Fresh Strawberry Cake With Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
This fresh strawberry cake is totally from scratch meaning no artificial flavor, red food coloring or pink food coloring, freeze dried strawberries, or strawberry gelatin needed to get the wonderful strawberry flavours in this cake. The colour may be a bit more subtle and blush without all those Ingredients but the flavour is what counts! Feel free to add some coloring if you wish for a more intensely pink cake. A delicious strawberry flavor in each bite thanks to the strawberry reduction that is like strawberry jam but not sweetened which gives this lovely little cake its strawberry flavour and a taste of summer in every bite. Soft fluffy moist texture like a white cake mix but infused with real strawberry flavours and a rich and creamy strawberry frosting or strawberry buttercream with cream cheese. The cake is sweet but not too sweet the frosting adds most of the sweetness. The perfect spring and summer dessert with subtle hues of pink both in the cake and the frosting. Frost it fully or leave it naked and garnish with fresh berries - simple and delicious!
Fresh Strawberry Cake Recipe Ingredients
- Fresh Strawberries: Fresh ripe berries are always the best when baking for the best and freshest flavours but this recipe works so well with frozen strawberries too since the puree needs too cook first - so feel free to substitute fresh with frozen - you may have to cook the berries slightly longer as the berries are frozen
- Lemon Juice & Zest: this not only adds a bright flavour to the strawberry puree but it ensures the colour of the puree stays vibrant and red while it simmers
- Butter: unsalted and softened room temperature butter is needed for the cake batter and for the frosting
- All Purpose Flour: I have not experimented with a gluten free flour in this recipe - but a good quality 1-1 gf flour should work well in its place and in the place of the cake flour as well - but the texture my be slightly different as is the case with most gf flours
- Cake Flour: Helps produce a lighter more tender crumb in the cake. You can substitute it with all purpose flour but the texture of the cake won’t be as tender or delicate - but in this cake it may be more forgiving as it receives enough moisture from the strawberry puree
- Sugar: Sweetens the cake and helps with the texture of it too
- Vanilla Extract: adds a hint of flavour to the batter and I would say essential to most baked goods
- Baking Powder, Baking Soda & Salt: for leavening and flavor
- Eggs: Large Eggs at room temperature
- Heavy Whipping Cream: this adds moisture to a cake and adds richness. Many cake recipe will use a combination of milk sour cream or yoghurt and vegetable oil - I wanted to keep this recipe simple and with very minimal ingredients - thus the heavy whipping cream which does the job of all those ingredients. If you would like to replace it you can with coconut cream but know that it will add some coconut flavour to your batter - you can also use half and half or even evaporated milk without too much variation in texture of the cake - if you use whole milk or anything lighter you will alter the texture of the cake
- Powdered Sugar/Confectioner’s Sugar: this is for the frosting (the range is between 4-6 cups depending on how much of the puree you end up using)
- Cream Cheese: room temperature cream cheese is needed for the frosting
- Additional add ins: For extra flavor and colour boost feel free to add freeze dried strawberries if you can get your hands on them - pulverize them in a food processor first if they don’t already come pulverized then fold them in to batter. You can also add 1–2 drops red or pink food coloring to the batter and the frosting for a pink cake (if I use food colouring I try to use a natural one - which is usually less intense of a colour, so you may need to add more to get the hue of pink you are looking for - either way add it gradually ½ teaspoon at a time so you don’t end up with a red cake)
How To Make Fresh Strawberry Cake
There are a few key steps involved in making this strawberry cake but they are well worth the effort involved - here is the simple breakdown of each step (full details in recipe below):
- MAKE THE STRAWBERRY PUREE: this is easy - simply place berries in a small pot with the lemon juice and lemon zest and gently simmer (NOT boil) until they break down, release all their juices and then simmer until those juices have reduced to a very thick puree. This whole process can take least 25–35 minutes, but could take longer depending on your pan or how juicy your strawberries were. The best part about this part is it can be done 1-3 days ahead of making the cake and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
- MAKE THE CAKE BATTER: Sift dry ingredients: flours, baking powder, soda and salt. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy then add the eggs. Mix together the strawberry puree with the heavy cream and set aside. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients alternating with the cream puree mixture until you have a uniform mixture.
- BAKE CAKE LAYERS: Pour batter evenly between the two prepared round cake pans or if making into one sheet cake pour batter in to prepared 9x13 baking pan and bake until edges are lightly golden and cake tester comes out clean out clean. Let cakes rest in the pans for 5-10 minutes on rack before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- MAKE FROSTING: Cream butter, cream cheese and vanilla until light and fluffy then gradually add mix in 4 cups of powdered sugar. Mix in ¼ cup to ½ cup of the strawberry puree - I start with ¼ cup first and taste and see how I feel about the flavour then add more accordingly - if adding full ½ cup of puree you will definitely need more powdered sugar gradually mix in up to 2 cups more to reach desired texture
- ASSEMBLE CAKE: Trim tops of cakes with serrated knife if needed to remove any domed tops. Place one cake layer on serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides.
- CHILL CAKE BEFORE SLICING & SERVING: Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake keep its shape when cutting—it could slightly fall apart without time in the fridge. Top with fresh berries and slice and enjoy
Strawberry Cake Tips
- Make sure to reduce the liquids in the strawberry puree enough so its a thick jam like consistency - if not the puree will add more moisture to the cake and the cake will have a more moist or dense texture - the cake will still be delicious but have a slightly more dense and moist texture like a banana cake or pumpkin cake
- Make sure that your Ingredients are room temperature to ensure that they incorporate well int the batter - i.e. eggs, heavy cream and strawberry puree (if making ahead and storing in the fridge be sure to allow it to come to room temperature before adding to batter)
- Do not overmix cake batter - once it is combined and uniform there’s not need to mix it any further - over mixing could result in a more dense, chewy texture.
- Do not over bake cake as it will be dry and hard - use a toothpick to check doneness but also look for the cake edges to be pulling from the edges of the pan and the cake is nice and fragrant with lightly golden edges. Also gently press on the center of the cake with a few fingers to check if it springs back. If it does spring back, then that means the cake is done. If you notice that the indents from your fingers remain, then the cake still needs a few monies little more time in the oven. Usually I will start keeping a close eye on it at the 30-35 minute mark. The cake doneness and timing always varies beach each pan heats differently and so does each oven.
- Make sure oven is preheated before baking cake layers otherwise your cake will be under baked
- Don’t feel like making a layered cake - no problem this layered fresh strawberry cake can easily be baked into a sheet cake in a 9x13 baking pan - baking time will vary but will still be between the 35-40 minute range.
- Want perfectly even cake layers - use a scale when dividing batter between pans for percise cake layers.
Storage, Make Ahead & Freezing:
- STORAGE: Leftover cake can be stored wrapped tightly or stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Enjoy cake chilled or remove cake and allow to come to room temperature again before enjoying.
- MAKE AHEAD: The CAKE layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature overnight. The FROSTING can be prepared, then covered and refrigerated overnight. Let it sit at room temperature to slightly soften for for a few minutes before frosting. The STRAWBERRY PUREE can be made ahead of time and store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 1-3 days, bring to room temperature before add into cake batter.
- FREEZING: Frosted CAKE or unfrosted cake layers can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. Make sure to wrap them tightly with a couple laters of plastic wrap and one layer of foil. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before decorating/serving. The STRAWBERRY PUREE can also be frozen in and air tight container for up to 3 months. Make sure to thaw overnight and bring to room temperature before adding to cake batter.
More Berry-Full Recipes You Will Love:
For the Strawberry Puree
- 3 cups very ripe sliced or chopped strawberries, stems removed (fresh or frozen)
- Zest and juice of one small lemon (approx 1 tablespoon of lemon juice)
- Pinch of salt
For the Strawberry Cake
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature and softened
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1¾ cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cups whipping cream,room temperature
- ¾ cup strawberry puree
For the Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup salted butter softened
- One 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- 4-6 cups powdered sugar, plus more if needed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- ¼-½ cup strawberry puree
- A little milk or cream, if necessary to thin out if needed
For the strawberry purée (this can be made up to 1-3 days ahead or frozen for longer)
- In a small saucepan combine the strawberries, lemon juice and zest and pinch of salt and bring them to a gentle simmer NOT a boil.
- Continue to simmer stirring occasionally for a 30-40 min or so until the volume of the berries has reduced by at least half and thickened - too much liquid in the puree will affect the texture of the cake - it will make the cake more moist.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes before pureeing with an immersion blender or with a few pulses in a standard blender or food processor. You will need a total of 1¼ cups of this puree in total to make both the cake and the frosting. Store any leftover purée in an airtight container in the fridge
To prepare the cake batter
- Preheat oven to 325°F
- Grease and flour two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper for easy release later. (You can also bake this cake in a large bundt pan or 9x13 baking pan which has been generously greased and then floured. The bundt pan will likely take extra baking time)
- Sift together the all purpose flour, the cake flour, the baking powder and baking soda in a medium size bowl and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl using and electric mixer or stand mixer cream with paddle attachments together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Gently whisk or stir the strawberry puree with the whipping cream and set aside.
- Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture ALTERNATING with the cream and strawberry puree mixture folding or mixing well after each addition. (Always begin and end with the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients in 3 equal portions and the liquid ingredients in 2 equal portions.)
- Transfer batter to prepared baking pans as evenly as possible - use a scale to more accurately divide batter into both pans (optional)
- Bake at 325°F for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean, depending on size pan you use.
- Let the cakes rest in the pans for 5-10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
- In a large mixing bowl beat together softened cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
- Gradually beat in 4 cups of powdered sugar, working in batches to reduce mess.
- Beat in ¼-½ cup cooled strawberry puree reduction. I usually start with ¼ cup and see how the colour looks and the flavour - if I want to add the rest of the puree I will add up to 2 cups more of icing sugar or more to achieve preferred texture
- (The moisture content in the strawberry puree will probably vary from batch to batch so you may need a little more icing sugar if the frosting is too soft or add a tablespoon or two of milk if it is too thick. You want a nice soft, spreadable consistency)
- Using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface if needed or if desired to even the cake layers
- Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting.
- Top with 2nd layer over top and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides.
- Refrigerate for at least 45-60 minutes before slicing. (I strongly recommend not skipping this step) This helps the cake keep its shape when cutting - it could slightly fall apart or the layers could slide a bit without time in the fridge. Top with fresh berries and slice and enjoy
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days. Enjoy chilled or bing to room temperature before enjoying. The flavours of the strawberry get more intense after the first day!
- This layered cake can also be made in 9×13-Inch Cake: Simply pour the batter into a greased 9×13-inch pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or into a bundt pan - baking time will be slightly longer just use a cake tester to ensure cake is done baking.