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 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.

One layer vanilla cake with whipped cream and strawberries

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!

Reverse creaming method for vanilla cake

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.

One layer vanilla cake batter

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.

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.

Strawberry shortcake toppings

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

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 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 (145g) cake flour
  • 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 very soft, just not as fluffy. Still delicious though!
  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

98 Comments

  1. This looks absolutely stunning Sally……I love strawberry shortcake – so simple but so delicious!!! Perfect summer dessert…❤

  2. Wooow, this is my favorite recipe recently!!!!! It looks so delicious and I’m sure it’s delicious in real life too! I love each of the components: vanilla cake, whipped cream, and strawberries. This is baking heaven Sally! <3 I'll make it as soon as I have some free time to bake. Great idea for a recipe!!!

    1. Tescos sell a Polish cake flour, or substituting a little cornflour for some plain will help keep a soft crumb.

    2. Amelia, they don’t sell it in Germany either. I usually use plain flour and substitute a small part with cornstarch, in this instance I would say about 20 grams should be replaced with cornstarch.

  3. YUM! Now this is real strawberry shortcake.

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

  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.

      1. Hi sally. I’m also interested to find out why doubling the recipe is not recommended ? Thx

  5. 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.

  6. This looks absolutely incredible and I love that it’s an easy way to feed a group strawberry “shortcake”! Definitely trying soon! One question though – why is the prep time listed as 3 hours, 20 minutes and the total time 3 hours, 40 minutes? It can’t take nearly that long to cool! Either way this will be on my list very soon!! Thank you for this one!! 🙂

    1. Hey Katie! Thanks for catching that. It should be 2 hours, 20 minutes. That includes prep, baking, and cooling.

  7. 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.

    1. You are so speedy! The perfect recipe to showcase farmer’s market strawberries 🙂 Hope you enjoy it tomorrow!!

  8. This looks amazing! In all my years of baking (35+), I’ve never heard of the reverse creaming method. I can’t wait to try it and see the results. I love strawberry shortcake, sot this will be a wonderful recipe to try. Looks nice and simple too! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  9. Sally, this cake is gorgeous! I’ve been planning on making your strawberry shortcakes this summer, as well as a strawberry shortcake layer cake I saw on Life, Love, and Sugar, and now here’s another strawberry shortcake dessert I definitely have to try! I’ve never used the reverse creaming method before, but it intrigues me, and as I love trying new techniques, I’m very eager to try my hand at it! And, as always, your photography is absolutely stunning! Thanks for all your hard work in providing us all with such fabulous recipes! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Erin! It’s always fun to try new things in the kitchen and I hope you enjoy the reverse creaming method 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  10. 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!

    1. I’m so happy you tried this recipe! The perfect way to showcase this season’s berries 🙂 Thanks for your positive review!

  11. HI Sally,
    Thanks for the fantastic recipe!
    I have two questions I was hoping you could answer.
    1) This recipe uses whole milk whereas your other vanilla cake uses buttermilk. Will the buttermilk produce a more moist cake? If so, can I use buttermilk in this recipe?
    2) In comparison to your other vanilla cake, this one uses more baking powder for the amount of flour used. Why is this?
    Thank you very much x

    1. Hi Alex! 1) You can use either buttermilk or whole milk in this cake recipe. The cake is very moist as written though (with whole milk) because you add a touch of oil. 2) Oil weighs down the cake crumb, but a little extra baking powder lifts it right back up again. 🙂

    1. I can’t see why not! For the egg, I recommend beating the egg and only using about 2 Tbsp of the mixture.

  12. Hi Sally!
    This cake is just beautiful. I am very eager to try out your strawberry shortcake recipe, and now also this cake 🙂 I saw a similar recipe on Life, Love, and Sugar, so now I guess I’ll be making two cakes! I adore your photography! Amazing as always! Thanks for another great recipe Sally 🙂

    p.s. I meant to post this comment on the day you posted it but I forgot to press “Post Comment”! I had to re-write it today! Ha ha ha 🙂

  13. I can’t help thinking that whipped clotted cream would be even better on this cake, but maybe that’s just me!?!? Perhaps I shall give it a try…

  14. 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!!

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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. ❤️

  18. 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. Thank you so much for the reply! Yes I’m using regular table salt… and my cake flour was purchased maybe 3-6 months ago? So it’s not terribly old…

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

      1. Thank you! Looking forward to making it this weekend as a naked cake for a babyshower! Happy belated birthday queen!

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