Homemade Strawberry Cake

The one thing that sets this strawberry cake apart from others? Reduce fresh strawberry puree down and add to the best white cake batter. Kiss your boxed strawberry cake buh-bye.

This is the BEST strawberry cake!! Made completely from scratch with real strawberries! Topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This strawberry cake completely blew me away. After years of mediocre from-scratch strawberry cakes, my expectations were pretty low. It was time to taste test my efforts. Biting into the first pastel pink forkful was the moment of truth…

This strawberry cake is made completely from scratch with real strawberries! Topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

Let’s get down to business. Homemade strawberry cake is episode 1 in Sprinkled, my new video series! Watch me make the recipe below:

I find it challenging to pack real strawberry flavor into cake without the crutch of fake strawberry flavoring. My goal was to create a strawberry layer cake made entirely from real strawberries. We’re talking strawberries inside the cake and in the frosting as well. With the help of freeze-dried strawberries, I tackled strawberry frosting. I’ll get to that below. But for strawberry cake? Things have always been pretty lackluster in the flavor and texture department.

Strawberry Cake Problems

  • Chopping up strawberries and folding into cake batter works, but then you’re just eating vanilla cake with chunks of strawberries.
  • Pureeing strawberries and folding into cake batter has potential, but the texture is always off. There’s too much liquid. How about adding more flour to make up for that liquid? Then your cake is too dense. And the flavor is always lacking.
  • Strawberry jam could work, but I prefer to start with real strawberries.

So how can we pack real strawberry flavor into cake batter without adding too much liquid? REDUCE THE STRAWBERRIES DOWN. Ding ding ding! We have a winner.

How to Pack REAL Strawberry Flavor into Cake

  1. Puree fresh strawberries.
  2. Reduce down on the stove.
  3. Let cool.
  4. Stir into cake batter.

Puree 1 pound of ruby red strawberries. You’ll need a food processor or blender for this step and again when you make the frosting.

Take that strawberry puree and reduce it down on the stove. This, my friends, is where all the magic happens. Like I mention above, you want a lot of concentrated flavor within a little amount of liquid.

You’ll begin with 1 cup of hot pink puree and reduce down to 1/2 cup. After 30 minutes, it will be very thick and very red. Add this thick and highly concentrated strawberry flavor to your cake batter, instead of the thinner strawberry puree.

The reduced strawberry puree will go into the cake batter. No need to strain the seeds first — they disappear when the cake is baked. Since the reduced strawberry puree needs to completely cool down, I suggest getting started the day before. Just let the reduced strawberry puree sit in the refrigerator overnight and make the cake batter the following day.

Strawberry Cake Batter

The cake batter starts from my white cake. This vanilla flavored cake proved to be the best jumping off point for a strawberry cake. I kept the majority of the recipe the same, but I removed some of the wet ingredients to make room for 1/2 cup of reduced strawberries. The cake is light, springy, soft, and fluffy.

The reduced strawberry puree will tint the cake batter a lovely pastel pink and, if you want, you can add a small drop of pink or red food coloring to brighten that hue. Not necessary, of course. (I added a teeny drop.) Expect a velvet-y and slightly thick cake batter.

  • No artificial strawberry flavor.
  • Nothing from a box.
  • Just pure strawberries.

The Strawberry Frosting

You can taste the fresh strawberry flavor in the baked cake, but the flavor is REALLY brought out when you combine it with strawberry frosting. Like strawberry cake, strawberry frosting has always left me feeling a little defeated. Fresh strawberries were the issue. The frosting would always curdle from the added moisture. And no amount of fresh strawberries could get me the strawberry flavor I craved. Instead of settling for artificial strawberry flavor, I took a trick from Sally’s Candy Addiction: strawberry dust! Grab some freeze-dried strawberries, grind them up, and toss it into the frosting.

(I actually added freeze-dried strawberries to cake batter as one of my test recipes. This was an awful decision and an epic fail. The cake was atrocious. Texture, taste, and appearance. Just… no. But freeze-dried strawbs are a YES for frosting!)

  • Where to buy freeze-dried strawberries? I always find them in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Wegmans, Giant, Trader Joe’s and Target carries them. Keep your eyes peeled– they’re more commonly found that you think!

Instead of a thicker strawberry buttercream, I used my silky cream cheese frosting recipe. Tossed in the freeze-dried strawberry “dust” and milk and was left with a frosting so pink, Barbie would be jealous!

Let’s Review

The tricks to homemade strawberry cake and frosting made with real strawberries? (1) Reduced strawberry puree in the cake batter and (2) freeze-dried strawberries in the frosting. Have fun baking!

Print
Homemade strawberry cake

Homemade Strawberry Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 6 hours
  • Yield: serves 10-12
  • Category: Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

The one thing that sets this strawberry cake apart from others? Reduce fresh strawberry puree down and add to the best white cake batter. Kiss your boxed strawberry cake buh-bye.


Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (250g) sifted cake flour (spoon & leveled)*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (75g) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup reduced strawberry puree (see note)*
  • optional: 1-2 drops red or pink food coloring

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup (10-12g) freeze-dried strawberries*
  • one 8-ounce block full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 12 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Make the reduced strawberry puree and allow it to cool completely. See note.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch cake pans.
  3. Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the egg whites on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Then beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk *just* until combined. Do not overmix. Whisk in 1/2 cup of reduced strawberry puree, making sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick. Stir in food coloring, if desired. (I use 1 small drop.)
  5. Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 24-25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
  6. Make the frosting: Using a blender or food processor, process the freeze-dried strawberries into a powdery crumb. You should have around 1/2 cup. Set aside. In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, strawberry powder, 1 Tablespoon milk, and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy. Add 1 more Tablespoon of milk to slightly thin out, if desired. Taste, then add a pinch of salt if needed.
  7. Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake keep its shape when cutting– it could slightly fall apart without time in the fridge.
  8. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Light it sit at room temperature to slightly soften for 10 minutes before assembling and frosting. Frosted cake can be frozen up to 2 months if you have room in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before 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 a DIY version: measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons. Mix in 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift it. Measure 1 cup. This sifted 1 cup equals 1 cup of cake flour. I suggest doing this 3x, then remove 1/2 cup since you need 2 and 1/2 cups in this recipe.
  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 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.
  6. 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.
  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.

Keywords: strawberries, pink

1096 Comments

  1. I made this cake for my mother’s birthday and everyone loved it. Many people were saying it was one of the best cakes they ever had. Thanks again for another awesome recipe.

      1. Thanks, Sally! So when I add the strawberry puree, I do not need to adjust the measurement of any of the rest of the ingredients?

  2. Hi Sally! My niece wants a strawberry cake for her birthday party, this is perfect! There will be about 30 people, any recommendations for how to make this serve that many?

  3. It is probably just me but when I puree 1 lb strawberry, it down to a little over 2 cups puree, not 1 cup. so what i did was take only 1 cup of puree then, reduce to 1/2 cup. Am i doing wrong or Am i supposed to use whole 2cups puree out of 1lb strawberry then cooked to 1/2 cup?

    1. I had the same result. One pound of strawberries puréed, measured slightly over 2 cups. If we are supposed to reduce only one cup of strawberries to one half cup, why use 16 oz. of berries? This seems wasteful to me, unless you’re planning to make 2 cakes, or do I use all of the purée to cook down to one half cup? I hope Sally will clear this up for us as this is a wonderful recipe. The BEST strawberry cake I’ve ever made!

      1. My berries are never as juicy as yours! Mine typically puree into a little over 1 cup. Next time you can puree a little at a time until you reach 1 – 1 and 1/4 cups. That way you aren’t wasting any delicious berries. As an alternative, you can puree the entire 1 lb of berries then reduce that amount of puree down to 1/2 cup. It will take a little longer on the stove, but be very concentrated since you started with more puree.

  4. The cake batter is finally finished cooking. So it spilled over the top of the pan, then collapsed. I did open the oven door, so that may be the reason that happened. I measured everything correctly, using the spoon method. The only thing I can think of is that I used organic sugar. It never really creamed. It was still very grainy. The cake is very dense and brown. I will try this again using regular sugar and see if that fixes the issue. Oh yes, I will also use 9 inch pans.

    1. Making sure every is at room temperature and well blended may help the grainy-ness as well. Whether is not the sugar is organic shouldn’t matter, but maybe it’s too course.

  5. Sally was amazeballs. Mine wasn’t that pink. But i used the same ingredients measured by grams. Then i decided to see your video, and you add food color.
    The cake is delicious and fluffy. I paired it with nutella mousse filling and its delish.

    Thank you!
    Dimi

  6. I have seen a lot of strawberry cakes, but this one is very delicious and somehow different from others. I just want to know can it be good for 12 people?

  7. Hey Sally, if I want to make a cake that feeds 30 adults, would you double or triple the recipe? And if so, would you make separate batches or would you make one large batch?
    Also – do you think this would work well as a sheet cake (not a 9×13 pan but a baking sheet)?

    1. Hi Kristen!
      1) For 30 adults, assuming everyone has a small slice, I would make 3 cakes. You’ll have best results from making separate batches as opposed to doubling/tripling.
      2) This cake should be fine as a sheet cake baked in a jelly roll pan. I’m unsure of the exact bake time.

  8. I am wondering if this recipe would work with other berries? Example: blueberries, cherries or raspberries. Using the same amount of puree and sugar and such. Or would that working out depend on the water and sugar content of the berry to start with? Thanks!

    1. Hi Elizabeth! I’ve had readers try this puree + reduce method with other berries and even mango. All reporting back with success when following the recipe exactly, no changes other than the type of fruit. Let me know what you try!

  9. Hi Sally…Running out of time. Need to bake it for my daughter’s birthday tomorrow as she suddenly changed her choices. Can this cake be baked without reducing the strawberry purée? What adjustments do I need to make in the other wet ingredients? Would be really great if it can be responded on an urgent basis. Many thanks!!!

    1. I don’t suggest skipping the step to reduce the strawberries. You get the most flavor without too much extra liquid (which can ruin the texture of the cake) by reducing them. Enjoy!

  10. My only problem was my cake was a grey mauve color and a bit dense. I had everything at room temp but I might have put my purée in warm. Any ideas? Taste was great

    1. Hi Brian! A drop of red or pink food coloring helps brighten up the color for next time. If the purée was on the warm side, it could have melted the butter before entering the oven, which would produce a denser crumb. Glad you enjoyed the flavor!

  11. Hi Sally, how would you recommend making this cake dairy free? I am hoping to make it into a ladybird party cake (fondant over buttercream is delish!), but my 3 year old has a cow milk protein allergy.

    1. Hi Sarah! I haven’t tried the cake this way so this is only a guess, but I would replace the butter with vegan butter sticks– I hear Earth Balance is a wonderful brand. Non-dairy milk for milk and a plain non-dairy yogurt for the sour cream are fine choices. For the frosting, how about searching for a dairy-free buttercream. Then you can add some of the freeze-dried strawberry powder.

  12. About to put the cake in the oven however my batter seems really light and fluffy not thick like you said… i tried to do everything just like you said

    1. Hi Ursula! The key to the cake’s fluffy texture is using only egg whites, not the yolks. I don’t recommend using whole eggs.

  13. Hi
    I am in australia and I have the option of 2 cake flours, a plain cake/biscuit(cookie)/pastry flour or a self rising Sponge Cake & Steamed Bun. The only difference is the self raising has rising additives. Which one should I use? I am thinking the plain because you mention rising agents in the recipe.
    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Hanim! I’m unfamiliar with the flours you mention, but if they’re anything like the flours available to me in the US, I would use the plain cake/pastry flour.

  14. Hi! I was wondering if I could use some of my homemade jam instead of making the strawberry puree? If so, is it the same amount? Will the pectin in the jam cause any issues?

  15. Hi! I would like to make this for my daughter’s birthday. But I am a fan of 9×13 cakes (ease of cutting, ratio of frosting to cake…). Can this be done in a 9×13 pan without the edges getting overdone? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Kim! Some readers have used frozen strawberries, but I’ve never tried it. Let me know how yours turns out!

  16. I made this cake for my daughter’s birthday and it was incredible!!! I was amazed at how deeply the reduced strawberry purée and powdered freeze-dried strawberries flavored the cake. Absolutely loved this recipe and am thrilled to have an all-natural go-to version of this favorite dessert!

  17. Can this recipe be used for cakepops if not do you have recommendations on how to convert it , or even another recipe? thanks in advance.

      1. Some of cupcakes are selerstong from the liners and im using grease proof liners . What ca i do to prevent ?

  18. Hi Sally! I tend to like “tall” cakes. Would these cake layers work to double the recipe and stack 3 – 4 layers in my cake?

    1. Hi Angela! Working with double the amount of batter risks over or under-mixing, which would ruin the texture of the finished cake. Rather, I suggest making the batter twice and baking 4 layers.

  19. Hi Sally,
    I noticed you used a whip instead of paddle to mix the batter. I have never seen this. Can you tell my the benefit of mixing the batter with the whip? I just found your site and this is the first video I saw, so I’m not sure if you do that with all your cakes. This recipe looks great! Thanks!

    1. Hi Gloria! I like using the whisk attachment in certain cakes because it yields a smoother batter– really gets all those lumps of butter and flour mixed together nicely!

  20. Hi there,
    I know that someone asked about halving the recipe and you mentioned to use your perfect vanilla cupcake recipe. I just wanted to know, there’s a lot of vanilla in that recipe (for obvious reasons) does that get omitted? And because I’m OCD, I noticed that it’s not an equal half of the recipe, is that ok? Does that impact the strawberry flavor at all?
    oooh I just had a thought, I need vanilla cupcakes as well, so could I make strawberry cake recipe, but only use half the puree for half of the batch? Apologies if I’m not making sense, literally just thought of this as I typed.

    1. Hi SS, you can reduce the amount of vanilla in that recipe if you’d like. You’re right, it’s not exactly half but it’s close enough. 🙂

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