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



  • 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)



  • 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.


  • 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.


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.


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


Recently I have been using a lot of products from 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!


Toffee Apple Cupcakes

Never let it be said I don’t go the extra mile for cupcakes. Especially these Toffee Apple Cupcakes. At first glance the recipe might seem a little involved but every single step will be worth it in the end my friend.

Toffee Apple Cupcakes

One of the core ingredients is apple butter – it helps that I made a huge batch of the stuff a couple of months ago when the apples were falling off the trees in the local parks. I took a carrier bag along and scooped them all up. There was no question with what I would do with all of them as apple butter is one of my absolute favourite foods. It combines all of the best toasted flavours of autumn. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, honey, muscovado sugar, apple cider and brandy are all boiled up with peeled, cored and diced apples. Once the apples are soft, then the whole lot is blitzed in the blender and tipped into a roasting dish. The chestnut brown apple puree is then baked low and slow in the oven for a few hours until the colour turns to the bark of an old oak tree, the flavours have caramelised and intensified and your whole kitchen is scented with the most glorious warmth of spiced apples. The puree will become so thick that you could stand a teaspoon up in it and that is when you know it is done.

I had so many apples that I felt just like Diane Keaton from Baby Boom as each jar was carefully filled and labeled. Unfortunately I only kept a couple of jars for myself, the rest has been stored away for me to sell at my preserves stalls which I will be doing around Christmas. So this week, feeling a bit down in the dumps from using up the last of my preciously allocated jars, I did what any normal person would do when they are desperate to make toffee apple cupcakes but have run out of apple butter. I made one single batch, especially for the cupcakes.

Toffee Apple Cupcakes

Actually it’s not too labour intensive once you have prepared the apples and you will only need to do about six for the amount of apple butter you need. Then the rest is just flinging things in the pan and then the oven. The smaller batch of apple butter only takes about 1½ hours from start to finish, and most of that is just the apples doing their thing whilst you are having a cup of tea or flicking through a magazine so I assure you the effort is no effort at all.

Toffee Apple Cupcakes

Apple butter does not only have to be used for these cupcakes though, in fact it’s a travesty if you don’t do what I did the first time I was given a jar by a friend which is to eat it straight from the jar with a teaspoon. It is also wonderful on toast, croissants, scones, accompanied with shortbread, whipped up with double cream and used as a cake filling, baked into tarts and especially eaten with roast pork. The uses are an endless, and I’m sure as soon as you’ve tried it you will be making excuses to include it in every meal.

Toffee Apple Cupcakes

The apple butter is not the only bit of apple going on in these cupcakes though, I also diced up a bramley apple and caramelised it with a touch of sugar and butter then folded the pieces through the batter at the end. Where the apple butter provided a light moist sponge, the pieces of bramley act as a dose of sharp sweetness in the middle of the toasty apple flavours. It’s pure Autumn in a cupcake.

For the cupcakes I photographed I forgot to reserve some pieces of caramelised bramley for sprinking on the top of the buttercream so if you remember I would also recommend dong that.

I also made my own toffee sauce for this, which I whipped up into some swiss meringue buttercream, but if you can’t be bothered then I recommend using dulce de leche instead. It’s a bit thicker and will do fine in the buttercream but may need to be thinned slightly by warming with a splash of milk for drizzling purposes.

Oh, and again, if you can’t be bothered to make these at all then I will be presenting them at my cake stall on Sunday at Falkland Road Market N8. Don’t say I don’t spoil you.

Toffee Apple Cupcakes

Toffee Apple Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 bramley apple, cut into small chunks
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon butter
125g flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
85g unsalted butter
140g caster sugar
1 egg
200g apple butter (recipe below)

  1. Firstly, prepare your caramelised apple pieces. Heat the teaspoon of caster sugar and butter in a frying pan and add the bramley apple. Stir until the sugar and butter have melted together and cook for 5 minutes until the apple is still firm but just beginning to colour. Remove from the heat and cool.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.
  3. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar on the high setting of your food mixer until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the egg to the creamed butter and sugar and mix in well.
  6. Add the flour mixture alternately with the apple butter, adding the flour in three additions and the apple butter in two (begin and end with the flour), scrape down the sides of the bowls as needed and mix until just combined.
  7. Finally stir in the pieces of bramley apple until evenly dispersed and portion out into the cupcake cases.
  8. Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack completely before icing.

Apple Butter

6 apples, peeled, cored and diced (mixture of sweet and sour like Bramley and Cox)
150ml apple cider
2 tablespoons of brandy
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dark brown soft sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and stir. Cover the saucepan, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes until the apples are cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
  3. Once the apples are soft, pour the mixture into a blender and whizz up until smooth. Pour into a shallow baking tray and place in the oven.
  4. Bake for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, scraping down all the sides, until the butter is dark and thick.
  5. Allow to cool, then chill until needed.

Toffee Buttercream

4 tablespoons evaporated milk
3 tablespoons dark brown soft sugar
50g butter
3 egg whites (90g)
150g caster sugar
210g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
A pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. To make the toffee sauce melt together in a small saucepan the evaporated milk, brown sugar and butter. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and cool.
  2. To make the swiss meringue buttercream, begin by heating the egg whites and caster sugar in a bain marie, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature has reached 71°C.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 frosting will miraculously become a smooth velvety consistency.
  5. Add the salt and the vanilla extract.
  6. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the toffee sauce, but add the rest to the buttercream, mixing in until thoroughly incorporated.
  7. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes then drizzle with the rest of the cooled toffee sauce.
  8. If you have any pieces of dried apple or reserved caramelised bramley apple then use those to decorate the top.

Escape (The Pinã Colada Cake)

(Escape) The Pina Colada Cake

This recipe is not yet gluten-free

One of the film websites I read recently had a feature where all the contributors had written about the worst tropes which are fallen back on time and time again on film and TV. One particular entry on this list decried the timeworn use of characters dancing in the kitchen. The writer said it was clichéd, unrealistic and twee. ‘C’mon, who does that?’ they lamented. Well, I do as it happens. I do it a lot to boot and I don’t mind who knows it. Obviously.

The two examples of this common trope which immediately spring to mind are at the end of Mermaids which I re-watched last week where they wiggle along to ‘If You Wanna Be Happy’ whilst setting the table. This scene not only led me to become obsessed with that song when I was young, but also made me desperate to be part of their wackadoo family. As a sidenote, I was extra surprised and saddened to hear of Bob Hoskins’ passing a few days ago as it felt like I had only just seen him on top form, I had forgotten he was in Mermaids and on my re-watch his was the performance I enjoyed the most. Such a wonderful actor.

The second example is in the classic episode of Dawson’s Creek when the gang all band together to save the Potter B&B by dancing around the kitchen at breakfast time. Of course their dancing seduces the grouchy critic Mr Fricke into thinking that the Potter B&B is the best place he’s ever stayed in the world and they get a stellar write up. Works every time; Four in a Bed take note. I refuse to believe that these moments are embarrassment ridden or cheesy but they certainly serve as encouragement for me to dance more, for better or for worse.

Pina Colada Cake | Stroud Green Larder

In our house we love to dance badly everywhere, the poorer the dancing is the better. We throw ourselves around to the radio first thing in the morning, in the sitting room to perk us up on a Saturday afternoon and most importantly and significantly for this post, in the kitchen. Whilst waiting for butter and sugar to cream, whilst thumbing through cookbooks and most common of all when we are doing the washing up. It is the only thing that makes the dreary chore remotely bearable.

From his very first afternoon in our house whilst we were making the Sunday lunch Puppy has found our love of crazy dancing the best thing in the world. All I have to do is start to shimmy a little bit in time with Katy Perry and he has jumped up ecstatically, paws reaching for my hands so we can prance round the kitchen absurdly like a couple of escaped lunatics. The cats aren’t as impressed.

There are a few songs which absolutely guarantee a good old bop, our current favourite is Pharrell Williams’ Happy which is just invokes such joy but also sends me into fits as it goes hand in hand with those gosh darn hilarious minions. A particular favourite though, and you’ll be happy to know I am now coming to the crux of the matter, is Escape (The Pinã Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes. We always put it on when feeling gloomy to cheer ourselves up. As soon as its opening drum beat kicks in Puppy immediately assumes the Tom Cruise from Cocktail swagger, well if Tom Cruise were tiny, furry, four-legged and drunk; still he has the charm in spades.

Pina Colada Cake | Stroud Green Larder

I was obviously listening to this song when I dreamt up this cake and the thought of it makes me smile, not just because it’s delicious but it also incorporates all the happy-go-lucky flavours of sunshine and paradise. It reminds me of dancing round my kitchen with my family and most importantly, it has glace cherries.

I have made this cake several times now and usually when I make something repeatedly I like to tweak things here and there, perhaps modify the icing, take a layer out, change the decoration. This incarnation though was perfect the first time I baked it and I have made it the same way ever since, even down to the number of cocktail umbrellas on the top.

This cake was made this week for a double celebration, it was a request from my husband whose birthday it was a few days ago and I also wanted to include it here to mark my official 99th post. Now, many people may choose to celebrate going into triple figures but hey I like 99. Plus it’s the bank holiday so I wanted to make sure this recipe was on offer to you should you want to make it and dream you are escaping to a tropical island.

Pina Colada Cake | Stroud Green Larder

Escape (The Pinã Colada Cake)

Coconut and Malibu Cake
Adapted from Dan Lepard’s recipe in Short and Sweet

150ml coconut milk
50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
60ml Malibu
300g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
275g plain flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder

  1. Heat the coconut milk until boiling then remove from the heat and stir in the desiccated coconut, vanilla and Malibu. Leave to soak for 30 minutes so the coconut softens.
  2. Meanwhile heat the oven to 180°C then line and grease 3 x 20cm round sandwich tins.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer on high for about 5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time until evenly combined.
  5. Sift the flour with the baking powder. Fold into the butter, sugar and eggs alternately with the coconut mixture until just incorporated.
  6. Divide between the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Pineapple Curd

1 227g tin pineapple chunks, whizzed up with juice in blender
3 egg yolks
2½ tablespoons cornflour
75g caster sugar

  1. In a small bowl blend the cornflour with a bit of the whizzed up pineapple until it’s formed a smooth paste.
  2. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and stir constantly on a medium heat until it begins to boil. Turn down heat and keep stirring as it thickens. Remove from heat and leave to cool.

Pineapple Frosting

8 egg whites (or 240g egg whites)
400g caster sugar
540g unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes
¼ teaspoon salt
250g pineapple curd

  1. Heat egg whites and caster sugar in a bain-marie, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature has reached 160°F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 curdle curiously. Do not fret – this is supposed to happen. Just continue to add all the butter. Once the butter is totally incorporated the frosting will miraculously become a smooth velvety consistency.
  4. Add the salt and the pineapple curd. Mix in quickly and lightly.

Decorate the cake with toasted desiccated coconut, sun-dried pineapple, glace cherries and cocktail umbrellas.