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? They’re more commonly found than you think. I always find freeze-dried strawberries in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Wegmans, Giant, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Amazon, and Target each carry them.

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. 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.
  3. Whole Milk: If needed, buttermilk works in its place. I don’t recommend a lower fat milk.
  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 until you’re left with 1/2 cup or a little over 1/2 cup. This takes at least 25-35 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. You can make the reduced puree ahead of time and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw, bring to room temperature, then use in the recipe. 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 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.
  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 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.
  9. No Cream Cheese in Frosting: If you’d like to skip the cream cheese in the frosting, use my strawberry buttercream recipe instead. You’ll have enough for a thin layer of frosting, but you can 1.5x the recipe for a thicker layer.

Keywords: strawberries, pink

1118 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. Laura Sanders says:

    I need some help. In regards to the cup of dried strawberries; what amount in ounces? Also where can you buy these with an affordable price? $25 seems excessive. Please advise.

    1. Hi Laura! See recipe note about where to best find the freeze-dried strawberries. 1 cup = about 1/2 of an ounce. They’re extremely light.

    2. They sell them at aldi for $2 or $3.

      1. Thank you Tiffany.

  2. When you add the egg whites to the batter it says to mix it about 2 minutes. Are the egg whites supposed to turn fluffy or do you just mix it until they are combined?

    1. In that step, you’re mixing until they’re combined. The mixture won’t get frothy or fluffy.

  3. Never jenny says:

    This cake was soooo good. Thank you for the recipe. I made the cake for Easter dinner dessert. The icing is to die for! And the cake was delicious. Great texture. The cake took an extra 10 mins than what was listed to bake in the oven. I kept checking it at 5 min intervals after the 20 min mark waiting for the center to set and a toothpick to come out clean. A big hit. Can’t wait to make it again.

  4. I made this for Easter and it came out perfect. I was worried it would be dry because I had to bake it longer than the recipe recommends for a toothpick to come out clean, but it was totally fine and moist. I used the regular strawberry frosting which worked great. Definitely saving this recipe to use again in the future!

    1. I’m so glad it was a success!

  5. Sally, I’ve made this recipe once before it really was fantastic and I have tried several different recipes for strawberry cake and they all lacked in someway. I do have a few questions for you though… Do you think it is safe for me to use liquid egg whites. My second question is would it be safe for me to double this recipe or would you recommend making two separate batches. Thank you ever so much !

    1. Liquid egg whites should be ok as long as they are 100% egg whites and not egg substitute. I definitely recommend making it twice and not doubling it – with that much batter it’s likely that you will over or under mix the batter!

  6. Great from scratch strawberry cake to satisfy the cravings I’ve been having! I had leftover strawberry puree, I made extra to flavor the frosting as I cannot get freeze dried strawberries where I live. The extra puree took the cake over the top! Would definitely recommend extra to layer in the middle. The cake was very tender, to the point of falling apart! I probably needed to leave it in the oven longer. However, given that I live at 5000 ft elevation, having to adjust for that could also be a factor!

  7. Tracy Spielmann says:

    Loved the flavor and texture of this cake, but the frosting is to die for! Here’s my twist that I added to the recipe; l added 1/4 cup finely chopped basil to the cooled strawberry reduction before l added it to the cake batter. It gave the cake a mild basil flavor, but the strawberry was still dominant. My husband and our guests loved it!

  8. I made this cake as a tester for my brother-in-law’s grooms cake and im glad i did a tester as the texture of the cake was not quite right. The batter for me was too thick, I probably could have added a tad more strawberry reduction to help texture and flavour. Strawberry flavour was mild.

  9. Hi sally, my oven won’t fit 2 x cake pans side by side. Should I cook the cakes on different shelves, or have the second batch sitting on the bench whilst the first one cooks?

    1. Hi Alex! You can bake the layers on separate racks, then rotate them halfway through baking.

  10. The best cake I’ve ever baked! The strawberry flavor in the cake itself was actually pretty mellow (maybe because strawberries are still coming in to season) but that was actually great because my husband is a strawberry hater and was able to tolerate it. The frosting was delicious with the freeze dried strawberries. I made an extra half batch of frosting to do some decorative piping– I just refrigerated the frosting before piping as suggested elsewhere in the comments. Great recipe!

  11. Angela Blalock says:

    Can I bake it in a bundt pan? If so for how long?

    1. I have not tested this recipe in a bundt pan. If you want to try it the bake time would increase because of amount of batter in one pan. Let me know if you try it!

  12. Alexx Weaver says:

    Could you use three 8″ pans instead?
    If so, would I need to make 1.5 the amount of batter this calls for, and what would you estimate for cooking time?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Alexx! You can prepare the cake batter as written and divide between 3 8-inch cake pans. The bake time will be a couple minute less, but use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  13. Do you think chocolate frosting would work with this cake instead of the strawberry frosting?

    1. Should be great!

  14. This cake is so good that tonight I made it for the 2nd time this week! The flavor is outstanding and the color is gorgeous. I have to keep telling people that there is no artificial coloring or flavoring in either the cake or the frosting . Next time I do believe I’ll make it in 8″ round pans since neither time did I get enough rise in my layers for my taste.

    Interestingly, I just saw that Stella Parks (Serious Eats) posted today what she calls a Double Strawberry Cake that uses both fresh strawberry puree (not your concentrated puree) and freeze-dried strawberries in the cake but neither in the buttercream. I’m sticking with yours! Thank you for a reputation maker cake!

  15. Marine Olivesi says:

    Hi Sally,
    Can I reduce and then freeze the fresh strawberries? Thinking of making this cake in a month for my daughter’s birthday but not sure there will still be strawberries then. Thanks!! Marine

    1. Absolutely! Thaw, then use in the cake batter as instructed.

  16. This is my all time favorite cake. I have made it for countless birthdays and will be making it for Mother’s Day! I am going to follow the recipe measurements for the 6 inch cake you posted a few weeks ago since this weekend is a smaller crowd, and add the pureed strawberries. Should I still use half a cup? I didn’t want the liquid balance to be off, but I noticed that the 6 inch cake recipe uses the same amount of milk, so I wanted to double check. Thank you, and happy early Mother’s Day to you!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoy this cake so much! I haven’t tested this cake with different proportions but I would recommend keeping the strawberry proportional to the rest of the ingredients.

  17. I made this yesterday and it was a huge hit. I didn’t use food coloring in the batter, so the cake wasn’t pink, but it was delicious and had great texture and was packed with all-natural strawberry flavor. I will be adding this to my collection of favorites.

  18. Loved this recipe. Initially I made the strawberry reduction and cooled it and it was around 1 cup. I reread your recipe and lots of comments and decided to reduce it again. I think that was needed. The cake was shared with my family for Mother’s Day and everyone had amazing comments. Definitely will be making this again. (I used a buttercream with a strawberry reduction as I did it as a trial for my daughters cake next week which won’t be refrigerated). Thank you for this recipe.

  19. I picked fresh strawberries from a farm to make this cake and it was amazing! I like my cakes super light and moist so I beat my egg whites into meringue before I added them to the batter. Then I kept it in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. Followed the recipe otherwise and it turned out perfect! What a beautiful cake! Thank you for sharing with us Sally!

  20. Omg. I mis-read 1.5 sticks of butter as 1.5 cups. It was still tasty – but as a strawberry poundcake!
    Will definitely make again to try it the correct way!

    1. Oh no! On the bright side, now if you need a strawberry pound cake recipe, you have one 😉

  21. Melanee Newman says:

    Delicious cake with rave reviews. I didn’t make the frosting since I was covering with fondant. Definitely a keeper. Thanks.

  22. Great recipe! I’ve had a glut of organic strawberries to use up from our weekly farm share bags so I’ve had to go farther afield (as it were) than ice cream. The condensed puree might(?) have occurred to me, but not the strawberry dust – brilliant! As I don’t use white flour (other than for thickening) I made this with whole grain soft white wheat, sifting out the bran and letting it soften in the liquid ingredients before adding the flour mixture. For this I also had to change up the order in which the ingredients were added – adding the milk and puree before the flour and saving out only the egg whites to be whipped and folded in at the very last. I was skeptical about leaving out the yolks but decided to follow the recipe in this regard and see how it turned out.

    For the freeze-dried strawberries: I used my dehydrator to dry fresh strawberries to the “leathery” stage, then placed the dried slices in an open container in the freezer overnight to extract the last bit of moisture. They were “crunchy” by morning and pulverized nicely in my spice grinder. The dust was just a bit clumpy so I pulsed it again briefly before adding it to the frosting. An added benefit is that it not only takes the place of yet more sugar in the frosting (as most recipes call for way too much) but also “allows” for more as the slight tartness needs to be offset.

    The first slice of cake was moist and spongy, with even a respectable amount of frosting :). As I’m a frosting junkie (what’s the point of cake otherwise??) I often have to increase the amount, but again I decided to follow the recipe and found it to be about right. The only drawback overall was that the color was not the same pink as in the pictures – which is to be expected when using whole-grain flour and also powdered, granulated honey in the frosting with its yellowy color. Next time I may add a little beet juice to bump up the pink. I don’t know how often I’ll have enough strawberries on hand to make this but it’s definitely worth making again, and impressive enough to take to a special event. Kudos!

  23. Hi Sally,

    When you decided to use Strawberry Puree? How did you decide what ingredient to reduce in order to offset the puree? and how much? more flour?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi David! Using my white cake as the starting point, I reduced the vanilla and sour cream to make room for the thick strawberry puree. It’s so thick that I knew there was no need for extra cake flour. Took a little testing, but the written recipe was my best!

    2. Hi Sally, I just got a big jar of strawberry spread and the consistency just looks like your reduced purée and I wonder if I can just blend it in the blender and use that for the cake and the frosting? Or I can also blend it and reduce a little too. It’s just the color doesn’t look as nice as made from fresh fruits. I may offset it with a bit of food coloring. Thanks! Will definitely try your recipe!

      1. My only caution against using strawberry spread is that is is usually made with more sugar than strawberries!

  24. I just made your strawberry cake today! So yummy! I am not the best baker but I watched your video twice & thought I can do this! I am new to your website & am forever a loyal fan!

    1. I’m so glad that you found the video helpful and that you enjoyed the cake, Laurie!!

  25. Really terrific cake. I followed the directions to a T and the cake came out perfect. So full of delicious strawberry flavor, a light fluffy crumb, and the frosting is perfection. Highly recommended! Thanks Sally!

  26. Hi Sally,

    I made this strawberry cake and it came out really well! Very soft and spongy. My strawberry puree took just under 20 mins to reduce down! Next time I will try the frosting part.
    Thank u for such a wonderful recipe! Perfect for this season

    1. You are welcome! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  27. This, hands down, one of the most delicious cakes I’ve not only every made in my whole entire life, but one of the most delicious cakes I’ve EVER eaten. This is a fantastic recipe. Thank you so much! I am already scheming ways to use the same principals in other ways (reducing pureed fresh fruit, pulverizing freeze dried fruit). This is a stand out. YUM

  28. I love this recipe! This cake os so spongy! I just did some late night baking for a couple of cakes I need for this weekend and I can’t wait to put them together! I don’t ever write reviews but I had to this time! I jumped on the Keto bandwagon so unfortunately I won’t be eating but who knows maybe I’ll just have to cheat! Thank you so much for this recipe!!

  29. Jean Frederickson says:

    So delicious and moist. I can’t stop eating it.

  30. Hi Sally, I tried your recipe today twice. For the first time I found my kitchen aid bowl is probably too big compared to yours and it couldn’t beat very well as the material is most in the bottom. And after I dumped all cold egg whites in there and beat, it all became thin and soupy. The butter separated the whole time since then and the cake turned out oily and low. Then I tried for the second time. I used my electric beater instead, and butter and sugar incorporated very well and I added egg whites one by one and beat well every time until I added sour cream. The whole mixture looks a bit thin again. The cake turned out better this time though. I think I’ll try the recipe again some time soon and really follow your steps and watch the butter mixture from separating. Just one point, shall we add egg whites one by one and beat well after each add? Just like adding eggs when making pound cake. Otherwise the mixture could easily separate and becomes thin and the cake won’t turn out fluffy and tasty.
    Thanks!

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