This recipe is part of my cookbook adaption series, where I adapt one recipe from a cookbook each month to be gluten free. This month’s recipe is adapted from Lemon Sunflower Cake in the book Beyond Parsley.
There is something about lemon desserts that makes you think of warmer weather. If you are looking for the perfect dessert to serve at a summer party or gathering, you definitely need to try this strawberry citrus naked cake!
This recipe is my monthly cookbook adaption recipe for June. If you haven’t read about it yet, you can learn more details on my page for Baked Apple Donuts. To quickly review, I’m adapting a new gluten free recipe every month from a cookbook I find in my kitchen. This recipe originally comes from the “Lemon Sunflower Cake” recipe out of the book Beyond Parsley. Instead of making a lemon curd and frosting, however, I opted to make a naked cake. A naked cake is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: A cake with minimal or no frosting on the outside, exposing the cake’s layers and filling.
There might not be a ton a frosting here, but naked ares are so fun to decorate! Instead of decorating with frosting, you can showcase your creativity by decorating with fruit, flowers, or even herbs. Naked cakes are perfect for summers full of holidays, festivities, and backyard parties… making it a cake of endless possibilities.
This cake got rave reviews at our most recent family dinner. The cake is a moist, yet spongy citrus cake full of lemon and orange juice, and lemon zest. Not a strong enough citrus flavor to call it a lemon cake, but enough to taste slightly fruity. It’s then layered with a whipped cream cheese frosting (just wait until you hear about this!) and dotted with strawberries between layers.
How I adapted it:
This recipe was one of those that was fairly easy to adapt to be gluten free… especially because it already had extra moisture from sour cream. To lighten it up a bit, and since gluten free flour can be quite dense, I used yogurt instead. I did also use some brown sugar instead of all granulated, to add extra moisture and tenderness.
To finish, other than a few minor tweaks, I adjusted the amount of flour used. The original recipe called for cake flour. To make my own, I subbed some of my gluten free flour with cornstarch. This helps tenderize the cake, and also helps to soften some of the harsh proteins found in gluten free flour.
I did have a mini panic attack while making these cakes. When you adapt a recipe from a book that has no photos, it’s sometimes hard to imagine what the cake will actually look like when baked. When my timer went off and I opened the oven, I noticed the cakes didn’t rise very much. They are fairly small, flat layers… not what I had planned on making.
HOWEVER, these cake layers actually work extremely well for making a naked cake. Not only are these layers very moist and spongy, but there’s no need to cut them in half or level off. Simply make as many layers as you would like for your cake! This recipe makes two layers, so you could stop there or make the recipe again for a 4 layer cake like I made. There’s also plenty of frosting for 2-4 layers! The recipes makes enough for a 4 layer naked cake. If you just make 2 layers, I’d recommend either saving the extra for another use, cutting the frosting recipe in half, or just skip the naked cake all together and frost the whole cake with it.
Since there’s a lot going on with this cake, here are some tips to help you be successful:
- As said above, this cake recipe makes 2 layers. If you would like to make a 4 layer cake like I did, make the cake recipe twice. I haven’t tried simply doubling the recipe, due to only having 2 cake pans. If you have 4 cake pans and would like to try doubling the recipe, just make sure to use a large 6 qt stand mixer. If you don’t have a large enough bowl, I would suggest just making the recipe twice.
- This recipe also make 9” round cakes. If using 8” cake pans, you may need to increase the baking time by a few minutes. If you have extra cake pans, you could also divide the batter between three 8” pans and bake for the normal baking time.
- You will use about 1/4 pound of strawberries per layer. If making a four layer cake, I suggest using about 3/4 pound of strawberries between the three layers (leaving out the top of the cake). Then use any extra whole or sliced berries to decorate the top.
Now let me tell you something… this frosting is probably THE BEST frosting I have ever made. It’s so good, you will want to eat it with a spoon. If you ever have trouble getting the consistency right with cream cheese frosting, try this whipped cream cheese frosting instead! Just beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla until smooth, and then drizzle in some heavy whipping cream while beating on medium-high speed. It only takes a minute or two until it’s light and fluffy! Not only is it the perfect consistency to spread on cakes, but it’s also pipeable.
There you have it! Get creative with decorating this cake… and if you take a picture, share it on Instagram and tag me @zestandlemons in the photo so I can see!
Recipe Adapted from “Lemon Sunflower Cake” in the book Beyond Parsley.
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