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!

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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.
  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.

898 Comments

  1. I made this cake for my friends baby shower and it was a huge hit! I’ve never made a strawberry cake flavored with just organic strawberry that didn’t fall flat or was full of artificial flavoring. This was full of strawberry flavor and held up well when i doubled it to have three layers with loads of that awesome icing with the freeze dried strawberries (i added 1/4 cup more than called). This will be my forever Strawberry cake recipe!

  2. Can you also put the batter in one bigger pan? I tried this but its not very fluffy its a bit mushy. Also I can still taste the seeds of the strawberries. Can you please help me. What might I bedoing wrong?

      1. Hi Sally thank you for your quick reply!. I used a 11 inch round pan. Do you think that’s why the texture is different? Also it’s kinda cold in holland at this time of year. Could that be of influence? maybe the ingredients aren’t at the right temperature? I really want to make this cake for my daughters birthday party in two weeks. So I hope I can get it right by then.

      2. Perhaps. Make sure the ingredients are all about the same temperature. If it’s a little mushy, it may be undercooked.

  3. hi! recipe looks great and i am excited to try it. i was wondering how well the icing holds up. i am going to make the cupcakes and then travel a few hours to take them to a family function. concerned that i may end up with a puddle of icing when i arrive! do you have any tips for firming it up?

  4. This cake was FABULOUS! My 6 year old requested a strawberry cake this year for her birthday and it took quite some time to find a recipe that didn’t include artificial colors/flavorings. This cake is IT. Flavor was amazing, color was beautiful – the frosting was a light pink and SO flavorful. Love it. It’s going in the family cookbook. Thank you!

  5. Sally, my husband asked for a strawberry cake for his birthday. He and my daughter love strawberry cake and we have always purchased them in the past. Because we have been trying to eat super clean lately and remove all the processed food from our diet, I set out to make a strawberry cake from scratch. Most of the cakes used a cake mix or at the very least, strawberry gelatin. Yuck. I finally found your recipe and followed it perfectly and it was FABULOUS!!!’ Everyone asked for seconds and my husband is still talking about how amazing it was. Thanks for helping me make their birthday cake so special!

  6. I stumbled on to your blog and it was like god sent me an angel. It was a 2 day process but this was the best strawberry cake we have ever had. When I say we. I mean my family and our pup. I set the cakes to cool and forgot she wasn’t in her crate. I came back to half of the pan. I was distraught. As my daughter dried my tear she says I can’t be mad at the dog. She’s a foodie like the rest of us. I would not change anything about this recipe although next time I may try it with jam.

  7. Hi Sally
    Cannot wait to make this!..
    Wanted to ask you would your Best strawberry frosting be good for this cake?
    I am not a fan of cream cheese
    Thanks so much
    Michele

  8. This is one of my favourite recipes, and I have made it several times. My only problem is finding freeze-dried strawberries here in Saskatchewan, Canada. I have harvested them from cereal and recently found some at Cabela’s, but on a recent trip to the US I stocked up on them. I’m looking forward to many more of these delicious cakes!

  9. Hi Sally,
    Great video and recipe. I made mine with swiss buttercream icing with strawberry powder (freeze dried pure strawberries). It was amazing. Now, ready to make it again and wondering what you would suggest if I made one layer chocolate filling?

  10. Thank you! I am going to make this cake for my daughter’s birthday coming Sunday. Hope it comes wonderful!. By the way, 9″ sized 2 pans are a must? Can I use a single pan and layer the cake by slicing? If so, which size to use?

    1. Hi Bindu, I recommend you make this as two separate layers. If you tried to put all of the batter in one pan it would be much to thick to bake evenly!

  11. This is wonderful! I love berry-themed frostings/cakes/baked goods– but it’s hard to find recipes that are not dependent on artificial/sugary jams (I have some picky eaters in the house).

    I wanted to make a raspberry chocolate cake– do you think the same method could be applied to make reduced raspberry puree?

  12. First time cake maker. I tried this with my granddaughters. The frosting is to die for! However, the cake has issues. The very top layer cooked and seems crusty, but the rest of the cake is liquidy. I put is back in the oven… hope this works. Need it for tomorrow.. Any ideas? If it doesn’t cook well, i will scratch it and try again.. I definitely have enough strawberry puree. Thx

  13. Any suggestions for adjusting this recipe for high altitude? I live in Colorado about 6,000 feet- Really want to try this recipe for a special celebration. Thank you for any suggestions!

  14. I made this cake & it is the BOMB! Everyone loved it! I have NEVER made any of your dishes that no one disliked! I have your baking cook book & I LOVE how you don’t have large portions otherwise I’d be big as a house LOL. Thank you for making cooking fun AND easy!

  15. Thank you for a wonderful, all-natural recipe so reminiscent of my mother’s garden raspberry cakes. This is a keeper, and I look forward to making your delicious cake.

  16. This cake looks beautiful and yummy!! I was thinking of making it for my daughters birthday next month, but was wondering if you have ever tried any other flavor combinations for the frosting?? I have an amazing lemon butter cream frosting recipe that I thought might go well with the strawberry cake, but wanted to get your thoughts! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  17. Has anyone tried making this with frozen strawberries for the puree?? Its winter here and I wonder if the fresh ones will be lacking in flavor this time of year..

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. 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?

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

  24. 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. ❤️

  25. 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.

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