Homemade Strawberry Cake

The one thing that sets this strawberry cake apart from others? Reduce fresh strawberry puree down and add to the best white cake batter. Kiss your boxed strawberry cake buh-bye.

This is the BEST strawberry cake!! Made completely from scratch with real strawberries! Topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This strawberry cake completely blew me away. After years of mediocre from-scratch strawberry cakes, my expectations were pretty low. It was time to taste test my efforts. Biting into the first pastel pink forkful was the moment of truth…

This strawberry cake is made completely from scratch with real strawberries! Topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I cried tears of joy. Or were those actual tears because I just dirtied every dish with all this strawberry cake recipe testing? Hmm.

Let’s get down to business. Homemade strawberry cake is episode 1 in Sprinkled, my new video series! Watch me make the recipe below:

I find it challenging to pack real strawberry flavor into cake without the crutch of fake strawberry flavoring. My goal was to create a strawberry layer cake made entirely from real strawberries. We’re talking strawberries inside the cake and in the frosting as well. With the help of freeze-dried strawberries, I tackled strawberry frosting. I’ll get to that below. But for strawberry cake? Things have always been pretty lackluster in the flavor and texture department.

Strawberry Cake Problems

  • Chopping up strawberries and folding into cake batter works, but then you’re just eating vanilla cake with chunks of strawberries.
  • Pureeing strawberries and folding into cake batter has potential, but the texture is always off. There’s too much liquid. How about adding more flour to make up for that liquid? Then your cake is too dense. And the flavor is always lacking.
  • Strawberry jam could work, but I prefer to start with real strawberries.

So how can we pack real strawberry flavor into cake batter without adding too much liquid? REDUCE THE STRAWBERRIES DOWN. Ding ding ding! We have a winner.

How to Pack REAL Strawberry Flavor into Cake

  1. Puree fresh strawberries.
  2. Reduce down on the stove.
  3. Let cool.
  4. Stir into cake batter.

Puree 1 pound of ruby red strawberries. You’ll need a food processor or blender for this step and again when you make the frosting.

Take that strawberry puree and reduce it down on the stove. This, my friends, is where all the magic happens. Like I mention above, you want a lot of concentrated flavor within a little amount of liquid.

You’ll begin with 1 cup of hot pink puree and reduce down to 1/2 cup. After 30 minutes, it will be very thick and very red. Add this thick and highly concentrated strawberry flavor to your cake batter, instead of the thinner strawberry puree.

The reduced strawberry puree will go into the cake batter. No need to strain the seeds first — they disappear when the cake is baked. Since the reduced strawberry puree needs to completely cool down, I suggest getting started the day before. Just let the reduced strawberry puree sit in the refrigerator overnight and make the cake batter the following day.

Strawberry Cake Batter

The cake batter starts from my white cake. This vanilla flavored cake proved to be the best jumping off point for a strawberry cake. I kept the majority of the recipe the same, but I removed some of the wet ingredients to make room for 1/2 cup of reduced strawberries. The cake is light, springy, soft, and fluffy.

The reduced strawberry puree will tint the cake batter a lovely pastel pink and, if you want, you can add a small drop of pink or red food coloring to brighten that hue. Not necessary, of course. (I added a teeny drop.) Expect a velvet-y and slightly thick cake batter.

  • No artificial strawberry flavor.
  • Nothing from a box.
  • Just pure strawberries.

The Strawberry Frosting

You can taste the fresh strawberry flavor in the baked cake, but the flavor is REALLY brought out when you combine it with strawberry frosting. Like strawberry cake, strawberry frosting has always left me feeling a little defeated. Fresh strawberries were the issue. The frosting would always curdle from the added moisture. And no amount of fresh strawberries could get me the strawberry flavor I craved. Instead of settling for artificial strawberry flavor, I took a trick from Sally’s Candy Addiction: strawberry dust! Grab some freeze-dried strawberries, grind them up, and toss it into the frosting.

(I actually added freeze-dried strawberries to cake batter as one of my test recipes. This was an awful decision and an epic fail. The cake was atrocious. Texture, taste, and appearance. Just… no. But freeze-dried strawbs are a YES for frosting!)

  • Where to buy freeze-dried strawberries? I always find them in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Wegmans, Giant, Trader Joe’s and Target carries them. Keep your eyes peeled– they’re more commonly found that you think!

Instead of a thicker strawberry buttercream, I used my silky cream cheese frosting recipe. Tossed in the freeze-dried strawberry “dust” and was left with a frosting so pink, Barbie would be jealous!

Let’s Review

The tricks to homemade strawberry cake and frosting made with real strawberries? (1) Reduced strawberry puree in the cake batter and (2) freeze-dried strawberries in the frosting. Have fun baking!

Print
Homemade strawberry cake

Homemade Strawberry Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 6 hours
  • Yield: serves 10-12
  • Category: Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

The one thing that sets this strawberry cake apart from others? Reduce fresh strawberry puree down and add to the best white cake batter. Kiss your boxed strawberry cake buh-bye.


Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (250g) sifted cake flour (spoon & leveled)*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (75g) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup reduced strawberry puree (see note)*
  • optional: 1-2 drops red or pink food coloring

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup (10-12g) freeze-dried strawberries*
  • one 8-ounce block full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 12 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Make the reduced strawberry puree and allow it to cool completely. See note.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch cake pans.
  3. Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the egg whites on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Then beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk *just* until combined. Do not overmix. Whisk in 1/2 cup of reduced strawberry puree, making sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick. Stir in food coloring, if desired. (I use 1 small drop.)
  5. Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 24-25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
  6. Make the frosting: Using a blender or food processor, process the freeze-dried strawberries into a powdery crumb. You should have around 1/2 cup. Set aside. In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, strawberry powder, 1 Tablespoon milk, and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy. Add 1 more Tablespoon of milk to slightly thin out, if desired. Taste, then add a pinch of salt if needed.
  7. Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake keep its shape when cutting– it could slightly fall apart without time in the fridge.
  8. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Light it sit at room temperature to slightly soften for 10 minutes before assembling and frosting. Frosted cake can be frozen up to 2 months if you have room in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Ninja Food Processor | Measuring Cups | Egg Separator | Glass Mixing Bowls | 9-inch Cake Pans | Marble Cake Stand | Eat Dessert First Fork
  3. Cake Flour: I strongly suggest using cake flour in this recipe. It’s sold right next to the all-purpose flour in the baking aisle. And you use it a lot in my recipes! In a pinch, you can use a DIY version: measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons. Mix in 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift it. Measure 1 cup. This sifted 1 cup equals 1 cup of cake flour. I suggest doing this 3x, then remove 1/2 cup since you need 2 and 1/2 cups in this recipe.
  4. Where to Buy Freeze-Dried Strawberries? I always find them in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Wegmans, Giant, Trader Joe’s and Target carries them. Keep your eyes peeled– they’re more commonly found that you think! Do not use the chewy/gummy dried strawberries. You need FREEZE-dried strawberries which grind into a powder. If you can’t find them anywhere, just leave them out of the frosting and add another 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar.
  5. Reduced Strawberry Puree: puree 1 lb of strawberries. You should have a little over 1 cup. Stirring occasionally, simmer the puree over low-medium heat for 25-30 minutes until you’re left with 1/2 cup or a little over 1/2 cup Allow to cool completely before using in cake batter. I always make the reduced puree the day before so it has plenty of time to cool down. I cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. Use 1/2 cup in the cake. Discard any leftovers or spoon on ice cream/yogurt/add to smoothie. Yum! You can use frozen strawberries, but they will take longer to reduce even if you thaw them first.
  6. 9×13 Cake: Simply pour the batter into a greased and lightly floured 9×13 pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cupcakes: Fill cupcake pans 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Makes 2 and 1/2 dozen cupcakes. For 14-15 cupcakes, follow my strawberry cupcakes recipe, which is adapted from this strawberry cake.
  8. Food Coloring: If you want, you can add a small drop of pink or red food coloring to brighten the hue of the cake. I add 1 small drop of pink gel food coloring.

805 Comments

  1. I made it. Pink coloring is a must or it comes out a very unappetizing tan color. I added strawberry extract instead of vanilla and I have to say it still didn’t taste very strawberry to me. I’m slightly embarrassed to say I prefer the taste of strawberry cake with jello, but was happy to test this recipe.

  2. 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven didn’t work for me. Batter was still semi liquid at 25 minutes. Added 20 more minutes and they were perfect.

  3. Hi Sally

    What is cake flour? In the (UK) we get sponge flour or self raising or plain flour. Does cake flour have raising agent?

    Thanks

      1. Cake was very good. Came out moist with a good crumb. The frosting was a very nice pink and fluffy and not overpowered by cream cheese flavor. With the leftover egg yolks and extra strawberry reduction I made strawberry curd and layered it between the cakes. Very good strawberry flavor through it all. My compliments on your recip.

  4. Hi Sally

    What is cake flour? In the uk we get sponge flour, plain flour and self raising flour. Has cake flour got a raising agent in it?

    Thanks

  5. Hello Sally,

    I’m baking this cake for my sisters birthday on Saturday. I’m busy all day Friday and Saturday so I was planning on baking them on Thursday night, then putting it together with the frosting Friday night . Would it still taste fresh?

  6. Hi Sally

    Going to make this cake on a Saturday for Sunday birthday. Do I need to chill the cake after icing it? Thanks 🙂

    1. You can, but your frosting might be thin. You can also spread it on top of the frosting between the layers for a strawberry filling!

  7. Hi Sally,
    My daughter requested a strawberry cake with chocolate frosting. Have you ever tried that combo with this cake? Would you use a basic chocolate frosting or a ganache? Thanks!

    1. It’s delicious either way! The frosting is where a lot of the strawberry flavor comes in so I would actually suggest to make it with that frosting and then pour a chocolate ganache on top of the whole thing!

  8. Hi Sally, my daughter is turning 4 and her party is at the weekend. She has requested a strawberry cake and I found your recipe and thought, perfect. However her cake is going to be covered and decorated with fondant. Do you think this recipe will take the weight of fondant icing? Sorry if this is a repeated question, I’ve looked through so many comments and not seen it asked! Thank you in advance

    1. They can, but there isn’t enough strawberry flavor. The cake will taste like vanilla cake. I recommend sticking to the recipe. 🙂

  9. How many quarts of strawberries equal 1 pound? Also, just want to note I made your lemon blueberry cake for a wedding cake and it was a HUGE success. Love your recipes….thank you.

    1. Quarts are a measure of volume and pound is a measure of weight, so the answer depends on the size of the berries! A quart can vary usually between 1 and 2 pounds. I’m thrilled that the lemon blueberry cake was a success!

  10. Just a heads up. So far I’ve made this cake with strawberries, raspberries (without the seeds), blueberries (without the skins) and their freeze dried counterparts. The first two came out great with wonderful flavor. No, I didn’t add any extracts to help the flavor profile. When it came to the blueberry, the flavor was just not there. That was really disappointing because I love blueberries. The fact that it didn’t work has nothing to do with Sally’s recipe. It’s just that the freeze dried blueberries don’t seem to have enough flavor in them. Just wanted to let people know before you go out and buy those freeze dried blueberries. I bought a bag of freeze dried cinnamon apple slices and pineapple chunks. I’ll be testing those out soon. I’ll come back to let you know how it went. Till then, Happy Baking and Thanks again Sally…

  11. I made this receipe for my daughters 12th birthday this past weekend. I doubled the recipe and added the leftover puree to the frosting and it DID get very loose(liquidy) but I then used it as a strawberry- cream filling. Everyone LOVED it!!

  12. Hello Sally!
    Since strawberries aren’t yet in season in my part of the country, should I add strawberry extract to the cake batter to get a bit more strawberry flavor? I’m worried that the strawberries I buy won’t have a lot of favor themselves before adding them to the cake. Thank you!

    1. Yes, you absolutely can add the extract. Without the sweet summer berries a lot of the strawberry flavor will happen in the frosting!

      1. Thank you! I normally would wait for a recipe like this until they are in season. However it’s for a special 60th birthday. I’ve never bought strawberry extract. Any recommendations for one?

  13. This was a delicious cake! Moist, light and fluffy with a good strawberry flavor. I substituted strawberry extract for the vanilla. I will say the color of the cake was a tannish-gray and not pink at all. Definitely nothing like the photo in the post. Next time I would add a bit of food coloring as the color didn’t present as very appetizing. Other than that, this cake was fantastic.

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! I use pink food coloring for the cake batter. Not necessary, but definitely brightens up the hue. Thank you!

  14. Made the cake following the recipe. Baked for 30 minutes in a 9×13 pan. It came out dry. Not sure what to do to adjust but it definitely was not moist and/or fluffy.

  15. The cake is delicious, but the frosting is the real star. Together an amazing cake. Didn’t add any food color. Cake was tan, but I didn’t mind the color…it looked more natural. I can’t wait to try this again when my strawberries are ready for harvest.

  16. I made this for my step daughter’s sweet 16. In her words, “IT WAS TO DIE FOR”. Everyone loved it. It has such a natural strawberry flavor. I also did not add any food coloring and it had a nice pale pink hue. I thought it was a beautiful cake all natural!

  17. So I noticed you have 1/2 cup whole milk in the ingredients but you don’t have the milk in the instructions or your video? I’m baking the cakes now and didn’t add milk… hoping that’s right?

  18. The flavor was great – the strawberry reduction was brilliant; however, the baked cake wasn’t pink *at all.* I wasn’t upset about that, but my preschool birthday girl was pretty bummed.

  19. We got given several pounds of strawberries and I didn’t feel like making strawberry shortcake so found this recipe. A keeper! It was light and moist.
    For frosting I used icing sugar, just a bit of butter to bind it, and about a 1/4 cup of leftover strawberry purée as didn’t get to the store. My 16 year old thought it was a delicious combo. I could just eat the cake by itself personally, lovely light strawberry flavour. Will never make the box mix again. Thank you! Now I get to try some of your other recipes…. hmmmmm!!

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