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 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: 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 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.
  7. 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.
  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

1154 Comments

  1. Outstanding step-by-step instructions !! Thx for that My reduction took closer to 40 mins … aside from that // this cake turned out incredible ❤️

  2. HI Sally,
    I love your recipes! I’ve tried many of them. Have you ever tried adding balsamic to the strawberries for a stronger flavor? I love it in gelato but not sure how the vinegar will act in a cake. Also, I’m searching for a good coconut lime cake recipe:)

    Julie

    1. Hi Julie, I have an awesome recipe for a “Golden Balsamic vinegar and strawberry cake recipe if you are interested.
      Syndy

      1. Hi Syndy, I wouls love the recipe! I have 20 pounds of fresh picked berries so I’m ready to bake>

        Julie

  3. Hi, Sally! I made this cake for a party this weekend — everyone LOVED it. The fresh strawberry taste was amazing, and the texture was perfect. Thanks for this delicious recipe and the helpful video. I’ll definitely be making this cake again!

  4. Do you think storebought strawberry jam would work well for this recipe? I live in France and there are so many varieties here, I was thinking of using the Bonne Maman intense with less sugar

    1. I recommend sticking with either yogurt or sour cream. You could try mashed banana or unsweetened applesauce if you’d like though.

  5. Thank you for this recipe Sally! So good! I’m making your zebra cake plus this strawberry cream cheese frosting

    As I’m making 3 layers of 9” cakes, how much more for the frosting should I make?

    It didn’t say in the ingredients, but should the milk be room temp too?

    Also found the frosting still too sweet. When I make red velvet cupcakes, it usually calls for 8 oz cream cheese and 2 cups of sugar only. Can I do the same ratio? What will happen if I use less sugar?

    Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Liz! You can 1.5x this frosting recipe for a 3 layer cake. If using less sugar, the frosting may not hold together very well but you can certainly try it. The milk in the frosting does not need to be room temperature. Let me know how it goes!

  6. Hi Sally! Could you try this with other fruits, as well as strawberries? I want to make a blueberry cake that is blue/purple in color (as opposed to a vanilla or lemon cake with whole blueberries)- could I replace the strawberries with blueberries for a similar result?

    1. Hi Lili! Some readers have used other fruits such as mango, blueberries, and raspberries. Go ahead at try it! Feel free to tint the batter blue/purple if you’d like.

  7. Please can you let me the know the modification for the recipe for person with diabetes? I want to make this cake for my mom who is diabetic and substitutes for egg and oil for the recipe.

    1. I don’t have experience with diabetic friendly baking- I recommend consulting a doctor or specialist for best results!

  8. Hi Sally!
    I’m making this cake and plan to use a 12×2 inch round cake pan. How many times would I need to make this recipe to have enough batter. I plan on making it 3 layers but not torting the layers. So I’ll need to bake 3 individual layers and make it about 5 inches tall.
    Thank You!

    1. Hi Cristina! Something tells me that 2 batches of the batter (made separately) should be enough for the cake you’re making. Let me know how it turns out!

  9. I made this cake for a coworkers birthday at her request. I try to cook from scratch as much as possible. When she requested a strawberry cake, I searched for a recipe online. Yours was the only one that used real ingredients. Boxed cake mix in my house is grounds for divorce. It was delicious! Nothing left but crumbs! They loved the fact that the cake and icing had just the right amount of sweetness. Definitely making this again! Thank you!

  10. I am following the instructions step by step but every time I bake a cake it ends up burnt because the middle is not done in the suggested time. Should I turn my oven down and bake it longer?

    1. Hi Ariel– yes, I definitely suggest lowering your oven temperature by 25 degrees F. Using an oven thermometer could help too– they’re relatively inexpensive and VERY handy.

    2. I always check well before the suggest times and, if necessary, I use a foil tent to ensure nothing burns…and the last few minutes I remove the foil. Really makes a difference!

  11. I made this cake followed instructions but added a box of pudding. This cake is fantastic. The icing isn’t too sweet and easy to make. This was my first attempt at not making a box cake and the family loved it

  12. I’ve been looking for that perfect strawberry cake recipe and I found it! The strawberry puree and the freeze dried strawberry dust in the frosting, create amazing flavor. Thank you for your detailed, step by step instructions!

  13. I just made this as a two-layer 9×13 cake for my daughter’s birthday. Followed your instructions exactly, just doubled everything. Best. Cake. Ever. Guests thought it was a secret family recipe it was so good. Definitely a keeper!

  14. Hi Sally,
    I’m making a two tier cake for my daughter’s birthday. Do you think this cake is dense enough to be stacked for a tiered cake?
    Thank you!

  15. I searched through many recipes before arriving at this one and just knew it would be right. It was. Thank you for figuring it out. Who wants a doctored box cake and gelatin?!

  16. Hi, i am not sure what you mean by full fat cream cheese? is it savory one or another thing i found is called cream cheese style icing. thank you

    1. Get regular cream cheese, not reduced fat/fat free. Speaking from experience, fat free cream cheese ruins frosting. Tastes fine looks awful

  17. Could this recipe be turned into cupcakes? This recipe looks s good but I’m making it for a picnic and want it to be easy to serve 🙂

    1. Hi Andrea! See my recipe note 🙂 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.

  18. Sorry I meant to leAve 5 stars lol Do you think substituting regular milk for buttermilk could work just as good ?

  19. I am modifying this to a dairy free version (I have experience doing this). While dairy-free cream cheese does exist, it introduces another new element. So I have questions!

    First, I see you also have another strawberry buttercream recipe. It has a LOT more sugar (6 cups sugar if I 1.5x the recipe – WOAH). Is that not too sweet for a layer cake? Second, have you tried using the freeze-dried strawberry method in a meringue buttercream? Any success?

    THANK YOU!

    1. Hi Adam! 1.5x the strawberry buttercream recipe definitely makes a lot of frosting– just enough for a large layer cake like this. I don’t think it’s too sweet when divided over so many servings, but you could definitely reduce it if desired.

  20. Amazing strawberry flavor! My husband said this is a close second to his all time favorite cake – pineapple upside cake. I got rave reviews from all my friends. I added a layer of fresh whipped cream which added a beautiful compliment to the strawberry flavor. Thank you for a wonderful recipe! I’m making it again for the second time in a week. My only pry was a very wet cake – I’m at 5,350 ft elevation. Going to try a small amount of additional flour.

  21. Hi Sally, if I wanted to cut this recipe in half how would I handle the egg whites? Can I use a whole egg and one white?

  22. Amazing! Made this cake for my sons 4th Birthday party yesterday as he requested a strawberry cake with strawberry icing and strawberries on top! This cake had everyone asking for the recipe. Making the pistachio cupcakes with strawberry icing for his actual birthday on Friday. Thank you again Sally for a fabulous cake!

  23. Hey, fellow Marylander! I just made this today…I took some of the cake top I removed for leveling and some of the icing to see what I created…OMG! This is outrageous! I made the puree yesterday to save time. Another very moist cake from you (I made the red velvet for July 4th). This will be a huge hit at the cookout tonight!

  24. Hi – I just watched your video on making the strawberry cake and noticed you use the wire whisk attachment for making your cake, including the creaming stage. I was wondering why you use the wire whisk instead of the beater attachment, which is traditionally used to make cake batter.

    Going to try this tonight!

    1. Hi Jean! Great question and thanks for asking! I often use a whisk for this cake batter to help combine the varying textures of room temperature ingredients. It often takes a bit more to combine butter, liquid-y egg whites, and sour cream– and a whisk really helps!

  25. this strawberry cake recipe is genius! it is delicious!

    even my kids (who generally dislike cake) request it for their birthdays!

  26. How come you only use egg whites?? I always make cakes with full eggs. If i were to use full eggs, how many would i need?

  27. Hello dear, I loved the recipe and I am planning to try it for my 7 years old son’ birthday next week, I have only one question, What can I use instead of freeze dried strawberry for frosting??

      1. I tried this recipe today, it was just perfect.. I used less suger though, around 1 and quarter cup… I need vanilla whipped cream cheese frosting.. it was very delicious and fluffy… The whole family loved it… Thank you for sharing this recipe ❤️❤️❤️

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