Raw Strawberry Layer Cake (Vegan, Gluten-free)

July 22, 2015

Let's forget my sorta ban on swearing for a moment, because this cake is bitchin. It doesn't need any heat, guys! Never mind baking something in this heat, I don't even want to turn the stove on. A super fancy raw cake with all the strawberries is the best thing. Even better, because it's pretty minimal effort. You just need to wait a bit while each layer freezes. I suggest taking a dip in a neighbourhood pool while you wait (are the neighbours home? Who knows!) and seeing what happens. Maybe you'll make a friend and share some cake.

I'm not sure that I should really be calling this a cake. Think more like a gigantic ice cream sandwich, but layered, and better. I guess that's pretty much what ice cream cake is. This is ice cream cake.

Strawberry season is almost over now, but the less perfect berries work well in this cake. I imagine you could substitute other berries or fruit - I haven't tried yet, so if you do, let me know how it works out! Raspberries would be pretty phenomenal, and I think peaches might be nice too. A combination of fruits, like a raspberry middle layer and a peach topping, would be pretty great. The base is crumbly almond fun time, the centre tastes like tart frozen strawberry lemonade, and the topping is sweet and creamy strawberry goodness. The base is sweetened only with a few dates, and the other two layers use an (optional) tiny amount of honey or agave.

A spring form pan is pretty necessary for this. I have this weird push-up thing, and I had a very hard time indeed trying to get it out of the stupid cake tin. It's not huge, this one is eight inches, but you don't need much.

Budgeting and Whole Food Recipes

A friend recently asked if I could start breaking down the costs of each recipe a little bit, as it can seem very daunting to make whole foods vegan/vegetarian recipes if you have a strict budget (we do). You're not going to see recipes calling for superfood powders or other crazy expensive ingredients here, so keep that in mind. Honestly, who can afford that much matcha and bee pollen? Not this girl. Most whole foods can be considered superfoods, so keep that in mind next time you're tempted by kale powder or something. Just munch on some fuggin kale instead.

So on that note, while raw foods tend to be on the expensive side of things, this really isn't bad. I used almond pulp for the base, so while you can use almond meal instead, I got double use out of my almonds. If you make almond milk at home, you end up with a lot of almond pulp, and it can be used in piles of recipes. Don't throw out good food like that! If you don't have almond pulp kicking around, almonds or almond meal are still cheaper than cashews and many other nuts. I often look over recipes that use high amounts of nut flour because it is pricey, and using almond pulp is really the only way I can afford to make recipes like this one. You can substitute sunflower seeds for an allergy and wallet friendly alternative.

If you do drink nut milk, check out the link above for an argument on why you should be making it at home - affordability is a main factor for me. I generally order almonds here, and sometimes get them from costco or the bulk food store if they're on sale. Cashews, however, can be significantly less expensive than almonds if purchased in pieces rather than whole. For example, I buy these at $8.20/kg for baking and milk, as opposed to whole nuts, which cost $19.79/kg. If you're chopping them up anyway, it doesn't matter. I find almond pulp more useable than cashew, so I make almond milk slightly more frequently.

Dates can be pricier too, so I also promise you won't see recipes calling for 30 dates. I get medjool dates from Superstore/Loblaws, a Canadian chain. Two kilos of dates are seven bucks, whereas the bulk food store charges more than double for dates that are dry more often than not. Buying in bulk isn't always the best option. I get coconut oil from there too, when it's on sale. If you're not vegan or dairy-free, butter can be substituted for coconut oil most of the time, if you're more likely to have it in your house. Don't go out and buy coconut oil specifically for a recipe if you already have butter.

I got strawberries at a u-pick for a very reasonable price, so they will be more expensive at a grocery store, especially if they're out of season. Try to use whatever fruit is in season where you live for environmental and cost reasons.

I'm going to make something that I'll post with every recipe in the future, sort of like a nutritional breakdown, but for your wallet. Some of the amounts are not exact, but they'll be close. I'll include links to where I buy the items when possible. Keep in mind that all these recipes are good for you, and all the calories are healthy ones.

Here's a breakdown:
Almond pulp: byproduct of almond milk, so essentially free
If using almond meal: ~$2.25
Dates: $0.50
Coconut oil: $0.75
Vanilla: ~$0.05 (I use this vanilla because they don't add glucose)
Salt: Pennies
Strawberries: ~$1.00
Lemon: $0.69
Honey: ~$0.15 (I buy it locally, and honey isn't expensive here - that's why you see it in so many of my recipes)
Coconut milk: ~$2.00, depending on what brand you get

Total: $5.14
If purchasing almond meal: $7.39

Not too bad for a whole ice cream cake, hey? It costs more than five bucks to get one at dairy queen, and your body will thank you for this one.

To the recipe!

Makes one eight-inch cake


Base layer:
2 cups almond pulp or 1 1/2 cups almond meal
8 soft medjool dates*
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted if necessary
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Line the base of a small springform pan with a circle of parchment paper if you want to remove the cake completely from the cake tin.

If you have a food processor, blitz the dates until they're smooth, then add the other ingredients and pulse until combined. If you don't have one, mash the dates with a fork until smooth and then mix the other ingredients in by hand. It should hold if you press some together between your fingers. If not, add a little water until it does. Press into the prepared cake tin and freeze for about half an hour, or until solid.

Centre layer:
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
Zest and juice of a lemon
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional)*

Mash everything together with a fork, or blend in a food processor/blender for thirty seconds. Pour onto the frozen base layer and freeze for another half hour, or until solid.

Top layer:
1 can full-fat coconut milk, cream only*
1 1/2 cups strawberries, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional)*

Whip the coconut cream until fluffy (see here for more instructions). I didn't chill my coconut milk for very long this time. Crush the strawberries and honey, if using, with a fork and gently mix into the coconut cream. Pour onto the frozen centre layer and freeze again for half an hour before eating. If it's been in the freezer, let it thaw a bit in the fridge for 20-30 minutes before serving. Top with extra strawberries and mint for ultra prettiness.

Yes, this looks like a three part recipe, but it's very simple! It's pretty hard to mess up.

1. If your dates are brittle, soak in warm water for at least an hour before using.
2. The sweetener is optional, but I like adding it. Two tablespoons of honey in a whole recipe is nothing. Stick with agave if you want it to be the raw-est.

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