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

1057 Comments

  1. Hi Sally, my first 14g of freeze dried strawberries somehow solidified so I opened two more packets for the dust so my frosting has about 40g of freeze dried strawberries dust. Color was perfect, but does this affect the sweetness? My frosting is done but so so sweet I’m considering to throw away the whole tub! How can I salvage it?

    I’ve reduced the batter granulated sugar to 300g instead of the required 350g. Beore putting in the oven, my husband and I both tasted and we find it very sweet! My cake was slightly brown on the outside and very crumbly on the inside after baking. What am I doing wrong? 🙁

    Will someone please give me some insights.

  2. Hello,
    I baked this last night. Delicious! However, my cake did some appear as pretty pink as your photo. Not sure if it was the gel food coloring i used, or maybe the color of the reduced strawberries. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks

  3. Sometimes I’ll cool cake layers upside down to make them flatter-would you recommend against that because we want the layers to be airy?

  4. Daughter requested strawberry cake for her 16th birthday. All the reasons Sally identified for coming up with this recipe are the same ones that made me choose it. So wonderful!! As a number of others have stated, my strawberry purée started at much more than 1 cup and took a little longer to 1/2 in size. Color a little lighter, but flavor…incredible. Can’t go wrong with this recipe.

  5. Hi,
    I just made this cake and it was delicious- especially the icing-but my cake didn’t have a strong strawberry flavor. Could I have reduced the strawberries too much? I added 1/2 cup.

    1. Hi Abby, 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! Also try tasting your berries before you puree them – the more flavor in the fruit the more flavor in your cake 🙂 If you want a stronger flavor in the cake itself, you can add a very small amount of strawberry extract.

  6. This turned out amazing! I made this using two deep 7inch pans to make four layers. I also loved your idea of using freeze-dried strawberries in the frosting, which I added to my usual buttercream recipe as I didn’t have cream cheese on hand. Thank you for sharing!

  7. I’ve made this recipe before and it was fantastic! Nephew requested it for his birthday but we’ll need a 12 x 18 sheet cake for his party, I saw the directions for a 9 x 13… So for a 12 x 18 would I just double or 1.5 the recipe? Thank you!

    1. I have not tried making a half sheet cake out of this recipe. The truth is that the pan capacity for a half sheet pan is probably somewhere between 1.5 and double this recipe. I usually caution against doubling cake recipes and it’s too much batter for most mixers to work with and we run the risk of over or under mixing the batter resulting in a dense cake. If you do double it (or make it twice and combine them) and have leftover batter you can use it to make some extra cupcakes!

  8. About to make this for the first time! Wondering if you’ve ever tried this with lemon curd? Would you advise mixing that in with the frosting in between layers? i have a jar of lemon curd i just don’t wanna go to waste!

    1. Strawberry lemon cake would be delicious! I would use a thin layer of frosting and then a layer of lemon curd between the cake layers. YUM!

  9. Decided against the lemon curd for now as I wanted to try the recipe on its own. The cake itself was a winner! Only used the hand mixer for a short while for the flour before deciding to just fold it in. I was scared about overbeating and making a dense cake. Flavour was great! The puree was magical. Only giving this a 4 though as I found the frosting a little too sweet. Would love to try this again with maybe some lemon zest added in the batter. I might give the frosting another go but will maybe add in more strwaberry powder and less sugar. Thank you for this delicious recipe!

  10. I made this cake according to the recipe and loved it! I’d like to make another with raspberries instead, which I read in other comments works really well, but I was wondering how to adjust it if I wanted to make it a chocolate cake instead of vanilla?

    1. You can try increasing the confectioners sugar to 4 cups and then if you have to add more milk only add a teaspoon at a time until you reach the right consistency. You shouldn’t need much more than that!

    1. I haven’t personally tried raspberries but other readers have reported back that they work great! Let me know if you try it!

  11. Thank you SO MUCH for this recipe! I completely veganized it by using vegan friendly alternatives to the original ingredients and it turned out AMAZING for my daughter’s 8th birthday. I subbed butter= Country Crock plant butter, whole milk= Ripple pea protein milk unsweetened, sour cream= Follow Your Heart sour cream, egg whites= aquafaba(liquid in canned chickpeas) and cream cheese= Follow Your heart cream cheese. I had so many awesome raves from friends and family and it was an absolute labor of love! Next time I’ll try adding a BIT more flour as it started to fall apart when transferring it to the tray for construction and decorating but because it was SO moist and fluffy! I ate the pieces that fell off lol. I will be using this as my go-to strawberry cake recipe from now on!

    1. Hello Sally!

      First of all I must say this recipe looks genius!
      Also, I had the intention to do it but in smaller cake molds: 6 in. x 3 in. Is it going to affect the baking time? If so, can you guide me into this please?
      I look forward for your answer! Thank you so much in advance!

    2. Hi how many inch tray did you use or if you know how many kgs came out with this recipe. Thanks. I am trying to make a 3 kg cake for my friends birthday.

  12. Can u make this cake with splenda. What are the total carbs in one made with splenda. Have entire family of diabetics

  13. This recipe is terrific, everyone loved it. I have also made it and layered it with a lemon cake. This recipe is definitely a keeper:) I am making it again for a baby shower and also want to make a kiwi cake to go with it. Do you think I could use the same recipe, but with kiwi? I don’t have time to try it out, I was just asked today to make the cake for Friday.

      1. Hi Sally, I have to start by saying my post to you on Oct.15 was the first time I have ever posted to any forum and appreciate your quick reply. I am not a professional, but rather a hobby baker and am sometimes reluctant to add flavours to existing recipes, but this time I went ahead and tried the recipe with reduced kiwi puree (as done with the strawberry as directed in the recipe). I made a marbled cake with the two cakes (a strawberry cake batter and a kiwi cake batter)….. the batter tasted good which was a good start:) I had extra kiwi and strawberry puree and decided to make a kiwi curd and a strawberry cream cheese frosting to put between the layers. I am happy to say it was a hit. My husband enjoyed the “ends” after I cut and shaped the cake to make it for the baby shower…… he said it tasted similar to a fruit trifle. Thank you so much so sharing your Strawberry Cake recipe, which gave me a good base for substituting with kiwi.

  14. If we prepare the strawberry puree in advance and place in frig – do we bring to room temp before adding to batter? Thank you!!

  15. Hi Sally,
    I am going to make this per my daughter’s request for her 4th birthday (she requested a “strawberry unicorn cake”. Would this work well with just a plain buttercream frosting instead of the strawberry frosting? I only ask because I am going to decorate it as a unicorn and am not sure how it will look with the pink frosting. I’d love to know your thoughts.
    Also, she wants it to be a “big” cake. How would you recommend I adjust the cake recipe to make it a 3 layer cake?
    Thanks!!

    1. Hi Seren, While the cake would definitely still be enjoyable with plain buttercream frosting, the strawberry frosting really does help to bring out the flavor. I recommending using the strawberry frosting at least between the layers and then using plain white buttercream on the outside (you can make a big batch of buttercream and remove some to add strawberry dust to for the middle instead of making two separate batches!).
      You can try making 1.5 times the recipe for 3 layers.

  16. My boyfriend’s youngest son turned 8 today. He loves strawberry so I decided to give your recipe a whirl. It was a huge hit!! Everyone loved it. Thank you! I’m a new fan .

  17. The way the recipe is written I assume I am supposed to measure the 2.5 cups of flours after I sift it. Is that correct? If you do 2.5 cups unsifted, it’s about 3 cups sifted.

  18. Hi Sally,

    I have used your other strawberry cupcake recipe from a few years ago, which uses chopped up strawberries and a puree that hasn’t been reduced. I really like that recipe, but I do feel that the cake comes out a little flat (not fluffy, although still very moist), and I like the flavor. How does this recipe compare?

    1. In this cake the strawberry flavor is evenly dispersed throughout the whole thing, so it’s truly strawberry cake instead of vanilla cake with bites of strawberry. It’s also very fluffy and moist!

  19. I can’t say enough about this cake. It.Was.Perfect. It was so incredibly delicious, I was blown away from the praise I received after my family tasted it. Thank so much for sharing this recipe. I am looking forward to trying more of your recipes! But, maybe the strawberry cake, again. Because.

  20. I made this cake for a co-workers Birthday. The cake was moist and tender but did not look like strawberry. I did not use coloring. However, the frosting was absolutely amazing! This is now my favorite!

  21. Hi Sally, I ran into your blog and I loved it. I was looking for how to use frozen strawberries in a regular vainilla cake. I read the trick about reducing the liquid and use the concentrated puree!. You also mentioned that you reduce the amount of liquid ingredients (of your vainilla cake) to make room for the puree, but how do I do this?. If I use for example 1 cup of milk, should I reduce it to just 1/2 cup and complete with 1/2 cup of the puree?. Thanks!

    1. Hi Carol! The recipe as written is my tested recipe where I reduced the ingredients down to make room for the puree. 🙂 I adjusted the milk and sour cream.

  22. Hi Sally, I would love to bake this cake for a nieces birthday but she is dairy intolerant. Can I substitute the sour cream for coconut yoghurt and the whole milk for almond milk or soy? Or is there anything else that would work better? I can get vegan butter so that’s fine and I’m also using a vegan icing.
    Many thanks.

    1. Hi Julie! You can certainly try the dairy free alternatives. I haven’t tested this recipe with them, so let me know how it turns out.

  23. I love this cake! It was so easy to make, and the frosting has such a lovely, natural strawberry flavor! I’m interested in making it again with some of the fruits other people mentioned here, like kiwi!

    I didn’t have fresh berries, and they’re not in season here so the ones in stores are not good, so I used frozen. They did take longer to cook down, but other than that, the cake is still delicious!

  24. Can you make the strawberry puree ahead of time? How long will it last in fridge?
    Can you freeze it, and if so should you freeze it before you reduce it?

    1. Hi Karen, 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.You can also freeze it after you reduce it if you wish.

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