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

290 Comments

  1. Cake was delicious, just perfect with strawberries, so light and flavorful. We did try the strawberries sliced, but prefer to mash them with potato masher they get much juicier.

  2. Amy Obolewicz says:

    Hi! Thank you so much for all of your recipes. Our family are your biggest fans. We actually have a friend we’d like to bless with this particular cake for her birthday since Strawberry Shortcake is her favorite. We have doubled the recipe to make it two layers. Only thing is: We have to prepare it tonight for a lengthy transport tomorrow (2 ish hours). We are super worried the whip cream won’t stand up to the trip. Can you recommend a good alternative “icing” recipe please? Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amy! Vanilla buttercream or cream cheese frosting (we’d use 1/2 of either recipe or less) would to replace the whipped cream.

  3. This recipe puts the whipped cream on first and then the strawberries. Has anyone tried doing the more traditional strawberries first? Is there a reason for the flip? Then the strawberry juice soaks into the cake and the whipped cream stays higher. Probably best to put it together last minute.

  4. Can I make this a layer cake (more than one layer)?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amy, you can absolutely make this cake into two layers (best to make two separate batches) and it would be amazing with whipped cream and strawberries between them. Enjoy!

  5. Hi, what if I don’t have vegetable oil or canola oil for the cake or strawberry jam for the filling? Any substitute??

  6. Amy Wonder says:

    Can I skip the jam?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amy, The jam is optional, but it gives the strawberries extra sparkle and shine.

  7. Hi Sally

    Can this be baked in an 8” square ?

    Thanks

    Nancy

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nancy, that should be just about the correct size. Let us know if you give it a try!

  8. Hi, how can I change this recipe to fit a 6 inch cake pan??

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Veronica, our handy Cake Pan Sizes and Conversions guide can help you scale this recipe for your needs.

  9. Hi I was just wondering if you can use salted butter rather than unsalted?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ally, yes, you can use salted butter here instead. You may choose to slightly reduce the salt in the recipe, but do not leave it out completely.

  10. Can you make multiple of these and layer them.
    Thanks

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Deirdre, you can absolutely make this cake into two layers (best to make two separate batches) and it would be amazing with whipped cream and strawberries between them. Enjoy!

  11. If I’m making this into 2 layers using 6 inch cake pans, how can I make sure the whipped cream is stabilized and won’t fall when I add a second layer on top?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Veronica, we find this whipped cream is plenty stabilized as is and should work wonderfully for between layers. If you’d like, you can try adding some gelatin for extra stability — but we don’t find it necessary.

  12. I made this cake today for husband and I. Turned out wonderful. I usually make strawberry shortcake with your recipe on Angel Food Cake. I just wanted something different and easy this time and found this cake. It’s perfect also for two people that want just some cake. This is a keeper Sally. My mom when I was young and living at home made strawberry shortcake with biscuit recipe. I seen you have one similar. I should try that next time. But. I must say, your Angel Food Cake is the best I ever made, which I must have made 7 times now. Thanks again

  13. I’ve made this before…will make today…Mother’s Day (Happy MD to all) to go with dinner that the kids are bringing by. I have some cook’s notes to share:
    1–put your sugar in your food processor or blender to make it finer for this method.
    2–Use Sally’s cake flour substitute if you don’t have cake flour
    3–Grown up berries…Use a medley of seasonal berries. Mix a splash of black raspberry liqueur with orange marmalade, apricot, or any red berried jam and warm on stove. Put it over your berries.
    4–over the top whipped cream: Consider mixing whipped cream with homemade lemon curd and add some marscapone (no firm ratios, to your taste/and consistency.

  14. made this and it came out amazing! i want to make this version & a chocolate version tonight. would i be able to add cocoa powder to this recipe and if so how much?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jo! We usually make chocolate cake with all oil instead of butter, so we don’t have any recipes using this method for a chocolate flavor. You may love this one layer flourless chocolate cake or 6 inch chocolate cake instead!

  15. Piper Callaway says:

    If I make this cake to freeze, do you recommend thawing overnight in the fridge or on the counter? Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Piper! We recommend thawing in the fridge. Here’s more information on freezing cakes.

  16. Cissie Fuller says:

    Sally
    I made the strawberry cake with the whipped topping and strawberries. This was loved by all. So delicious!
    Thank you
    Cissie Fuller

  17. how do you think this would taste if using the strawberry compote (instead of strawberries + jam) from your pound cake recipe ?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      That would be delicious, Melissa! Let us know if you give it a try.

  18. Diana Wyble says:

    After I make the cake and let it cool, could I use a bowl cut the cake in bite size pieces then, add whipped cream and strawberries in layers. My reasoning is I want to double the servings.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Diana, you sure can!

  19. Wow!! Your recipes never disappoint!! You make me look sooo good!! I am literally making this cake for the third time within 6 weeks!! Truly incredible!!

  20. I made this yesterday for a small group I had over last night and it was absolutely delicious! I am already planning on making it again. All of Sally’s recipes are the best. She gives excellent instructions for perfect results every time!

  21. Stephanie Browner says:

    What about using buttermilk instead of milk? How would it change the texture?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stephanie, you can use buttermilk instead of the whole milk here, yes. Hope you enjoy the cake!

  22. Hi! Can I use 2% milk in this recipe?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      2% milk will work in a pinch, yes. Enjoy!

  23. Can I use all-purpose flour?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Julie, For the lightest, softest crumb, we 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.

  24. I need to bake the cake two days before serving. Can I wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature, or should I wrap it, and put it into the refrigerator, and then bring it up to room temperature before adding the berries and whipped cream? Thanks!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sheryl, we’d recommend just that — wrapping, placing in the fridge, and then bringing to room temperature before decorating. Enjoy!

  25. This cake was simple and amazing! Reverse creaming method is so easy. Love the texture of the cake. My berries were not the best tasting but that did not stop me from fully enjoying this cake. Will be making this recipe all summer.

  26. Kathy Pratt says:

    Can I make this in a 9×13 pan. Would I double the recipe of 1.5 it? I have a dessert loving group coming for dinner on Sunday. I am not great at layering. The tops don’t stay together.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kathy! We would use this vanilla sheet cake recipe for the cake portion instead!

  27. HI,
    I am planning to bake the cake the night before, and then will prepare the strawberries and whipped cream the day I will be serving the cake. Does the cake need to be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, or would it be ok to have it in a covered dome-shape cake holder?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Susan, the cake should be just fine stored in the cake holder, so long as it is air-tight and completely covered. Hope you enjoy the cake!

  28. Gale Danielson says:

    This cake is delicious. Having a piece right now. Like it much better than with the biscuit.

  29. Loren E Clive says:

    I just love this cake. I make it for birthdays, Father’s Day, etc.

    I found, however, the cake just too small for my 9″ pans. Batter barely covered the bottom and was only 1/2″ high cooked. So I tripled the recipe, split into two 9″ pans, cakes came out normal size, still not quite an inch high but fatter on top.

    Delicious shortcake!

  30. Audrey Anderson says:

    This recipe didn’t work for me. I’m a pretty good baker so felt confident trying a new recipe but it turned out flat and dense. Used all the required ingredients at the correct temperatures. Smells good but will not be the light fluffy base for my shortcake I was hoping for.

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