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.

overhead image of homemade strawberry cake on a marble cake stand

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…

slice of homemade strawberry cake on a white plate

I cried tears of joy. Or were those actual tears because I just dirtied every dish with all this strawberry cake recipe testing?

Let’s get down to business. 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.

carton of strawberries

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.

Strawberry puree in a food processor

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.

strawberry puree in a glass measuring cup

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 in a glass bowl

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.

strawberry cake batter in round cake pans

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!

Homemade strawberry cake on a wood and marble cake stand

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
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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.


Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (263g) 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 (about 25g) 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 rinsed and hulled 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

1730 Comments

  1. Hey there I’m making this cake and was wondering if I can use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or yogurt.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amanda, yes, plain Greek yogurt is a fine substitute here. Hope you love the cake!

    2. I used nonfat Greek yogurt, and it turned out great!

      1. Can I use strawberry filling? The ones that store bought?

  2. If using three 6” round cake pans, should I adjust the recipe proportions or will it work out fine? Thanks!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nicole, The cake batter from our Strawberry Cupcakes recipe would be the perfect amount for a 3 layer 6 inch cake. You can follow the baking instructions from this 6 inch cakes post. Enjoy!

      1. Thank you!!!

  3. Martha Tracy says:

    I saw your note that you can cover extra batter with a towel…I always thought that if you didn’t get the batter in the oven quickly it wouldn’t rise as well. Not that I would plan to hold batter back for a ‘long time’, but how long would you expect to be safe, ? Am making this this weekend and can’t wait to taste it!!! Thanks for another good-looking recipe…

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Martha! Cake batter will stay well when covered at room temperature while waiting for the other layers to bake. We wouldn’t recommend leaving it much longer than that, though. Let us know how you like this strawberry cake!

      1. Thanks for the information. Cake was for a charity bake do didn’t get to eat it… but the batter was yummy!

  4. Great thank you! ALSO if I’m using a 11×15 pan would I need 2 batches?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amanda, We haven’t tested this batter in that size pan but you can use our Pan Sizes & Conversions post to help calculate how much batter you would need. If you need more than one batch, then yes, we recommend making 2 separate batches instead of doubling.

  5. I would like to make this in 10 inch pans.. previously I made it in the 9 inch pans and came out perfect.. I need 4 cakes and I dont want to waste batter or make 4 separate cakes.. how can I obtain this cake in 10 inch pans? Can I leave batter sitting while I make more batter to give me enough for two 10 inch pans at a time

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Regina, our cake pan sizes and conversions guide will be a helpful tool for scaling this recipe for your 10 inch pans. Yes, you can leave unused cake batter lightly covered with a clean towel at room temperature while waiting for other layers to bake and / or to make your other batter. Hope this is helpful for you!

  6. I love your site. I tried making the strawberry cake, followed the directions exactly, baked 25 minutes, toothpick came out dry. When the pans were cool I turned out the cakes and they were doughy in the middle. The only thing I did differently was to use cake strips around 9 inch pans and a piece of parchment on the bottom of greased/floured pans. Could this have made a difference?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Geri, sounds like your cakes simply needed a bit more time to bake. Next time you can try the bounce back test instead to determine if the cake is done: Remove the cake from the oven or leave it in, your choice. Gently press down on the cake. If the cake bounces back completely, it’s done. If your finger left a dent in the cake, it needs more time. It’s our tried and true method that can be more accurate than the toothpick test.

  7. This is delicious! I made it alongside your vanilla sponge and used them to make an American flag cake for Fourth of July last year. Turned out delicious and beautiful! I must ask, can you replace the strawberries with other fruit, such as raspberries? I made your lemon cake the other day and I think a raspberry lemon cake would be amazing. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jay, Raspberry puree works like a charm in this recipe! Substitute the same amount for the strawberry puree and reduce it down. You can buy freeze-dried raspberries for the buttercream — they are readily available in most grocery stores these days. Or 1.5x this raspberry frosting recipe. Let us know how it turns out!

  8. Lauran Stevenson says:

    Hi! I was thinking of making this for a first birthday smash cake and wanted to bake it in one large pan then cute out smaller circles to make one tiered small cake. What size sheet pan should I use and any adjustments to baking time and temp?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lauren! See recipe notes for baking instructions for a 9×13 pan. If you’re looking for a thinner sheet cake, this batter should be fine as a half sheet cake baked in a jelly roll pan. We’re unsure of the exact bake time, use a toothpick to test for doneness. Enjoy!

  9. Sally- I made a WASC cake & used this frosting, and while the cake was very good, this frosting STOLE THE SHOW!! So so delicious. Brought the cake to work & everyone was commenting on the frosting & how good it was. I thought it tasted like a strawberry malt & others did too. Will definitely use this next time I need a strawberry frosting.
    Thanks again for another delicious recipe!

  10. Noemi Martinez says:

    How would you adjust the measurements and baking time if I wanted to use a jumbo muffin pan for this recipe?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Noemi, I fear this cake wouldn’t bake up well in such a deep cavity like a jumbo muffin pan, but we haven’t tested it. Let us know if you give it a try!

  11. If I’m doubling this recipe do I need to double the eggwhites as well? Won’t make it too heavy?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stephany, working with double the amount of batter risks over or under-mixing, which would ruin the texture of the finished cake. Rather, we suggest making the batter twice in separate batches for the best results.

  12. A strawberry lover would love this light and flavourful cake. The strawberry reduction is everything. I’m happy with the cream cheese frosting because it was not sickly sweet. Enjoyed baking this.

  13. Absolutely wonderful! I made this for my birthday and every bite was a strawberry avalanche. If you want a saturated pink color for the cake itself, I’d say add a bit of food coloring as the purée only tinges it – but no complaints here! The frosting was perfectly pink and just tangy enough to complement the sweet cake perfectly.

  14. Tried the cake for my kids birthday and we loved it. Texture and taste was perfect. Thank you!

    Any suggestions for egg-free version?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jen! We’re so glad you loved this cake. We haven’t tested any egg-free versions, but let us know if you give it a try.

  15. Hi Sally,
    Will this cake stay good if I store it in a cake carrier and put in the fridge for 1 or 2 days?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, yes! This cake will keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days.

      1. Thank you for the response!

  16. I found freeze dried strawberry powder on Amazon and in stores. It’s alright to use this instead of grinding your own correct?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Absolutely!

  17. Tammy Mullins says:

    Going to make this this evening. Looks delicious. I only have 2% milk and heavy whipping cream. Would either of these replace the whole milk? Trying to save myself a trip to the store.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tammy! You can use 2% milk, but we recommend using whole milk. More fat lends a softer texture in the finished cake. Heavy whipping cream is much too heavy for the batter.

      1. I made this yesterday for a family cookout. I drizzled chocolate ganache on top with fresh chocolate covered strawberries. It was a big hit. My nephew asked if I could make another one before he and finished his piece.

  18. I just baked two 9″ cakes. Followed your recipe exactly. They are only about 1″ high and no need to trim off the peaked tops – cakes are totally flat. Is this normal? They seem good otherwise… just more dense than I was expecting. I have removed them from pans… bottom seems done. Planning to freeze them and assemble closer to my 4 year old daughter’s birthday!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Laura, if the cakes seem overly dense, it’s possible the batter was simply over mixed. For next time, you might find our post on how to prevent dense and dry cakes helpful. Also be sure that your baking powder and baking soda are fresh — we find they lose strength after about 3 months. Hope this is helpful and that the cakes are a hit for your daughter’s birthday!

  19. Leigh Rankin says:

    I just checked cake after 24 minutes, and the cakes have run over and are pretty jiggly. What could i have done wrong? It smells yummy … and the frosting is wonderful!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Leigh, I’m happy to help troubleshoot! Did you happen to use smaller pans or fewer pans than called for? The cakes shouldn’t run over unless the pans are overfilled. Or any other ingredient substitutions?

  20. HELP! So after frosting the cake, I put it in a cake container and into the fridge for a few hours. Then I let it sit out for about 20-25 mins before cutting it (I figured it would soften from being in the fridge). I took a bite but the cake and frosting was firm:(
    I read that frosted cakes can sit at room temp for up to 4-5 days. Should I just leave it out? And will the cake get softer? I feel bad, I spent several hours making this cake 🙁

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, when you mention the cake was firm, was the texture dense? It’s possible that the cake was over mixed, causing the firm texture you’re describing (here’s more on how to prevent dense cakes that you might find helpful). It’s normal for frosting to harden a bit in the fridge, and leaving it out as you mention should help to soften it before enjoying. Feel free to leave it out a bit longer in order to soften to your liking. For next time, you can also make your frosting a bit softer by using less powdered sugar. We find that leaving cakes out for about a day is okay, but recommend refrigerating them after that — of course, you can use your best judgement here. Hope this is helpful!

  21. Can I make this in a bundt pan?? Would I need to make any modifications to the recipe?? Thanks!!!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lanie, this strawberry cake batter fits nicely into a 10 cup or larger bundt cake pan. We’re unsure of the exact bake time but it will increase due to the large amount of batter in one pan. Enjoy!

  22. I made this in a 9×12 pan to cut into bread-sized pieces to make a tulip Japanese fruit sandwich using a mascarpone whipped cream filling. The cake was moist, delicious, and full of strawberry flavor. I would post a photo, but it won’t let me.

  23. Can I use a Egg Replacer in place of egg Whites? ( Dr Mills brand)

  24. Hi! I’m really excited to try this recipe! I live in Europe and the one store I found freeze dried strawberries is out of them right now. I was wondering- is there a way to add strawberry marmalade/preserve to the cream cheese frosting instead of the freeze dried strawberries? Or will that mess with the consistency of the frosting? Would it be better to just go with the raspberry frosting recipe and sub strawberry marmalade?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maryann, we don’t recommend it. Adding a liquid can cause the frosting to curdle and change the overall consistency. Preserves also are mostly sugar and won’t give you that real strawberry taste. Best to wait until you can get some freeze dried strawberries, if possible!

  25. Has anyone had any luck making this gluten free? It’s absolutely delicious as it is and would love to share it with my gluten free friends 🙂

  26. How long will the frosting stay good in the fridge?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, you can cover and store leftover frosting for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.

  27. I was so very excited to make this. Saved the page. Got all the ingredients. Boom. Cake came out dry and crumbling. Never in all the years baking has this ever happened, so i literally do not know what i could have done wrong. Help.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Vicky, thanks so much for giving this recipe a try! It’s possible that the cake was just slightly over baked. That’s usually the culprit for overly dry cakes. Sometimes it only takes a minute between a perfect cake and over baked cake — we share more on that in our blog post on how to prevent dry and dense cakes if you’re interested. Also be sure to use weight measurement or the spoon and level method to ensure there isn’t too much flour in the cake, which could also dry it out. Let us know if we can help troubleshoot further!

      1. Thanks for the help. My stove is older, which i have finally ordered a new one, and that definitely might be the culprit. Lol. I’ll try again when i get my new stove. Tysm for the respond.

  28. Can I use almond extract instead of vanilla? If so , how much?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maurine! We haven’t tested this cake with almond extract, but would suggest reducing vanilla to 1 tsp and adding 1/2 – 1 tsp almond extract.

  29. Terry Lund says:

    I am new and love your recipes
    I have a question
    Why does the strawberry cake recipe say to use egg whites but your video show egg yolks?
    Thanks
    Terry

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Terry! The video shows Sally separating the egg whites from the yolks, then adding the whites to the mixer. Hope that helps!

  30. Freeze-dried strawberries sound like a great idea, but a cup of them runs over $40 – I have to decide how much I really want to make this cake!

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