One Layer Strawberry Shortcake Cake

This one layer strawberry shortcake cake is a stunning (yet totally manageable!) ending to your meal. This single layer vanilla cake uses the reverse creaming method, which guarantees a uniquely moist and soft crumb. Top the small cake with vanilla whipped cream and plenty of juicy strawberries. It’s summery, refreshing, and wonderfully light!

Strawberry shortcake cake on white cake stand

I love a good dessert mash up.

Today we’re combining the delicious force of vanilla cake with the undeniable lure of strawberry shortcake. Though I’m sad to see the beloved biscuit go, we’re swapping it for something… dare I say… even better. This strawberry shortcake cake totally looks like a masterpiece, but it couldn’t be easier. It’s a nice manageable size for a small gathering and tastes light and refreshing during these warmer months. I’m officially obsessed.

slice of one layer vanilla cake with whipped cream and strawberries on white plate

3 Parts to Strawberry Shortcake Cake

  1. Vanilla Cake: This small vanilla cake comes together with 9 ingredients. If you occasionally bake, you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already. Bake the vanilla cake first, then let it cool completely before topping with whipped cream and strawberries.
  2. Whipped Cream: Homemade whipped cream is always better (and creamier!) than the store-bought variety. And crazy easy to whip up at home. 😉
  3. Juicy Strawberries: The epitome of sweet springtime and summer freshness!

2 images of reverse creaming method for vanilla cake in a glass mixing bowl

Reverse Creaming Method

Do you remember when I shared Tessa’s Blackberry Lavender Cake recipe? Prior to that cake, I had only used the reverse creaming method a few times. But I just loved her cake’s texture and wanted to replicate it here. Instead of starting with creaming butter and sugar together, the reverse creaming method begins with the dry ingredients and ends with the eggs. This method produces a lighter crumb with more spring. The cake is tight like pound cake, but not dense. It’s velvet soft and practically creamy.

You only need 1 mixing bowl. Sift the dry ingredients, including the sugar, into the bowl. Sifting with a fine mesh strainer is imperative because it aerates the dry ingredients and leaves behind larger sugar crystals. Remember, we aren’t creaming sugar and butter together where larger sugar crystals are usually broken down. Next, mix in cubed room temperature butter, a little milk, and the vanilla extract. There isn’t too much butter in this cake, so some milk and the vanilla allows the combination to blend. (Pictured above, right.) The butter coats the flour and this is where all the texture magic takes place. The coating of fat minimizes the flour’s formation of gluten, which helps result in a finer cake crumb. It’s uniquely good!

After that, we’ll add the rest of the liquids including the remaining milk, 1 egg, and a little oil. Avoid over-mixing the batter and don’t worry if there’s a few tiny lumps.

2 images of one layer vanilla cake batter in a glass bowl and in a cake pan

The Perfect One Layer Vanilla Cake

Isn’t it nice to have a recipe for a simple 1 layer vanilla cake? Not a layer cake or a sheet cake, but a simple 8-inch or 9-inch vanilla cake that’s baked in a basic cake pan. How convenient, right? Keep this cake recipe in your back pocket because even if you don’t dig the whipped cream and strawberries, you can top this with vanilla buttercream, chocolate buttercream, strawberry frosting, and more.

By the way, if you need a layer cake with these same flavors, you’ll enjoy my fresh berry cream cake. I also have a 1 layer chocolate cake and it’s actually gluten free! See my flourless chocolate cake.

Small one layer cakes have eluded me for years. They’re always too tall, dense, and/or spongey. I desperately wanted this recipe to work and I’m thrilled with the results. In addition to using the reverse creaming method, I encourage you to follow the ingredients and ratios closely. This includes using cake flour for an ultra light crumb, bringing cold ingredients to room temperature, and adding a little oil for extra moisture.

One layer vanilla cake in 8 inch cake pan

Strawberries & Whipped Cream

Strawberries: Don’t you just love the glistening strawberries? Grab some fresh strawberries, slice them up, then toss with a little sugar and strawberry jam. The jam is optional, but it gives the strawberries extra sparkle and shine. I recommend mixing the strawberries, sugar, and jam together as the cake cools. This gives the strawberries time to release their natural juices which will seep down into the whipped cream and vanilla cake beneath. This is a VERY GOOD thing!

Whipped Cream: Did you know that you only need 3 ingredients to make real homemade whipped cream? Well technically, you only need 2, but vanilla extract is always a must. Whip cold heavy cream, a little sugar, and vanilla extract together in a large mixing bowl until medium peaks form. When you lift the beater out from the bowl, a slightly sturdy peak should form on it. The peak will slightly droop down, but not lose its shape entirely. Don’t be afraid to stop the mixer and check the consistency of the whipped cream as you go.

2 images of strawberry shortcake toppings including strawberries in a glass bowl and whipped cream in a glass bowl

Room temperature or warm heavy cream won’t whip, so make sure the cream is extra cold. Pile it high on the cooled cake, then top with a mountain of strawberries. You may be thinking that all the whipped cream and strawberries won’t fit but I assure you… they do!!

One layer vanilla cake topped with whipped cream and juicy strawberries on white cake stand

Strawberry Shortcake Cake Video Tutorial

I wasn’t going to film a video for this recipe because it’s on the easier side, but the cake’s reverse creaming method is different from what I usually publish. I knew a quick video seeing the cake come together would be helpful!

One layer vanilla cake topped with whipped cream and juicy strawberries

More Simple Summer Desserts

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Strawberry shortcake cake on white cake stand

One Layer Strawberry Shortcake Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
  • Yield: serves 8
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This one layer strawberry shortcake cake combines vanilla cake, fresh juicy strawberries, and homemade whipped cream. It’s a refreshing, light, and totally manageable summertime dessert that’s perfect for a smaller crowd. This single layer vanilla cake uses the reverse creaming method, which guarantees a uniquely moist and soft crumb.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/4 cups (150g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 2/3 cup (130g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons; 60g) unsalted butter, cubed and softened to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk, at room temperature and divided
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) canola oil or vegetable oil

Strawberries

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (240g) sliced strawberries
  • 1 Tablespoon (20g) strawberry jam
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup (240ml) cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tablespoonconfectioners’ sugar or granulated sugar*
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease an 8-inch cake pan or 9-inch cake pan, line with a parchment paper round (cut an 8 or 9 inch circle of parchment), then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cake seamlessly release from the pan.
  2. Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. (Or if using a handheld mixer, any large mixing bowl.) Add the butter, vanilla, and 1/4 cup milk. Mix on medium speed until the dry ingredients are moistened, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Whisk the remaining milk, the egg, and oil together. With the mixer running on medium speed, add the egg mixture in 2 additions, mixing for about 15 seconds between. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl if needed, then mix for about 15 more seconds or until batter is completely combined. Avoid over-mixing. Some small lumps are OK.
  4. Pour batter into cake pan. Bake for around 20-22 minutes or until the cake is baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Cool cake completely in the pan set on a wire rack.
  5. Mix the strawberries: When the cake is just about cooled, mix the sliced strawberries, jam, and sugar together. Let it sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator so the strawberries release some of their juices.
  6. Make the whipped cream when the cake is cooled: Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until medium peaks form, about 3-4 minutes. Medium peaks are between loose peaks and stiff peaks and are the perfect consistency for topping on cakes.
  7. Place the cooled cake on your serving plate or cake stand. Pile whipped cream on top, then gently spread it out to the edges. Top with strawberries.
  8. Slice and serve cake immediately or refrigerate for up to 4 hours before serving. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Notes

  1. Freezing & Make Ahead Instructions: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. For best taste, make the whipped cream and strawberries the day of serving. For freezing, bake and cool the cake, then wrap tightly in 2 layers of plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw on the counter, then continue with the recipe.
  2. Cake Flour: For the lightest, softest crumb, I recommend using cake flour. The same amount of all-purpose flour works too and the cake will be soft, just not as fluffy. If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, use this cake flour substitute instead.
  3. Sugar in Whipped Cream: Some bakers swear by granulated sugar in whipped cream; others swear by confectioners’ sugar. If you’re only working with a couple Tablespoons of sugar, it doesn’t really make a difference. Use either.

Keywords: strawberries, whipped cream, vanilla cake, summer

229 Comments

  1. I messed up, got distracted and added 100% of the egg mixture all at once. Sped up the machine a bit and it still turned out great.
    My additions:
    I had over-ripe berries on hand so I used macerated strawberries instead (sliced over-ripe berries + pinch sugar + splash balsamic+ a few hours) Super good!
    I always add a scant 1/2 tsp of almond extract to my whipped cream.
    Thanks for the recipe!!!

  2. I’ve made this recipe twice in as many days! First as a birthday cake for a small outside gathering for a friend, and then again for my own household as one slice was not enough. It is delicious and light and I love the dense-yet-moist texture of the cake. Thanks, Sally!

    1. Will the whipped cream and strawberries melt off the cake if I’m going to take the cake someplace else for a party?

  3. Barb Wilmoth says:

    I made this cake and topped it with your strawberry buttercream frosting. The cake was light and moist and not too sweet and that strawberry frosting is so good I wanted to plant my face in the bowl. It was the perfect combo for my father’s 94 birthday!

  4. Can I use cream cheese frosting instead of whipped cream? Does it go well with the combo? And can I use frozen strawberries – make a compote instead of fresh ones?
    Had to change plans last minute and looking for smthing easy

    1. Hi Pratt! You can use any frosting you’d like to pair with vanilla cake and strawberries. Frozen strawberries aren’t ideal because they will thaw on the assembled cake and begin to liquify the frosting underneath. But thawed frozen strawberries should be ok. They will be extra juicy though.

  5. Laura Robinson says:

    Can you make the whipping crean ahead of time? I am making your cake today! Love your recipes!

    1. Definitely! 1 day in advance would be just fine. Keep covered and refrigerated.

      1. Thank you! The cake was Amazing and the cream was easy and very good! Will make this recipe again!

    2. My daughter made this cake and it was delicious! I am going to try making it now but I don’t keep vegetable oil in the house. Any substitutes that could work?

  6. Penelope Allman says:

    Hi Sally, I was wondering if you can substitute whipping cream for the milk in the cake. Thanks!

    1. Hi Penelope, no, heavy cream in the cake batter is much too thick and heavy.

  7. Hi Sally! Every single recipe I have tried of yours taste so delicious and this was one did not disappoint. My husband actually requested it as his birthday cake. Great job! Thanks!

  8. Hoping to make this tomorrow! Would it be possible to split the cake in half and then add a layer of whipped cream+strawberries in between?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Michelle, You certainly could but it’s not a super tall cake to split. You can make it twice for two layers or use this two layer white cake. Let us know what you try!

  9. Hi Sally! Since finding your website at the beginning of this year, I have absolutely LOVED your recipes (and especially the additional tips/notes at the bottom). I’ve started being much more vigilant about using room temperature ingredients where noted and have started weighing out my ingredients too! I have one question for you (or your team); my cakes always turn out much flatter than I believe they should (or how your pictures look). I’m using fresh ingredients and following the instructions as best I can – any thoughts on what is going on? Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Nicole, thank you so much for the sweet comment. I’m so glad you are loving my website and recipes! For flat cakes, have you seen my How to Prevent a Dry or Dense Cake post? A few of those tips will help. Additionally, check your baking powder and baking soda. They should be replaced every 6 months, but I find they begin losing their strength after about 3. Make sure you’re using a sifter here (and other recipes that may call for sifting ingredients) and using cake flour where applicable. Also, make sure your butter is at room temperature, which is cooler than most think. You’ll find my Room Temperature Butter post helpful too!

  10. Family loved it and I made it non-dairy to go with our meal (not healthy, just not dairy). I sure it’s even better with Butter and milk.

  11. The crumb was so unique! It is like a lighter, fluffier pound cake. Only substitution I made was almond milk instead of whole milk. Loved that this was a smaller cake. It was perfect for a small gathering of 6 people.

  12. Hi Sally!
    I’m planning on making this for a birthday celebration. (3 layers). I want to give it that slightly naked iced look – should I make a vanilla buttercream icing for the outside, or use extra whipped cream to ‘ice’ the outside edges?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisa, Either way works! Enjoy 🙂

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