Homemade Strawberry Cake

The one thing that sets this strawberry cake apart from others? Reduce fresh strawberry puree down and add to the best white cake batter. Kiss your boxed strawberry cake buh-bye.

This is the BEST strawberry cake!! Made completely from scratch with real strawberries! Topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This strawberry cake completely blew me away. After years of mediocre from-scratch strawberry cakes, my expectations were pretty low. It was time to taste test my efforts. Biting into the first pastel pink forkful was the moment of truth…

This strawberry cake is made completely from scratch with real strawberries! Topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I cried tears of joy. Or were those actual tears because I just dirtied every dish with all this strawberry cake recipe testing? Hmm.

Let’s get down to business. Homemade strawberry cake is episode 1 in Sprinkled, my new video series! Watch me make the recipe below:

I find it challenging to pack real strawberry flavor into cake without the crutch of fake strawberry flavoring. My goal was to create a strawberry layer cake made entirely from real strawberries. We’re talking strawberries inside the cake and in the frosting as well. With the help of freeze-dried strawberries, I tackled strawberry frosting. I’ll get to that below. But for strawberry cake? Things have always been pretty lackluster in the flavor and texture department.

Strawberry Cake Problems

  • Chopping up strawberries and folding into cake batter works, but then you’re just eating vanilla cake with chunks of strawberries.
  • Pureeing strawberries and folding into cake batter has potential, but the texture is always off. There’s too much liquid. How about adding more flour to make up for that liquid? Then your cake is too dense. And the flavor is always lacking.
  • Strawberry jam could work, but I prefer to start with real strawberries.

So how can we pack real strawberry flavor into cake batter without adding too much liquid? REDUCE THE STRAWBERRIES DOWN. Ding ding ding! We have a winner.

How to Pack REAL Strawberry Flavor into Cake

  1. Puree fresh strawberries.
  2. Reduce down on the stove.
  3. Let cool.
  4. Stir into cake batter.

Puree 1 pound of ruby red strawberries. You’ll need a food processor or blender for this step and again when you make the frosting.

Take that strawberry puree and reduce it down on the stove. This, my friends, is where all the magic happens. Like I mention above, you want a lot of concentrated flavor within a little amount of liquid.

You’ll begin with 1 cup of hot pink puree and reduce down to 1/2 cup. After 30 minutes, it will be very thick and very red. Add this thick and highly concentrated strawberry flavor to your cake batter, instead of the thinner strawberry puree.

The reduced strawberry puree will go into the cake batter. No need to strain the seeds first — they disappear when the cake is baked. Since the reduced strawberry puree needs to completely cool down, I suggest getting started the day before. Just let the reduced strawberry puree sit in the refrigerator overnight and make the cake batter the following day.

Strawberry Cake Batter

The cake batter starts from my white cake. This vanilla flavored cake proved to be the best jumping off point for a strawberry cake. I kept the majority of the recipe the same, but I removed some of the wet ingredients to make room for 1/2 cup of reduced strawberries. The cake is light, springy, soft, and fluffy.

The reduced strawberry puree will tint the cake batter a lovely pastel pink and, if you want, you can add a small drop of pink or red food coloring to brighten that hue. Not necessary, of course. (I added a teeny drop.) Expect a velvet-y and slightly thick cake batter.

  • No artificial strawberry flavor.
  • Nothing from a box.
  • Just pure strawberries.

The Strawberry Frosting

You can taste the fresh strawberry flavor in the baked cake, but the flavor is REALLY brought out when you combine it with strawberry frosting. Like strawberry cake, strawberry frosting has always left me feeling a little defeated. Fresh strawberries were the issue. The frosting would always curdle from the added moisture. And no amount of fresh strawberries could get me the strawberry flavor I craved. Instead of settling for artificial strawberry flavor, I took a trick from Sally’s Candy Addiction: strawberry dust! Grab some freeze-dried strawberries, grind them up, and toss it into the frosting.

(I actually added freeze-dried strawberries to cake batter as one of my test recipes. This was an awful decision and an epic fail. The cake was atrocious. Texture, taste, and appearance. Just… no. But freeze-dried strawbs are a YES for frosting!)

  • Where to buy freeze-dried strawberries? I always find them in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Wegmans, Giant, Trader Joe’s and Target carries them. Keep your eyes peeled– they’re more commonly found that you think!

Instead of a thicker strawberry buttercream, I used my silky cream cheese frosting recipe. Tossed in the freeze-dried strawberry “dust” and milk and was left with a frosting so pink, Barbie would be jealous!

Let’s Review

The tricks to homemade strawberry cake and frosting made with real strawberries? (1) Reduced strawberry puree in the cake batter and (2) freeze-dried strawberries in the frosting. Have fun baking!

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Homemade strawberry cake

Homemade Strawberry Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 6 hours
  • Yield: serves 10-12
  • Category: Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

The one thing that sets this strawberry cake apart from others? Reduce fresh strawberry puree down and add to the best white cake batter. Kiss your boxed strawberry cake buh-bye.


Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (250g) sifted cake flour (spoon & leveled)*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (75g) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup reduced strawberry puree (see note)*
  • optional: 1-2 drops red or pink food coloring

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup (10-12g) freeze-dried strawberries*
  • one 8-ounce block full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 12 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Make the reduced strawberry puree and allow it to cool completely. See note. You can make it a few days ahead of time and store it covered in the refrigerator or cover and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw before using in the recipe.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch cake pans.
  3. Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the egg whites on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Then beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk *just* until combined. Do not overmix. Whisk in 1/2 cup of reduced strawberry puree, making sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick. Stir in food coloring, if desired. (I use 1 small drop.)
  5. Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 24-25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
  6. Make the frosting: Using a blender or food processor, process the freeze-dried strawberries into a powdery crumb. You should have around 1/2 cup crumbs. Set aside. In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, strawberry powder, 1 Tablespoon milk, and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy. Add 1 more Tablespoon of milk to slightly thin out, if desired. Taste, then add a pinch of salt if needed. Yields about 3 cups of frosting.
  7. Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake keep its shape when cutting– it could slightly fall apart without time in the fridge.
  8. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Light it sit at room temperature to slightly soften for 10 minutes before assembling and frosting. Frosted cake or unfrosted cake layers can be frozen up to 2 months-3. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before decorating/serving.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Ninja Food Processor | Measuring Cups | Egg Separator | Glass Mixing Bowls | 9-inch Cake Pans | Marble Cake Stand | Eat Dessert First Fork
  3. Cake Flour: Sift cake flour before measuring. I strongly suggest using cake flour in this recipe. It’s sold right next to the all-purpose flour in the baking aisle. And you use it a lot in my recipes! In a pinch, you can use this homemade cake flour substitute.
  4. Whole Milk: If needed, buttermilk works in its place. Do not substitute a lower fat milk.
  5. Where to Buy Freeze-Dried Strawberries? I always find them in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Wegmans, Giant, Trader Joe’s and Target carries them. Keep your eyes peeled– they’re more commonly found that you think! Do not use the chewy/gummy dried strawberries. You need FREEZE-dried strawberries which grind into a powder. If you can’t find them anywhere, just leave them out of the frosting and add another 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar.
  6. Reduced Strawberry Puree: puree 1 lb of strawberries. You should have a little over 1 cup. Stirring occasionally, simmer the puree over low-medium heat until you’re left with 1/2 cup or a little over 1/2 cup. This takes at least 25-30 minutes, but could take longer depending on your pan or how juicy your strawberries were. *Do not add sugar or anything to the puree or reduced puree– it’s just pure strawberries. I always make the reduced puree the day before so it has plenty of time to cool down. I cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. Use 1/2 cup in the cake. Allow to cool completely before using in cake batter. Make sure it’s room temperature when adding to the batter. Discard any leftovers or spoon on ice cream/yogurt/add to smoothie. Yum! You can use frozen strawberries, but they will take longer to reduce even if you thaw them first.
  7. 9×13 Inch Cake: Simply pour the batter into a greased and lightly floured 9×13 inch pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cupcakes: Fill cupcake pans 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Makes 2 and 1/2 dozen cupcakes. For 14-15 cupcakes, follow my strawberry cupcakes recipe, which is adapted from this strawberry cake.
  9. Food Coloring: If you want, you can add 1-2 small drops of pink or red food coloring for a lovely pink shade to the baked cake. I add 1 small drop of pink gel food coloring.

Keywords: strawberries, pink

1206 Comments

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  1. How many quarts of strawberries equal 1 pound? Also, just want to note I made your lemon blueberry cake for a wedding cake and it was a HUGE success. Love your recipes….thank you.

    1. Quarts are a measure of volume and pound is a measure of weight, so the answer depends on the size of the berries! A quart can vary usually between 1 and 2 pounds. I’m thrilled that the lemon blueberry cake was a success!

  2. Just a heads up. So far I’ve made this cake with strawberries, raspberries (without the seeds), blueberries (without the skins) and their freeze dried counterparts. The first two came out great with wonderful flavor. No, I didn’t add any extracts to help the flavor profile. When it came to the blueberry, the flavor was just not there. That was really disappointing because I love blueberries. The fact that it didn’t work has nothing to do with Sally’s recipe. It’s just that the freeze dried blueberries don’t seem to have enough flavor in them. Just wanted to let people know before you go out and buy those freeze dried blueberries. I bought a bag of freeze dried cinnamon apple slices and pineapple chunks. I’ll be testing those out soon. I’ll come back to let you know how it went. Till then, Happy Baking and Thanks again Sally…

  3. I made this receipe for my daughters 12th birthday this past weekend. I doubled the recipe and added the leftover puree to the frosting and it DID get very loose(liquidy) but I then used it as a strawberry- cream filling. Everyone LOVED it!!

  4. Hello Sally!
    Since strawberries aren’t yet in season in my part of the country, should I add strawberry extract to the cake batter to get a bit more strawberry flavor? I’m worried that the strawberries I buy won’t have a lot of favor themselves before adding them to the cake. Thank you!

    1. Yes, you absolutely can add the extract. Without the sweet summer berries a lot of the strawberry flavor will happen in the frosting!

      1. Thank you! I normally would wait for a recipe like this until they are in season. However it’s for a special 60th birthday. I’ve never bought strawberry extract. Any recommendations for one?

  5. This was a delicious cake! Moist, light and fluffy with a good strawberry flavor. I substituted strawberry extract for the vanilla. I will say the color of the cake was a tannish-gray and not pink at all. Definitely nothing like the photo in the post. Next time I would add a bit of food coloring as the color didn’t present as very appetizing. Other than that, this cake was fantastic.

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! I use pink food coloring for the cake batter. Not necessary, but definitely brightens up the hue. Thank you!

  6. The cake is delicious, but the frosting is the real star. Together an amazing cake. Didn’t add any food color. Cake was tan, but I didn’t mind the color…it looked more natural. I can’t wait to try this again when my strawberries are ready for harvest.

  7. I made this for my step daughter’s sweet 16. In her words, “IT WAS TO DIE FOR”. Everyone loved it. It has such a natural strawberry flavor. I also did not add any food coloring and it had a nice pale pink hue. I thought it was a beautiful cake all natural!

  8. Could this recipe be converted to a 12 x 17 inch jelly roll /half sheet pan? I would love to make it for large crowd and easily cut into small pieces….as well as have to cake to icing ratio of jelly roll size cake. What modifications might you make? I always tell people that I’ve never made a single recipe off your site that was not totally delicious!! Thanks so much for all your fantastic recipes!

    1. Absolutely! This cake batter, as written, fits nicely into a 12×17 inch pan. Bake until the top springs back and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  9. The flavor was great – the strawberry reduction was brilliant; however, the baked cake wasn’t pink *at all.* I wasn’t upset about that, but my preschool birthday girl was pretty bummed.

    1. Hi Anne! Sally mentions this in the video and in the post, but adding some red or pink food coloring to the batter really helps to brighten the pink hue! The strawberries aren’t quite enough to give the cake layers a very pink color. Gel food coloring is what I would recommend, as you need a smaller amount (as it’s more concentrated than liquid coloring) and thus won’t alter the batter. Of course, you can use liquid coloring too, just not too much so the consistency of the batter doesn’t change. Hope this helps!

  10. We got given several pounds of strawberries and I didn’t feel like making strawberry shortcake so found this recipe. A keeper! It was light and moist.
    For frosting I used icing sugar, just a bit of butter to bind it, and about a 1/4 cup of leftover strawberry purée as didn’t get to the store. My 16 year old thought it was a delicious combo. I could just eat the cake by itself personally, lovely light strawberry flavour. Will never make the box mix again. Thank you! Now I get to try some of your other recipes…. hmmmmm!!

  11. The texture of mine was very moist. But a bit dense. And I was sure not to overmix dry ingredients. Surprised with the use of egg whites and cake flour.

  12. Hi there! I’m about to make this cake and I was wondering…. can I use frozen strawberries for the puree? Thanks!

    -Carmen

  13. My cake turned out dry. I baked it just until a toothpick came out clean – which took about 5 minutes extra than the recipe called for. I weighed all the ingredients and they were at room temperature. What did I do wrong?

    The frosting was to die for!!!

  14. Was wondering if I could use this recipe to make your cake balls? If so what modifications should I make? Can they still be made ahead and frozen?

    1. Hi Sheree! You certainly can. I recommend reducing the strawberry frosting because you need very little when making cake pops. I’m unsure of the exact amount, but let me know what you try. Here is my tutorial for homemade cake pops.

    1. Hi Haley! The batter should come together when you add the dry ingredients & milk. A few lumps is ok, but you can always whisk by hand a few times to rid any large ones.

  15. Hello…I have a rose shaped bundt pan and would love to try this recipe out in as it’s pink and looks delicious…do you recommend using a bundt pan?

  16. Hello! I made this cake yesterday and it did not have an overtly strawberry flavor. (The delicious frosting definitely gave it that wonderful flavor though.)
    Do you think I could add a quarter cup of powdered freeze-dried strawberries to the cake batter without compromising the texture?

    1. When I tested the recipe that way it failed terribly! See the second paragraph under the Strawberry Frosting heading 😉

      1. Oops! I see it; thank you for pointing it out to me. I must have read the recipe five times, but still missed it!
        Thank you!

      2. I’ve made this three times now. All three times I took out 1/4 cup of sugar and replaced it with 12 grams of ground freeze dried strawberries. The cake was very sweet and very strawberry- forward!

  17. Hi Sally, thank you so much for this beautiful blog! You’ve really helped me become a better baker! Could you help me with something? I made my own cake flour. I sifted 2 T. Cornstarch into each cup of flour, and then I sifted my cake flour 4 times. I then measured (spooned and leveled) 2 1/2 cups of cake flour. I was curious how close I’d be to the 250g listed in your ingredients, I wanted my cake to be perfect, so I measured my 2 1/2 cups on a kitchen scale and to my surprise my sifted, spooned and leveled cake flour weighed 290 grams (the scale was properly rated). Where did I go wrong? Should I only use the 250 g of cake flour measured on my scale? Or should I use the 2 1/2 cups of lightly spooned and leveled cake flour? Thanks so much for your help! ♥️

    1. Hi Rachel! To err on the side of caution, I recommend using 2 and 1/2 cups spoon and leveled cake flour substitute.

  18. I made this cake for a family dinner to celebrate my daughter’s birthday – it was incredible! I admit I was a bit nervous when it can to reducing a pound of strawberries to purée, but stuck with it (and learned a new technique!) and it was so worth the extra time. I couldn’t stop “testing” the strawberry cream cheese frosting with the freeze dried strawberries mixed in to the frosting – heavenly! The cake is very rich and packed full of strawberry flavor, but I recommend cutting smaller than normal slices. Thanks, Sally, for another incredible recipe!

  19. Sally, thank you!! This recipe was amazing. I’m in the UK so I used your gram measurements and made it for my daughter’s birthday. My strawberries were a little on the sour side so I added a dash of strawberry essence. I noticed when I added the strawberry purée to the cake batter it looked a little curdled but it tasted good and baked well. Frosting was amazing. Cake was delicious and moist. I made three tiers. Yum!! Got lots of compliments.

  20. I apologize if this was asked already…I tried going through some of the Q&A but there is a lot and did not see my question yet. I love your recipes and am looking to make this for someone who is gluten-free. I looked up GF cake flour, but was over $20 for a small bag, a little cost prohibitive. Would this work as well if I made my own GF cake flour? I saw the recipes for how to do it, but want to make sure it would not compromise the texture too much. Like many others, I wanted a cake that is more natural and does not use jello or artificial flavors, but want to make sure making it GF will work. Thank you for any advice you can share.

    1. Hi Carol, I have never made my own gluten free flour so I’m not familiar with it. Let me know if you try it!

    2. I used GF flour along with GF cornstarch to make my own cake flour and it turned out perfectly! And no one knew it was gluten free!

  21. For years my mother and I have tried to make a strawberry cake recipe that was handed down by my grandmother. And for years we have struggled with getting the icing to be thick enough, not to slide right off of the cake…and to make a cake that was not so dense.
    This cake has blown us away and fixed all of the problems. It will now be our go to strawberry cake going forward. With real strawberry flavor and the perfect consistency, it has become our new favorite. Thank you for sharing.

  22. Hi Sally!
    Can you please tell me how to get the beautiful pink cake in your pictures.
    I baked this cake, the batter was a lovely pink colour after adding one drop of the food colouring. I was really excited to serve this cake to my guests and when I cut into the cake it was a pale brown, not what I expected! Taste was great but I would really like to get the pink colour in your pictures. I do hope you can help me with this problem, Thank You!

    1. Hi Marylin, What type of food coloring are you using? I use gel colors which are nice and vibrant. If you are using liquid drops you will have to use more to achieve a brighter color.

  23. Hi Sally
    This cake sounds fabulous, I want to use it as part of a birthday cake for my great nieces 3rd birthday cake , ( she has asked for strawberry & lemon cake ) I’m going to use your lemon cake recipe as well.
    Wanted to ask will the frosting be ok to fondant ice onto or should I use a butter cream , will the frosting set ok?
    PS , making a Mary Poppins theme cake 2 tiers.
    Many thanks

    1. This is a cream cheese frosting which should be refrigerated if not serving right away. My understanding is that you shouldn’t refrigerate fondant, so that might be something you want to consider!

  24. I’m betting you can dehydrate and then grind the strawberries if you don’t find the freeze-dried. I make several things into powder after dehydrating to give a flavor kick to recipes.

  25. I made cupcakes tonight with your recipe…. I forgot to use your cupcake conversion, but seriously, they STILL were amazing! You can literally smell the fresh summery scent of the strawberries, and the taste is amazing!
    It took me a while… I’ve never reduced anything before, but with patience, it came out great! Will definitely be making this again, next time as a cake.
    You are an amazing baker! Keep ’em comin’!

  26. Can you successfully double this recipe? I know sometimes when you double a recipe it doesn’t come out well. I want to make this for a luncheon so I have a 13 x 15 pan I’d like to use.

    Thanks!

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