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June 22, 2012

Strawberry Sponge Cake with Strawberry Frosting

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I've always been mesmerized by a grocery store's baking aisle.  Every location carries different products for different prices and at different sizes.  However, there are certain things that never change:  the boxed baking mixes.  I know them like the back of my hand, yet I still look through each of them for a good five minutes.  I guess I like the variety.  From vanilla to red velvet, from chocolate to banana, etc.

But one box always catches my eye:  the strawberry cake mix.  The cake photographed on the cover of the box is so brightly colored pink, it's hard not to look.  The cake looks so moist and flavorful, you can almost taste it while you're staring at the box.  One day, I finally picked up the box.  I glanced at the nutrition label and read (or, attempted to read) the ingredient list.  My eyes open wide in shock, I gently put down the box, and walk away in awe.  How could so many bad things come in such a pretty package?  On my drive home, I was determined to make a healthier, all natural homemade version!

Oh, and what a success it was!  Embarrassingly enough, I wasn't really expecting much at first.  After I put the cakes in the oven I researched other homemade strawberry cake recipes.  I could only find a handful that didn't use food coloring, and many bakers warned that without the coloring the cake will have no hint of red at all, and sometimes the cake will even turn grey!

I panicked and ran to the oven, but the cakes were already rising.  All I could do was wait and think of how gross the cake I was baking was going to look.  Would it be bland?  Would it be mushy?  Would it be... grey?!?  I sat there thinking of ways to improve the cake that I haven't even seen yet, in prep for trial #2.  Should I add lemon juice to preserve the strawberries' color?  Should I invest in a bottle of natural food coloring?  Should I give up baking for life just bake a totally different cake as part two of my baking rehab?

The kitchen timer went off, bringing me back to the real world.  Riiiiing.  Riiiiing.  Riiiiing.

I slipped on my oven glove and peered through the oven window.  I exhaled, opened the door, and removed the cakes.  But things were looking up!  The surface of the cake was slightly pink, and it was surprisingly fragrant.  Once the cake was frosted and served with a side of strawberries, all my cake-anxiety slipped away.

I melted with each bite.  This moist and sweet cake bursted with strawberry essence, perfect for summer's warm weather.

Strawberry Sponge Cake:  [low fat, high fiber/protein]
(makes two 9" cake rounds)
    240g (2 cups) Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
    48g (1/4 cup) Pure Cane Sugar
    32g (1/4 cup) Arrowroot Starch (or cornstarch)
    30g (1/4 cup + 2 tbs) Whey Protein Concentrate
    1+1/2 tsp Baking Powder
    1/2 tsp Baking Soda
    1/4 tsp Salt
    3/4 cup + 2 tbs Fresh Strawberry Puree* (see directions)
    113g (1/2 cup) Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
    170g (2/5 package) Lite Firm Tofu, drained
    184g (1/2 cup) 100% fruit Strawberry Spread
    28g (2 tbs) Walnut Oil (or any other neutral oil)
    2 tsp Vanilla Extract
    1 tsp White Vinegar
Optional Add-Ins:
    2-4 tsp Stevia Extract (2 tsp if you want an extremely sweet cake+frosting, 4 tsp if not making frosting)
    1 tsp Strawberry Extract
    Natural Red Food Coloring

1.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and generously spray two 9" cake pans with cooking spray, set aside.
2.  *Cut the greens off the strawberries and remove the white insides with a knife.  Toss into a blender and puree.  Measure 3/4 cup + 2 tbs and put into a small bowl or 1-cup-measuring-cup, set aside.
3.  Using the same blender, and add the yogurt, tofu, jam, oil, vanilla, vinegar and the prepared strawberry puree.  Puree until tofu is liquified.  Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl (add optional add-ins now if you want)
4.  In a medium bowl, add the dry ingredients and whisk.  Scoop 1/3 of the dry mixture over the wet ingredients and gently fold with a rubber spatula until barely mixed.  Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients and gently fold again.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients and gently fold one last time.
5.  Pour half of the batter into one cake pan and the other half into the other.  Flatten the surface of the cakes by tapping the pan on the counter a few times, then put into the oven.  Bake for 30-32 minutes and let cool in the pan for one hour.  Wrap each cake individually with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  If you have uneven cakes (like I did), stack the thinner cake (with its round side down) onto the thicker cake (with its round side up).  This will make for flat cakes so you don't have to trim them before layering.  The next day, top with strawberry frosting.

Strawberry Frosting:*  [low fat/sugar, high protein]
    8oz Fat Free Cream Cheese, room temp
    42g (3 tbs) Coconut Oil, soft
    1/2 tsp Butter Extract
    1/3 cup Fresh Strawberry Puree, hulled
    1 cup Freeze-Dried Strawberries
    1 tbs 100% fruit Strawberry Spread
    1/2 tsp Lemon Juice, fresh
    two 8oz packages (3+3/4 cups) Powdered Erythritol

*This is quite a large recipe that makes a lot of frosting... I didn't want to waste my money spent on the powdered erythritol, so I piled all the leftovers on the top of the cake.  This ended up being perfect because everyone who tried it loved it like that, you should do the same!  :)

1.  In a medium mixing bowl, whip/whisk the cream cheese and coconut oil until fully mixed.  Add the butter extract and whip again.
2.  Cut the tops of about eight large strawberries and remove the white insides.  Toss into a blender with the freeze-dried strawberries, jam and lemon juice and puree, scraping the sides if necessary.  Pour over the cream cheese mixture and whisk.  Whisk in the powdered erythritol one cup at a time.  When everything is incorporated and smooth, refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until thick and frosting-like.  While the frosting is cooling, take the cakes out of the fridge and unwrap them.  Put one cake down on a serving plate with parchment paper, dry off any moisture with a paper towel, and frost as pictured below (more instructions after the photos):

3.  To frost the sides, pour the rest of the frosting on the top of the cake and slowly spread to the edges, completing about 1-2 inches at a time (if you push it over the edge it will dribble down and not stay put, so you'll have to do it slowly and carefully!  Definitely worth the effort though)
4.  Once entire cake is frosted, refrigerate for about 30 minutes to an hour, or until surface of the cake is no longer wet/shiny looking.  Slice and serve on the chilled side with some strawberries and maybe even some fresh lemonade!

Here is the nutrition label (includes frosting):

I have no words.  Literally.

A moist and fruity cake with a smooth and sweet frosting for only 290 calories and 8g of fat per slice?  I'm having a hard time believing it myself.  Based on this label, this cake trumps every other cake on the planet the boxed version  ;)  And even better, this is totally a suitable breakfast option!  Whole grains, fruit, yogurt... this beats a bowl of cereal by far.  Join me, and have some cake for breakfast.

Oh, and you can make cake pops out of this too  :)


  1. Wow. Cakes likes these (I'm thinking carrot cake, since that is what it looks like) are usually calorie bombs, but this... I'm speechless. Sinless. I reaaaaally want to try this, I'm sure all my friends would love it!

  2. Looks so time of year for anything strawberry! Do you have a vegan sub for the whey protein concentrate?

    1. I'm pretty sure you can use any protein powder in place of the whey, as long as it's not high in fiber like certain vegan protein powders. I just recently started buying Sun Warrior's brown rice protein powder, which dissolves similar to whey, so I would recommend trying that. Just note that whey has a sweet taste, so you may need to adjust the sweetness level (most easily done with stevia extract).
      Hope this works out for you!

  3. What can I use in place of the tofu ( I don't eat soy)?

    1. I have never tried this cake without the tofu, but since tofu is an egg replacer you can try:

      1) a whole egg + an egg white
      2) 1/3 cup more greek yogurt
      3) 1 tbs ener-g egg replacer + 1/4 cup water

      I hope these work for you!


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