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.

799 Comments

  1. 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.

    1. This is cake is sheer perfection, Sally, for all the reasons you explained above. Bravo! I look forward to trying more of your recipes now.

  2. Update: The recipe doubled beautifully. It filled two 6″ and two 10″ pans perfectly. My new daughter-in-law to be wanted a strawberry wedding cake and I didn’t want to use artificial ingredients. I used strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream (freeze-dried strawberries) and homemade strawberry jam between the layers of the tiers. Everyone raved about the cake. I can’t thank you enough for your lovely recipe. I closed my cake shop 8 years ago and came out of retirement to make the wedding cake for my son. I had never had a scratch strawberry cake that I liked before this one. Hope you can open the images.
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  3. I’m making the strawberry cake in two days. I’ve reduced my strawberries, but had to use Driscols, which is a massive grown berry designed for color and ease of shipping, not, I repeat, not for flavor. They are not sweet at all. Hardly taste like strawberries at this point. Is this ok, or should I sweeten the berries before I put it in the cake. I’m only going to have one chance to make it so I can’t afford a big snafu.

    Your help is greatly appreciated.

    1. I had the same issue a
      With fresh berries. I switched to unsweetened frozen berries and lowered the vanilla extract to 1 tsp and added 1tsp of strawberry extract. Superb flavor. No longer tastes like vanilla cake.

    2. Stephanie, I always use fresh organic strawberries when baking and I find that the flavor is so much better. Today I made this cake as cupcakes and I used almost 2 pounds of strawberries and reduced the purée for and hour and 15 minutes down to 1/2 cup. Everyone in my family was very impressed with the flavor, and liked these cupcakes even better than the strawberry shortcake I made for Labor Day!

      1. Thanks for the tip Melanie. Like Stephanie, I had to use Driscols brand but for some reason, I got lucky because they were full of flavor once reduced. Like you though, it took an hour and five minutes for them to reduce down (so much water in those berries, grrr!) although I only had to use one lb of strawberries. It’s so crazy how things work out differently from one person to another.

        End result… an amazing, strawberry flavored cake with that amazing strawberry flavored frosting!! Sally did it again… :p

  4. Hey there! My boyfriend is lactose intolerant. Would it be possible to use almond milk instead of whole milk, and dairy free yogurt and cream cheese or would that completely mess up the consistency of the cake and frosting? Making this for his birthday next Saturday!

    1. You can definitely use non-dairy milk products for this recipe(not sure about the cream cheese, but maybe try making a regular buttercream with vegan butter, and then adding the strawberry powder?). I use non-dairy products in my baking and it works great!

  5. Hi Sally, I’m making this for my nephew’s first birthday. Just wondering if I can use frozen strawberries to make the reduced puree? Thank you 🙂

  6. This looks wonderful. My father asked for a strawberry cake for his birthday and I’d love to try this, but I live at 6k feet and new cake recipes always make me nervous! I know there are no guarantees, but are there any high altitude tips you’d recommend for this recipe? Thanks either way.

  7. Mine sunk in the middle, but I am baking at altitude (approx 7,000ft). I know I should have changed something, but wasn’t sure what. Ideas?

  8. This looks amazing. I would like to try to make this for my dsughter’s 1st birthday cake with Swiss buttercream frosting. I’m excited to try!

    I don’t have fresh strawberries available. Is it ok if I use frozen strawberries to make the strawberry purée?

  9. Hey! I am about to make this cake but first wanted to know, how long will it stay fresh for? It’s not going to be needed until Thursday but I thought I’d make the cakes ahead of time and decorate the day before. Would it be OK with the fresh strawberries in it until then?
    Thanks X

  10. Sounds good. I usually beat the egg whites then fold into the bstter. You said just beat them in. Just wanted to make sure I do not have to beat them separate first. Thank you. Will be making in a couple of days.

    1. You do not have to beat them first. The method you referenced is typically used in chiffon style cakes where you would have separated the eggs, beat in the yolks, and folded in the beaten whites at the end. This cake is not like that. You’re fine to just pour the unbeaten whites into the batter. It’s similar to other white cake recipes I have used in the past, and produced a delicious cake with this recipe as well!

  11. Help!! I’ve made this recipe twice and while the second time was much better, it was still dry! I want to love this so much – I love a homemade strawberry cake. What could I be doing wrong? There were a few things on the 2nd try that were slight “deviations” from the recipe:
    1. I used pastry flour instead of cake flour (went to two stores and couldn’t find cake flour!!)
    2. When reducing the strawberries, it took an hour to reduce to thickness in the picture. But at 30 mins, it was still very watery and not at all like the picture.
    3. Used plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream

    Could any of those be the culprit? What am I doing wrong?!

  12. Hello Sally, I am writing from Spain. I discovered you in urge and I can not be more grateful for your creations. This cake is wonderful yesterday I made it and everyone at home is in love with it, they say it is delicious and delicate. My 4 year old daughter has been asking me for a strawberry cake for a long time and I have finally been able to make her a very delicious one.

  13. FINALLY a strawberry cake from scratch that’s delicious and has real strawberries in it. i made it and it was GREAAAAT!!!!!!!! EVERYONE was super impressed with it and it looked good too. double bonus. the reduced strawberry puree was a stroke of genius, just what the strawberry cake needed. sally you are the greatest baker in the world. iv only tried a few recipes so far as i just discovered your website and YouTube channel but they have come out super Delicious and yummy. i cant wait to make more. your recipes are detailed and super easy to follow.
    Thank you thank you thank you.

  14. Hi Sally,
    I have made this strawberry cake before with tremendous success and absolutely love it. Do you think reducing and using raspberries would work the same way? My 4 year old daughter is a raspberry fiend!
    Thank you!
    Jennifer

    1. Hi Jennifer! Some readers have used raspberries and other fruits instead of strawberries with a lot of luck. Let me know if you try it too!

      1. I used raspberries and it was amazing! I made cupcakes and then used your vanilla buttercream recipe. My daughter loved it!!

  15. Sally, I am turning 50 in 10 days (!!) and want to have a pink cake for my party, but not too girlie pink. Do you think this would make a good “naked” cake, or should I just go with the vanilla version? Would this frosting be a good match for that decorating style?

    I’ve also thought about doing a “naked” cake version of your salted caramel cupcake recipe, which is the best cupcake recipe ever. What do you think about that frosting for a naked cake?

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    1. Happy early birthday, Michelle!! You really can’t go wrong either way! You can do a vanilla cake with strawberry frosting if you don’t want it *too* pink, or the caramel frosting would be delish too! Both are so good but very different! Let me know what you decide!

  16. High altitude modifications. Add an extra egg, reduce baking soda by 1/4 tsp. I would reduce the sugar to 1 1/4 cups. I live at 7,000 feet and sugar concentrates at altitude so you can reduce it. I usually reduce 1/4 cup per cup. You could reduce the baking powder a little but I’m not sure that’s necessary. Sometimes you have to play with it a little.

  17. Hi Sally… hope you read this and answer soon since I’m about an half an hour away from making the cake but I have a question. I’m using Softasilk cake flour which the box states is pre-shifted. Should I still sift my flour??

      1. Hi Sally. Thanks for answering. I took a look at the video and saw that I did need to shift. Sorry about that. Had I viewed it first I would have answered my question.

        Anyhoo… this cake was thee BEST strawberry cake we have ever had!! Though my batter/cake wasn’t as pink as yours (I didn’t add coloring because I don’t have the gels), there was enough color there to see and the smell of strawberry was off the hook!! I know you’re not supposed to eat raw batter but I just had to try it, lol.

        A few weeks before finding this recipe I had bought a bag of freeze dried strawberries in hopes to use it in a frosting. I got the idea from watching an episode of the kids baking challenge. And thanks to your recipe I was now ready to give it a go. I made two different frostings… the strawberry marshmallow and the strawberry cream cheese (again, hubby doesn’t like cream cheese). I iced the cake half with one, half with the other. That was a bit of a challenge, lol but it worked. On to the taste… OMGosh, it was a strawberry explosion in our mouths. I know some have said that the cake itself didn’t have much, if any, of a strawberry taste but mine sure did. I even used the brand of strawberries (Driscols) that usually doesn’t have much flavor and still, it appeared. This was just a brilliant recipe. Perfection all around. Now I’m looking forward to using different fruits. Thanks yet again for another amazing recipe and for all that you do… 😉

  18. Hi, how far in advance can I keep the strawberry purée reduced? And can I make the cake on a Friday and ice it on Sunday??
    Thanks!

  19. I made this recipe & the strawberry cake recipe from life love & sugar on the same day so we could do a comparison.

    This recipe won hands down! This is a TERRIFIC recipe. The Freeze dried strawberries made such a difference in the taste of the frosting. Delicious! Every time we have a party now – this is the cake everyone requests.

  20. I have a charity event requiring a bunch of desserts. I would like to make the cake layers ahead and freeze them. Then thaw overnight and frost the day of the event.

    Will that work with this??????

      1. Thanks for the quick response. The event has a Rock theme…so I wanted to make a “Strawberry Fields Forever” cake. This sounds perfect!

  21. Hi Sally,

    What I really want to do is use the over-abundance of freeze-dried strawberries I bought for your frosting recipe and make a cake using the freeze-dried strawberries, and top it with a chocolate ganache frosting. Knowing already that you are unlikely to advise what you have not tried/perfected (grin) do you think it would work to make your vanilla cake recipe and substitute part of the flower with the freeze-dried strawberry powder?

    1. Hi Jennie! You can certainly try it, though I do not recommend replacing any flour with freeze dried strawberry powder. Think of it more as a flavor and less as a dry ingredient. Let me know what you test!

  22. So delicious! I followed the instructions exactly, but my cake was tan- not pink. I guess the food coloring is needed for that. This is a terrific recipe and I will be trying more of your recipes.

  23. I’m sad to leave a not so nice review because your pictures are gorgeous but oh my goodness this cake was shockingly sweet– like my kids and husband wouldn’t even eat it it was so sweet. I know I followed the directions to a T too which is a bummer for the amount of time I put into this. Maybe it was the frosting that was over doing it? Not sure but felt the need to write this for others who may not be searching for something this sugary.

  24. Hi Sally,
    Love your recipes!
    Do you think this would work well with raspberries? My daughter requested a blue-raspberry cake for her birthday, and I’m hesitant to use the raspberry extract. I’d probably have to strain out the seeds, I think?

    1. Hi Christina! Though I personally haven’t, a few readers have tried this recipe with reduced raspberry puree– with success! Definitely strain the seeds.

  25. I had a feeling that this was going to be an excellent cake, and goodness was I right! It redefined what strawberry cake should taste like.
    I made this for my sister’s birthday, who loves strawberry cake, and though I was not that much of a fan, I wanted to make her a good cake. I chose this because Sally really seemed to know what she was talking about when it comes to cake. I’m happy I did! This cake was awesome

  26. Hello Sally,
    I should tell you this recipe was awesome and good that you posted your flopped techniques so that we know that is not a good idea, because initially I was thinking to put fresh strawberry in cake but your recipe was just amazing and it did come out really well. I myself felt so proud to see the fabulous outcome and my guests was awestruck by its taste. Thanks a looooootttt Sally. I have posted in Instagram with tagging you and many asked your website and started followibg you now. You just made me uograde to next level of baking. Only tjing I brought in a difference is I reduced the sugar level in cream cheese so it wasn’t tooo sweet and everyone really liked it. I baked this cake for my son’s first star birthday. I was sooooo happpy for it. Thank you and thanks a looooot.

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