This is a moist, flavorful strawberry cake recipe that uses strawberry jam to flavor the white cake batter. I’ve layered it with an easy strawberry cream cheese buttercream for a beautiful and delicious cake!

strawberry cake slice with fork removed.

I developed this strawberry cake recipe starting with my classic white cake recipe. I already perfected a light, moist white cake and to maximize the strawberry flavor, I replace most of the liquids with an easy strawberry jam! The jam comes together in under 10 minutes and is thickened with cornstarch.

The cake is sweet, moist and has a strong natural strawberry flavor without having to add expensive dehydrated strawberries or strawberry flavoring.

Why You Will Love this Fresh Strawberry Cake

  • Light, tender cake with vibrant flavor. My white cake recipe uses only egg whites, which makes this cake extra light and provides a neutral flavor base for the strawberry jam. It also is pure white, so the cake will be a pale pink even without food coloring.
  • A versatile recipe. You can bake as a layer cake, sheet cake or as cupcakes! Try with an easy chocolate buttercream frosting instead of the strawberry for a fun flavor twist.
  • Strawberry jam makes the cake more tender. Using strawberry jam is easier and more consistent than reducing strawberry puree. Cooking the strawberries with sugar and lemon intensifies the strawberry flavor beyond what is possible with strawberry puree alone.  
  • No food processor or blender needed. Making the jam softens the strawberries so you don’t have to use a food processor. For a smoother jam, use a hand blender or even a Nutribullet!
removing slice of strawberry cake on server.

Professional Tips for Making Strawberry Layer Cake

  • Read the instructions all the way through first! This cake is easy but the process is perhaps different than you would expect. Egg whites are beaten to stiff peaks before preparing the batter, the that meringue is folded into the batter to lighten and leaven!
  • Use cake flour and sift it. You know I don’t love unnecessary steps, but sifted cake flour is needed for the perfect light, white texture. Cake flour also has cornstarch in it already, which will make a more tender cake.
  • Make the quick strawberry jam with fresh or frozen strawberries. The better the jam, the better the cake, so start with the best strawberries you can find!
  • Room temperature ingredients make the best cake. For the best texture, use room temperature ingredients. If you didn’t take them out of the fridge in time, don’t stress. Your cake will still be delicious.

Ingredients & Possible Substitutions

strawberry cake ingredients on marble.

For the Quick Strawberry Jam:

  • Strawberries: You can use fresh or frozen strawberries for the jam. The better the strawberry, the better the cake.
  • Lemon: Using the lemon zest and fresh lemon juice amplify the strawberries natural flavors and add a bit of acidity to balance the sweetness.
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Cornstarch: I thicken this easy jam with cornstarch for simplicity. This eliminates the need for pectin and will make a nice thick jam perfect for cake.

For the Cake Batter:

  • Cake Flour: I already touched on this above but cake flour is essential for the best strawberry cake. It will make it lighter in texture and more white in color.
  • Baking Powder: Baking powder leavens twice, once in the presence of an acid like the lemon in the jam and again in the oven. It makes a more even crumb in cake.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Granulated Sugar: Creaming the sugar with the butter adds some of the leavening in this recipe.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Egg Whites: This recipe uses 6 egg whites. You can use the ones in the carton or separate the whites and save the yolks for this chocolate ice cream recipe or a rich chocolate pot de crème. You can even make these carrot cake cookies with one egg yolk!
  • Milk: A little milk cuts the sweetness and adds needed moisture to the cake. I use whole milk for baking but you can use any milk you have on hand including alternative milks.
  • Strawberry Jam: I use the homemade strawberry jam but you can also use store-bought jam. Cake made with store-bought will be sweeter.
  • Red Food Coloring: Red food coloring is optional but you can use either liquid food dye or gel. Gel food coloring is more intense than liquid. For this purpose it doesn’t really matter. Add it to the milk/jam mixture to evenly and easily incorporate it into the batter without over mixing.

For the Strawberry Buttercream:

  • Cream Cheese: Use full-fat block-style cream cheese for the best frosting. Light or whipped will make the frosting too loose.
  • Butter
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Freeze Dried Strawberries
  • Vanilla Extract

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Possible Variations

  • Make it into cupcakes or a sheet cake: Bake the same recipe into a 13 x9 inch pan for a sheet cake or into 21 cupcakes. Allow to cool and then pipe or spread on the frosting.  
  • Try a different frosting or buttercream: An easy chocolate buttercream recipe or lemon buttercream would be a wonderful complimentary flavor! You could also make an Italian meringue buttercream and flavor it with lemon curd, melted chocolate or the strawberry jam!
  • Bake a heart shaped cake for a special occasion. Use this strawberry cake recipe to make this heart shaped cake for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day! Decorate with chocolate strawberries and sprinkles.

How to Make Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Use these instructions to make the perfect layered strawberry cake with strawberry cream cheese buttercream frosting! Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.

Prepare the strawberry jam:

Step 1: Combine strawberries, sugar, zest and lemon juice in a pot. Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat until the strawberries begin to break down and release their juices. Immersion blend or mash with a potato masher. You can also use a traditional blender (carefully!).

Step 2: Continue to simmer and once strawberry mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes, combine cornstarch and 1-2 teaspoons of water in a small bowl. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the strawberry jam while whisking constantly. The mixture will instantly thicken. Reduce heat to medium low if in danger of burning and boil for 60 seconds to cook the cornstarch.

Step 3: Pour into bowl or onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet to cool quickly. Cool completely before preparing cake. This step can be made up to a week in advance!

You can also make extra jam to fill the cake and to flavor the buttercream. It will loosen the buttercream but not as significantly as using strawberry puree. I would add a cup or 2 extra powdered sugar.

Prepare the cake:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 325°F convection (fan) or 350°F conventional. Spray and line 2, 9 or 8 inch round cake pans with parchment.

Step 2: In a large bowl sift together cake flour, baking powder, salt. Set aside. In a separate medium bowl whisk or stir together milk, vanilla extract, food coloring (if using) and cooled strawberry jam from above.

wet ingredients in bowl mixed together.
dry ingredients for strawberry cake in bowl.

This will reduce the amount of folding needed to combine the ingredients later, and will keep the cake lighter and more tender.

Step 3: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, begin whisking the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Being careful not to over whip or they will be difficult to incorporate into the batter and, thus, defeating the purpose! Remove meringue from the mixer bowl and transfer to a clean bowl (or switch to a second mixer bowl if you have one! Lucky!)

Step 4: Don’t stress about any meringue that remains behind. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl. Switch to the paddle attachment and cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This will take at least 5 minutes depending on your mixer. It will also depend on how soft your butter was before mixing. The softer the butter, the faster the creaming process.

Step 5: Reduce the mixer speed to low, and alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture. I never allow the flour mixture to mix in completely before adding the next round. This helps prevent overmixing. Remove the mixer bowl from the machine, scrape down the paddle attachment. Fold in any remaining dry ingredients.

Step 6: Take about ¼ of the meringue and aggressively fold it into the batter. This is called “sacrificing” because you are sacrificing the aeration in the meringue to loosen the batter. Fold in the remaining meringue in 2-3 additions; being careful not to over fold. Portion between the prepared cake pans.

whipped egg whites to stiff peak in bowl.
strawberry batter pink before egg whites.
lightening batter with egg whites.

Step 7: Bake in preheated oven for 14-18 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out from the center with only clinging crumbs. Cool 10 minutes in pans before flipping out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare the strawberry frosting:

Step 1: In a blender or food processor, pulse freeze dried strawberries until a powder forms. [You can also buy them in powder form, which I find better because it saves a step.]

Step 2: In a stand mixer or in a large bowl with hand mixer, cream together cream cheese, butter, strawberry powder and powdered sugar until smooth. Add vanilla extract.

If it gets too warm, chill it. Just pop the whole bowl and attachments in the fridge and give it an hour. Beat with paddle. Breathe. It’s just buttercream.

Assemble the cake:

Step 1: Place bottom layer on your favorite cake stand or plate. Add about 1 cup frosting to the top and smooth out. Flipping the top layer over so the bottom of the cake is now the top. This allows for a completely flat cake without needing to level. You could also level the cakes but I say, “waste not, want not.”

Step 2: Chill cake about 30 minutes before frosting the outside.

Step 3: Mound the frosting up on the top, spreading it out towards the sides, letting it fall over the edges. Use an offset spatula to spread it over the sides. Adding more frosting as needed.

cake on plate ready to frost.
layering on strawberry cream cheese buttercream.
frosted strawberry cake.

Step 4: Decorate the cake with fresh strawberries, a sprinkle of crushed freeze-dried strawberries and or white sprinkles!

decorated strawberry cake with pink buttercream and fresh strawberries.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you store strawberry cake?

Store baked and cooled strawberry cake well wrapped in plastic wrap. To best preserve the texture, freeze immediately after cooling and wrapping for up to 3 months. Thaw and assemble.

Store layered and frosted cake in a covered cake container in the refrigerator for up to a week or at room temperature for one day. If you would like to freeze the assembled cake, choose a different buttercream like Swiss meringue buttercream or an American buttercream like this vanilla buttercream. Cream cheese does not freeze and thaw perfectly.

The same advice goes for storing the cake at room temperature. Cream cheese frosting must be refrigerated, so choose a different frosting for room temperature storage longer than a day.
I do not recommend storing the cake batter before baking. Whipped egg whites are not stable and will not sit and wait for you!

How do you get the best strawberry flavor in cake?

Using a quick homemade strawberry jam gives you a concentrated amount of strawberry flavor while preserving the vibrant pink color. Reduced strawberry puree (strawberry reduction) is also a good option but the extended cooking does decrease the red color and mute the flavor. Using a non-reduced puree will make a cake with a gummy, dense texture.

What flavor goes well with strawberry cake?

Vanilla bean compliments and highlights the strawberry flavor. The vanilla extract enhances the flavor in the cake but a slice of cake also pairs well with vanilla bean ice cream. Lemon or chocolate are equally great pairings. Lemon zest and juice in the jam dampen the sweetness and enhance the strawberry flavor. A slice of cake would also be nice served with a lemon sorbet for a refreshing dessert or a lemon buttercream or a scoop of lemon curd whipped cream. You could also fill the cake with lemon curd!

How to serve this fresh strawberry cake?

Serve this strawberry layer cake with fresh berries or strawberries and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or chocolate ice cream for a delicious dessert. For a more elaborate dessert try adding a spoonful of lemon curd, blueberry sauce, hot fudge, or crème anglaise.

strawberry cake slice layered with strawberry on top.

If you enjoyed this recipe, please leave a star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below! I love hearing from you and your comments make my day!

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slice of strawberry cake on white plate.

Strawberry Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Lindsey Farr
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 12 Slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Description

A decadent strawberry cake made with my quick strawberry jam for maximum strawberry flavor! Cooking the strawberries with sugar and lemon amplifies their flavor while thickening the jam. Frost with an easy strawberry cream cheese buttercream for the best strawberry cake recipe.


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the Strawberry Jam:

  • 2 1/2 cups Strawberries, halved (350g – 1 lb or 1 dry quart whole, not hulled)
  • 1/2 cup Sugar (115g)
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice (10g – 1/2 lemon)
  • 1/2 Lemon zested
  • 1 t Cornstarch 4g (1-2t)

For the Cake:

  • 2 1/3 cup Cake flour 280g
  • 2 t Baking powder
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup Butter, soft and pliable 12 tablespoons
  • 1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 t Vanilla Extract
  • 5 large egg whites 160g
  • 1/4 cup whole milk 65g
  • 1 cup strawberry jam (above) 280g
  • 12 drop red food coloring

For the strawberry frosting:

  • 16 oz cream cheese, room temp (2, 8 oz boxes cream cheese)
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup freeze dried strawberries (or can buy them as powder already)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Prepare the strawberry jam:

  • Combine strawberries, sugar, zest and lemon juice in a pot.
  • Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat until the strawberries begin to break down and release their juices. Immersion blend or mash with a potato masher. You can also use a traditional blender (carefully!).
  • Once strawberry mixture begins to thicken, combine cornstarch and 2-3 teaspoons of water in a small bowl. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the strawberry jam while whisking constantly. The mixture will instantly thicken. Reduce heat to medium low if in danger of burning and boil for 60 seconds to cook the cornstarch.
  • Pour into bowl or onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet to cool quickly.
  • Cool completely before preparing cake. This step can be made up to a week in advance!

Prepare the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 325°F convection (fan) or 350°F conventional. Spray and line 2, 9 or 8 inch cake pans with parchment.
  • In a large bowl sift together cake flour, baking powder, salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl whisk or stir together milk, vanilla extract, food coloring and cooled strawberry jam from above. This will reduce the amount of folding needed to combine the ingredients later, and will keep the cake lighter and more tender.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, begin whisking the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Being careful not to over whip or they will be difficult to incorporate into the batter and, thus, defeating the purpose!
  • Remove meringue from the mixer bowl and transfer to a clean bowl (or switch to a second mixer bowl if you have one! Lucky!)
  • Don’t stress about any meringue that remains behind. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl. Switch to the paddle attachment and cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This will take at least 5 minutes depending on your mixer. It will also depend on how soft your butter was before mixing. The softer the butter, the faster the creaming process.
  • With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture. I never allow the flour mixture to mix in completely before adding the next round. This helps prevent overmixing.
  • Remove the mixer bowl from the machine, scrape down the paddle attachment. Fold in any remaining dry ingredients.
  • Take about ¼ of the meringue and aggressively fold it into the batter. This is called “sacrificing” because you are sacrificing the aeration in the meringue to loosen the batter. Fold in the remaining meringue in 2-3 additions; being careful not to over fold.
  • Portion between the prepared cake pans.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 14-18 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out from the center with only clinging crumbs.
  • Cool 10 minutes in pans  before flipping out onto a wire rack to cool completely

Prepare the strawberry frosting:

  • In a blender or food processor, pulse freeze dried strawberries until a powder forms. [You can also buy them in powder form, which I find better because it saves a step.]
  • Cream together cream cheese, butter, strawberry powder and powdered sugar until smooth. Add vanilla extract.
    If it gets too warm, chill it. Just pop the whole bowl and attachments in the fridge and give it an hour. Beat with paddle Breathe. It’s just buttercream.

Assemble the cake:

  • Place bottom layer on your favorite cake stand or plate. Add about 1 cup frosting to the top and smooth out. Flipping the top layer over so the bottom of the cake is now the top. This allows for a completely flat cake without needing to level. You could also level the cakes but I say, “waste not, want not.”
  • Chill cake about 30 minutes before frosting the outside.
  • Mound the frosting up on the top, spreading it out towards the sides, letting it fall over the edges. Use an offset spatula to spread it over the sides. Adding more frosting as needed.
  • Decorate the cake with fresh strawberries, a sprinkle of crushed freeze-dried strawberries and or white sprinkles!

Notes

Yield – 1, 9-inch 2 layer cake or 21 cupcakes

Note on the Jam – The full jam recipe above yields approximately 350g jam. This is ¼ cup more than you need for the recipe. Making a smaller batch is possible but difficult. I suggest using a 1 quart sized pot with high sides. Use the ¼ cup to spread between the layers or add it to the frosting.

Storage – Store baked, cooled cake layers wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 3 months, or store assembled cake refrigerated for up to a week. Choose a meringue based or American buttercream if you would like to freeze the frosted cake.

Before You Go

I hope you enjoyed this professional chef tested recipe. Check out our other cakes & cupcake recipes, Valentine’s Day recipes, or Mother’s Day recipes!