then it needs more bubbling time. Boil it another couple of minutes then turn off the heat and then test again with another saucer.
*To sterilise the jars place the very clean jars you would like to use in an oven pre-heated to 140°C for 20 minutes. Sterilise the lids by dropping them into a saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes with a splash of vinegar. I don’t sterilise my lids in the oven as they tend to ruin.
Yield 10 200ml jars

Nutrition

Calories: 31kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 48mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 5IU | Vitamin C: 9.9mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.2mg

If you like this recipe then you may like…

Gooseberry Thyme Jam

Overhead image of Gooseberry Thyme Jam on a wooden board with gooseberries and a sprig of thyme

Seedless Wild Blackberry Lime Jam

This easy Seedless Wild Blackberry and Lime Jam is a deliciously versatile four ingredient jam with no added pectin and a tangy zesty flavour.

Victoria Sandwich

Victoria Sandwich