Vegan Strawberry Upside Down Cake | Gluten-Free

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This Strawberry Upside-Down Cake is fluffy, hearty, and topped with the juiciest strawberry compote. A wholesome warm-weather dessert that’s gluten & oil-free.

When strawberries come into season there is only one thing to do: Strawberry Upside-Down Cake. Juicy strawberry compote atop a deliciously crumbly vanilla cake makes this warm-weather dessert one of my absolute favorites.

Strawberry Upside-Down Cake isn’t very traditional, but it is delicious. And what’s not to love about delicious, plant-based food that’s sneakily good for you too?

close up photo of slice of strawberry upside down cake on white plate with fork

INGREDIENTS FOR STRAWBERRY UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

ingredients for strawberry upside down cake in white bowls on marble background

You’ll need 9 plant-based ingredients for this recipe, but we’ll use most of them in both the base and the topping – win win!

  • Coconut Milk creates a rich, creamy texture in both the cake and the strawberry topping. It’s also loaded with plant-based fats that make this cake oh-so-decadent. 
  • Coconut Sugar provides the perfect amount of sweetness for our cake and our strawberry topping. 
  • Vanilla Extract adds that iconic floral sweetness. What would a strawberry upside-down cake be without vanilla? I don’t even want to know. 
  • Fresh Strawberries combine with coconut milk and coconut sugar in the oven to turn soft, juicy, and succulent – almost as if they are caramelized (can I get a heck yes?)
  • Oat Flour & Tapioca Starch: oat flour creates a hearty cake base, while tapioca starch is used to both thicken the strawberry sauce and give rise to the cake.

HOW TO MAKE STRAWBERRY UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

strawberry layer before baking in base of cake pancake in cake pan after baking

Strawberry upside-down cake looks a lot fancier than it really is — this surprisingly fuss-free recipe comes together in just under an hour!

  1. Make the strawberry layer by folding the fresh and juicy berries into a mixture of coconut milk, coconut sugar, tapioca flour, and vanilla. 
  2. Make the cake layer by mixing the dry & wet ingredients together, then pour over the strawberries in a cake pan.
  3. Bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. 
  4. Slice and enjoy warm or cool! 

detail view of cake layers showing the crumb of the cake

This Strawberry Upside-Down Cake is meant to have more of a dense crumb that complements the sweet and tangy strawberry topping perfectly. It’s not as light as traditional cake due to the fruity compote on top – but this is the nature of the cake and it’s still so delicious. This cake is best served the day-of making, as the top layer of the cake will get soggy with time. You can serve warm or chill completely first – if you serve it warm, it goes great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top (yes, please).

I love this recipe because it satisfies my sweet tooth, while being wholesome enough to enjoy as a tasty dessert or a fancy weekend breakfast. And since it takes less than an hour to make, this fuss-free recipe can be enjoyed any day of the week, whenever the craving strikes!

stawberry upside down cake on white plate with slice taken out of it

If you’re looking for more strawberry desserts, you’ll also love this Vegan Strawberry Shortcake, this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, and these Sugar-Free Strawberry Cheesecakes!

Finally, if you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I love seeing your delicious recreations 🙂

 

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Vegan Strawberry Upside Down Cake

This Strawberry Upside-Down Cake is fluffy, hearty, and topped with the juiciest strawberry compote. A wholesome warm-weather dessert that’s gluten & oil-free.

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • Prep Time: 15 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 Minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale

For the Strawberry Layer:

  • 2 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup (39 g) coconut sugar*
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour/starch*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pound (.5 kg) fresh strawberries, tops removed and sliced
  • Pinch of salt

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups (200 g) oats, ground into flour
  • 1/2 cup (55 g) tapioca starch/flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 1/3 cups (315 ml) full-fat coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup (100 g) coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease or spray a 9″ nonstick cake pan. Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit the bottom of your pan, then spray or grease again; set aside.
  2. Strawberry Layer: Add the coconut milk, sugar, tapioca flour, vanilla, and a pinch of salt to a medium bowl; whisk until the tapioca flour has dissolved. Fold the sliced strawberries into the sugar mixture, then spread this evenly over the base of the cake pan.
  3. Cake Layer: Whisk the oat flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate, smaller, bowl, mix the coconut milk, sugar, vinegar, and vanilla together until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, then gently mix the two together, until no lumps remain. Pour the cake mixture over the strawberries, using a spatula to smooth out the top, if necessary. “Drop” the cake pan onto the counter a few times, to remove any bubbles that may have been trapped in the batter.
  4. Bake: place the cake in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 32-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out cleanly. Remove the cake from the oven and run a butter knife along the edge of the cake. Place the entire cake pant on top of a baking rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Then, carefully flip the cake onto a plate or serving dish; let the cake sit for an additional 5 minutes before removing the pan, to allow the sauce to absorb into the cake. Carefully remove the cake pan from the cake; if you greased the tin well there shouldn’t be any sticking, but if any caramel or strawberries do stick to the top, use a spoon to remove them from the pan and place them back on the cake.
  5. Serve slightly warm, or wait until the cake cools to slice and serve as desired. This cake is best enjoyed the day it is baked, as it will become soggy over time.

Notes

  • Substitutions: coconut sugar can be replaced with another granulated sweetener, like brown sugar or white sugar. Tapioca starch can be replaced with cornstarch, but I do not recommend using arrowroot powder in this recipe as it tends to “break” more quickly and your sauce may turn lumpy. I do not recommend replacing the coconut milk – you need the creaminess and thickness for this recipe to work. I have not tested this recipe with any other combination of flours.
  • Fresh vs. Frozen Fruit: I do not recommend using frozen strawberries for this recipe, as the fruit needs to be cut first and frozen fruit tends to release more liquid in baking. You can, however, swap the strawberries for another berry of your choice!

Keywords: strawberry upside down cake, vegan upside down cake, vegan strawberry cake, healthy strawberry cake, strawberry cake, gluten free strawberry cake, vegan desserts with strawberries

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About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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Comments

  1. The flavor profile of this cake is so complex and delicious. I used almond extract instead of vanilla (because I was out) but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. It made a great birthday cake for my friend.

  2. Hi, I used cassava flour, coconut milk, and a little coconut flour. Also used frozen raspberries. Worked out amazing. Thank you.

  3. Oh man, this is excellent. I was skeptical, as honestly I’ve had more bad gluten free cakes than good. THIS IS AN EXCEPTION, folks. Nice crumb / texture, excellent flavor, and came together quickly. I will try with other fruits- I have fond memories of an aunt’s pineapple upside down that I’d love to veganize. Thanks for this recipe.

    1. Hey there! Unfortunately we have not tested this recipe with any other combination of flours. If you do try it, let us know how it goes!

  4. Turned out delicious! How do the strawberries keep their redness for you? Mine lost a lot of colour while baking.. /Julia

    1. Thanks so much! It could depend on the strawberries, but during step 2 (mixing the strawberries with the sugar mixture) should be what helps keep the strawberries integrity.

      1. Can this be made ahead and frozen? It looks so delicious but I’m trying to find recipes I can make ahead.

      2. This cake is best served the day-of making, as the top layer of the cake will get soggy releasing a lot of water/juices when thawed after freezing. It can be kept at room temperature for 24 hours or up to 2 days in the fridge. If kept in the fridge, I recommend heating it up slightly before serving for the best moist texture.

  5. By coconut milk do you mean in a can or liquid coconut milk? Sorry if that’s a dumb question haha

    1. Nope! The coconut sugar tastes like brown sugar and the coconut milk is for thickness and there isn’t enough to give off that coconut flavor.

  6. Summertime + strawberry season = YES. PLEASE. I masked up and made a special trip to the grocery store to buy some full-fat coconut milk (I only keep light in my pantry!) and oh my goodness was it worth the wait time. (Don’t you miss just being able to run into a store, just grab one thing, and jet right out of there? UGH. Me. Too.) I’m eating a warm second-day slice of this right now with some coconut whipped cream and BLISS. Total bliss. I’m already thinking about when I’m going to bake this again! ????

    1. We do miss being able to just head out without a care! But glad you were able to treat yourself and make the recipe!

    1. Pineapple should work! Just make sure there’s not an excess of moisture as it will make it difficult to bake!

  7. Oh my gosh! This looks delicious. My Uncle Waluigi has such a sweet tooth. I’m going to make this for him!

  8. Really delicious, not too sweet. Extra yum with a little vegan yogurt (or coconut whip is you have it!). I actually used potato starch instead of tapioca because I didn’t have any and it turned out great. If using potato starch, use only 1tbsp in the strawberry layer, and 25g in the cake layer. You’ll want to up your oats to 230g so you get the full 255g combined!