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? They’re more commonly found than you think. I always find freeze-dried strawberries in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Wegmans, Giant, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Amazon, and Target each carry them.

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. You can make it a few days ahead of time and store it covered in the refrigerator or cover and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw before using in the recipe.
  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 crumbs. 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. Yields about 3 cups of frosting.
  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. Cake Flour: Sift cake flour before measuring. 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.
  3. Whole Milk: If needed, buttermilk works in its place. I don’t recommend a lower fat milk.
  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 until you’re left with 1/2 cup or a little over 1/2 cup. This takes at least 25-35 minutes, but could take longer depending on your pan or how juicy your strawberries were. *Do not add sugar or anything to the puree or reduced puree– it’s just pure strawberries. 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. Allow to cool completely before using in cake batter. Make sure it’s room temperature when adding to the batter. You can make the reduced puree ahead of time and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw, bring to room temperature, then use in the recipe. 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 Inch Cake: Simply pour the batter into a greased and lightly floured 9×13 inch 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.
  9. No Cream Cheese in Frosting: If you’d like to skip the cream cheese in the frosting, use my strawberry buttercream recipe instead. You’ll have enough for a thin layer of frosting, but you can 1.5x the recipe for a thicker layer.

Keywords: strawberries, pink

1149 Comments

  1. Hi Sally, all of your recipes are perfect so I cant wait to try this one!! Fresh strawberries in my country have been a bit yucky this time of year, so I was wondering if I could use defrost some frozen strawberries (the type used in smoothies and compotes) and use those to make the puree instead? Thanks in advance xx

    1. Hi Layla, You can use frozen strawberries, but they will take longer to reduce even if you thaw them first.

  2. Hello sally I love your blog! You don’t seem to have any tres leches cake recipes so I was wondering which one you use? Thank you!!

    1. Hi Maddie, I haven’t found or created one that I love yet. Please let me know if you find a good one!

  3. Made this cake and it was rising in the oven and looked great, 5 minutes later when I went to check it it had sunk. Not sure what I did wrong but I continued and did the icing. Freeze dried strawberries are pretty expensive about $10 for the amount needed.
    After chilling it was very nice flavour and not like artificial. I’ll make again and hope the cake rises as it should.

  4. Hey Sally! Loving all your recipes and usually the instructions are so clear and fool proof. What confused me on this one is the puree. The recipe says 1lb of strawberries pureed (about 1 cup) that you reduce down to half a cup.
    I washed and cut and weighed out 1lb of Strawberries and pureed in batches. First batch, only about 1/4 of the strawberries, created 2 cups of puree. I weighed that, and it was 1lb and reduced to 1/2 cup of that thick paste.
    Did you mean 1lb of puree?

    1. Hi Nevena, 1 lb of strawberries typically purees into 1 cup. If you have a little more than 1 cup, that’s completely fine– you can reduce it all down to 1/2 cup. The more puree you use, the longer it will take to simmer down to 1/2 cup.

  5. I made this cake after I went strawberry picking at a farm. The strawberries were so red that my cake was more red than pink. The flavors of this cake was GREAT. I made this for a block party for a neighbor’s child who just turned 2 and it was a hit! My husband says it tastes like strawberry Pocky! I agree except this cake tastes very REAL strawberry.

    1. Hi Angelina,
      Did tou use cream cheese frosting as mentioned in the recipe? I’m making this cake for a friend’s birthday but nervous the frosting might be too runny. Any tips?

      1. Yes I followed the recipe exactly as written. Make sure you use freeze dried strawberries to avoid runny frosting.

  6. Johnny Lavoy says:

    Made this cake for a birthday and it was so good . I did a strawberry filling with a whipped cream frosting . I did add the freeze dried strawberries to the frosting . So yummy .

  7. Amber Gaffney says:

    Would this cake pair well with your regular strawberry buttercream (instead of the strawberry cream cheese frosting listed with this recipe)?

    1. Definitely! See my recipe note.

  8. Amayii Stewart says:

    Hi Sally, I cannot wait to give this a go! Just wondering would this also work with raspberries? I assume I could reduce a raspberry puree and I can get raspberries freeze dried too! Thank you!

    1. Hi Amayii, I have not tested this recipe with raspberries but other readers have reported that they tried it with success. Reducing fresh raspberries on the stove may take longer since they have a higher water content and the freeze dried raspberries for the frosting should work beautifully. Let me know if you try it!

      1. Amayii Stewart says:

        I will do! Thank you Sally!

  9. I couldn’t find freeze dried strawberries where I live but am really wanting to make this! I am throwing some strawberries on my dehydrator instead. I hope this works!

    1. Hi Mel,
      How did the dehydrated strawberries turn out? I plan on trying this out this weekend.

  10. Really excellent strawberry flavor!

  11. Mine sank in the middle, I used grams to measure, If I added milk, the mixture would have been simply too liquid, so had to leave out, otherwise followed the recipe religiously. Also I found that 350 g of sugar made less than 1.5 cup, not 1 3/4 so went with grams.

    1. I really think it would have worked better if you just followed the recipe

      1. I’d like to make a checkerboard cake. Would this pair well with a chocolate cake to make a checkerboard? And, could raspberries be traded for the strawberries? Thanks!

  12. Just finished making this and is fantastic! Thank you! I couldn’t get freeze dried so I dried fresh strawberries on my dehydrator and worked very well!! Yummy!

  13. I have made this cake twice. Cake turns out really good in flavor and consistency. The crumb is very soft, so if you are looking for a dense cake, this is not the one. The second time I made the cake, I needed three 9’ cakes, so I upped all the ingredients by half, does that make sense? It was the perfect amount for a three layer cake.
    The frosting: the first time I made it, I didn’t have the freeze dried strawberries, so I made it with the strawberry reduction. It turned out good in flavor, but it never thicken up, not even after putting it in the fridge for some time. The second time I made it, I used the freeze dried strawberries and it made a huge difference! Icing was great for piping. For extra flavor, instead of the milk it calls for, I added two table spoons of strawberry purée I had left over from the cake.

  14. I have a question. I made the coconut cake a couple weeks ago and it came out amazing. I made this strawberry cake today and it came out a dark tan color on the inside but tastes great. I used the reduced puree and it was pink when wet. I think my mistake was that the sugar doesn’t dissolve in the butter in 2 minutes. When I did the cononut cake it probably took 25 minutes for the sugar and butter to finally actually be creamy smooth. So this this time I let it remain a little grainy. If that’s the cause, how do you get the butter and granulated sugar to cream in 2 minutes?

    1. Hi Sarah, What type of food coloring are you using? I use gel colors which are nice and vibrant. If you are using liquid drops you will have to use more to achieve a brighter color. Are you using an electric mixer (hand held or stand) to cream the butter and sugar together? If so it shouldn’t take much more than 2 minutes.

      1. Thank you Sally! Your response answered my questions. I made the fantastic strawberry cake a second time, and this time I doubled the strawberries for both the cake and frosting. My husband thinks this made it better (more strawberry, haha), and now I’ll add less milk next time to try to get that wonderful crumb back that you had balanced so well! I love your recipes. Thank you!

  15. I made this cake for my son’s 8th birthday and it was a hit with him AND his dad. His dad , by the way, doesn’t like cake in general but had a slice every night until we ran out ha! I’m going to try this recipe with different types of fruit. I think I’ll try mango next. YUM! Thank you for this fantastic recipe, I have a feeling it’s going to stay a family favorite for years.

  16. Family found it a little too sweet. Maybe ill do half the sugar next time.
    I enjoyed it

  17. Sarah Shivji says:

    I made this strawberry cake today for my husband’s birthday. Like you, Sally, I have a little one (2 year old) who takes up a lot of my time and I work full time. I blended and reduced the strawberries first thing this morning and then baked the cake in the afternoon. It was all baked, cooled and dressed with berries and powder sugar by 4:30pm for cake cutting. This recipe is perfect and we enjoyed every bite of this cake. It was my first time baking strawberry cake (my son’s choice). I didn’t make the frosting since I didn’t have the ingredients plus no time but the powder sugar and glazed berries went really well with the cake. My son has asked for Apple cake for his birthday. Let me know if you have a recipe for it. Thank you again! I’d like to post a picture here of the cake but don’t know how to. Let me know if I can email it to you.

    1. I’m so glad that you tried this recipe and that you all enjoyed it, Sarah! I have a recipe for an apple bundt cake that your son might love!

  18. I’m looking forward to making this cake for my daughter’s 3rd birthday next week – she’s requested a Strawberry Cake and this recipe sounds fantastic. I’m curious why the recipe uses granulated sugar in the cake batter rather than caster sugar?

    1. In my experience you always use granulated sugar in cake batter and then powdered sugar for icings.

    2. I would assume granulated or castor would both work…. I typically always use granulated in my baking but that’s just my preference and I know sometimes the castor sugar is harder to locate.

  19. Hi Sally ,
    I realised I didn’t have the freeze dried strawberries for the cream cheese frosting . Can I substitute the strawberry purée that is made for the batter for the freeze dried strawberries ? Do let me know what you recommend .

  20. I baked this yesterday for my own birthday. I’m not a new baker by any means but this is hands down the best cake I’ve ever made. Lovely moist cake with a very delicate crumb and it tastes like real strawberry! I loved the frosting as well, so happy to have found an option with real fruit. I’ve made two other of your recipes as well and both of those were also wonderful. I can’t wait to try more.

  21. Absolutely delicious. The tartness of the freeze dried strawberries and the sweetness and lightness of the cake are in perfect harmony. Definitely saving this recipe to use for years to come, thank you for sharing with us!

    1. I made this cake yesterday and it looked and tasted amazing! One of the best cakes I have ever made!! I substituted Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour 1:1 and also made changes to the frosting (decreased cream cheese to 4 ounces, 1 C powdered sugar, 3 C. whipped cream , no butter, no milk, same vanilla and powdered strawberries) . Best frosting I have ever had! The cake was tan color (okay by me and better than having fake color) and made a day ahead. It was dense and moist – really great, but I want to try making it same day and see what the difference is.

  22. Made this cake and I wish I could post a picture of the cake because it came out looking exactly the same. Just follow the directions, especially when it comes to proper measure of dry ingredients. Very moist and tastes like a strawberry bomb. I especially likes that there were no artificial ingredients or ingredients that were hard to find, for that matter. My regular grocery store did not carry freeze dried anything, but Trader Joes (as suggested) was freeze dried heaven. I will definitely make this again.

  23. Sally Nunez says:

    Hi Sally, can this recipe be made as a bundt cake? If so, are there any changes to the recipe? How long should I bake it?

    Thank you,
    Sally N ~

    1. This strawberry cake batter fits nicely into a 10 cup or larger bundt cake pan. I’m unsure of the exact bake time but it will increase due to the large amount of batter in one pan.

  24. Hi Sally! I’m wanting to make three 8 inch layers. Do I need to amend this recipe for more volume or can I use as is?

    1. Hi Mash, You can use the recipe as is but your layers will be a bit thicker so they may take an extra minute or two in the oven. Enjoy!

  25. Sarah Lyons says:

    I love this cake so much I am making it again but this time I want to do four 8inch round pans would I have to do this recipe twice? And what would the bake time be?

    1. Yes, you can make it twice and use 8 inch pans. The bake time may be a minute or two loner since your layer will be slightly thicker.

  26. Hi Sally, can I use this recipe for a large cupcake pan ?

    1. It depends on how much batter that pan takes, but I can’t see why not!

  27. Hi Sally, I’ve been trying to find cake flour but it seems everyone’s baking during COVID lol. Could I just use regular flour? And can I use a regular deep cake pan for this recipe? What would the baking time be for this recipe if so? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Rebecca, You can make your own Homemade Cake Flour Substitute – see recipe notes. I don’t recommend baking this all at once in a round pan, instead make two layers. If needed bake half of the batter and let the second half sit loosely covered at room temperature until your pan is ready for your second layer.

      1. Aw thanks Sally! Appreciate your help!

  28. I am making thr cake right now but have found that my flour weighs 360 grams (2 1/2 cups) – even if using the 115 g per cup that a cup of cake flour is said to weigh, it still would be close to 300 grams. Should I use weight or measuring cup? I did spoon and level technique too. Thank you! I can’t wait to make it.

    1. Hi Raquel, make sure you are sifting the flour before measuring or weighing it.

      1. I had a few pounds of berries in the fridge, so I made this cake with the frosting and it was DELICIOUS. The crumb was soft and it had such a moist texture. Loved it!! Thanks for your quick response. Definitely a keeper!

  29. Hi Sally! I’m a faithful user of your cake recipes and I want to make this one for my birthday this weekend. I plan to make a 2-layer 6″ cake and at least 1 dozen cupcakes. Can I use the recipe as is or should I do everything ×1.5 to ensure I have enough batter? Thank you for putting out such consistently great recipes- I work at a cupcake bakery and I still always choose your recipes over ours!

    1. Hi Abe, thank you so much! I believe you should have plenty of batter for 1 dozen cupcakes and a small 2 layer 6 inch cake. No need to make extra.

  30. Hi Sally, can’t wait to make this cake! One question: for the frosting, is the measurement for freeze dried strawberries before or after crushing them with the food processor?

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Kenzie! The measurement is before crushing. You’ll use a food processor to crush 1 cup of freeze dried strawberries- it will yield about 1/2 cup of crumbs. Happy baking!

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