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.

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

125 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. 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.

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