How to Make an Old-Fashioned Strawberry Cake from Scratch

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Capture the flavor of juicy, fresh strawberries with this old-fashioned strawberry cake recipe. Here's how to make it.

If you’re a fan of fresh strawberries, chances are you love them baked into a dessert as well. The only problem? Fresh strawberries can lose their flavor and color during the process. But not with this old-fashioned strawberry cake recipe.

A homemade strawberry puree used in both the cake batter and the frosting is the perfect solution. It’s fresh, moist and wonderfully flavored. It’s made entirely from scratch, too—no need for Jell-O or a boxed mix with this cake. (Use your mix in these strawberry cake mix cookies instead.)

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Cake Recipe

Ingredients

strawberry cake ingredientsMolly Allen for Taste of Home

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 whole eggs, room temperature
  • 1 egg white, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2-1/2 pounds fresh strawberries

Frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) brick cream cheese, softened
  • 9 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 4 tablespoons strawberry puree

Editor’s Tip: There are many types of food coloring but we prefer gel food coloring if you’d like an extra pop of color.

Tools You’ll Need

  • Food Processor: Puree the strawberries until completely smooth with ease using a food processor. This model is the best food processor of the bunch, according to our Test Kitchen.
  • Stand Mixer: A KitchenAid stand mixer will make the process of mixing the batter and frosting quick and easy. It looks gorgeous on the countertop, too!
  • 8-in. Cake Pans: Bake your strawberry cakes in round 8-inch cake pans for the best results.

Directions

Step 1: Make the strawberry puree

strawberry cake pureeMolly Allen for Taste of Home

Rinse the strawberries, remove the stems and roughly chop them. Puree the strawberries in a food processor until smooth. Once pureed, there should be about 2-1/2 cups of liquid. Transfer the strawberry puree into a small saucepan. Turn the heat on the stovetop to low and allow the puree to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes until reduced. Transfer the reduction to a bowl and chill it in the fridge until completely cool.

Step 2: Prep the cake pans

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray or butter. Cut out a circular piece of parchment paper to place in the bottom of each pan to prevent sticking.

Step 3: Make the strawberry cake batter

dry ingredients for strawberry cakeMolly Allen for Taste of Home

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk until smooth and set aside.

Cream the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. (This is how to cream butter and sugar.) Mix in the two whole eggs and one egg white, along with the vanilla extract.

Mix in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then add half of the milk. Add in another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining milk and then the remaining flour mixture. Stir in 1 cup of strawberry puree, leaving the remaining puree for the frosting.

Mix in red gel food coloring, if a stronger pink color is desired.

Step 4: Bake the cakes

Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans. Bake the cakes for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Once baked, remove the cakes from the oven. Allow the cakes to cool for 20 minutes before removing them from the cake pans. Set aside on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Step 5: Make the strawberry frosting

strawberry cake frostingMolly Allen for Taste of Home

Cream the softened butter and cream cheese until well combined and fluffy. Mix in 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar, along with 2 tablespoons of milk. Continue to mix in the powdered sugar, alternating with the strawberry puree. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. With all of the powdered sugar added and the frosting coming together, turn the speed up on the mixture to whip until fluffy.

Step 6: Assemble your strawberry cake

Place one cooled cake round on a cake stand or plate. Spread frosting over the cake round and then place the second cake round on top. Frost the rest of the cake with the strawberry frosting, covering the sides and top. Garnish with fresh strawberries, if desired.

Editor’s Tip: Read up on how to frost a cake like a pro for a smooth-looking finish.

Tips for Making an Old-Fashioned Strawberry Cake

strawberry cakeMolly Allen for Taste of Home

When should I wash the strawberries?

For this cake, be sure you’re using fresh, ripe strawberries. For best results, wash your strawberries right before you’re going to use them. Washing strawberries when you get home from the store will cause the fruit to begin breaking down.

What’s the best frosting to use?

A simple vanilla buttercream frosting or even a punchy lemon frosting would be a lovely addition to this cake. However, to really amp up the strawberry flavor, fresh strawberry frosting is best. This recipe uses cream cheese frosting as a base to add stability, while including fresh strawberry puree for great flavor. The end result? It tastes like strawberry ice cream!

The frosting will be a light pink hue, but you can certainly enhance that with red gel food coloring.

Can I skip reducing the strawberries?

Because strawberries are an incredibly porous fruit, they can be tricky to work with. A juicy strawberry is great for eating, but it’s not necessarily great for baking! If you were to add chunks of fresh strawberries or a fresh strawberry puree without reducing it, the color of your cake would be lost along the way. Often, strawberries can turn an unappealing grayish purple color while baking.

The first step to avoid this color mishap is to reduce the fresh strawberries. By simmering the strawberries, a lot of the water content is released. This leaves you with a concentration of strawberry flavor and a ruby red hue.

After mixing in the strawberry puree, you’ll end up with a light pink batter. This is certainly pretty on its own, but you can make it bolder. Just a few drops of red gel food coloring will make the color much more vibrant.

How do I store leftover slices of strawberry cake?

If you don’t devour all of this old-fashioned strawberry cake in one day, you can save it for later. Place a dome on your cake stand, or use a large bowl in a pinch. This will allow you to keep your cake fresh for another day or two.

If you want to keep your cake even longer, cut it into slices and wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Be sure they’re airtight! Freeze the cake slices for up to a month. When you want a slice, simply pull one out of the freezer and wait patiently for it to come up to room temperature. Once the cake slice is thawed, grab a fork and dig in!

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Molly Allen
Molly Allen is a previous bakery owner and former event planner. Now, a freelance writer and editor focused on food and beverage, lifestyle, travel and parties, she brings her years of experience and industry knowledge to readers across a variety of platforms.