This strawberry cake recipe is bursting with so much incredible, summery strawberry flavor! Nothing artificial added. You won’t believe it!
Hey hey, it’s May!
How great is it that spring is finally here? I’m loving the warm weather, but even more than that, I love seeing the flowers and trees coming back to life!
My yard is beautiful right now, in full bloom, and the birds are singing! It’s wonderful.
And I’m feeling so inspired just knowing that soon all the most colorful, sweet, and gorgeous fruits will be coming into season!
But since strawberries are one of the first fruits to come into their season, let’s begin with strawberry cake.
I’ve been meaning to get this strawberry cake recipe up foreverrrrr! Today is finally the day.
You’ll love it because it’s absolutely bursting with real strawberry flavor. I’m talking intense, punch-you-in-the-mouth strawberry flavor. If the bright, berry-pink color doesn’t get the point across, the taste most definitely will. This is the best strawberry cake recipe out there, by virtue of taste alone.
But best of all, it’s also all-natural. This recipe has no artificial color or flavor. There’s no jello mix. There’s no strawberry extract even (although that might be a nice addition if you have it on hand and don’t mind using it!). All of its bright, summery flavor and gorgeous pinky-red color comes from real strawberries.
It’s also super-easy to make, in just one bowl. And it can be done as a towering triple-layer beauty, as seen in the pics and video here, or as a double-layer 8-inch, a 9×13 sheet cake, or even as cupcakes.
The texture is moist as can be, with a fine, velvety crumb and a delicate, melt-in-your-mouth quality. It pairs perfectly with strawberry buttercream, but it can work with other kinds of fillings and frostings equally well. So read on for everything you need to know about the best strawberry cake EVER!
HOW TO MAKE STRAWBERRY CAKE
This recipe, like so many of my other cake recipes, utilizes the reverse-creaming method. So it starts with the dry ingredients, then the butter is worked in, then the liquid ingredients. It may look a little unusual to you, but I promise the results are phenomenal and this method really takes the guesswork out so it’s practically foolproof.
Start by measuring cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a big mixing bowl.
I like to use a combination of cake flour and all-purpose because cake flour provides lightness and all-purpose gives structure. You can read more about cake flour here: Why Use Cake Flour?.
Next comes the magic ingredient. This right here is responsible for all that fantastic strawberry flavor!
I love these because you get all of the flavor with zero sogginess. These berries are distilled down to their absolute essence!
I haven’t had any trouble at all finding them in my regular grocery store. They’re right in the same aisle with raisins and other dried fruits. And I’ve used a couple of different brands (Trader Joe’s and Natierra) and they both seem to work equally well. (Although the Trader Joe’s brand seems to impart more of a bright pink color, while Natierra is more reddish.) If your store doesn’t carry them, here’s a link to order them online: Freeze-Dried Strawberries.
Then just give everything a quick whisk to combine.
Now comes the butter. Work in softened, unsalted butter until the mixture resembles damp sand.
Eggs go in, one at a time. Allow each egg to fully incorporate before adding the next. This way you won’t have any lumps.
Finally, add the liquid ingredients. Sour cream and milk will add moisture to the cake, vanilla gives a lovely aromatic sweetness, and lemon zest brings out the bright flavor of the strawberries.
Beat the batter for a minute or so, to develop the cake’s structure and aerate it, then transfer it to the greased, lined pan(s).
You’ll want to bake the layers until they feel springy when pressed, and when a toothpick inserted in the thickest part, it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
Allow them to cool completely before filling and frosting. (I actually like to wrap mine and refrigerate or freeze them overnight. It makes them so much easier to frost without shedding crumbs!)
VEGAN STRAWBERRY CAKE
While I have not tested this recipe with any alternative ingredients, I do feel it could work well as an allergen-free recipe.
For gluten-free strawberry cake, look for a gluten-free flour blend that subs 1:1 for regular flour.
If you’d like to make this dairy-free, use dairy-free butter & milk products that can sub 1:1 for regular dairy.
For an eggless, vegan version, try using a flax egg or chia egg. For each egg, mix one tablespoon of ground flax or chia seed with 2 tablespoons of water, and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes until gelled.
WHAT KIND OF FROSTING TO USE
My absolute favorite frosting for this cake is strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream. I love it because it’s so satiny-smooth and it doesn’t crust over, which makes it really easy to work with and get a smooth, even finish. It’s also very stable.
You can read lots more about Swiss meringue buttercream here: Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
To add that gorgeous pink color and intense strawberry flavor to any of these, just fold in another packet of ground freeze-dried strawberries.
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WHAT KIND OF FILLING TO USE
For what you see here, I frosted and filled with strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream. But you could totally mix things up with a different kind of filling!
CAN THIS BE MADE AHEAD?
This strawberry cake recipe can definitely be made ahead. In fact, I would recommend it.
Start by making the cake layers. They need a while to fully cool. Once they’re there, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. They’ll keep in the fridge for several days, or in the freezer for a couple of months.
Next, fill and frost the cake. Many of the frostings and fillings listed above will keep in the fridge or freezer, but they may need to be re-fluffed in the mixer first.
A filled & frosted cake should keep, refrigerated, for several days. Maybe even a week!
HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?
This cake can be left out at room temperature for several hours.
If you have any leftovers, wrap them tightly and they should be fine in the fridge for 5 to 7 days, or in the freezer for a month or two. Thaw at room temperature or in the fridge.
A FEW MORE OF MY FAVORITE CAKE RECIPES
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For the Strawberry Cake:
- 1 1/2 cups (187.5 g) cake flour
- 3/4 cup (93.75 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon (4.93 g) baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon (3.7 g) baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon (3.7 g) kosher salt
- 2.4 ounces (68.04 g) freeze-dried strawberries
- 3/4 cup (170.25 g) unsalted butter,, softened
- 2 (88 g) eggs, (large)
- 2/3 cup (153.33 g) sour cream, (plain Greek yogurt or buttermilk can be substituted)
- 1/2 cup (122 g) milk, (whatever kind you have on hand)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest, (zest from about 1/2 a lemon)
- 2 teaspoons (9.86 g) vanilla extract
For the Strawberry Frosting:
- 1 batch (1 g) plain frosting*
- 1.2 ounces (34.02 g) freeze-dried strawberries
To Make the Strawberry Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, mist three 6-inch cake pans** with non-stick spray, and line them with circles cut from parchment paper.
- Place the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and strawberry powder in the bowl of an electric mixer, and stir on low speed to combine.
- Add the butter, mixing on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles damp sand (about 1 minute.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl to be sure all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Add the sour cream, milk, lemon zest, and vanilla.
- Mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, to aerate the batter and build the cake's structure.
- Divide the batter equally between the prepared pans, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- Cool completely before filling and frosting.