A from-scratch Strawberry Cake Recipe! This is a moist, flavorful, strawberry flavored cake flavored with real strawberries, filled with a fresh strawberry jam, and covered with a whipped cream cheese frosting. There are a few steps involved but I’ll walk you through them and include a how-to video!
Today one of the oldest recipes on my blog gets a complete and total makeover. I first shared a strawberry cake on the blog over six years ago, and I was completely smitten with it.
However, over the years, it failed to live up to my standards. The fresh strawberries, while flavorful, weighed down the cake, and while they made it moist they almost made it too moist. It just wasn’t working anymore, and I buried it behind other favorites like my carrot cake and tres leches cake. At one point, I eventually took the recipe off of the blog entirely, leaving behind a disclaimer that I was no longer happy with the recipe and would eventually do a complete overhaul.
Well here we are. Today I have a fresh strawberry cake recipe that I’m proud of. It’s flavored with real berries, filled with a fresh jam, and coated with a whipped cream cheese frosting that’s light and airy and not too sweet. I think you’re going to love this one.
Journey to the Best Strawberry Cake
So, how does this cake achieve its flavor (with no Jello or artificial flavors!) without being weighed down by the berries?
I’ll be honest, it wasn’t easy and took a lot of attempts to work out.
It turned out that the pulp from the strawberries was weighing down the cake, making it overly moist (wet and spongey, in a very bad way). So, the first step was to extract the flavor and leave the pulp behind. To do this I separated the pulp from the juice by pureeing the berries in a food processor and straining the juice through a fine mesh sieve (first photo, above). I didn’t want to waste any of the berries, though, so we’ll hang on to those to make our strawberry jam filling.
The strawberry juice contained a lot of water, which can actually dry out the cake and diluted the strawberry flavor. To concentrate the flavor, I cooked the berry juice in a saucepan until much of the water was evaporated and the remaining juice was more of a concentrated paste. This was mixed with milk (which creates a much moister, softer cake than using the water would have) and then because strawberries aren’t a great natural dye I added food coloring to brighten the pinkness of the cake. This is completely optional, but it makes for a pretty cake.
Because egg yolks could weigh down the cake here, I took a page out of my incredibly moist and fluffy white cake recipe and whipped the egg whites to stiff peaks separately before folding them into the cake batter (photos above).
Remember the strawberry pulp we reserved from earlier? We’ll use this to make a berry jam to go in the center of our cake to enhance the strawberry flavor. Use your frosting to make a dam around the outside of the cake and fill the center with your jam.
- Almost all of your flavor for this cake comes from the strawberries. Because of this, the more ripe, juicy, and flavorful your strawberries are, the better and more strawberry-like your cake will taste. Store-bought berries in the middle of December will work, but they will not yield as tasty of a cake as finger-staining, sun-ripened berries you picked yourself. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP I CAN GIVE YOU.
- Fresh or frozen berries will work with this recipe, but remember my tip above.
- If using food coloring, I strongly recommend using gel coloring. I used Americolor deep pink. If you use liquid food coloring you will need to use red, and quite a bit of it.
- This recipe has a lot of steps. The jam and frosting can both be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. The cake could be made a day in advance as well; allow to cool completely then wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature. Don’t store the cake in the refrigerator as that will dry it out.
- Make sure your cake is cooled completely before decorating, otherwise the frosting will melt.
- Looking for a different frosting option? Try my standard cream cheese frosting, buttercream frosting, or Swiss meringue buttercream!
More Recipes You May Like:
Are you more of a visual learner? Check out my YouTube channel where I show you exactly how I make this cake step-by-step in my own kitchen.
- 1 ¼ lbs strawberries remove stems and quarter (570g)
- ⅔ cup whole milk
- ½ cup vegetable or canola oil (118ml)
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened (57g)
- 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar (350g)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups cake flour¹ (330g)
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 large egg whites² room temperature preferred
- Food coloring optional (I use two chocolate chip-sized drops of americolor gel “electric pink” food coloring).
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar (70g)
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 cups cold heavy cream (475ml)
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, divided (190g)
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 8 oz cream cheese softened (226g)
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and prepare two 8” round cake pans by spraying with baking spray and lining the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place quartered strawberries in blender and puree until smooth. Run through a fine mesh sieve over a measuring cup until you have 1 - 1 ¼ cups of juice. Do not discard berry pulp, set this along with any remaining pureed berries for the jam filling.
- Pour strawberry juice into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until reduced to ⅓ cup (pour into a measuring cup to check, if it’s not reduced enough, return to the saucepan and continue to cook until it is). This usually takes about 10 minutes.
- Once reduced, add ⅔ cup milk to the strawberry reduction and whisk together. If using food coloring, whisk that in here as well. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer or in a stand mixer, beat together oil, butter, sugar, and vanilla extract until completely combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- With mixer on low speed, gradually alternate adding the flour mixture and strawberry/milk mixture to the butter mixture, stirring until just combined after each addition. (I start and end with the flour and add the flour mixture in 4 parts and the milk mixture in 3 parts.)
- Place egg whites in a separate clean, dry bowl, and beat on high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
- Using a spatula, gently fold egg whites into cake batter until completely combined (don’t use your electric mixer at this point or you will over-beat the batter). Divide cake batter evenly into prepared pans and bake on 350F for 28 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- Allow cakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes then run a knife around the edges to loosen cakes from pan and invert onto cooling rack to cool completely. While cooling, prepare the jam filling.
- Combine remaining strawberrry pulp, ⅓ cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt in a small saucepan and whisk to combine.
- Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and the whisk leaves a trail through the jam (this takes about 5-10 minutes).
- Remove from heat, transfer to a heat-proof bowl, and place in the refrigerator to cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare your frosting.
WHIPPED CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- Combine cream cheese, ½ cup (65g) powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat together until creamy and smooth.
- In a separate bowl (preferably a chilled metal bowl), combine remaining (1 cup, 125g) powdered sugar and cold heavy cream. Beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
- With mixer on low speed, stir together the cream cheese and whipped cream until completely combined.
- Once cake and jam are completely cooled place one layer of cake on serving tray. Use a piping bag fitted with a round tip (I use an Ateco 808) to pipe a dam around the layer. Fill with your jam filling.
- Top with second layer of cake. Cover the entire cake with frosting.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!
- Cake will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
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Recipe originally published 06/12/2014. Photos, text, and recipe have all been drastically updated/improved and a video will be added.