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.
  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

1179 Comments

  1. Amazing cake, such intense strawberry flavor! Just made this for my daughter’s strawberry-themed second birthday and it was a hit all around. This is definitely going into the regular rotation!

  2. Do you have a recommendation for an egg replacement in this recipe? Your recipes are always a win and I have made a few of your cookies with flax “eggs” and they turn out perfect. I thought I would ask because a friend’s son is requesting a strawberry cake for his birthday and he has an egg allergy. Thank you!!

  3. I just realized I did 3/4 cup of Sour cream .. Instead of 1/3 cup.
    Sooooo I hope it turns out good . Idk why I thought 3/4 of a cup.
    Only time will tell!

  4. Made this cake with my daughter (4) today and had so much fun. I have celiac so we made the cake flour with GF flour and cornstarch. She had a lot of fun spooning out the flour and blending it all up. Baking is one of my favorite things to do with her!!! In other news, I feel the cake came out dense (although really delicious!!), was this because there would have been too much moisture? I reduced the strawberries for over 40 minutes. Thoughts? Thank you in advance, and I look forward to trying more of your recipes and following your blog!!!

    1. Hi. I also have Celiac. I’ve been baking gluten free for over 20 years. Not sure what kind of gluten free flour you are using, that can make a difference. But more importantly, omit the cornstarch and bloom some sprouted flax seed to use instead. Also, my strawberries do not simmer down as she says in the recipe. For starters, my 1 pound of strawberries purees down to a lot more than one cup. So make sure you only use 1 cup of the puree to simmer down. Mine takes at least an hour to reduce to 1/2 cup and you do want as much moisture out as possible. I make this recipe often and it never turns out dense. Good luck!

      1. Thank you! Measuring a cup of strawberry from the purée is a great suggestion! I have had GREAT luck with everything else, people keep telling me the apple cider donuts are the best they have ever had (thank you Sally! ). So after reading blogs I think I just must have had too much liquid. After researching what the cornstarch does, I no longer use it with the gluten free flour since from what I understand the cornstarch is used to deactivate the gluten (‍♀️), but thank you for that information!

        Happy baking!!!!

  5. Most fluffy most white strawberry cake ever!!! And delicious. I made cupcakes with it and had a little leftover batter and made a tiny cake. Ate it all without frosting… lol but I have question, what if you just wanted a white cake recipe, what do you substitute the strawberries for?

  6. Hi Sally!
    My daughter asked for a pink cake for her birthday so here I am! I would like to make it into a layered sheet cake. Would it be better to make it in a 9×13 and then cut or can I bake in two sheet pans? What size should I use and how should I adjust the recipe?

    1. Hi Jenna! Make sure you add pink or red food coloring to the cake for a lovely pink color. (Tint the batter until you’re happy with the color.) I recommend making the 9×13 inch cake, then carefully and slowly slicing in half once the cake is completely cool to make two layers.

    2. Omg I made this cake yesterday for Sunday Dinner. It was a hit. I loved the strawberry flavor. I definitely will be making again

  7. Best strawberry cake I’ve ever had!I didn’t have freeze dried strawberries for the frosting but used strawberry jam to taste and it was delicious! Thanks for such a great recipe!

  8. Would this recipe work for light carving? I need to cut a cake shaped like a C and it will be un iced on the sides (one of those trendy alphabet cakes) and I want o make sure this will hold up and not crumble. Thanks!

    1. I haven’t tried to carve this cake but it should work! I would recommend slightly chilling the cake so that you get nice clean slices and then bring it back to room temperature before frosting and serving. Enjoy!

  9. Delicious cake!! I had the best ever Strawberry Cake at a restaurant in Nashville (Margot Cafe) a few years ago and have been trying to duplicate ever since…BONANZA with your recipe.
    Thanks so much…brilliant ideas.

    (I wrap the round cake pans with damp paper towels wrapped with foil…fold around pan and crimp off. The cake bakes evenly..flat on top and sides are not over browned…perfect!!! You can also buy from Wilton..cake wraps. Mine are DIY)

    1. I’m thrilled you enjoyed this recipe so much! And I keep meaning to get the cake strips – I will have to try your DIY version – thanks for the tip!

  10. Oh.my.glob. incredible cake.i made it! Followed your directions exactly and it turned out perfect.probably the best cake I ever made and I’m sure I made hundreds by now. I’ve been raving about your website for a long time..I truly love your recipes.thank you for this.girl, you rock. I wish I could post a photo of this but even a photo cannot do justice to the flavor, the perfection of texture and soooo pretty! Thank you. Huge fan.enormous fan.love you!

  11. Hi Sally!

    I’m going to be making a passion fruit cake for my sisters birthday. I want a good cake as a basis, do you think I could use this recipe and sub the strawberry purée for passion fruit, or do you have any suggestions? Thank you!

  12. Hi Sally. I’ve made this cake several times and it’s always come out great. I’ve even made it using raspberries and have made the frosting in the blueberry flavor though the blueberry didn’t shine through like the other two. I left maybe two/three comments regarding this cake letting you and others know just how good it is and the con to using freeze dried blueberries. It’s been a a month or so since I’ve made this recipe and after reading your notes again tonight I’m a bit confused. I could have sworn you said it was ok to make the cakes and freeze them *unfrosted* so long as we make sure to wrap them up really well with plastic wrap and then put them into zip lock bags. I did just that but when I came to the recipe tonight to see how I needed to defrost them now it says in the notes that the entire frosted cake can be frozen. Did something change somewhere along the way? I sure hope not because I have two cakes frozen. I did take the raspberry one out and put it in the frig to defrost for tomorrow (God, I sure hope you read this before I go to make a frosting ). Can you please let me know if you changed the freezing part? Or if I’m in the clear can you let me know how I need to defrost them…. I.e. keep in the frig till defrosted or ??? Hope to hear from you in the morning (you’re a few hours ahead of me ) Thanks Sally….

  13. Is this cake supposed to be kind of dense or light and fluffy? Mine was pretty dense. Just trying to figure out if I did something wrong or if that’s normal? Thank you!

    1. Hi Amanda, It should be light and fluffy! Be sure you are sifting your cake flour before measuring it and try not to over-mix the batter!

  14. Hi Sally! My son really wants a strawberry cake for his birthday. This one sounds great. He doesn’t like frosting. I was thinking of making it in a bundt pan and sprinkling with powdered sugar and crushed freeze dried berries. Do you think it will stick to the pan terribly? Should I butter AND flour the pan or just use butter? Thanks!

  15. This is one of the best cakes I have ever made – and I am a baker (ok, not a professional one, but I bake a lot). I have baked a few other strawberry cakes in the past and wasn’t bowled over by them (one was a cake mix with strawberry jello – at the time it was the only recipe I could find). The cake I made yesterday from Sally was incredible. Everyone raved about it. It was moist and full of flavor. I am going to adapt it to other fruits for which I can find fees dried fruit (for the frosting). I’d love to try a peach version of this and I may make a raspberry frosting if I can’t find freeze dried peaches. This strawberry cake is a PERFECT summer cake!

  16. My granddaughter wants a strawberry and watermelon demon cake for her 6th birthday. Do you think I could reduce the watermelon purée like you did for the strawberry?

  17. Hi. What if i don’t have a whisk attachment? Im in a bit of a rush so im praying that you have a want and or chance to respond. Unfortunately i just found your recipe but must begin baking cake tmro. Im praying and crossing my fingers and toes. Thank you very very much!

  18. Hello! Our family lives strawberry cake and I’ve made this cake twice. The taste is amazing! I live in Utah and because of the high altitude I have to adjust recipes. Usually just a couple of TBSP of flour and liquid adjustments do the trick. I added some flour and followed the recipe exactly. Both time it has fallen. Do you have any suggestions! Thank you!

  19. Could you please tell me how many cups of batter this makes? I’m wanting to use this recipe for a party – i need a 2 tier cake (8″, 6″) and 12 cupcakes. I think making two batches of this recipe should suffice but if you could tell me the amount of cups of batter one recipe makes I would appreciate it!

  20. WOW! Absolutely amazing cake! Made this for a co-worker that was leaving the company and there wasn’t a piece left by the end of the day (there are only 10 of us!). Everyone loved it! Some even said it reminded them of Strawberry Ice Cream. This is now my go to Strawberry Cake Recipe! Thank You!!!!!

  21. Hi Sally,

    It is a lovely cake, and looks very delicious.

    If I have to bake a smaller cake, say using 150 gms or 75 gms, then how should I calculate the other ingredients including baking powder & baking soda.

    I am a new learner and would like to do some test baking, therefore do not want a big quantity.

    Could you please help.

    Thank you so much.

    Regards,
    Diana

    1. Hi Diana, If you decide to make a smaller portion I recommend starting out with keeping all of the ingredients in the same ratio. So if you cut the flour in half – cut all of the ingredients in half.

      1. Hi Sally, noted your answer.

        But I still need further clarity. Suppose your recipe requires 250 gms flour, and if I want to make a smaller portion say using 75gms flour, then in what proportion should I take the rest of the ingredients, it cannot be half of half. Also the baking temperature and time will also differ for a smaller portion of 75gms flour. Could you please check me on this. I would be very grateful.

        Sincere Regards,
        Diana

  22. Hi Sally, I made my strawberry puree ahead of time and froze it. Will I have any problems with it being too wet when I defrost it for cake batter? Thanks

  23. Hi sally, I am planning on making this cake for my son’s girlfriend’s birthday this weekend. Do you think I could put freeze dried strawberries in a whipped cream frosting?

  24. Hi Sally!!! LOVE all of your recipes. I want to make this and have some liquid egg whites. Could I use those instead of real egg whites?

  25. I made this cake for my daughter’s birthday. She passed away 3 years ago but I thought a pink cake would be one a 3 year old girl would definitely choose.
    The strawberry flavor came through wonderfully. Thank you for another great recipe.

  26. I have been looking for a strawberry cake recipe for my little sisters birthday and this looks great but I was wondering if I could substitute the iceing for vanilla buttercream or vanilla cream cheese frosting ? Would the strawberry flavor still come out or will the icing mask the flavor?

    1. You can use vanilla buttercream! If you would like to make sure the strawberry flavor shines through you can add strawberry extract to the cake batter and/or use a strawberry filling inside the cake layers. I hope your sister loves it!

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