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!

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 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: 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 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.
  7. 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.
  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

1147 Comments

  1. Hi,
    Just made it and shared with friends at a birthday party! Quite awed by the freshness and tang of the strawberries! Never had something so ‘real’ anywhere else! Thanks for all your recipes and tips. It really is my go-to blog for desserts. FYI: I’ve only started baking in the last 6months and it’s amazing what your blog has helped me achieve!

  2. This cake is amazing! It’s an instant hit with the kids. Our pickiest eater actually asked for a second slice! Which is pretty amazing. The recipe is easy to follow and tastes so so good! Fluffy cake and delicious frosting… And all natural! I use this recipe because I have a red dye allergy and places like edgars would set my allergies off so this is really amazing alternative!

  3. Followed directions exactly and the cake was nice and fluffy and moist, but it had no discernible strawberry flavor even though my purée was thick and flavorful. The color was more of a gray/mauve even after using a dab of red gel color as suggested. The frosting made up for the lack of strawberry flavor in the cake. I only wish it had turned a pretty pink like the photo instead of the hot pink/reddish hue I got.

    1. I used the rest of my strawberry purée in the frosting and it turned out tangy and made more strawberry flavor it was great and I loved it, thanks so much Sally. By the way, I am twelve and use your recipes all the time.

  4. I made this recipe into cupcakes and it’s amazing! Thank you for your great tips of using reduced purée and freeze dried strawberries in the frosting. It’s tangy and delicious!

  5. I made the strawberry cake into cupcakes. It made 32 cupcakes. I reduced the baking time to 17 minutes. This is a fabulous recipe that I will be making over and over again. The flavor is phenomenal and the texture of the cake is light. This recipe is worth the effort.

  6. Hi Sally!

    I am following you from couple of weeks n I must say your style of baking and explaining the science behind it is commondable!!!! Great work keep inspiring us:)

    I have a question for you in Ireland we get self raising flour having Sodium bicarbonate, monosodium phosphate and disodium phosphate..so do I need to add baking powder and baking soda in my recipes as the functionality of the ingredients are the same?

    1. Hi Sonal! Thank you so much for the kind comment. I wish it was that easy, but it really depends on the recipe. Different recipes have varying flour/leavener ratios, so it’s not exactly a simple swap for self raising flour. I would look for recipes that are specifically made for self raising flour. It’s not as common here so I don’t bake with it. So sorry!

  7. Strawberries aren’t in season and I can’t find them anywhere! Can I use (puréed) strawberry jam instead? If I do, can I cut the sugar?

  8. hello 🙂 I have a question: is it required for the sour cream, eggs, and milk all to be at room temperature? i dont think I will have enough time let them warm up since I have to wake up very early tomorrow to go to an event and i have to make a cake before then. I ran out of time to make the batter today, so could you tell me if it’s completely necessary for those ingredients to be at room temperature? I know the butter does; im familiar with how it needs to be softened up before mixing. Thank you!!!!

  9. After eyeing this recipe for a little while I finally made it and it was so good! The cake has a great texture with subtle strawberry flavor that goes really well with the stronger flavored frosting which is so incredibly good. I shared some with a neighbor friend who called it “DEVINE!!”. Thanks for all your experimenting and amazing recipes.

  10. Hello,
    I had submitted a question awhile ago which you had answered. I’m trying to find it and it now where to be found. Why would my question and your answer be removed?

    1. Hi Deborah! I see your question from May 21st 2018. If you click back to previous comments, you will find it. I’ll copy/paste it here so you don’t miss it this time:

      Q How can I make this taste like strawberry shortcake? If I use some of the frosting in the filling and then use whip cream on the outside do you think that would give it the strawberry shortcake flavor? Or is there something else I can do?

      A Hi Deborah! I recommend filling the cake with the strawberry cream cheese frosting (reducing the amount down, of course) and frosting the whole cake with fresh whipped cream.

  11. Hi, my son is wanting strawberry cupcakes and chocolate icing for his birthday. Would this cupcake recipe go well with chocolate icing?

  12. I made this cake and loved it so much that I decided to try the entire thing, cake and frosting, with blueberries instead since those are in season now. It was amazing, albeit a crazy color for a cake! Also I just wanted to add, I think you’re a genius. Whenever I’m thinking of a new dessert I’d like to try, I check your site first to see if you’ve done it!

  13. I made this cake for my daughters birthday and it was AMAZING, way better than any previous attempts at strawberry cake! She loves having a pink cake and was so happy

    I had a lot of extra ‘strawberry butter’ so we ate it on waffles with whipped cream for her birthday and then I put the few last spoonfuls in between the cake layers with the frosting for an extra punch. Mmmmmm

  14. Hello! I was thinking of making this cake, but I wanted to know the storage life of the cake inside the freezer and refrigerator?

  15. Dear Sally, I found a made your Strawberry cake for a friend at dance classes. What an amazing idea to reduce strawberry puree and use the freeze dried strawberries. The flavour was great and the texture light. I made a 9×13 cake.
    Q1. the cake came out rather brown from cooking- I use a fan oven, should I try a lower temperature?.
    Q2. The batter was ‘thin’ rather than ‘thickish’. I measured carefully, where do you think I went astray.
    Q3. the colour wasn’t as good as your pictures, I didn’t use food colouring, would that make all the difference?
    Definatly one to try again though.

  16. Can I make this in a bundt pan? I have someone that doesn’t want frosting between the layers (WHO IS THIS PERSON, REALLY?) So instead of layer cake I want to make it in a bundt pan.

  17. My toddler wanted a strawberry cake for his birthday, and even though I’m not too great at baking I took a stab at this recipe. It was easy to follow – and even in my novice hands, it turned out amazing. I managed to forget to get whole milk so I subbed in soy milk, which seemed to work just fine. I made 2 6″ cakes and I had plenty of extra batter that I used to make mini-cupcakes. It was all devoured pretty much immediately. This is a wonderful recipe – I’ll be making it again and again! Thank you Sally!

  18. The party I was making this for has been delayed a week, but the strawberries are reducing on my stove as we speak. I found out about the delay too late! Can I freeze the reduced strawberries or keep them in the fridge for a week?

  19. Thank you for this strawberry cake recipe-Delicious. It was just a tad heavy because I used all-purpose flour. My great-nephew requested strawberry cake for his 6th bd party. With such happy facial and hand expressions one of his friends described the cake this way, “like biting into a real strawberry and then a strawberry on top of that.”
    Sally, I had a conversation with you in my kitchen though you didn’t hear it. I really “tossed” with your instruction to add the puree at the very end. I wanted the puree to blend well, thought the batter would be “tough” stirring the thick puree in last, and being the traditionalist that I am, I tossed it in and gave it a good blend before adding the dry, alternating with the milk, ending with flour. Obviously, it turned out great and I will definitely make this again. Thank you! 😀

  20. This cake is fantastic. Made it for my in laws who were in town. Everyone raved. We enjoyed it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream which is pretty much how I like to enjoy all of my cakes. Thanks Sally!

      1. I will let you know, Sally. I’m making a small wedding cake for my son and I want the strawberry tier to be in a 10 inch pan. It might be easier to double it and just make extra layers or cupcakes.

  21. I made this recipe according to the cupcake instructions. The batter was so yummy, and when I checked the cupcakes halfway through baking they were puffed up nicely and looking great. However, when the timer went off at 20 minutes and I pulled them out they all were deflated back to the size when I filled the cups and they were extra brown. 🙁

    The taste was still good (though, not as tasty as the batter), but the texture was a little off. I’m assuming they’re just overbaked?

    I also took your tip in your video about using the egg yolks to make a curd, and I made a strawberry one that I used to fill the cupcakes. The curd really amped up the strawberry flavor and the strawberry buttercream was the best I’ve made to date.

  22. Hi Sally,
    I made this cake on Saturday. I apologize; usually I make recipes exactly according to instructions, but I deviated a little on this strawberry cake. I blitzed the whole 1.2 ounce bag of freeze dried strawberries . . . and not knowing what to do with the leftover, I strained out the big bits, and added the powder to my flour mixture. I also combined the 1/2 cup of milk into my strawberry puree mixture (it was super, super thick), and added about three drops of red food coloring to the milk mixture to make it bright pink. I also used European-style butter instead of American butter (ran out – long story). I had to add 3 minutes to my baking time (checked at 24 minutes, and it was still raw in the middle) for two 9″ rounds. For the frosting, I added the remaining heaping tablespoon of my strawberry puree (just seemed like the sensible thing to do), to the cream cheese mixture, and did not use any milk to thin out the frosting. The cake turned out amazingly strawberry-licious! It was a little dense (no fault of the recipe). I attribute this to the European-style butter, my creaming technique (most likely lacking) and perhaps the extra strawberry powder. The frosting seemed to be just a tad short . . . but was actually the perfect amount and as others have commented – just delicious. I also want to note that I chose this recipe over Stella Parks strawberry cake (a little too time-consuming), and that I am glad I did. Thank you for another winning recipe, Sally!!!!

  23. I will be baking for a friend’s mom who was advised by her physician to lessen her sugar intake. Her birthday is up soon and we would like to surprise her with a really good strawberry cake. I like that you incorporate real and freash ingredients to your recipe. Is it possible to replace the sugar with a sugar substitute like Swerve? Thanks.

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