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 milk 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!

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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. You can make it a few days ahead of time and store it covered in the refrigerator or cover and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw before using in the recipe.
  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 crumbs. 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. Yields about 3 cups of frosting.
  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 or unfrosted cake layers can be frozen up to 2 months-3. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before decorating/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: Sift cake flour before measuring. 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 this homemade cake flour substitute.
  4. Whole Milk: If needed, buttermilk works in its place. Do not substitute a lower fat milk.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 until you’re left with 1/2 cup or a little over 1/2 cup. This takes at least 25-30 minutes, but could take longer depending on your pan or how juicy your strawberries were. *Do not add sugar or anything to the puree or reduced puree– it’s just pure strawberries. 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. Allow to cool completely before using in cake batter. Make sure it’s room temperature when adding to the batter. 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.
  7. 9×13 Inch Cake: Simply pour the batter into a greased and lightly floured 9×13 inch pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. 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.
  9. Food Coloring: If you want, you can add 1-2 small drops of pink or red food coloring for a lovely pink shade to the baked cake. I add 1 small drop of pink gel food coloring.

Keywords: strawberries, pink

1206 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. I have a dairy allergy. Do you think this recipe would work with almond milk and coconut yogurt substitutes?

  2. I made this cake and it is very good. Thank you for perfecting the recipe! The freeze dried strawberries are key. We had some left over strawberry puree and used it to decorate the top. That was a really nice addition.

  3. hi Sally!

    Love the video!!

    I am trying to make a 3 layer cake, should I make more cake batter in order to do this?

    Thanks,
    Courtney

    1. Hi Courtney, thanks for watching it! You can divide this batter between 3 cake pans. The bake time will be shorter.

  4. Hi Sally,
    This cake was so delicious!! So fluffy and natural strawberry flavor:-) My 2 year old son really like it (I only gave him a little bit….) . One question about frosting. How can I learn how to frost a cake smoothly? I’m not very good at it so my cake didn’t look as good as yours even though it taste great. If you could give me tips, it would be great! Happy Holidays to you and your family.

  5. Hi Sally, my cake taste amazing, but it sank slightly and was too moist. The edges were browning, so I thought I had to get it out of the over. Did I undercook it?

  6. Hi Sally,
    Your strawberry cake is delicious! My friends love it so much. I’d like to learn how to frost a cake beautifully as yours. I want to make it look smooth. Do you have a blog that you wrote about frosting cakes?

    1. I’m so glad that you and your friends enjoyed this cake, Akiko! I don’t have a separate blog post on frosting a cake, but there are much more accomplished cake decorators out there you can learn from! The few tools I would recommend are a cake turntable and either a bench scraper or an offset spatula if you don’t have either one yet – and lots of practice!

  7. I am also wondering if I could use a plant based milk instead of cow milk? I just don’t do well with dairy either.

  8. I asked my daughter to make this strawberry cake. It was fabulous she had help from me and her daughter ( my granddaughter). We all Love it! Thank you!

  9. I am so thrilled you do videos. 1st you are so sweet and that comes thru on your videos. Thank you for taking the time to show how to do the recipe.
    I have s bunch of blackberries in the freezer. If I make it with the berries I will let you know. ❤️

  10. This is the BEST strawberry cake I have ever made. I made it maybe 5 times this last year when strawberry’s were in season. Its a favorite at our house.

  11. This is a wonderful video Sally! Thank you for making your knowledge and experience so available to us. You do an excellent job of making something that might seem formidable a very doable task for your “everyday baker” like me!

  12. Hi Sally,
    This cake sounds wonderful and I am going to try it as soon as I can buy some really nice strawberries. I noticed that you used the whisk attachment vs the flat beaters. So you always use the whisk for mixing cake batter or is it because you added egg whites to make it lighter and fluffy? Thank you.

    1. Either the whisk or flat beater attachment works nicely! Sometimes the whisk combines any lumps a little quicker than the beater attachment.

  13. I made this cake yesterday. It was very good. I got a kitchenaid mixer for Christmas so I’m trying recipes that are a little more advanced for me. The cake came out perfect. I would say it took me longer to reduce my strawberries. A lot longer, but I didn’t want to scorch them. Also you may add a side note to recommend stand mixers like kitchenaid really need a splash shield. When I made the frosting it looked like it was snowing in here. I also lost some butter during the creaming process. Again I just got a kitchenaid so maybe bakers know these things lol. I’m to them tho. Lol

  14. So I am trying to make three cakes for a Triple Birthday Party and my cake will be the strawberry! Yummm! But I have a question… Originally I imagined a layered strawberry cake, with a super lightweight almost whip cream textured frosting, completely covered in sliced strawberries and maybe some almond slices. So do you think this cake recipe would be good with another kind of frosting such as the one I mentioned and would you have a recipe for that? Or do you think that the frosting recipe provided is essential to the cake? Originally I was going for a healthier recipe but the one I found was from a box 🙁 … I am thinking of using greek yogurt instead of the sour cream. My second question is do you have any recommendations for healthier alternatives to some of the ingredients? If not I can cheat for my birthday!

    1. Hi Blanca, for a lighter frosting with this cake, homemade strawberry whipped cream would be wonderful! I recommend the recipe in this post: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/strawberry-shortcake-cupcakes/

  15. Hello ! Need help ! I’m in the process of making this cake, but when cooking done the strawberries they didn’t turn a very red color. More like a rose pink? And it’s very sour. What am I doing wrong cooked for a long time and med low heat.

  16. Hello Sally,
    i also would like to try this cake but is it possible to decrease the powdered sugar into half or less in the frosting? can you also just use a handheld mixer when mixing the batter? I am looking ofrward to make it!

    1. Hi Noemi! Reducing the confectioners’ sugar in the frosting will create a greasy frosting since there won’t be enough confectioners’ sugar to soak up the liquid. You could try reducing/leaving out the milk, though. For best results, I recommend sticking to the written recipe. A hand mixer works, yes.

  17. The best strawberry cake. I made this over the weekend for my husband’s birthday and everyone loved it. It taste like a bakery store cake. I loved it!

  18. What a fun recipe! Gave it a shot yesterday, although as it’s just my husband and myself, I halved the measurements and baked it in an 8″ square tin. Just a plain strawberry cake sans frosting. It turned out super and we had it with our evening tea. The cake is light and not too sweet.
    The strawberry reduction took about 45-50 mins to get to the correct consistency.
    I used 3 tablespoons of Amaretto instead of vanilla.
    Instead of sour cream, I used my own homemade Indian/Greek yogurt.
    Just wanted to say, “Thank You” – delightful cake!

  19. I made this cake and it was extremely moist. Instead of the suggested frosting, I used a vanilla buttercream mixed with diced fresh strawberries. It came out great! Thank you!

  20. This was a request for my son’s birthday dinner. Your recipe was right on time. The batter was so good I could have eaten it without baking!

  21. I made the puree with frozen strawberries today. Turned out just right. But like Patrick commented, it took me a bit longer to reduce them as well.

  22. I followed this recipe exactly as written and although it was a little more work I loved making it and the house smelled fantastic for the rest of the day from reducing the strawberries. For my family we felt the frosting was just a tad too overpowering in strawberry flavor, I was looking for something a bit sweeter, but that’s just personal preference; and next time I’ll half the freeze dried crumbs for my frosting to see if that helps but other than that I LOVED how much strawberry flavor came out of this cake without using any liquid flavorings. I will definitely be making this cake again!

  23. I just had to make this cake when I saw the recipe and WOW! What a treat. So light and fresh. I am making the recipe again as mini cupcakes for my daughter’s bridal shower next weekend. I have prepared the strawberry puree and have enough to also try your cupcake recipe version. There is a hint of strawberry flavour in the cake, but the frosting is incredible with the freeze dried strawberries. Thankfully, Costco has opened here in Australia so I was able to get them – I have only every seen them coated with chocolate before. Maybe it is our heat, but the frosting is very soft and falls off as you eat the cake. Would adding some extra sugar stiffen it up, of converting some of the butter to cream cheese?

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake, Thea! For the frosting are you using block cream cheese? The softer spreadable kind doesn’t work well with frosting. You can try this recipe which is strawberry buttercream without the cream cheese: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/strawberry-frosting/

      1. Yes, I used the Philadelphia Block full fat cream cheese. I did use the icing sugar mix with tapioca flour in it rather than pure icing sugar (my food processor died & I am too lazy to hand sift the lumps in pure icing sugar). Maybe I need to go back to it.

  24. Hi Sally! I’m obsessed with this recipe. I’m obsessed with your cake pop recipes as well. I was wondering if you think making cake pops from this recipe would work well if I got the ratio of sponge to frosting right? Thanks 🙂

    1. I’m sure that would be delicious! They do have more water than strawberries so you may need to start with more for the reduced puree.

  25. Hi Sally, I’m making this cake for my daughters first birthday this weekend! Do you have a suggested baking time for 2 6” round pans? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Jessica! So sweet. 🙂 There’s too much batter for 2 6-inch cake pans, but if you use my strawberry cupcake recipe instead– that amount of batter is perfect for THREE 6-inch cake pans. Or only use 2 6-inch cake pans and use the extra batter for a couple cupcakes on the side. 🙂

  26. Hi, Sally! I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect strawberry cake. While most recipes call for Jell-o, artificial strawberry extract, and food coloring, I jumped for joy when I saw yours that’s natural and from scratch. The cake is flawless, and adding strawberry powder to the frosting is genius! The little old lady down the street took a bite and exclaimed, “This is the best cake I have ever eaten!”

    I have found a winner! Thank you!

  27. Hi sally, if I wanted to make a 3 layer 10” cake with this recipe, would I multiple the recipe by 1.5 or double it?

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