Vegan Strawberry Shortcake Trifle
Layers of vanilla cake, fluffy whipped cream, fresh strawberry jam and berries. Individual jars make for portable treats you can take anywhere. So simple and delicious, you have no excuse not to make them! Vegan & Gluten Free. <jump to recipe>
As the days get warmer, we’re getting excited by the thought of picnics and el fresco patio dinners. We’re crossing our fingers that the weather cooperates for Mother’s Day this weekend - because it would be hard to beat a family-style meal eaten outdoors. My mum is the queen of fruit platters after a meal (it’s her version of “dessert”), but since we’ll be the ones cooking, we’ve got a special treat up our sleeves instead. It started with a pint of fragrant, crimson red strawberries that caught my eye at the store last week. And now there’s yummy gluten free vanilla cake, fresh strawberry jam and heaps of whipped cream added to the mix. The end result is delicious.
We like this dessert as mini trifles or jars because they're easy to store in the fridge, and you can then grab however many you need. Sometimes that means one to split as a mid-day treat, our own portions if we’re not in the mood for sharing, and other times we can bring a stack up to our building’s rooftop patio to enjoy with company. They make for easy and fuss-free transportation, which comes in handy when you’re bringing food over to someone else’s house. No need to worry about messing up a cake’s icing while relocating it, or a bubbly pie that still needs to cool on the drive over to a friend’s, or hoping everything looks just as pretty when you serve it. Nope, these pre-portioned jars are pretty much disaster proof. And that means you can breathe easy.
There’s a few layers to this dessert, but none are difficult to make. The vanilla cake comes together in a blender, which makes it super speedy to whip up - and also saves dishes. Since the cake is gluten free, there’s no need to worry about overworking the gluten present in regular flours; so in this case, the blender actually helps to ensure everything gets well mixed. If “gluten free” is making you think of weird and expensive pre-mixed flours, fear not. I don’t like to rely on that stuff because it’s expensive and about as inconsistent as me taking my vitamins (whelp). So let’s skip all that nonsense and use real ingredients, from scratch.
While the cake bakes, you can quickly whiz up the strawberry jam in the blender (no cooking required). The jam adds a juicy, colorful layer to the trifle. It also softens the cake over time, which is one of the things we love most about trifles. A luscious whipped cream layer is also a must. Because who says no to whipped cream?! We like to make our own coconut whipped cream so that it isn’t too sweet; but you could also substitute for store bought whipped cream of your choice. Greek-style yogurt could also make for a good substitute if in a pinch. We haven’t tried that variation yet, but imagine it would be yummy too.
To assemble, you’ll need 6 small jars (or glasses/cups). You’ll use these to also make circle cutouts in the cake. Depending on the diameter of your jar, you may need to cut out a mix of full circles and half circles (cut from the edges of the cake). But once the layers are piled on top, you won’t be able to tell the difference! When we make these, we usually assemble them in the following order: cake crumbs, whipped cream, strawberries, cake cutout, jam, whipped cream. But you can of course layer them however you’d like!
VEGAN STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE TRIFLE
Serves 6 - Vegan, Gluten Free
1 cup oats
1/2 cup brown rice flour
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup + 1/4 cup cane sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup + 1/4 cup canned coconut cream/milk*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Fresh strawberries & jam filling:
1 lb (465 g) fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon cane sugar
4 teaspoons chia seeds
Coconut whipped cream:**
1 (13.5 oz/400mL) can coconut cream/milk, refrigerated overnight or 24 hours***
1 tablespoon cane sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
For garnish: Coconut flakes (if desired)
Set aside 6 jars or glasses (approximately 3/4 cup capacity each). Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a 8x8” square baking pan with parchment paper.
Make the cake batter by first adding oats to blender. Blend on high speed for 30-45 seconds, or until a very fine powder. Then add brown rice flour, cornstarch, cane sugar, coconut oil, coconut milk, vanilla extract, baking powder and salt to the blender. Blend on low speed, slowly increasing to high - and blend for a total of 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the blender to ensure everything is evenly incorporated. Blend for another 30 seconds. Pour batter into the parchment lined baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges of the cake are just turning light golden brown and cake tester comes out clean. Your cake may have 1-2 small cracks on top - this is absolutely fine. Remove from oven. Let cool for at least 20 minutes.
While the cake bakes, wash the strawberries and cut off the green tops. Chop 1 cup of strawberries into small cubes, cover and set in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble.
Then, wash the blender to prepare the strawberry jam filling. Add the remaining berries (whole, green tops removed) to the blender, alongside orange juice and 1 teaspoon cane sugar. Blend until completely smooth. Transfer to a small bowl. Whisk in chia seeds. Cover and put in fridge to set.
Next, make the coconut whipped cream. Scoop out the thickened white coconut cream out of the can and into a bowl. Use a hand mixer to beat the coconut cream into fluffy peaks that resemble whipped cream. Add 1 tablespoon cane sugar and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract to the mixture. Beat until well incorporated. Place in fridge to keep cool until ready to assemble.
Once the cake is mostly cooled, use one of the jars/cups to cut out 6 circles. Cut out as many full circles as you can, then cut half circles from the remaining edges of the cake. Plan to use one full circle or two half circles per jar. Crumble the remaining bits of cake with your fingers.
To assemble, put a layer of cake crumbles at the bottom of the jar. Add 2-3 tablespoons of coconut whipped cream, then some sliced strawberries. Add the circle of cake. If the cake breaks while putting it into the jar, don’t worry, just press it down into the jar and continue. Once layered, you won’t notice. Top with 2-3 tablespoons of strawberry jam. Add 1-2 tablespoons of coconut whipped cream; and garnish with more sliced strawberries and a sprinkle of coconut flakes (if desired). Eat immediate or store covered in fridge.
-*The canned coconut cream/milk for the cake batter should be at room temperature. Shake the can well prior to pouring and measuring. Keep leftovers for another use.
-**If you don’t want to make your own coconut whipped cream, you can substitute 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups store-bought coconut whipped cream (or regular whipped cream).
-***Savoy Coconut Cream is our preferred brand when making coconut whipped cream. It will yield approximately 1 1/2 cups of coconut whipped cream. If you can’t find Savoy, then Aroy D Full Fat Coconut Milk is a good alternative (yields closer to 1 1/4 cups). Yield varies by can and by brand. If in doubt, make extra!