Jan has been cooking and writing about food for over 20 years. She has cooked on multiple television stations, including the Food Network.
Scratch Strawberry Cake
This particular beautiful pink bombshell really should be made no earlier than June. Wait for the real, homegrown strawberries to make their appearance before making this. You can certainly do it at other times of the year, using hothouse berries, or even frozen ones, and the result will be perfectly acceptable.
But when strawberries are fresh and in season, bursting with intense flavor and natural sugars, this cake becomes far more than acceptable. It becomes something akin to divine. It's a little difficult to find strawberry cake recipes that are truly scratch—that use the subtle sweet/tart thing of a fresh strawberry instead of flavored gelatins or pudding mixes for the flavor. Perhaps if you're making this in January, it wouldn't be a bad idea to cheat with a mix. But if you have a batch of fabulous strawberries, then this is the cake for you.
In this case, I use a strawberry buttercream frosting with just a hint of lemon zest. I made it for my oldest, who is a strawberry fiend, but who also doesn't like cakes or frostings that are so sweet they overwhelm natural flavors (yeah, I know. I've raised food nerds). A hint for success with this cake: make sure the cake layers are absoltuely cool before frosting. Going a bit further and chilling them is a better idea. The cakes are moist and have a delicate crumb, and can split from the weight of frosting if even a little bit warm. As soon as you've frosted the layers, pop them back in the fridge to chill and set.
Feel free to garnish with fresh berries of course! But keep in mind that very ripe strawberries, which taste the best, will also have a tendency to 'weep' a bit once they are in contact with the frosting. So garnish at the last possible minute to preserve the appearance of the cake. Or use bueberries and flaked, sweetened coconut for the contrast or to celebrate 4th of July. Or beautiful edible flowers for a baby shower or birthday... you get the picture. So pop this one out next summer. Each bite will burst with the sweetest taste of summer.
How to Make Vanilla Extract
- butter and flour - for the cake pans
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoom salt
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cup strawberry puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- red food coloring (optional)
For strawberry puree, simply run two to three cups of strawberries through the blender or food processor until very smooth. You can strain the puree to remove seeds if you wish, but I usually don't bother.
- Preheat oven to 325F. Butter and flour three 8-inch cake pans, and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, vegetable oil, baking powder, salt, strawberry puree, vanilla, lemon zest, and eggs.
- Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. The tops of the cakes should be springy to the touch, and a cake tester (aka wooden toothpick or skewer) inserted into the center of each cake should come out clean.
- Allow cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then turn cakes out onto wire cooling racks to cool completley. You can frost them once they reach room temperature, but it is better to chill the cakes for at least an hour before assembling and frosting.
- Frost cakes with either vanilla buttercream, cream cheese frosting, or with strawberry buttercream (recipe below). Garnish with fresh strawberries or blueberries or with sweeteened flaked coconut. Store finished cake in the refridgerator.
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup strawberry puree
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 4-6 cups powdered sugar
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and stir well. Stir in strawberry puree and lemon zest.
- Working in one cup batches and keeping the mixer on low, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you work, slowly add the powdered sugar. You may need more or less powdered sugar—depending on what consistency you desire, and how sweet the berries were that you used in the puree. I recently used a full 7 cups of powdered sugar, but I broke my own rule and used frozen wintertime berries that weren't the least bit sweet. I've used as little as four cups in the middle of July.
Jen on August 20, 2020:
Made this cake today for my husbands birthday and it turned out so awful!!! It had such a wet weird texture. The cake also flattened and shrunk when it cooled. The only good thing was the whipped cream.
Karly55 on March 09, 2019:
This cake is absolutely delicious!! I used two cake pans, and then cut the cakes in half, so I had four layers. I think some aren’t used to making cakes completely from scratch? The density could be too much flour. Make sure to spoon your flour into the measuring cup and don’t pack it. Also, with scratch cakes, you ruin the texture by over mixing. I literally dumped everything in the bowl and barely stirred with a large wooden spoon. I cooled in the fridge for an hour so I could handle it to cut the layers. I used 5 cups of powdered sugar, and yes, the icing is more of a glaze, but it’s delicious. I have a good friend who has a family recipe for strawberry cake and she always says it’s delicious but super hard to get right, especially the frosting, so I feel like runny frosting on a homemade strawberry cake is normal! :) Mine came out beautiful and my entire family absolutely loves it! I’m saving this recipe so I never loose it! I bought pre washed and cut strawberries at Publix and it made the process so easy for making the purée! :) I wish there was a way to upload photos! :)
Roxanne on November 21, 2018:
I added a can of strawberry fruit filling and some strawberry gelatin and the cake turned out great taste really good
missing something on October 30, 2018:
isn't this cake missing a wet component? I am trying to make it and the texture just isnt right. pretty sure its missing milk or something.
Pam on August 10, 2018:
Good cake. Do use some food coloring in the cake or it will look gray. Start with jusy a quarter or a half a cup of strawberry puree in the butter cream. A full cup makes a big bowl of sweet pink soup.
Trey on February 22, 2018:
i mean it worked for me
Eve on May 30, 2017:
Glad I'm not the reason this cake failed. Horrible. I feel cheated out of good strawberries, eggs and other valuable ingredients. The frosting was like liquid even after seven cups of powdered sugar and the cake is dense. My husband ate one bite and threw the entire cake in the trash. He told me not to trust recipes on the internet but I should have known better. Don't make this cake!!
Mk on April 21, 2017:
I've never had a cake fail on me until this one and at Easter dinner. What a complete disappointment! It was so dense with the strangest texture and taste. Just terrrible.
Jo from Columbiana on April 03, 2017:
I made this cake,the frosting was a big mess the reason when you mix strawberries with powdered sugar it reacts turns to liquid .
Marty Marsh on April 15, 2016:
I just made this cake & it was very dense
Maybe because of the baking powder .
I'm sorry but I didn't care for it.
Klparker on April 03, 2016:
Tried the cake and icing recipe. I'm an experienced baker and this cake turned out awful! First off there is no true directions for mixing the cake, you can't just dump everything in a mixing bowl and go...there are steps for a reason. That however was not an issue as I know typical mixing steps. Secondly the cake turned out thick and like a sponge. Even my family red velvet cake recipe that calls for a good bit of oil is not even as dense as this cake. The icing was runny, even after adding extra powdered sugar! I had high hopes, as the picture looks nice but obviously the picture is not this recipe. Please find a better strawberry cake recipe if you are looking to make one!
Carol on February 05, 2016:
I only have two tins, could I bake the third one after the others have baked.
Jan on November 04, 2015:
Tried this. It is awful.
Candle Reviews on May 21, 2015:
Wow, this sounds so good! I would love to try this sometime. Thank you for sharing it.
Iulia Boariu from London on February 26, 2015:
Brilliant! I am definitely trying this soon.
sheretha edwards on May 30, 2012:
I have been looking for this type of recipe for years
dallaswriter from North Carolina on March 10, 2011:
Ok, I will need my elastic pants for these great recipes! Thanks for sharing!