Homemade Strawberry Cake From Scratch
The Best Strawberry Cake Recipe
Not too long ago I shared my favorite Lemon Buttermilk Cake Recipe. In the post, I discussed the concept of a true “southern cake” recipe.
Southern cakes are cakes that are ultra moist, soft and delicate in texture, and sweet. They can be any flavor, yet they always have the same moist texture.
In my opinion, a good strawberry layer cake is the epitome of the perfect “southern cake.”
Its tender pink layers of pillowy strawberry sweetness and creamy frosting, taste of early summer days in the deep south.
Easy Strawberry Cake
Most easy strawberry cake recipes call for boxed cake mix and a box of strawberry jello to add flavor and color.
Although there’s nothing wrong with cake mix or jello, the strawberry flavor does taste artificial.
If you grew up on strawberry (jello) cake, this nostalgic flavor could be right up your alley.
However, today I’m sharing a Homemade Strawberry Cake Recipe that has the same appealing texture, yet tastes of fresh summer strawberries.
Don’t worry, even without a cake mix, this strawberry cake from scratch is still easy to make!
Fresh Strawberry Cake
So where does the real strawberry flavor come from?
Fresh strawberries… As well as a little bit of strawberry extract, and strawberry jam in the frosting.
This makes our Fresh Strawberry Layer Cake a triple-threat of strawberry deliciousness!
The trick is, you need fresh ripe in-season strawberries to make this cake really shine. Berries that are so ripe they squish easily in your fingers.
If you want to make this cake any time outside of strawberry season, I suggest using thawed sliced frozen strawberries in syrup.
Strawberries in syrup are the next best option, because the strawberries are packed and frozen in their peak season. They are slightly sweetened so they taste similar to ripe strawberries straight off the vine.
Butter Cake vs Oil Cake
I’m going to go against the grain of culinary thinking and state that the reason I believe “southern cakes” are superior to all other cakes is that they are primarily made with oil (or “ol” if you live in the south) instead of butter.
It’s true, butter does taste better than oil. Therefore cakes made with butter have a deep rich buttery flavor that is very enticing.
However, butter makes cake batter heavier than oil, so the texture is denser, and not quite as light and airy.
Although both taste and texture are very important, with cake, I feel that texture trumps flavor.
You can skip the butter altogether and try to make up for the missing richness with other flavor-enhancing ingredients. Or you can compromise, by adding half butter and half oil.
That’s what I usually do. This provides the decadence of a butter cake and close to the texture of a pure oil cake.
Pink Strawberry Cake
I should mention, this cake does not naturally turn out as neon pink as a strawberry cake made with powdered jello.
Therefore, if you want a pink cake, you will need to add some red food coloring. How much you use is completely up to you.
I used just a few drops in the cake batter and just 1 or 2 in the frosting.
If the color doesn’t matter to you, you can completely skip the food coloring!
Ready to get started?
How To Make Homemade Strawberry Cake
- Line the pans. These delicate cake layers will break when you flip them out of the pans if you don’t line the bottom of the cake pans with parchment paper. This simple step will save your cake every single time.
- Puree the strawberries. Whether you are using fresh or frozen berries, puree them in the blender, so the strawberry puree can blend evenly into the cake batter.
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately. It’s extremely important to follow the directions so that the batter is evenly mixed. The dump-all-and-stir method does not produce light airy cakes.
- Don’t overbeat the batter. Once all the ingredients are in the mixer and the batter looks smooth, stop mixing. Beating your batter too long makes the cake tough.
- Bake undisturbed. I know it’s tempting to open that oven door… But don’t do it! This causes a light delicate cake batter to fall, therefore creating a dense texture. Set your timer and walk away.
- Frost and serve! See our frosting tips below to spread smooth creamy strawberry frosting over the cake.
See the Full (Printable) Fresh Homemade Strawberry Layer Cake From Scratch Recipe & Video Below!
P.S. Don’t let the number of steps in the recipe deter you from making this amazing cake. I broke them down, in order to make the recipe easier to follow.
You can totally do this!!
Frequently Asked Questions:
How well does this cake keep?
You can let it sit out 3 days at room temperature, or it will last 7-10 days in the refrigerator. Make sure to wrap it well.
Can I freeze this cake?
Wrap the cake well with a layer of plastic wrap, then foil. Freeze for up to 6 months. Then thaw at room temperature.
To preserve the best possible appearance on the outside, you can “flash freeze” the cake, unwrapped, for about an hour so the frosting hardens. Then wrap well and freeze.
What if I want to make these into cupcakes
For cupcakes, I would increase the heat to 375 (for a higher dome) and bake for 20-24 minutes. This recipe would make about 18-24 cupcakes.
What brand extracts do you use?
I usually buy McCormick or Watkins extracts.
How much flavor does the strawberry extract lend to the cake?
The extract does provide a stronger flavor, so without it the flavor of strawberry will be more delicate.
Can I make this in a 9×13 pan?
Yes, you can! Bake it at 350 for 30-35 minutes.
More Amazing Cake Recipes
- Best Lemon Buttermilk Cake
- Southern Hummingbird Cupcakes
- Layered Banana Pudding Cake
- Strawberry Yogurt Bundt Cake
- Layered Jello Mousse Cake
- The Best Carrot Cake Recipe
- Orange Blueberry Upside Down Cake
- Chocolate Banana Coconut Cake
- Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread with Lemon Recipe
- Perfect Southern Caramel Cake Recipe (with Salted Caramel Frosting)
Check out A Spicy Perspective on YouTube!
Homemade Strawberry Cake from Scratch
For the Fresh Strawberry Cake:
- 3 cups cake flour, sifted (or 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour + ¼ cup cornstarch)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 teaspoons strawberry extract
- 3/4 cup fresh pureed strawberries (about 1 1/2 cups whole ripe berries) or sliced frozen strawberries in syrup
- 3/4 cup full fat buttermilk
- 4-8 drops red food coloring, optional (I used 4 drops)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Cut out 9-inch parchment paper circles, and press them down in the bottom of each pan. (Trace the pan for perfect circles.)
- For the Strawberry Layer Cake: In the bowl on an electric stand mixer, cream the butter and 1 3/4 cups sugar together for 1 minute. Then add in the oil and beat until the mixture is very smooth. (Cream: Beat on high to break down the sugar crystals.)
- In a separate bowl, mix the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Place the ripened strawberries in the blender with 2 tablespoons sugar. Puree until smooth. (Or use an equal amount of thawed sliced strawberries in syrup. Drain and puree. No need to add sugar.)
- Once the butter and sugar are well creamed. Scrape the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula. Then turn the mixer on low and beat in the eggs, vanilla extract, strawberry extract, strawberry puree, and buttermilk.
- Scrape the bowl again. Turn the mixer back on low and slowly add the flour mixture until well combined. Beat in the food coloring if desired, then turn off the mixer.
- Pour the batter evenly into the two prepared pans. Bake on the middle rack, undisturbed for 30 minutes. If the center of the cakes are puffed up, check the cake by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, take them out of the oven. If the toothpick has batter on it, bake another 5-10 minutes and recheck.
- Allow the cakes to cool 10 minutes in the pans. Then carefully flip them out on a cooling rack. Remove the parchment paper and cool completely.
- For the Frosting: Once the cakes are room temperature, place the cream cheese and butter in a clean stand mixer bowl. Beat until fluffy. Then scrape the bowl and turn on low. Mix in the strawberry jam, vanilla extract, and salt. Then add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating to incorporate. After adding 4 cups of powdered sugar, turn the mixer up to beat out any clumps. Check the consistency of the frosting. If it is too loose, add another 1-2 cups of powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add food coloring if desired
- To Assemble: Move one cake to a cake stand or platter. Scoop about 2 cups frosting onto the cake. Use a large flat spatula to spread the frosting out evenly.
- Set the second cake on top of the frosting, being careful to center the cake. Gently press the cake a little to level the top. Then scoop all remaining frosting on top of the cake. Use the spatula to work the frosting over the top and down the sides.
- Turn the cake stand to smooth out the sides with the flat edge of the spatula. Once you are satisfied with the sides, use the spatula to make swooping marks on the top of the cake. Use a wet paper towel to clean up the cake stand. Top with whole fresh strawberries, or sliced strawberries if serving on the same day.
- Cover and keep the cake at room temperature for up to 4 days, or refrigerate for up to a week. When ready to serve, make sure the cake is at room temperature… All classic layer cakes taste best at room temperature.
- Spread a thin “crumb coat” layer of frosting over the cake to catch and seal in the crumbs. Then spread on the final “pretty” layer of frosting on top.
- Or you can wrap the cakes in separate pieces of plastic and freeze them. Then a few hours later, you can unwrap, level, and frost the cake with a lot of added stability. Just be sure to do this at least 6 hours before serving so the cake layers have time to thaw.