My easy-to-follow strawberry cake recipe starts with a homemade vanilla cake with a fresh strawberry reduction then adding a luscious strawberry cream cheese frosting.
Table of Contents
Fresh Strawberry Cake
It does have a few steps because you’re making all of the components from scratch unlike my strawberry cake mix cookies, but it’s one of my best strawberry dessert recipes! Your guests will be wowed with the taste of this fresh strawberry cake!
Why This Recipe Works
Creating the perfect strawberry cake is an art, and this recipe has mastered the technique to perfection.
- Strawberry puree reduction: The secret to intense strawberry flavor lies in the reduction of fresh strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice.
- Moist crumb: The combination of creamed butter, egg whites, and a touch of strawberry extract ensures a moist and tender crumb.
- Strawberry frosting: A strawberry cream cheese frosting infused with freeze-dried strawberries takes this cake to new heights.
Let’s delve into the key ingredients that make this strawberry cake a sweet sensation.
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Strawberry puree reduction: Fresh strawberries (ripe and plump are best!), sugar, and lemon juice to brighten the flavor.
- Egg whites: These give the cake a light and airy texture.
- Lemon zest: Gives the cake a subtle citrusy note, complementing the strawberries.
- Whole milk: Provides moisture for a moist crumb
- Extract: Vanilla extract gives the cake rich flavor. Add some strawberry extract for intense strawberry flavor.
- Red or pink food coloring: Optional, but it adds a nice visual touch.
- Baking staples: All-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda, vanilla extract, unsalted butter, and granulated sugar.
- Strawberry frosting: Freeze-dried strawberries, brick-style cream cheese, salted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and whole milk.
Substitutions and Variations
The beauty of a homemade strawberry cake is that you can switch up the frosting and for a variation each time you make it.
No matter what, it’ll still be the best strawberry cake recipe!
How to Make Strawberry Cake
- Prepare the strawberry puree reduction: Combine fresh strawberry puree, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat for 25 minutes until the mixture reduces by half. Cool the strawberry reduction completely before adding it to the cake batter.
- Mix and bake strawberry cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare two 9-inch round cake pans. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugar, add wet ingredients, then gradually incorporate dry ingredients and strawberry reduction. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Prepare the strawberry frosting: Pulse freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor to create a fine powder. Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth, then add powdered sugar, strawberry powder, vanilla, and milk. Continue beating until the frosting reaches a creamy, spreadable consistency.
- Assemble and garnish: Place the first cake layer on a serving plate, spread frosting, add the second layer, and frost the entire cake. Garnish with fresh strawberries for a decorative touch.
- Consider using cake release instead of cooking spray and parchment paper for easy removal. Rub shortening into the pan and generously dust with flour before adding the cake batter.
- Mix the batter until just combined. Overmixing can lead to a dense cake. Use a gentle hand when folding in the dry ingredients.
- If your cakes have a dome, gently slice the tops after freezing for even stacking.
Freeze-dried strawberries add a concentrated flavor and vibrant color to the frosting. If you can’t find them, you can try using strawberry jam or preserves, but the frosting texture and flavor may vary.
Absolutely. The food coloring is optional and is only added for visual appeal to brighten the pink. The cake will taste just as delicious without it.
Store the assembled cake in the refrigerator, especially if your frosting contains cream cheese. Cover it with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container to keep it fresh.
Yes, you can! After the cake layers have cooled completely, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer. Thaw before assembling the cake.
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Strawberry Cake Recipe
Strawberry Puree Reduction
- 1 pound fresh strawberries , rinsed, hulled and pureed in a blender
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour , spooned and leveled
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup unsalted butter , softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large egg whites , at room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon strawberry extract , optional (could substitute this with vanilla extract)
- 1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
- ½ cup whole milk
- Red or pink food coloring , optional
- 1 ½ cup freeze-dried strawberries
- 6 ounces cream cheese , at room temperature
- ½ cup salted butter , softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon whole milk
- Start by making the strawberry puree reduction. Combine the pureed strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Stirring occasionally, simmer over medium-low heat for 25 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by half. You should end up with a little more than ½ cup. Allow the reduction to cool completely before adding to the cake batter.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray, then line the bottoms with parchment paper.
- Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg whites, vanilla extract, strawberry extract, and lemon zest and continue to beat on medium speed until well combined and fluffy.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and add in half of the dry ingredient mixture. Mix until combined. Slowly add in the milk and continue mixing until it is fully incorporated. Add in 1/2 cup of the cooled strawberry reduction and the remaining dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Mix in a few drops of pink or red food coloring, if using, to achieve your desired color. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed to make sure the coloring is even throughout. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. Allow to cool completely in the pans before removing and assembling the cake. Once cooled, wrap the cake layers in plastic wrap and place into the freezer for at least 20 minutes before assembling.
- To make the frosting, place the freeze-dried strawberries into a food processor and pulse until it makes a fine powder. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Reduce to a low speed and add in the powdered sugar, strawberry powder, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of milk. Increase to medium speed and beat until creamy. Add another tablespoon of milk if the frosting needs to be thinned out. It should be a spreadable consistency.
- Place the first cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread about 1 cup of frosting across the cake top. Top with the 2nd cake layer and spread the remaining frosting across the cake and down the sides. Garnish with strawberries, if desired.
- A cake release could also be used instead of cooking spray and parchment paper. To do so, rub shortening into the pan and generously dust with flour before adding the cake batter.
- If the tops of your cakes create a dome, use a serrated knife and gently slice off the top (after you freeze), so your layers will stack nicely.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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