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. This is a wonderful video Sally! Thank you for making your knowledge and experience so available to us. You do an excellent job of making something that might seem formidable a very doable task for your “everyday baker” like me!

  2. Hi Sally,
    This cake sounds wonderful and I am going to try it as soon as I can buy some really nice strawberries. I noticed that you used the whisk attachment vs the flat beaters. So you always use the whisk for mixing cake batter or is it because you added egg whites to make it lighter and fluffy? Thank you.

    1. Either the whisk or flat beater attachment works nicely! Sometimes the whisk combines any lumps a little quicker than the beater attachment.

  3. I made this cake yesterday. It was very good. I got a kitchenaid mixer for Christmas so I’m trying recipes that are a little more advanced for me. The cake came out perfect. I would say it took me longer to reduce my strawberries. A lot longer, but I didn’t want to scorch them. Also you may add a side note to recommend stand mixers like kitchenaid really need a splash shield. When I made the frosting it looked like it was snowing in here. I also lost some butter during the creaming process. Again I just got a kitchenaid so maybe bakers know these things lol. I’m to them tho. Lol

    1. I made the puree with frozen strawberries today. Turned out just right. But like Patrick commented, it took me a bit longer to reduce them as well.

  4. Do you mean in place of the reduced strawberries in the cake batter? I don’t recommend it as you would need much more preserves to get the same amount of flavor and then your ratio of wet to dry ingredients would be off!

  5. This cake reminds me of my childhood! Except growing up, I always made it from a box. I’m sure making this cake from scratch is so much better. I have to get around to making this one day.

  6. This cake was soooo good everyone who tried it said it was the best strawberry cake they’ve ever tasted! I added fresh cut strawberries on top and it made it even better <3

  7. So I am trying to make three cakes for a Triple Birthday Party and my cake will be the strawberry! Yummm! But I have a question… Originally I imagined a layered strawberry cake, with a super lightweight almost whip cream textured frosting, completely covered in sliced strawberries and maybe some almond slices. So do you think this cake recipe would be good with another kind of frosting such as the one I mentioned and would you have a recipe for that? Or do you think that the frosting recipe provided is essential to the cake? Originally I was going for a healthier recipe but the one I found was from a box 🙁 … I am thinking of using greek yogurt instead of the sour cream. My second question is do you have any recommendations for healthier alternatives to some of the ingredients? If not I can cheat for my birthday!

  8. Hello ! Need help ! I’m in the process of making this cake, but when cooking done the strawberries they didn’t turn a very red color. More like a rose pink? And it’s very sour. What am I doing wrong cooked for a long time and med low heat.

  9. Hello Sally,
    i also would like to try this cake but is it possible to decrease the powdered sugar into half or less in the frosting? can you also just use a handheld mixer when mixing the batter? I am looking ofrward to make it!

    1. Hi Noemi! Reducing the confectioners’ sugar in the frosting will create a greasy frosting since there won’t be enough confectioners’ sugar to soak up the liquid. You could try reducing/leaving out the milk, though. For best results, I recommend sticking to the written recipe. A hand mixer works, yes.

  10. The best strawberry cake. I made this over the weekend for my husband’s birthday and everyone loved it. It taste like a bakery store cake. I loved it!

  11. I am planning to make this for an event on 2/8. I’m out of town 2/5 until the evening of 2/7. Do you think the strawberry reduction will be okay if I do that on Monday and bake the cake on Thursday? Assuming

    1. Hi Emily! Yes, you can prepare the reduced strawberry puree earlier in the week. Once it has cooled, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.

  12. What a fun recipe! Gave it a shot yesterday, although as it’s just my husband and myself, I halved the measurements and baked it in an 8″ square tin. Just a plain strawberry cake sans frosting. It turned out super and we had it with our evening tea. The cake is light and not too sweet.
    The strawberry reduction took about 45-50 mins to get to the correct consistency.
    I used 3 tablespoons of Amaretto instead of vanilla.
    Instead of sour cream, I used my own homemade Indian/Greek yogurt.
    Just wanted to say, “Thank You” – delightful cake!

  13. I made this cake and it was extremely moist. Instead of the suggested frosting, I used a vanilla buttercream mixed with diced fresh strawberries. It came out great! Thank you!

  14. Hi Sally … going to make this cake in a day or two … so excited …. if possible I would like to know the approx weight of 5 egg whites …. we usual get small eggs and the recipie says 5 large egg whites …..do not want anything to go wrong …. THANKS

    1. I egg white is 2 Australian tablespoons. One of our tablespoons holds 20ml. My converter app says this is equivalent to 1.35 American tablespoons so 1 egg white would be 2.7 American tablespoons.

  15. This was a request for my son’s birthday dinner. Your recipe was right on time. The batter was so good I could have eaten it without baking!

  16. Hi Sally,
    I made this cake today, but bombed on the frosting. Didn’t want to use cream cheese, so used a cup of butter, quarter cup of shortening and all the other ingredients. As I was frosting the cake, the icing became runny, I’m assuming the strawberries were defrosting. Is that what happened?

  17. I followed this recipe exactly as written and although it was a little more work I loved making it and the house smelled fantastic for the rest of the day from reducing the strawberries. For my family we felt the frosting was just a tad too overpowering in strawberry flavor, I was looking for something a bit sweeter, but that’s just personal preference; and next time I’ll half the freeze dried crumbs for my frosting to see if that helps but other than that I LOVED how much strawberry flavor came out of this cake without using any liquid flavorings. I will definitely be making this cake again!

  18. I just had to make this cake when I saw the recipe and WOW! What a treat. So light and fresh. I am making the recipe again as mini cupcakes for my daughter’s bridal shower next weekend. I have prepared the strawberry puree and have enough to also try your cupcake recipe version. There is a hint of strawberry flavour in the cake, but the frosting is incredible with the freeze dried strawberries. Thankfully, Costco has opened here in Australia so I was able to get them – I have only every seen them coated with chocolate before. Maybe it is our heat, but the frosting is very soft and falls off as you eat the cake. Would adding some extra sugar stiffen it up, of converting some of the butter to cream cheese?

      1. Yes, I used the Philadelphia Block full fat cream cheese. I did use the icing sugar mix with tapioca flour in it rather than pure icing sugar (my food processor died & I am too lazy to hand sift the lumps in pure icing sugar). Maybe I need to go back to it.

    1. Hi Amanda, you can use this recipe for 3 8-inch cake pans. The bake time will be a little longer since the cakes will be thicker.

  19. Hello! This looks fabulous! I am going to make it for my daughter’s birthday:) She isn’t a fan of cream cheese. Could you possibly suggest another frosting I could use? Thank you very much!!

  20. Hi Sally! I’m obsessed with this recipe. I’m obsessed with your cake pop recipes as well. I was wondering if you think making cake pops from this recipe would work well if I got the ratio of sponge to frosting right? Thanks 🙂

    1. I’m sure that would be delicious! They do have more water than strawberries so you may need to start with more for the reduced puree.

  21. Hi Sally, I’m making this cake for my daughters first birthday this weekend! Do you have a suggested baking time for 2 6” round pans? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Jessica! So sweet. 🙂 There’s too much batter for 2 6-inch cake pans, but if you use my strawberry cupcake recipe instead– that amount of batter is perfect for THREE 6-inch cake pans. Or only use 2 6-inch cake pans and use the extra batter for a couple cupcakes on the side. 🙂

  22. Hi, Sally! I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect strawberry cake. While most recipes call for Jell-o, artificial strawberry extract, and food coloring, I jumped for joy when I saw yours that’s natural and from scratch. The cake is flawless, and adding strawberry powder to the frosting is genius! The little old lady down the street took a bite and exclaimed, “This is the best cake I have ever eaten!”

    I have found a winner! Thank you!

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