This moist strawberry cake gets all of its flavor from fresh strawberries. There are no artificial colorings, flavors, or mixes and yet it’s packed full of delicious strawberry flavor. The cake is then smothered in a luscious strawberry cream cheese frosting and topped with more fresh strawberries. It’s the perfect dessert for spring, summer or to celebrate a birthday!
What makes this strawberry cake so good?
This cake recipe is adapted from my famous fresh strawberry sheet cake. It’s a reader favorite and a go to recipe for any celebration. It’s so well loved because of how rich and moist the cake is, which is then topped with a silky strawberry cream cheese frosting.
It works beautifully as a sheet cake, but I wanted to develop a layer cake recipe with sturdy cake layers and a thicker cream cheese frosting. This cake is exactly that! The cake itself is so moist and fluffy, using a combination of butter, oil, and sour cream to add that rich texture.
Lightly blended strawberries give this cake its flavor. Rather than blending the strawberries until smooth, a somewhat chunky consistency provides little specks of strawberry all throughout the cake. Because of this, no artificial colors, flavors, gelatins, or mixes are needed in this recipe.
Baking the cake with cake flour also gives each layer a delicate texture. This cake is fluffy but also rich and moist.
And the frosting…I could eat this by the spoonful. It’s so creamy and SO flavorful. Rather than using fresh strawberry puree, ground freeze dried strawberries and strawberry jam are used to add flavor and color. The two help create a perfect cream cheese frosting that isn’t too dry or too thick.
Tips for making fresh strawberry cake batter
This cake batter is very easy to make, but here are a few tips to ensure it turns out perfect:
- Measure the flour properly. Spoon it into the measuring cup and level it off with a flat edge. Don’t shake it or pack it down into the cup and don’t scoop straight from the bag or container. This always leads to the use of way too much flour, leaving you with a dry cake.
- Lightly blend the strawberries. Place the cleaned and cut strawberries in a food processor and pulse about 2 times. It should still be chunky as we want those bits of strawberry throughout the batter. If you don’t have a food processor, you can also mash the strawberries by hand.
- Whip the butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy. This will add air to the cake, creating a fluffy texture. See picture above for reference.
- Use room temperature ingredients, especially the butter and eggs! Otherwise your batter could turn out lumpy.
Pour the batter into two 8″ round cake pans to fill each about halfway full. Bake both layers at the same time.
How to make strawberry cream cheese frosting
The real star of the show here is the strawberry frosting. It’s sweet, silky, rich, and FULL of strawberry flavor.
The most important step is to start with room temperature cream cheese and butter. This will ensure the frosting turns out really smooth and silky. If you’re in a pinch, keep the cream cheese in the foil wrapping and submerge it in a bowl of warm water for about 20 minutes. For the butter, heat the stick in the microwave for 10 seconds, then turn the butter and heat for another 10 seconds.
Cream together the cream cheese and butter using a hand or stand mixer, just make sure to use the whisk attachment. Once those are smooth, mix in one cup of powdered sugar at a time.
The frosting gets all the flavor from two ingredients: freeze dried strawberries and strawberry jam. For the freeze dried strawberries, blend them in a food processor until it turns into a powder. Add to the buttercream once all of the powdered sugar is mixed in.
It’s best to use a jam that isn’t too chunky, that’s why you should stay away from preserves as these often have whole pieces of fruit.
Once it’s ready, and the cakes have cooled, it’s time to assemble the cake!
How to assemble strawberry cake
Once the cake is baked, allow the layers to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. Then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool for at least an hour.
When the cakes are completely cooled, use a cake leveler or a large knife to level off the tops. Then place one layer on your desired serving tray and plop about 1 cup of frosting into the center of the cake.
Spread it even with an offset spatula and place the next cake layer on top, rounded side facing up. Plop almost all of the remaining buttercream into the center of the top layer of cake and use an offset spatula to spread it out to the sides, then spreading it down the edges.
Use a spoon or the spatula to create swirls all around the cake. If the buttercream becomes too warm, pop the cake in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes and then continue to work.
Once complete, top with fresh strawberries and enjoy!
Why did my cake turn out so dense?
This could be due to a couple things. Did you measure the flour properly? See my notes in the “tips for baking strawberry cake” section. If you did, then your baking powder or baking soda may be expired. If they aren’t, too many wet ingredients may have been used in the batter. If they aren’t measured precisely, the cake could turn out too dense, wet, and stodgy. Last, it could be an issue with the oven temperature. If the temperature is too low, the cake won’t bake fast enough and not rise properly.
Can I make the cake layers ahead of time?
Yes! Bake the cakes and allow them to cool as instructed. Once they are completely cool at room temp, wrap each cake layer in plastic wrap completely. Make sure no air can get in. Chill in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
What can I use besides 8″ cake pans?
This recipe can also be baked in two 9″ cake pans or three 6″ cake pans. The cake times are about the same, but reduce the time by a couple minutes in a 9″ pan. 6″ cakes may need longer to bake so start as instructed, and add on more time as needed.
To make a sheet cake, hop on over to my fresh strawberry sheet cake recipe.
Where can I find freeze dried strawberries?
These can be found at most grocery stores next to the nuts and trail mix. Target and Trader Joe’s always have them, just make sure to get FREEZE dried strawberries and not just regular dried strawberries.
I don’t recommend leaving these out of the recipe as they provide tons of flavor and color.
How long will the cake keep?
If it’s whole and unsliced, store it in the fridge in a cake container for up to 3 days. If it’s sliced into, cover the slice openings with plastic wrap and store in a cake container in the fridge for up to 2 days. You can store individual slices in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 2 days as well.
For more delicious strawberry recipes, check out my:
- Fresh Strawberry Sheet Cake
- Roasted Strawberry Cupcakes
- Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies
- Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
- Chocolate Strawberry Hi-Hat Cupcakes
Make sure to tag me @butternutbakery on Instagram and leave a review below if you make these Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies. To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can use the button on the recipe card or on any of the photos above. Happy baking!Print