As a wedding cake designer, I have been asked often over the years if I offered a strawberry cake on my menu. And every time it would get me thinking about how I really needed to create a recipe for such an iconic and loved cake. I remember eating strawberry cake as kid and my brother and I would go crazy for it. Since the strawberry cake I remember from my childhood involved Jello, which I prefer not to use in my cakes. I knew I wanted a strawberry cake that was made with real strawberries and had a real, definitive strawberry flavor.
THIS is that cake. I didn’t realize how much I needed this cake in my life until I actually made it. I’ve been making it all summer for every BBQ, family gatherings, my 33 and 2/3 birthday, because we ran out of breakfast cereal, it rained...whatever. It's THAT good. This strawberry cake is a crowd pleaser.
This strawberry cake is made using the reverse creaming method, which consists of mixing the butter into the dry ingredients to coat the flour with the fat, preventing gluten formation. This helps reduce over mixing and creates a moist, sturdy, fine and fluffy crumb. Over mixing can cause the cake to be tough, chewy, and super dense. Not so yummy.
Part of the strawberry flavor in this cake comes from pureed strawberries. It’s summer time here and fresh strawberries taste amazing so I used fresh strawberries. This cake can also be made using frozen strawberries.
The other component of the strawberry flavor comes from one of my most favorite, newly discovered products, Amoretti Natural Wild Strawberry Artisan Flavor. This is a highly concentrated, high quality, natural, preservative free strawberry flavoring and it is so amazingly delicious. It is fabulous in cake batter, buttercream, smoothies, ice cream bases, macarons….the options are endless. The concentrated vibrant color of the flavoring results in a cake that has a lovely soft pink but if you’re wanting a brighter pink color add 2-3 drops of electric pink gel food color to the batter.
I’ve paired this delicious, fruity cake with a fresh, concentrated thick strawberry jam and a vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream. The jam compliments the cake and amplifies the strawberry flavor while the SMB (see how to make Swiss meringue buttercream here) is super rich and creamy. I made a strawberry shortbread crumble that I decorated the sides and top of the cake with that adds a bit of strawberry crunch. You can certainly add the crumble in between the layers of cake as you are assembling.
If you try this recipe, let me know. Leave a comment in the comment area below. Be sure to snap a photo and tag it #littlevintagebaking on Instagram. I love seeing your Little Vintage Baking Company creations!
Strawberry Celebration Layer Cake:
Yield: This recipe makes quite a lot of batter. I tend to make tall cakes. There is enough batter to make 2 or 3 – 8” or 9” cakes. I bake my cakes in 2” round pans and torte to end up with 4 layers of cake and 3 layers of filling. I usually have enough leftover batter to make 1 – 6” round. This recipe is not suitable for cupcakes.
2 cups (454g) hulled, washed strawberries
Scant ¼ cup water (Omit the water if using frozen strawberries)
2/3 cup (160g) whole milk
8 egg whites (240g)
3 sticks (339g) unsalted butter, softened, cut into chunks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 ½ cups (509g) cake flour
3 cups (594g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp + 2 ¼ tsps baking powder
16 oz strawberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
Strawberry shortbread crumble:
¼ cup (36g) + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup (56.5g) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
Pinch of salt
Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
10 (300g) large egg whites, fresh
2 ½ cups (500g) granulated sugar
3 ½ cups (791g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes – I use European style butter
1/8 tsp of fine sea salt
1 tbsp Pure Vanilla Extract (I use Nielsen-Massey)
2 tbsp Pure Vanilla Bean Paste (I use Nielsen-Massey)
Make the strawberry jam. In a medium saucepan, stir the strawberries, lemon and sugar together over medium heat. Smash the strawberries to break them up a bit and let the mixture simmer until reduced. The jam will super thick and syrupy. Strain the strawberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Discard the seeds and pulp left behind in the sieve and pop the strawberry jam into the refrigerator to cool. You should have about 1/3 to 1/2 cup.
Make the strawberry cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cake pans and line with parchment paper. Line the sides of the pans with parchment paper, creating a parchment collar.
Make the strawberry puree by combining the strawberries and water in a blender. Blend until smooth. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the puree to remove the seeds. Measure out 1 and 1/3 cups (280g) in a liquid measuring cup and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fixed with the paddle attachment, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low speed, mix for a few seconds to combine the dry ingredients. Keeping the mixer on low, add the butter chunks a couple at a time and mix until crumbly and resembles wet sand. Add the strawberry puree. Mix for 30 seconds to incorporate. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes. This is a very important step. This step creates the structure your cake. The mixture will be fluffy, lighten in color and resemble strawberry soft serve ice cream.
In a liquid measuring cup, combine the milk, egg whites, vanilla and strawberry flavoring. With the mixer on low speed, add the liquid to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl after every addition to incorporate. Remove the bowl for the mixer and give it one last quick stir to ensure everything is properly incorporated. Divide the batter between the pans, filling them no more than 2/3 of the way full. If you use 2 – 8” pans, measure out 1100g per pan for 2” tall cakes. Bake the cakes 35-45 minutes* or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Do not over bake. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and let cool.*
Make the strawberry shortbread crumble. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, confectioner’s sugar and salt. Pulse a few seconds to combine. Add in the butter cubes and the strawberry flavoring and pulse until the mixture starts to form large clumps. Turn the mixture out onto a sheet pan, breaking into bits and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the sheet pan from the oven, break up the mixture and stir then bake for an additional 7-10 minutes or until the mixture starts to turn a very light golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream. Weigh out egg whites and granulated sugar together in a non-reactive bowl. Clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the bowl and place over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water, whisking constantly and gently until temperature reaches 160F. Using a sieve, strain the egg white sugar mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed with the whisk attachment until the mixture is glossy, reaches stiff peaks and the outside of the bowl is no longer warm. Switch out the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment and begin mixing on low speed. Add the butter cubes, a couple at a time, until incorporated. It might curdle or look lumpy but that’s ok. Keep mixing. This could take some time. The buttercream is ready when it is smooth, satiny and creamy. Keep mixing on low and add the salt, vanilla and vanilla bean paste.
Assemble the cake. Slice your cake layers in half, so that you have a total of 4 layers. Partially fill a piping bag a with vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream. Pipe a small amount of buttercream onto a cake board or cake stand to act as glue and hold the cake in place.
Place your first layer of cake, cut side up (bottom of cake layer is on the board) centered on the cake board. Pipe a dam around the perimeter of the cake layer. This will prevent the strawberry jam from leaking out. Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of the strawberry reduction on the cake layer. Spread about a cup of the vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream evenly over the strawberry reduction. Repeat with two more cake layers. Place the final cake layer cut side down on the top.
Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream to your liking. While the buttercream is still room temp, press the strawberry shortbread pieces onto the bottom 1/3 of the cake and around the perimeter of the top. Finish with halved strawberries. Store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
*Baking time will differ depending on cake pan quantity and sizes.
*I like to refrigerate my cakes overnight. The strawberry flavor is more pronounced and the cakes are easier to handle the next day. But, if you need the cakes the day they're made, they do benefit from at least a couple hours in the refrigerator.
*Strawberry cake recipe inspired by the strawberry butter cake in Sky High by Alisa Huntsman