Out of the blue the other day, my son said to me from the backseat, “Mom, I want us to bake a cake.” Never one to shy away from baked goods, I replied, “Sure, what kind of cake do you want to make?” “A fancy one. You, know the one with lots of levels that looks like a triangle?” If you’re as confused as I was, let me clarify. It took me until the next day to figure out that he was talking about a tiered cake – like a wedding cake – with eight layers (at least that’s how many he thought it should have).
Obviously I wasn’t about to run to the store and pick up a bunch of cake tiers, so I started showing him photos of cakes on Pinterest. As I scrolled, he hemmed and hawed, but was so excited when he saw a strawberry cake with layers and pink icing with fresh berries. It looked gorgeous, so I was almost as excited as he was to test out the recipe.
This Fresh Strawberry Cake recipe starts with a rich, moist vanilla cake that is divided into three layers, and slathered with the most light and fluffy whipped cream and cream cheese frosting, and it’s overflowing with fresh strawberries. It’s a light yet filling treat that’s perfect for summer. It’s the best Strawberry Cake you’ve ever had!
How to Make Fresh Strawberry Cake
* Be sure to see the recipe card below for the complete list of ingredients and full instructions *
The vanilla cake is dense, almost like a pound cake but fluffier, which is of course perfect for this Strawberry Shortcake type dessert. In the original recipe I found, there were instructions for making a two layer cake, but if this homemade strawberry cake was going to be fancy enough to satisfy my boy, it had to have three layers. I increased the recipe and made a couple of adjustments, which I’ll share in the recipe below.
Prep. Always, always preheat your oven for even cooking. Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 3, 9-inch round baking pans.
Mix. Combine all of the ingredients as described in the recipe, dry ingredients in one bowl and wet in another. I use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Make sure to carefully follow the measurements.
Pour. Divide the batter into the three pans. Having a kitchen scale would come in handy here, but you can also just eyeball it. Tap the pans on the counter a few times to release air bubbles. This will result in a flatter top for your cake layers.
Bake. Slide the pans into the oven and bake for about 35 minutes. The tops should be golden and should spring back when lightly touched. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean with a few moist crumbs. Cool the cake layers in the pans for 10-15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
How to Frost a Fresh Strawberry Cake
The fresh strawberry frosting was positively glorious! With fresh, homemade whipped cream, a little sugar (I use granulated but you can also use powdered sugar) and tons of fresh strawberries, it’s light and fresh and creamy, and the perfect way to balance out the heaviness of the cake. Whipping in some cream cheese helps to stabilize the frosting and keep it from melting too quickly.
Topped with fresh strawberry slices, this Fresh Strawberry Cake is the perfect springtime dessert. It’s got fresh strawberries for real strawberry flavor and a creamy smooth texture.
Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat whipped cream until stiff peaks form. This will take several minutes at high speed, but is crucial to stabilizing the frosting. *TIP – chill the metal bowl and whisk in the freezer for 20 minutes to help keep the whipped cream cold. Set the whipped cream in the refrigerator while you whip the cream cheese.
Beat the cream cheese with sugar and vanilla for several minutes. It should be super creamy and fluffy.
Add chopped strawberries to the cream cheese, then fold in the chilled whipped cream.
Make sure your cake is completely cooled before adding the frosting.
Expert Tips and FAQs
Can you make this recipe into cupcakes? Yes, you can, keeping in mine that the recipe is for a 3 layer cake so it will make a lot of cupcakes. You can use the slider in the recipe card to change the serving from 12 to 8 to easily cut the recipe by a third if you like. As is, it will make around 36 cupcakes.
Can I make this fresh strawberry cake in a 9×13-inch baking pan? As with the cupcakes, you’d have batter left over using the recipe as is. If you use the slider to go from 12 to 8 servings, this will reduce the recipe and make it doable for a baking dish instead of 3 layers.
Can I use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour? I recommend using cake flour for this fresh strawberry cake. It will give a lighter, fluffier texture.
Can I use frozen strawberries instead of fresh? No, frozen berries have a lot of liquid and won’t hold up well in the frosting. I recommend using fresh.
Can I make this cake ahead of time? You can make just the vanilla cake up to 2 days in advance. Cool, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to frost. I suggest preparing the frosting no more than a couple of hours in advance. If you must make the frosting in advance, you can do so but don’t add the strawberries until just before icing the cake.
Does a Cake with Fresh Strawberries Need to be refrigerated? This Strawberry Cake should be stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The whipped cream strawberry frosting will melt if left out for too long. Keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve, then right back in the fridge after slicing and serving. You can lightly cover it with plastic wrap to keep it moist.
How do you keep strawberries fresh in a cake? Before you add your chopped berries to the frosting or to garnish the cake, wash them in a water and vinegar solution and dry them really well. Also, I recommend making the frosting no more than 1-2 hours in advance of serving or the berries will begin to weep and melt the icing. Keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve, and don’t garnish until just before serving.
Can I use a boxed cake mix? If you are short on time and just want the frosting, you can use a cake mix instead. Keep in mind that mixes tend to be softer and may not hold up as well against the frosting.
For best results, keep refrigerated until ready to serve, then place back in the fridge immediately after slicing.
To give your cake a pink hue to match the frosting, add a few drops of red food coloring.
8ouncescream cheese, softenedbrick style, full fat
2-3pintsstrawberriesfinely chopped (= about 2 cups chopped strawberries)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare 3, 9-inch round cake pans by spraying liberally with non-stick cooking spray.
Sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Slowly add the eggs and mix well until combined.
Stir in sour cream, vanilla and optional orange extract, and mix well until combined.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add half of the flour mixture. Stir until fully incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl again and stir in the milk.
Add the remaining flour, and stir until the flour is fully incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and give it one last stir.
Divide the batter into 3 prepared, round baking pans.
Bake in 325 degree oven for about 35 minutes. Cakes are done when tops spring back with a light touch, or a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before turning over onto a plate or baking rack.
In your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, (or with a hand held mixer) beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks are formed. Set aside, preferably in the fridge. (If you have two bowls for your stand mixer, leave it in the bowl, if not, transfer to another bowl before placing in the fridge). *NOTE – use a chilled bowl and paddle to help keep the cream cool.
Fit the paddle attachment on your mixer and beat cream cheese on high until light and fluffy, scraping the sides a couple of times. Add the vanilla and sugar and beat on medium until fully incorporated.
Stir in chopped strawberries on low speed. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Gently fold in the whipped cream with a spatula until well combined.
Place the first cake layer on your serving platter and frost just the top with the strawberry frosting (about 1/2″ or so thick). Repeat with the next two layers, then frost the sides with an offset spatula (the long and skinny kind). Smooth top and sides until even, then top with sliced strawberries for garnish, if desired.
This cake should be refrigerated until ready to serve. You can make this recipe into cupcakes. It will make 36-40 as is. If you only need 24 cupcakes, slide the servings slider to 8 servings and use those measurements. Bake time will vary, but should take approx. 20 minutes. For a 9×13-inch baking dish, slide the servings slider to 8 servings and use those measurements. Bake for approx. 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let us know how it was by leaving a review or sharing on Instagram with the tag #yellowblissroad
This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated in 2021 to include tips, notes and answers to frequently asked questions.
Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.