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!

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overhead image of homemade strawberry cake on a marble cake stand

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 (285g) 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

1296 Comments

  1. I made this for my daughter’s birthday and it’s really good! Loved the strawberry flavor and how light the cake is!

    I had one problem though. When assembling the cake, it cracked open in the middle. Good thing the icing was able to hold it together 🙂 I would love to make this again and wanted to know where I could have gone wrong for that to happen.

  2. I have made this cake and it was incredible. Have you made this cake, like for like, but with blueberries?

  3. Jillian Irvine says:

    This cake is AMAZING. I tried it out twice. Once with regular flour, and once with gluten free flour. The cakes only lasted a few days each in my family’s fridge!

  4. I’m using this to assemble a very pink themed flamingo cupcake-pull apart cake — for heavy frosting shapes is it best to go with the strawberry buttercream instead of the cream cheese based? Or does it not matter? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, If you are using a piping tip for shapes then strawberry buttercream will hold a shape better.

  5. Jessica Jones says:

    I feel like every time I make this cake it sinks in the middle and I don’t understand why 🙁

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jessica, A cake that sinks in the middle is often under-baked. If it still seems a bit raw in the center next time bake it for a minute or two longer.

  6. The frosting was AMAZING! However, we felt like the cake itself didn’t have much strawberry flavor. Sally, I’m wondering if the quality of my fresh strawberries could be to blame? They’re out of season and were a bit pale in color. Any chance that could cause the strawberry flavor to be weak in the cake? Purely asking to learn! We LOVE your recipes! ❤️

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Katie, When they are in season, sweet summer berries will give you the best flavor, but I know they are nearly impossible to find during some parts of the year. The better the berries, the better the flavor of the cake! If you plan ahead you can freeze super sweet strawberries to use for this cake at a later time when they aren’t in season. OR add a touch of strawberry extract to the batter. 3/4 teaspoon should be plenty.

  7. Leanne Carter says:

    I baked this today and it was moist …very tasty..exactly as recipe said it would look, however it wasnt pink and didnt’ taste strawberry
    I did use a few drops of colouring but perhaps could have made more
    But I did think the strawberries would have coloured the cake and tasted moree
    Any thoughts

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Leanne, When they are in season, sweet summer berries will give you the best flavor, but I know they are nearly impossible to find during some parts of the year. The better the berries, the better the flavor of the cake! If you plan ahead you can freeze super sweet strawberries to use for this cake at a later time when they aren’t in season. OR add a touch of strawberry extract to the batter. 3/4 teaspoon should be plenty.

      1. Hi, Sally –

        Will this bake in 2 8-inch rounds, or is there too much batter for that?

  8. Omg THANK YOU!!!! This recipe was amazing!!!
    Perfect crumb, super moist and lots of strawberry flavour. Thank you so much for taking the time to develop and share this recipe.

  9. I watched the video which was so helpful! The cake was for my sons birthday and everyone loved it! THANK YOU!! The only issue I had was the cake tops were a bit sticky. I cut the tops off but not sure what I need to do differently to avoid in the future. I will definitely be making this again and will use the icing recipe for white cake as well. Any ideas to deal with the soft sticky tops?

  10. I’ve made this before and loved it. How do I scale it down to make a 2 layer 6 inch cake ?

    Thanks

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lasien, This recipe for strawberry cupcakes (which is a smaller version of this cake) fits perfectly into three 6-inch layers. You can see the baking directions in the post on 6 Inch Cakes. For two layers you can either make 2/3 of that recipe or make the whole thing and freeze the third layer or use the extra batter to make some extra cupcakes. Enjoy!

  11. Hi – this looks amazing!! My daughter will be 3 this Sat. (11/14) and has requested a strawberry cake with chocolate frosting. 2 questions:
    1. Should I use frozen strawberries since fresh are hit-or-miss right now?
    2. Any specific chocolate frosting you would recommend to pair with this cake?

    Thank you!!!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisa, totally up to you! Fresh or frozen strawberries work great. If using frozen strawberries, they will take longer to reduce even if you thaw them first. Our chocolate buttercream would be delicious with this cake! Happy 3rd birthday to your daughter!

  12. Hi Sally,

    What if I used frozen strawberries? Will these puree well for the cake batter? They’re usually sweet, so would you decrease the amount of sugar in the cake batter?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jessica, You can use frozen strawberries with no other changes to the recipe. They will take longer to reduce even if you thaw them first.

  13. Hey, everyone! Just wanted to share to my experience with this cake. I absolutely loved the flavour! I have tried making strawberry cakes many time and it has never tasted anything like strawberries. However, this cake was filled with fresh strawberry flavour! I made this cake for my mom’s birthday and all the guests loved it. I had a lot of people say that the cream cheese frosting tasted similar to strawberry ice cream! 🙂 It was an absolute hit! I was also able to make the cake a beautiful pink colour by adding 2-3 drops of gel food colouring.
    Also, my mom was vegetarian during her birthday, so I made one slight change to the recipe. Instead of egg whites, I used aquafaba (which is the liquid that can be found in a can of chick peas). I replaced each egg white with 3 tbsp of aquafaba (so 15 tbsp. altogether!) and it worked perfectly! I definitely recommend this recipe! It is a definite crowd pleaser! Thanks Sally!

  14. Thank you for the recipe!! I made it this morning for my niece’s birthday. Now, I have made many strawberry cakes and it is always hard with the amount of liquid so I decided to give your recipe a try since the puree made since. I did however run into a problem… my puree reduced to only a 1/4 of a cup! I used more than a lb and it still wasn’t enough. Probably my own error. Eek Didn’t have time to make more so I improvised. After combining all ingredients I folded in 1/4 cup pulsed fresh strawberries (since my niece specifically asked for “chunks” and 2 tbs of blended-to-powder freeze dried strawberries to counter the extra liquid from the chunks and add flavor. It actually added a great pink color without food dye. I hope it turns out. Thanks again!!

  15. I also increased the time 35-40 min in 2 9-inch pans. ..

  16. Hi, I’m currently making this cake for a party, I’m really excited to taste it. Haha I was wondering if you could put simple syrup on the cake or would that be too much sugar?

  17. I made this cake today and followed the recipe exactly, with what I thought would be a minor exception, I used all purpose flour with 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch replaced per cup as per your substitution guide. The cake came out delicious but a little on the dense side. Could my substitution be responsible or might I have also overmixed the batter a bit?
    Also, I would love to add to the strawberry flavor in the cake. Is there a specific brand of strawberry extract you recommend?
    I absolutely loved the icing. I had a good tablespoon or so of the puree left and added it to the icing along with the ground freeze dried berries and it was delicious.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Be sure that your flour is sifted for the lightest texture. Here are even more tips on How to Prevent a Dry or Dense Cake to help you troubleshoot. For extracts we really like using McCormick brand.

  18. I’ve made this cake before and we loved it. I’d like to make it again for my son’s first birthday party, but he’s allergic to milk and sour cream (he’s fine with butter). Anything I could substitute for that? Maybe canned coconut milk? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jasmine, We haven’t tested it but you could use a non dairy milk and a non dairy yogurt instead. OR you could try using buttermilk/non dairy soured milk in place of the sour cream AND the milk. So, 5/6 cup of total buttermilk. Let us know what you try!

      1. Great, thanks! I’m going to give coconut milk / coconut yogurt a try as substitute for the milk / sour cream.

  19. I’m so bummed- made this today for my daughter’s birthday and it sunk in the middle and was crumbly, dry and unflavorful. Super disappointing birthday cake. I followed the directions exactly, but won’t make again.

  20. Hi there I have recently used your red velvet cake for a wedding and it was a huge hit – thank you!
    A question I have for this one is will it hold up to fondant and could I use a white chocolate strawberry ganache filling instead? I am looking to make this for a 5 year old who doesn’t like frosting! I am looking to use the fondant as it’s easier to take the icing off but do you have a suggestion for an alternate filling?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lee, Yes you can cover this cake with fondant. A white chocolate strawberry ganache sounds delicious! You could also use something like a strawberry whipped cream as the filling.

  21. I made this cake for my birthday (with some minor tweaks) and actually had two pieces with vanilla ice cream right now which was amazing – what I did, was use a stoneware Bundt (given the heaviness of the batter and some comments about the center, I thought would avoid), I used the frozen berries (which took forever, as predicted), beat them directly into the creamed butter sugar mixture (my guess they wouldn’t need much mushing was correct, and I did this all with a wooden spoon and whisk, btw!), and for the frosting, I used the entire bag (about double) of freeze dried strawberries, for extra flavor (in a mortar and pestle).
    It came out slightly gummier, due to the extra fruit emphasizing the cream cheese guar gum (which could be cut with another 2 T of butter) but that helped it stay pretty on the Bundt sides, and when I served with good no-thickener vanilla ice cream like Haagen Dasz, that quality disappeared, and it became perfect, the texture of the frosting in the Blue Bell Brides Cake ice cream but more melting in the mouth, and instead of the strawberry cheesecake flavor I expected, it was like everything I ever wanted in strawberry ice cream in flavor and texture but never got- the hard chunks, the over sweetness, the lack of berry taste! Magnificent!

  22. Made this today and I have say its nicest cake and recipe iv ever followed. Cake was super moist and frosting was so tasty.

  23. Can I use this recipe for cake pops?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, definitely!

  24. I made this recipe for thanksgiving dessert. It was SO GOOD!! I loved the frosting especially and it was so pink! The cake was also very moist and delicious. This recipe was so great and I will definitely use it again. It was one of the best cakes I have ever made.

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