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 (148g) 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

288 Comments

  1. I just LOVE strawberry shortcake! Looks so delicious and perfect for the summer!

  2. Charlotte Moore says:

    YUM! Now this is real strawberry shortcake.

    I need to try that reverse creaming method.Hard to wrap my head around that one. HA!!

  3. if I wanted to make individual cakes in a muffin tin, will that work? How long would I bake them? Thanks!

    1. Absolutely. All standard size cupcakes, including these, usually take around 20 minutes.

  4. Hi Sally, do you think this cake would work using a small (6 cup) bundt pan instead of as a layer cake? Would I need to double the recipe? I love the idea of a reverse creaming method. Thanks!

    1. Hi Tammy! A small 6 cup Bundt pan should be the right size for this amount of batter. It will be a pretty short Bundt cake. I wouldn’t double the batter.

  5. Kayla Brownlow says:

    Love this idea!!!! Any suggestions on possibly turning this into mini shortcakes? For instance, making them in a cupcake pan? I guess it’d just be a matter of baking time.

    1. Yes, you can absolutely make these into cupcakes instead for individual servings 🙂

  6. Marti Austin says:

    Just baked the cake for dinner tomorrow. Easy-peesey!! Fresh strawberries from the farmers market and heavy cream – yum! Can hardly wait until guests arrive this evening.

  7. I had bought strawberries this last weekend but hadn’t committed to a recipe yet, though i had wanted strawberry shortcake reminiscent of the cake I had years ago traveling with my grandpa. Needless to say when this popped up today, I came home after work and baked it up. I think I baked the cake about a minute too long, but so so good!

  8. Delicious! I made this last night and was pleasantly surprised by both the taste and texture of the cake. I love the simplicity of a single layer but in no way does it compromise the wow factor. Thanks, Sally!

    1. Just made this tonight!!! It was delicious. We enjoyed it more than the usual denser shortcakes. The perfect recipe for the kickoff of summer!!

  9. I tried it today and it is PERFECT even though I used all purpose flour instead of cake flour! Thank you

  10. Can the whipped cream be made ahead of time? I want to ring it toa dinner party but don’t want to pull out a mixer.

    1. Yep! A few hours ahead of time is perfectly fine. Keep it covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

  11. Just made this today. It was absolutely delicious. The cake was perfect and the strawberries mixed with the jam great. This is the 3rd recipe I have tried from your site and I have loved everything.

  12. Janet Jones says:

    Thank you for a keeper recipe. Everyone loved it. This was the first time that I used cake flour and we all could tell the difference. I make strawberry shortcake many times during the summer months, and everyone commented that they like this recipe better. I followed your recipe exactly. It was perfect. ❤️

  13. Hi Sally! I made this tonight and the texture was great, but for some strange reason my cake had a cornbread flavor to it? I have no idea how! BP/BS are both fresh.. Not sure what I could’ve done wrong! Any ideas?

    1. Too much salt perhaps? Are you using regular table salt? Is your cake flour fresh?

  14. Sally, how do you think this vanilla cake compares to your “best vanilla cake”recipe? Do they have similar flavor/texture?

    Also, I’ve tried quite a few of your call/cupcake recipes and while they always have good flavor I’ve also always encountered the same issue. I’ll put the batter in pans and in the oven to bake. The batter will bake and rise. I pull them out when the toothpick comes out clean, but then as the cakes cool they slowly shrink. Not just in the middle. It makes the cakes denser than I think they should be. What do you think is the problem? I’ve checked both my baking powder and baking soda to make sure they are fresh.

    1. Hi Kim! Yes, this cake has a similar texture to my vanilla cake. Though this one has a tighter crumb. Not as crumby, if that makes sense! Regarding the cake shrinking– it could be a multitude of things. Here are some items to check for:

      Batter was over-mixed.
      Not enough liquid in the batter.
      Cake was over-baked.
      Baking pans too close together in oven.
      Baking pans greased too heavily.

  15. I made this cake for a BBQ we went to yesterday. I was so excited because I needed an excuse to make this (I’m such a baking nerd!) I used a 9 inch pan as I figured it would at least look a little bigger, I’ve never made a one layer cake before. It turned out perfectly! And it turned out it was the perfect dessert to bring to a bbq. After all the heavy food & sides and drinks (the margaritas were flowing), this cake was light, moist, and not too sweet. The whipped cream and strawberries (I did add the jam) just took the cake to the ultimate level of summery goodness. Everyone raved about it, and there were still 2 pieces leftover for the hosts to enjoy later. Sally, your recipes never disappoint!

  16. Love all your recipes ! I wanted to know if I could turn this into a layered cake? Any tips?

    1. Hi Kianni! I recommend my vanilla cake recipe if you’d like a 3 layer cake. I would double the whipped cream and strawberries.

  17. Eileen Moore says:

    This is delicious!!
    I don’t have 8″ or 9″ pans, so I used two 6″ pans, reduced the baking time, created layers, and it came out fabulous! A perfect cake that is not too sweet!

    1. Hey, how long did you bake it for if using 6 inch pans?

    2. Hi! I’m looking to do the same How long did you bake the two six in pans?

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Lindsay! We’re unsure of the exact bake time for smaller cakes, so keep an eye on them in the oven and use the toothpick test to check for doneness. Enjoy!

  18. Hi Sally!
    Really love following your work! This one bowl method was terrific! Second time I made cake, added 1/4 C sour cream and zest of one orange….subtle but yummy!
    Otherwise wonderful recipe! Keep up amazing work!!

  19. I made this for a bbq this weekend. It was delicious. The cake was moist and had a great vanilla flavor and the strawberries and whipped cream were perfect. Everyone really enjoyed it.

  20. OMG!! This was one of the best cakes I’ve ever made! I followed the directions exactly for the cake, but made a whipped cream cheese topping! We were all moaning as we ate it! Thank you for the recipe! I will make this again and again!

  21. Sally, this cake is phenomenal! I don’t know how or why, but the reverse creaming method creates a texture that is to die for. Can this method be applied to any cake recipe? Or does it require an adjustment to ingredients?

    1. You can definitely apply this creaming method to most cake recipes. Isn’t it fantastic? I LOVE the results!

  22. Kate Berkey says:

    I was looking for a shortcake recipe for the whole family and I stumbled on this article. I read and followed the instructions carefully and I made it deliciously! Every member of my family is so happy! Thanks for this!

  23. Amazing cake!! Loved every bit and bite!!
    Question: just to make sure, if I wanted to use this recipe for a three layered cake would I just triple the ingredients?

    1. Hi April! I recommend my vanilla cake recipe if you’d like a 3 layer vanilla cake. I would double the whipped cream and strawberries here. (Tripling would be too much.)

      1. Melissa Downie says:

        This cake is absolutely perfect for any small get together! The three of us loved the crispy edges and soft fluffy texture! I used vanilla bean paste which made it so flavourful! I will make this a lot this summer piled high with berries! Thanks for another perfect and easy recipe Sally!

  24. Hands down the best cake I’ve made in a long time! The texture is so so soft!

  25. This cake is so good, and the reverse creaming method wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. The batter came together easily and so smooth.
    It’s the perfect cake for strawberry shortcake.

  26. Mae’s Menu says:

    I made this last minute for our memorial day get together yesterday and it was a hit! The crumb on the cake was perfect– super tender but not too dense! How do you go wrong with homemade whipped cream, either?! The combo was perfect. A hit with everyone! Thanks, Sally!

  27. Love the reverse method – have used it before however my cake did not “brown” or appear cooked after 20mins remained very blond but was clearly done. It was a bit gummy – was 145grams flour too much….? or not enough sugar…?

    1. Hi Dena! If the cake had a gummy texture, it wasn’t fully done. If you decide to try it again, bake for a few extra minutes.

  28. Absolutely love this recipe and the reverse creaming method! I used the same method in your lavender cake and I am now hooked! This is definitely a keeper recipe and I can see myself making it often. Thanks, Sally!!!

  29. Melanie E.E says:

    Hi Sally! This recipe looks divine and perfect for the summer berries. I usually use organic cane sugar in my baking, but I’m worried the sugar will not break down well if we are not creaming it with the butter. I also find that the granules are impossible to sift due to their larger size. Any tips? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Melanie! In this case, I would skip the reverse creaming method and instead use the traditional creaming method where you cream the butter and sugar together first, then add the eggs, other wet ingredients and finally mix in the dry ingredients.

      1. Melanie E.E. says:

        Thanks, Sally! This would be perfect for my Granny’s birthday cake because she loves strawberry shortcake. I made your strawberry shortcake last year as a slab cake and it was a HUGE hit! I was so upset because we all ate it so quickly, and I forgot to take a picture! This time I’m determined to remember.

  30. Hi Sally! Can I substitute the whole milk with sour cream and/or plain yogourt? Thanks! And also, you are my #1 go-to for all baking recipes, you can do no wrong <3

    1. Hi Stefanie! I do not recommend subbing out the whole milk with sour cream or yogurt. You really need that liquid in the batter. Thank you so much for trusting my recipes!

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