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. can you use this same recipe for a double layer cake?

    1. Hi Eve, You can absolutely make this cake into two layers by doubling it and it would be amazing with whipped cream and strawberries between them.

  2. Hi sally! Your recipe list says 1/2 cup of milk but direction says 1/4 cup? Was it a typo or am I missing something? Excited to try this cake out!

    1. The ingredient list says the milk is divided, so you use 1/4 cup with the butter and vanilla and the remaining with the egg and oil. 🙂

  3. Kimberly Mcclinton says:

    Will the recipe work the same with almond milk?

  4. Amanda Aguirre says:

    Made this today and was really easy and good. BiG mistake finding your page Ive made 2 recepies this week . Your recepies are easy to follow and really good

  5. I have to thank you for this cake recipe. This cake is IT. Comes together so easily and doesn’t use too much of my butter or too many of my eggs during this time of “scarcity” but also lets me connect with my loved ones. I’ve made the single layer and I’ve also doubled the recipe for a layer cake. I’ve stuffed it with lemon curd and also done a Victoria sandwich style. I’ve made it for family and dropped some off for friend’s birthdays. I swear it’s good enough to eat with nothing on it. Everyone says “I wish I could make a cake like this” and “it’s too good not to have two pieces, or three!” I think the oil makes a difference. Also I use the cornstarch method to make cake flour and it’s perfect. Just delicious.

    A question- I recently ordered some self rising flour (which I’ve never baked with before) because at the time that’s all I could find. Do you think it would work with this recipe if I omitted the baking powder and salt? And substituted the two tbsps of cornstarch for each cup? I may try with one layer and just see.

    1. Hi Ginny! I’m so glad that you enjoyed this cake recipe, thank you! I don’t recommend self-rising flour here. I don’t normally bake with self-rising flour and haven’t tested the appropriate amount of the flour or if you need to add some baking powder (which is likely) to really lift up this cake.

  6. Hey Sally,

    Can this recipe be made without eggs?

    1. Hi Riya, I haven’t tested egg replacements for this recipe. Here are all of my egg free baking recipes if you’re interested. It’s limited since I’m not specialized in egg free baking.

    2. I only have a 9×13 inch rectangular pan. Would it be ok to use that?

  7. I am looking forward to trying this for Memorial Day weekend. Can I substitute buttermilk for the milk? And could I cut the sugar in the cake a bit? PS – you have the best baking site out there!

    1. Hi Laura! Thank you so much. For best taste and texture (and success), I don’t recommend reducing the sugar in the cake recipe. You can use buttermilk instead of whole milk, yes.

  8. Susan Davies says:

    Hi sally. I want to make this in two days. My granddaughter wants a cake with strawberries and whip cream. Would this work as a cake with the strawberries for the filling and whipped cream frosted? Just make two cake layers??? Let me know what you think.

    1. Hi Susan, You could certainly try it that way! I suggest adding a thin layer of whipped cream, then a thin layer of strawberries between the cakes. I hope she loves it!

  9. Susan Davies says:

    Sally I made this cake for my granddaughter this morning. Made the cake twice and it did not rise like yours in the picture. The second I followed to the letter. Measured everything with scale. What could I have done wrong? It looks a bit dense. I have to go with it, I don’t have time to try again. I would like to know though what would have made it rise better. Is this cake dense?

    1. Hi Susan, This is not a very tall cake. How was the texture when you ate it? The reverse creaming method makes it tight like pound cake, but it should not be overly dense.

      1. Shania Stewart says:

        Hi Sally,

        I also tried this recipe in a 9 inch cake pans at it was also very thin. Should I double the recipe?

  10. I made this today. So easy and absolutely delicious. Rave reviews from all. Thank you!

  11. Can I use regular milk instead of whole?
    Thanks!

  12. TOTALLY AWESOME, even with some quarantine substitutions. Did not have cake flour, so I used the recommended sub (removing some flour, add equivalent cornstarch, sift twice). No whole milk/buttermilk, so I used plain greek yogurt and added a couple tablespoons lemon juice. Very easy with the reverse creaming method. Smelled divine as it was baking. Topped it with leftover lemon curd, whipped cream and fresh berries. Everyone absolutely loved it and had seconds. It was so moist, not too sweet, and had a similar crumb to a soft buttery pound cake (with not too much butter!) It was a little thinner than I expected in an 8″ springform (maybe an inch-ish tall), could have been the AP flour. Will 100% make again in a heartbeat.

  13. Hi Sally!

    I’m very new to baking and have enjoyed your recipes so far! I want to attempt this one next but I have a question about the sifting process. I’ve only used an actual sifter to sift, but in this recipe you say to use a strainer. Is there a major difference between the two? Like I said, still very new to baking so I’m still getting familiar with techniques 🙂

    1. No difference – use whichever you have!

  14. Cindi Hammer says:

    I made this cake today and my family loved it! I look to your website first whenever I want to bake and have not been disappointed in anything I’ve made! Thank you for all the great recipes. Keep them coming!

  15. Hi, Sally! I’ve been using your recipes for a long time and they have never once failed me, so thank you so much! I was wondering if I could make the cake a day in advance then top it upon serving and if I can make the cake in advance would I refrigerate it or leave it in a room temperature area?

    1. Hi Anna, You can cover your cake tightly and keep it at room temperature for one day. Enjoy!

  16. Made this today and it was an instant hit. We thought the cake was almost reminiscent of a twinkie- but way better. Wow- homemade twinkies – there’s a thought……

  17. This is so delicious! This will be our go-to strawberry shortcake recipe. We topped it with some freshly picked strawberries.

  18. Hi Sally, I plan to make this cake for my husband’s 40th birthday. Do you have a dairy free frosting of whipped cream recipe that you would suggest? Thank you!

    1. Hi Ambika, I haven’t tested a dairy free frosting or whipped cream recipe, but know some readers have had success using vegan butters. Let me know if you try it- hope your husband has a wonderful birthday!

  19. I’ve made this strawberry shortcake a couple of times, and it always comes out great. I lvoe love love the spongecake part. It has a wonderful crumb, is delicious without being too dense or dry. I’ve made it one layer, as well as baking it in a 6 inch springform pan (about doubled the baking time), and it still came out perfectly. My husband and I always come back to this recipe for a quick strawberry shortcake.

  20. Sally, this cake is INCREDIBLE. I made this for my family and the whole cake is literally gone. I subbed a little buttermilk for the whole milk and it was perfect! It reminds us of this strawberry shortcake from our favorite bakery growing up. This cake brought back so many amazing memories. Thank you for all your fantastic recipes!

  21. I made this cake for Memorial Day and it was deliciously moist, everyone loved it!!! I added blueberries on top of strawberries and it was picture perfect. Will keep coming back to your site for more recipes!

  22. Wonderful cake recipe, soft and buttery as you describe and just the right size for our family over 4th of July weekend. Thanks Sally!

  23. Can you use almond milk instead of whole milk?

  24. Looks wonderful, can I make this with regular flour???
    Thank you

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nanci, I recommend making your own cake flour following the instructions for this homemade cake flour substitute. You could certainly use basic all-purpose flour, but the crumb will be a little more dense. Happy baking!

  25. Hi Sally,

    I was wondering if you could make the cake batter into cupcakes for quicker baking time (I will be baking this with little kids and they get antsy). Please let me know how long they would bake in a cupcake tin!

    Thank you,

    Lizzy

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lizzy, Absolutely. The bake time will be around 20 minutes.

  26. Okay great! And how many cupcakes should this yield/ how full should I fill the tins?

    Thank you,

    Lizzy

  27. This recipe is now my go to summer dessert. It looks impressive and tastes divine (that 1 T of strawberry jam intensifies the strawberry flavor so much). I have made it 3 times already since I found the recipe about a month ago! Making it again this coming weekend. Never any leftovers; the oohs and aahs from our guests are always so satisfying. Thank you Sally.

  28. My friend is asking me to make her daughter’s 1st bday cake. I am no pro but wanted to try the vanilla cake for a 2 layer 9 or 10 inch round baking pan. Will your swiss meringue buttercream be good for the frosting for an outside party?

    1. Hi Marie! The Swiss meringue buttercream holds up nicely in warmer weather, yes.

  29. what brand of cake flour do you recommend?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, we love Swan’s Down or King Arthur Flour brands. Or, if you can’t find any in stores near you, try making our homemade cake flour substitute!

  30. Hi Sally

    What brand of whipped cream did you use? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Joy! It’s homemade whipped cream. If you’re asking about the heavy cream, though, I forget the brand I used in the pictured cake– it usually varies based on what I can find at the store or what’s on sale.

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