I promised you a summery dessert today, and that’s what this is! An easy vegan strawberry shortcake with a cake base.
There are two ways to make shortcake. One is with biscuits, which can be split to make a top and a bottom, and one is with an actual sponge cake. I like both approaches (it’s hard not to love shortcake however it shows up), but I’m a cake lover first and foremost. I was sort of surprised when I realized that I’d never made or shared a recipe for the cake version.
The cake here is a simple yellow sheet cake. You bake it in two quarter sheet pans or a half sheet pan (my very compact oven won’t fit more than a quarter sheet pan on each rack, so that’s always what I use). After you bake the sheets, you can use a biscuit cutter to make rounds of cake: twelve per sheet, or twenty-four in total.
As you do this, it’s nice to save your scraps! I do the same when I level cakes for a layer cake. The scraps make a nice little treat when you crumble them on top of plant-based yogurt, maybe with some fresh fruit.
If you don’t have, or don’t feel like dealing with, a biscuit cutter, you could simply cut the whole sheet pan of cake into squares. You’ll probably get closer to 16 or 18 of those than twelve, which means more shortcake for you. And there should still be enough strawberries from the recipe to cover you.
What makes the recipe relatively easy is the option of using store-bought vegan whipped cream if you want to. I definitely wanted to, and there are a few available: I found the So Delicious CocoWhip near me, but I know that the 365 by Whole Foods brand now has a plant-based whipped topping, too.
Otherwise, what can I say about these sweet little stacks of cake and cream and fruit? They’re summery and delicious, perfect for some sort of outdoor gathering. I can imagine making them with cake icing or ice cream in place of whipped cream, but for now, I like the fact that they’re light, not weighted down by a rich frosting. A good treat as we move into the warmer months. Here’s the recipe.
2/3cupneutral vegetable oil (such as safflower, grapeseed, or refined avocado)
1poundstrawberries, washed, trimmed and quartered
2cupsvegan whipped cream of choice
Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly oil two quarter size (or one half size) baking sheets and line them with parchment. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to a large mixing bowl. Mix to combine.
In a separate mixing bowl, add the non-dairy milk and vinegar. Allow them to sit for a few minutes. Then, add the sugar, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Whisk the wet ingredients together until they're mixed.
Pour the wet ingredients into your dry ingredients. Use a spatula to fold everything together. Avoid any streaks of flour, but little clumps in the batter are OK. Divide the batter evenly between your two baking sheets. Use an inverted spatula to smooth and spread the batter to the edges of each sheet. Bake the sheets for 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes are just browning at the edges and pale golden and set on top. Transfer the cakes to a cooling wrack and let them cool completely (2 hours, or up to overnight: you can prepare them the day before assembly).
While the cakes cool, toss the quartered strawberries with the maple syrup in a mixing bowl. Cover and allow them to sit in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours. You can also prepare them a day before assembly, storing them in the fridge overnight.
To assemble your cakes, use a biscuit cutter (about 2 1/2 inches in diameter) to cut each sheet cake into about 12 circles (24 total). Alternately, you can simply cut the two sheets into square shapes (you'll probably have 12-18 squares, depending on how big you make them). Place a round or square onto a parchment lined surface, then top it with 2 heaping tablespoons of whipped cream and a few (4-5) strawberry quarters. Top with another round or square of cake. Serve!
Cake can be prepared up to two days in advance of assembly. Wrap each sheet cake in saran and leave it at room temperature. The strawberries can be prepared one day before assembly and refrigerated until you're ready to use them. Assembled cake leftovers will keep for 1-2 days in the fridge.
Hope this dessert might find its way to your table sometime this summer, and that you’ll enjoy it while berries are fresh and abundant. In the meantime, happy Memorial Day, friends. I know it feels bittersweet this year, but I’m wishing you all whatever gladness you create in the day.