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.

By the way, if you need a small layer cake, here is my page dedicated to 6 inch cakes. I also have a 1 layer chocolate cake and it’s actually naturally 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.

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 (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

213 Comments

  1. I made this cake yesterday (doubled the recipe and spread into a 9×13-inch pan, bake for 40 minutes) to use in mini trifles, and it turned out great! I have made this once before (as written), and both times I have made it, my batter turned out a bit gritty and lumpy. It bakes up into the most beautifully springy and soft cake, but in your pictures, the batter looks creamy and smooth…any ideas as to why this could be occurring? In any case, the trifles turned out great! I cubed the cake and layered them in little jars along with strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream, and homemade crème pâtissière. Our guests were very impressed, and it was the perfect light, refreshing dessert to serve after a hefty meal of homemade burgers and scalloped potatoes. Love this recipe! <3 <3 <3

    1. Hi Erin! I know exactly what you’re talking about and the batter looked like that for me for awhile. It’s little bits/pockets of flour and sugar that haven’t been mixed in. They dissolve in the batter as it bakes, so the cake always tastes fine! Make sure you are mixing the cubed butter/dry ingredients with a little milk and vanilla which helps break up those small pieces of flour/sugar.

  2. I’ve made 3 of your recipes now and I’m officially a fellow baking addict. All 3 have come out wonderfully!

    I am in the process of making this beauty right now Wednesday night for a dinner party Friday night that I have to drive 3 hours to (we are staying for the weekend). I didn’t think twice about keeping this fresh as I thought it would be like typical “cake layers”, and that saran wrap at room temperature would ensure freshness.

    After coming across your directions however, you only state “next day”, or the freezer as options. Would this start to become stale after two days, properly wrapped at room temp?

    It’s coming out beautifully already, and I’m eager to protect my cake for the party. Thank you so much for your beautiful recipes – I’ve become a baking nerd completely because of you!

    1. Hi Alessa! This cake is absolutely fine for a couple days if you store it in the refrigerator. It’s obviously best fresh (as most cakes are), but you can get away making it 1-2 days in advance. Hope everyone loves it!

  3. Hi Sally,
    I tried this recipe over the weekend and WOW – it came out amazing! This was my first try at something outside of box-mix cupcakes, and I am so pleased with the results; it didn’t last longer than about an hour after completion, so safe to say this was a crowd favorite! I was tasked with making this as an 80th birthday cake for this coming up weekend, and I am curious what your thoughts are on adapting this to a two-tier cake with a layer of whipped topping & strawberries between the two?

    1. I’m thrilled that you made you first ever cake from scratch, Sarah!! You can absolutely make this cake into two layers by doubling it and it would be amazing with whipped cream and strawberries between them. I hope it’s a great 80th birthday celebration!

  4. Julie Teubner says:

    I have made this recipe three times for family and friends. I love the cake and with the strawberries it is Lucious!

    But the cake is not very consistent is height . I don’t know what I am doing different…

  5. I made this recipe for the first time exactly as written and it came out absolutely perfect! This is an AMAZING cake and there really aren’t enough adjectives to describe how good it is. Thank you for sharing. I’m a huge Strawberry Shortcake fan and this was by far the best I’ve had. It was extremely easy and quick to come together and short cooking time. This will be in my recipe arsenal forever. I would have shared a photo but I don’t see anyway to attach.

  6. I just made this cake. Although the flavor is good and it is fluffy inside, it is very short in height (unlike your photo ) and I used an 8 inch baking pan. I like the reverse creaming method but the cakes seem to shrink up. I followed your directions exactly and measured all ingredients with a scale and the ingredients were at room temp. In addition, I did not beat for longer than you specified and not at a higher speed (as I know that can shrink if you over mix or have your mixer on too high of a speed). Can you please tell me why this cake shrinks up ? Is there anything I am doing without realizing it ? I also have an oven thermometer and the temperature was accurate. Thank you.

    1. Hi Stephanie, It does sound like you are doing everything right – and this is not a tall cake! How was the crumb/texture of the cake when you ate it? It should be like a soft pound cake – but not super dense.

      1. Stephanie Scatie says:

        Sally thank you for replying. Yes, it was very good. Good texture. Yes like a soft pound cake but it was only an inch tall. When it came out of the oven it was taller. Then it shrunk up. This has happened to me several times with the reverse creaming method, and I cannot figure out why !! It’s like hit or miss !! And when you use so many expensive ingredients and your time, you want to be sure it works …

  7. This recipe was soooo amazing!!! The cake was soo moist but still fluffy and the strawberries paired so perfectly with the sweetness!
    Love your recipes thank you endlessly for sharing

  8. Hi Sally. Hi m making this cake today. Can I use a 10 inch for this cake or should I add 1/2 of this recipe more?

    1. Hi Karen, This would not be enough batter for a 10 inch cake pan. One and a half times the recipe should work for a 10 inch pan. Enjoy!

  9. I’ve been a fan of you and your blog for 2 years already because this is the only site that have recipes that NEVER turns into a major failed baked good, even if I add some twists to the recipe.
    One week to this day I plan to follow this recipe and make it into a 2 or 3 layer cake. Even if this will be my first time to make a cake because those two years are cookies, bars and muffin era I have no doubts about your recipe but I’m a little anxious about the whipped cream if I can make that for its icing outside or if I should make a buttercream icing instead. I’m concerned about the icing holding/keeping its place before D-day. I have to make it ahead of time because I’ll be busy the day before my mom’s birthday. Could you please help/enlighten me on what to do.

    1. Hi Victor, Thank you so much for trusting my recipe for the past 2 years! I’m so excited for you to make your first cake! If you are making this cake ahead of time you can do one of two things. You can either make the cake the day before and wait to assemble it until right before it’s served. Or you can certainly make it with vanilla buttercream instead of whipped cream.

  10. Whitnie Bedunah says:

    How many people does this cake serve?

    1. This recipe yields 8 large servings (more if you cut it smaller!).

  11. I’ve made many of your recipes. this one was good but not my favorite. Might have been user error but my cake came out a little too dense for my liking. great base recipe though, I’ll tweak the ingredients slightly in the future!

  12. Hi Sally, can I use self-raising cake flour? If so, what do I omit from the rest of the recipe? Also, can I use almond milk instead of whole milk? Thanks heaps.

    1. Hi Jeannie! No I don’t recommend self-raising cake flour. Stick with regular cake flour. You can use almond milk though.

  13. I followed the recipe exactly and the cake turned out delicious! thank you so much for this easy recipe. Do you have any thoughts on adding shredded coconut to the batter? I LOVE your coconut cake for large celebrations but was thinking for a quick version i could maybe just add coconut to this batter? What do you think?

    1. Hi Ashley, You can certainly try adding pulsed sweetened coconut to this batter like I do in the coconut cake. I have not tested it so I’m unsure if reducing the sugar would be necessary to make up for the added sweetness. You can also add coconut extract for extra flavor.

  14. Hi I haven’t tried this recipe yet but I would like to know how long the whipped cream will last on the cake before melting

  15. I made this yesterday for Easter and it was perfection! A light and fresh delicious dessert! I doubled the strawberry mixture just because my kids love strawberries and I thought they might want more to top their cake with. They did, and asked me to make the same dessert again tomorrow 🙂 Thank you!

  16. Hello! I am interested in trying this recipe! I have had great success with some of your other cakes! Three questions:
    1. Could I add a bit or simple syrup on top of the cake before frosting to make it extra moist?
    2. My husband doesn’t like whipped cream. What would you suggest as an alternative frosting for this cake? I would still like to add fresh strawberries to the top.
    3. Could I add real strawberries cut up to the cake batter?

    Thanks! Kayla

    1. Hi Kayla! Happy to help. 1) I don’t find that necessary here, but feel free to add it. 2) Vanilla buttercream or cream cheese frosting (I’d use 1/2 of either recipe or less) works to replace the whipped cream 3) You can definitely try it. The cake may taste a bit wet and will need longer in the oven.

  17. Hi Sally, I am a big fan of your recipes!!! My favorites so far are your sugar cookies and cinnamon rolls which both came out fabulous! I really appreciate the detailed, step by step instructions you provide. For this particular recipe, my cake came out really dry. Do you have any possible reasons why this happened? We did end up eating the cake two days later from when it was made. It was sitting on my counter on a dish wrapped in plastic wrap, unfrosted- I frosted it the day we ate it. My cake was also pretty short as another reviewer described. Any suggestions you can provide would be very appreciated!!!

    1. Hi Mel, Thank you so much – I’m so happy you enjoyed the sugar cookies and cinnamon rolls! This is a pretty short/small cake so nothing wrong there! You can check out my post How To Prevent a Dry or Dense Cake to help troubleshoot a dry cake.

  18. Trish Castro says:

    Hi! Could this cake be made in the Instant Pot??

  19. Wow! We loved this cake and it became a new family favorite! We loved how light and refreshing it was, and it’s perfect for when we don’t want a huge cake around all week. It was easy but presents nicely for entertaining. I can tell we will be making this a lot during the spring and summer. Thanks for another great recipe Sally!

  20. Hannah Sablan says:

    What a beautiful and delicious cake! I made it for my best friend’s birthday today and I was so surprised at how elegant such a simple recipe turned out. Wish I could leave a photo to share.

  21. I made this cake for my son’s birthday. It was delicious and a big hit!

  22. Hi Sally I was planning on making this and I was wondering if I could use a 6 inch pan?

    1. There’s too much batter for a 6 inch cake pan. Here’s my favorite 6 inch vanilla cake if you’d like to try it.

  23. I just combined a few of Sally’s recipes and made an ice-cream cake. I used this vanilla cake for two of my layers.
    I cooked mine in a 9” springform. I don’t recommend a 9”. My cake was perfect texturally and etc but it was crazy thin. I was able to cut it in half to get two pancake-ish thick layers. Worked out perfect for what I was doing but had I been making the cake as a stand-alone dish it would have fallen flat
    I followed the recipe exactly and didn’t make any substitutions.

    I’ll make this again as I LOVE the taste and texture. Next time I’ll double it or cook it a smaller spring form.

  24. Debra Jean says:

    Hello,
    Can meringue be used instead of the whipped topping? Alternatively, I would use coconut whip cream.

    1. Yes, you can use either meringue or coconut whipped cream.

  25. Katy O'Malley Coumans says:

    Made this yesterday to accompany some beautiful farm-fresh strawberries. They went together beautifully. Another success story!

  26. Virginija says:

    Thank you for a great recipe. This cake I baked for our wedding anniversary. It’s awesome!

  27. Just gave this recipe a try, and it turned out perfect! Will definitely keep this recipe handy!

  28. Hi Sally,
    I wanted to make this recipe for my mom on Mother’s day. I had a quick question about the recipe in the directions it says to sift the cake flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Do you mean sift all of the dry ingredient or just the cake flour? Also, the word sift is not in the recipe but in the directions so do I sift before or after measuring?

    1. Hi Stephanie, Sift all of the dry ingredients together. No need to pre-sift them before measuring or sifting them all together.

  29. I just made this for my family of six, thinking it would be the perfect sized dessert for us. We each had a piece, and then my husband and kids looked at me and said, “Where’s the rest?!” Next time I will be doubling the recipe. It’s SO good!

  30. Made this yesterday for Mother’s Day… It’s a keeper!
    It is really good on it’s own and will be my go-to for berry shortcakes from now on.
    It’s much easier than making an angel food cake and moister and tastier than the biscuit type short cakes.

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