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!

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 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

982 Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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!!

  8. 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!

  9. Hi Sally!
    I’m going to make this for my adult daughter’s birthday. She loves strawberry cake. Your recipe sounds really well thought out and tasty. I wanted to know about using 8 inch pans (round). I wanted the cake a bit taller. Would it change the baking times much? Would it fill 3 pans (either 8 or 9 inch) or not be enough? I’m just trying to plan ahead. Any help would be appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Kim

    1. Hi Kim! You can use 3 8-inch cake pans instead. The bake time will be about the same, maybe a couple minutes shorter but use a toothpick to check for doneness.

    1. Sure can! Bake time will be about the same– maybe a few minutes shorter. Use a toothpick to check for doneness.

  10. Hi Sally,
    I tried making this recipe and it tasted amazing! It really locks up the taste of fresh strawberries and the smell is heavenly! However, I didn’t get the texture of my cake right. It was a little dense and a little too wet even though I made sure to follow every detail of the recipe. Any tips on how I can do better? Making this for my friend’s daughter’s birthday a few days later! 🙂

  11. How do you find the cake to hold up when stacked? Also, when cut, does it hold together well or crumble? I have attempted a different recipe last year and my cake literally fell apart because it was so moist when cut.

  12. I made this to share with friends on Memorial Day! I don’t make full sized cakes very often. I usually stick to cupcakes and cookies… so this was out of my comfort zone. My cakes sunk in the middle and I was tempted to toss them in the trash because they didn’t look quite right. But- the frosting was SO tasty that I decided to still go ahead and put the cake together and hide my imperfections with frosting. Despite the sunken cakes and lopsided final product, my friends LOVED the cake and so did I! It was incredibly moist and had a strong, fresh strawberry flavor. I’ll definitely to make this again and try for a prettier final product! lol

  13. Hey,

    How are you?
    I was wondering how could make this recipe into a 3 layered cake. Is there something I should add to the ingredients? Like how much more flour should I use etc?

    1. For three layers the same size you would need to make 1.5 times the recipe. Or you can use the same amount of batter and divide it equally between three pans for thinner layers. Do not just add more flour – you need to keep the ratio of ingredients the same!

  14. Hi sally,
    I have a question about your strawberry cream cheese frosting. I want to make this for my birthday and plan on frosting it with rosettes on the top of the cake and since working with cream cheese frosting in the past and knowing it doesn’t always frost like buttercream or hold it’s shape always I’m a little concerned on whether or not to use it . Would you recommend a strawberry buttercream over this recipe?

    1. If you are going to leave the cake out in a warmer environment before serving I would opt for the strawberry buttercream so that the rosettes don’t wilt. But I have always been able to pipe with cream cheese frosting as long as it’s cool (you can place the full piping bag in the refrigerator for a bit if needed).

  15. This cake looks Delicious!! and the dehydrated strawberries are a super creative touch! I was hoping to make this this weekened but I have a bit of a problem. My coworkers don’t like cream cheese frosting (too sweet for them) and I was thinking buttercream might work better as there will be layers of banana pudding in between. do you think adding the dehydrated strawberries to your buttercream would turn out alright?

  16. A great tasting cake!! One small change I made was adding in a tablespoon of the strawberry puree into the frosting instead of that second tablespoon of milk!

  17. Dear Sally,thank you for this recipe.I am planning to make this cake for my daughter’s 3rd birthday (she loves strawberries). I am from the Czech Republic, so we have different products to the US. so I am not sure your cream cheese is the same as our cream cheese. could you possibly add some details about the cheese you are using (e.g. fat content )? alternatively,have you tried a frosting just with butter,freeze dried strawberries and sugar?if yes,how was it? thank you a lot for any help.hanka

    1. Hi Hanka! A strawberry buttercream like you suggest would be the better choice if you’re unsure about the cream cheese options available. I recommend this strawberry buttercream. You can 1.5x the recipe to yield enough for the cake.

  18. I made the frosting with freeze-dried blueberries and oh my goodness, it was so tasty! Just the right amount of sweetness. I can’t wait to try it with every freeze-dried fruit I can find! (I made it to go with your vanilla cake which was also delicious! Made it for my son’s 1st birthday and he ate the whole thing up!)

  19. I made a few changes to the frosting. I felt that the amount of sugar was way too much for my taste, so added only 200gms as well as the powdered dried strawberries. Also added the rest of the reduced strawberry puree I had made for the cake base as well as 1/4pt of whipped heavy cream. I found my cake mixture curdled when I added the milk. But it seemed to bake up ok although not quite the texture I was hoping for. The knack is, I think, in keeping everything at room temperature including the egg whites which I think I might have preferred to whisk and fold into the mixture. I would also have added more colouring to give the colour shown in her photos. I used a couple of drops of pink – but I think red might have been better. I took this cake to my volunteer group this morning and it was extremely well received! Thank you Sally X

  20. Many thanks for this amazing recipe! I made it (as cupcakes) for my daughters 12 th birthday party this past weekend and it was a hit! Kids and adults alike! I’ve never had strawberry baked goods that truly tasted like strawberries until now! So thanks for helping me give my girl an amazing treat!

  21. I’m making a cake for a little girls birthday tomorrow and loves strawberry cake. She likes whipped icing, would you suggest using the strawberry buttercream or the strawberry cream cheese frosting? Also, I need to feed 20-25 people so I was going to use a 9×13 pan, can I double the recipe in one pan or should I make two separate batches as doubling the recipe could mess up the baking time and overall turnout of the cake. Thanks!

  22. Love the frosting but the cake seemed a little dry and not at all the color as pictured. Mine turned out grayish! What happened? I followed every detail of ingredients and instructions precisely. For a party, I would really like for it to be pink and not grayish!

    1. Hi Judy! The strawberry cake will be a neutral/beige color if you don’t add a little food coloring. I recommend gel food coloring. See my recipe note.

  23. I made this cake last night, the recipe was super easy and I followed it exactly but the cake came out very dense and was impossible to frost because it kept falling apart. The frosting tastes amazing and I will definitely be making that again in the future, but possibly for a simple white cake.

  24. I’d like to make this a 3 layer cake with 8 inch pans. Can someone tell me the adjusted recipe or should i just double it?

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