Happy Mother’s Day! Since #SundaySupper is all about bringing families together around the dinner table of course we have to celebrate that special person who is often the one responsible for leading the way on gathering families together – mom! At this time of year, there is nothing more classic than juicy berries and sweet whipped cream. I am honoring my grandma today by making and eating a wheat free version of her favorite dessert with this Gluten Free Strawberries and Cream Cake.
Gluten Free Strawberries and Cream Cake
I love my mom, but today’s Mother’s Day post is actually not about her. I don’t think she’ll mind though, since it is about someone very special to her as well – my grandma. For the first twelve or thirteen years of my life, grandma lived five blocks from me, so I spent a lot of time with her. After church on Sundays we would go to her house for dinner – pot roast or spaghetti or stuffed cabbage for the family and meatballs made from the stuffed cabbage filling that she made especially for me. Every now and then she would honor my special request for chicken noodle soup. We would frequently drop by in the evening and watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy with her and my grandpa, and then sit in the breezeway while she puffed away on her cigarettes. Grandma never smoked in the house, only in the breezeway or in the basement. In the dead of winter, if she was at our house, we would send her outside to smoke.
If I was sick or had a day off of school, I’d stay at her house, and she would make me toast with cream cheese or scrambled eggs with American cheese for lunch and I’d watch Sesame Street or The Frugal Gourmet or Bob Ross while she watched her “stories” in the afternoon. If it was a Wednesday, I’d go to Bingo with here, where I’d draw my own Bingo boards and play along. Although I think more often than not, she brought me to McDonald’s for a chicken nuggets Happy Meal, then to the bakery for a cupcake. Sometimes I’d even get to go to the beauty parlor with her.
I actually used to love sleeping over her house, too. She and my grandpa had twin beds a la Fred and Ethel, and if I was there, he would sleep in the spare room so I could be in the room with her. We would watch the Golden Girls on her twelve inch television, and I might make it to the opening credits of Dallas before falling asleep. In the morning, I was greeted with a bowl of sweet, buttery farina.
My grandma sounds like a pretty lively lady, doesn’t she? Well she did her best, but she was about forty when the rheumatoid arthritis hit. By the time I was born, she already had a hard time using her hands. Those Sunday dinners were struggle for her, and didn’t last very long in my life before she just couldn’t do it anymore. A full set of plastic knuckles didn’t make chopping and mixing very easy for her. While the simple foods she made for me hold a special place in my heart, I’m told she was actually an amazing cook, but between her hands and my childhood pickiness, by the time I was old enough to appreciate and perhaps even learn from her, it was too late. I have a few scrawled recipes I’d like to try sometimes, but that stuffed cabbage recipe is now only a memory. As I got older, though, I cooked a lot of Sunday dinners for her and my grandpa, and while I think she usually enjoyed my cooking, I had to keep it a secret if I ever used any lighter or healthier ingredients. She insisted that healthy food tasted terrible, and always seemed a little annoyed if she liked something, and then I told her that I snuck in something healthy. Wonder what she would think of cauli-tots?
Grandma was a tough cookie though. Even though she couldn’t run around with all of her grandkids, she found a way to connect and be close to us. She taught me how to play solitaire, and we would do puzzles together. She would take me and my cousins to the park, or just sit in the backyard or talk to her backyard neighbor while we played.
Her health problems got worse as she got older, and she was supposed to quit smoking. She never really did though, even though some of the family thought she had. So when we would have family gatherings, as soon as we had dinner, she was ready for her dessert, because she had to have her dessert, and then she was ready to go. I’m fairly certain it was not because she was tired or losing patience. I’m pretty sure it was because she needed to go have a cigarette, but didn’t want to let any of us know she was still smoking, But she was caught on multiple occasions sitting in her car puffing away in random grocery store or department store parking lots.
She passed away when The Hubby and I were on vacation in Tuscany. I kind of knew it would happen while we were gone, but I believe in my heart that she truly wanted me to go on that trip. It was kind of a bittersweet trip, but I felt like she and I had our closure on my last visit with her before we got on that airplane. I miss her terribly, though. She had a tendency to nag me about the fact that her lady friends all had great-grandchildren. I had to remind her that she had my mom, her first child, when she was 23 – a bit older for her generation. Then my mom had me, her oldest, when she was 26 – actually a bit older for her generation too. So really, it wasn’t entirely my fault! But I really wish she could have met my boys. I think she and The Bug would have been best buds, and she would have gotten such a kick out of the Little Dude.
It’s strange, but her birthday and the anniversary of her passing often go by without me having any particularly strong thoughts of her, but then on random days I’ll be overwhelmed with thoughts of her. A couple of weeks ago I really didn’t want to go for my long run of the week, but I did, and took a different path than I had taken before. It was a tough run, but at 4.9 miles, I was overcome by the aroma of a lilac bush, and was able to push through to the bitter end of that run. But as I walked the last half mile home to cool down, I was choking back tears because I was overcome with memories of my grandma. In her backyard was a line of lilac bushes, and the scent of the flowers just permeated the air every spring and summer. And that moment and those lilacs just made me feel her presence more than I have in a long while. I knew she was with me and smiling down on me.
As I mentioned, grandma loved her desserts, so in that moment I knew I had to make one for her…
Gluten Free Strawberries and Cream Cake is my wheat free version of her favorite cake. I actually made the original version for my grandpa a few years ago, since he loved it too, but this was her cake. Even though her birthday was in January, clearly not strawberry season in New Jersey, this was what she wanted. And really, is there anything better than moist, tender white cake layered with fresh berries and homemade lightly sweetened whipped cream? It’s a classic, just like my grandma.
I used a gluten free all purpose blend in this cake, as opposed to playing around with my own blend, and I’m glad I did. Sometimes when you have to give up gluten, you want to be able to take a memory and recreate it without a lot of fuss. That’s exactly what I did here. A basic cake recipe, a simple substitution, and my usual strawberry and whipped cream combo, and what you have is absolute perfection! I thought of my grandma with every bite, though I do have to wonder what she would think if I tried to sneak a gluten free cake by her 🙂
One key, in my opinion, is to make and assemble the cake a bit in advance, and let the cake absorb a bit of the flavor and moisture from the berries and cream. This is truly a recipe that is the epitome of spring and summer, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
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Then check out all of today’s recipes in honor of all of our moms at the bottom of this post!
Is there a certain scent or flavor or song that reminds you of your mom or grandma?
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- 2 cups Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend (I used Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free Baking Flour)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1¾ cups sugar
- 4 egg white, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoons vanilla
- ⅔ cup milk
- ⅔ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar (or more, depending on how sweet your strawberries are)
- 1 pint heavy cream, well chilled
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line three 9 inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl and set aside.
- Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, in a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed.
- Add egg whites and vanilla and beat for about 30 seconds.
- Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture, milk, and yogurt. Beat until combined.
- Beat on high for an additional 30 seconds.
- Divide the batter evenly between the pans.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until lightly golden and toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool pans on racks for about ten minutes, then remove cakes from pans and cool completely.
- Combine the strawberries and sugar in a small bowl, and set aside to allow the juices to release.
- Place the bowl and whisk attachment for your stand mixer or a metal or glass bowl and beaters for your hand mixer in the fridge or freezer until they are cold.
- Add the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to the chilled bowl, and beat on medium-high to high speed until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat.
- Place one layer of the cake on a plate, and spread with about a half cup of the whipped cream. Layer on about half of the sliced strawberries.
- Spread about another half cup of whipped cream on top of the strawberries.
- Top with the second cake layer. Again top this cake layer with about a half cup of the whipped cream, the remaining berries and another half cup of whipped cream.
- Top with the final cake layer, and spread the remaining whipped cream over the top and sides of the cake to cover completely.
- Garnish with the whole and/or sliced strawberries, as desired.
Since it is Mother’s Day, here are some of my previous tributes to my mom…
- Lightened-Up Penne and Tomato Cream Sauce with Peas and Prosciutto
- Browned Butter Pecan Fudge Ripple No-Churn Ice Cream
And an menu filled with odes to all the moms of the #SundaySupper family…
- Ginger Shandy by Nosh My Way
- La Vie en Rose by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Momma’s Mimosa by Our Good Life
Starters and Salads
- Cheese Bread by Ninja Baker
- Classic Basil Pesto Crostini by Cooking Chat
- Fennel and Radish Citrus Salad by Tasting Page
- Healthy Ham Salad Minis by Momma’s Meals
- Pate with Spiced Pears by The Joyful Foodie
- Pesto Pasta Salad by Peanut Butter and Peppers
- Super Sunny Dutch Oven Sourdough by What Smells So Good?
- Blackberry Almond Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast by The Crumby Cupcake
- Broccoli Cheddar Frittata with Tomatoes by The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Chicken and Pepper Rice with Fried Egg by Family Foodie
- Chicken Tajine with Prunes and Almonds by The Petit Gourmet
- Coriander Salmon with Capered Green Beans by Cosmopolitan Cornbread
- Dutch Baby Pancake by Curious Cuisiniere
- Goat Cheese Scrambled Eggs and Ramps in Puff Pastry by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
- Mimosa Waffles by Sew You Think You Can Cook
- Mushroom Manchego Cream Filled Crepes by Lifestyle Food Artistry
- Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Arugula Salad by Casa de Crews
- Smoked Salmon & Shaved Asparagus Gruyere Quiche with a Pine Nut Crust by Simply Healthy Family
Treats and Sweets
- 5 Favorite Pancake Toppings by Sunday Supper
- Angel Food Cakes in a Jar by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Black Cow Cupcakes by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Blueberry Breakfast Cake by Noshing With The Nolands
- Bourbon Peach Frozen Yogurt by Food Lust People Love
- Cherry Cheesecake Pastry Braid by The Redhead Baker
- Crustless Creamy Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake by Magnolia Days
- Deluxe Salted Caramel Turtle Sundae by The Weekend Gourmet
- Gluten Free Strawberries and Cream Cake by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- Lemon Blackberry Mini Tarts by Life Tastes Good
- Lemon Brownies by Pies and Plots
- Lower Fat Peach Cheesecake by Food Done Light
- Mini Chocolate Marshmallow Bombe Soufflé by Nik Snacks
- Mini Lemon Almond Cupcakes by Caroline’s Cooking
- Nutella Cheesecake Shooters by Fantastical Sharing of Recipes
- Pavlova by The Freshman Cook
- Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Raspberry Mascarpone Mini Tarts by Palatable Pastime
- Rose Apple Custard Tart by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
- Soft-Baked Lemon Coconut Cookies by One Sweet Mess
- Steamed Strawberry Coconut Poke Cake by Wallflour Girl
- Sunshine Lemon Cake Pop Bouquet by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Triple Chocolate Layer Cake by Take A Bite Out of Boca