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Jun 10, 2016

Lemon Layer Cake {gluten free + vegan}

Last month we had a little guy baptized at the church where I grew up. It was a nice, intimate family gathering and we had everyone who was able to make it join us at my parents' house for lunch afterward. My dad grilled burgers and my mom had prepared the side dishes. I brought an allergy-friendly pasta salad and dessert.

I was so thankful to have so much help with the food and to have been able to host it somewhere other than our house because I ended up getting so sick that morning and felt pretty awful all day. I'm so lucky to have wonderful parents and an understanding family.

Luckily I planned ahead and made dessert the day before the baptism. I really wanted to make a spring-y, lemon cake topped with fresh berries. I'm not all that great at cake decorating, although I do try on occasion to make something special. I like the look of naked layer cakes, where the icing in the center of the layers is thick but around the outside is sparse. I will have to keep working on perfecting the look of this, but it turned out delicious and was a hit, especially with the kiddos who I'm sure loved all that sugary icing!

The cake recipe is basically like a "wacky cake" made with no dairy or eggs. This recipe will make two 9-inch round layers. I wanted a tall cake with multiple layers so I doubled it. It ended up being huge. Next time, if I want four layers, I think I'll pick up some smaller round pans at a specialty baking store. My usual icing recipe worked well for this since I was doing the naked version. You can always put less icing between the layers and cover the outside of the cake completely if you prefer that look.

Topping this deliciously lemony cake with fresh berries was so good too. I actually ended up "sugaring" the berries by dipping them in a simple syrup, then dusting with sugar and allowing them to dry while I was preparing the rest of the cake. Because of the sweetness of the cake and the natural sweetness of the berries, you could definitely skip the sugaring step too.

Lemon Layer Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon extract 
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup shortening (I like Spectrum Organic for this)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • natural yellow food coloring (optional)
  • fresh berries for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your pans by spraying with non-stick spray and dusting with a bit of gluten free all purpose flour. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and lemon zest. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, vegetable oil, white vinegar and lemon extract. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. 

Divide cake batter evenly between the pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool. Once cooled to the touch, turn cakes out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely. 

For the icing, cream the shortening with a mixer until soft. Slowly add the powdered sugar, then gradually pour in the water and mix until combined. Add the lemon extract, salt and optional food coloring. Turn mixer speed up to high and allow to beat for about 5 minutes or until icing is fluffy and creamy.

Place first cake layer on a decorate platter. Top with a large scoop of the icing and spread to create an even layer. Top with the next cake layer and again top with icing. (If you're doing more than two layers, continue alternating cakes and icing.) Once layers are complete, use any remaining icing to run a thin layer around the outside of the cake to create a sparse coating of icing.

Top with fresh berries and cut into thin slices to serve.

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