Childhood was a delicious experience, especially on the rare occasion that I found a Strawberry Cake in our cake carrier. Although it’s one of my favorite desserts, Strawberry Cake wasn’t a regular event in my family of chocolate lovers. It was a once a year occurrence, so when it did make an appearance, it was definitely a good day.
There are many similar recipes for this Strawberry Cake in cookbooks and on the internet because it has been around in some form or variation for decades and decades.
My recipe is an adaptation from a cookbook that my Elementary School put together of our grandmothers’ treasured recipes. Although it pains me to admit it, the cookbook is almost 40 years old. There were five very similar Strawberry Cake recipes submitted, which tells me that I’m not the only one that loves Strawberry Cake.
This Strawberry Cake is easy to make since it starts out with a boxed White Cake and Strawberry Jello. I love semi homemade cakes from boxed mixes because they are usually fail proof and require less careful measuring. One way that I always transform a boxed cake is to top it with homemade icing/frosting (depending on what you grew up calling it).
This Strawberry Icing is one that quickly turns soupy if you add too much strawberry juice, but I don’t like to add loads of powdered sugar to my icing. In order to achieve a stiffer icing that I can decorate a layered cake with, I use pink gel food coloring and slowly add the strawberry compote a tablespoon at a time to thin out the rich, sweet icing. Many recipes use more strawberry compote, but you’ll have a runny mess if you add too much of the mashed strawberry juice mixture.
I don’t use frozen strawberries for my cake as other recipes do. I dice fresh strawberries into small pieces and then use a fork or potato masher to mash them up. A teaspoon of sugar is added to the smashed strawberries, and then I set them aside for a few minutes to release extra strawberry juice while I mix up the cake.
I used all but one of my strawberries in the package for the mashed strawberries. I reserve the largest strawberry for the center decoration. If you are decorating the top and base of the Strawberry Cake with fresh strawberries, I recommend buying two containers of strawberries. Sliced strawberries make a beautiful decoration, but they will weep as they sit on the cake. For that reason, I leave my strawberries whole to avoid the juice that will run all over the cake.
This Strawberry Cake is great as a layered cake, even easier to make into a sheet cake, and perfect for individual cupcakes, but I always store the final product in my refrigerator. The cooler temperature will help to keep the strawberry filled icing firm.
I hope that you’ll try this recipe today and leave a comment below. Also, for daily updates follow @lifeabovethecafe on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest using the social media icons found on this page.
For the icing:
Note – any white cake mix will work for this recipe, but I like the Betty Crocker Super Moist French Vanilla Cake Mix. The prep time includes mixing up the cake, the frosting, and spreading the frosting on the cake. If you aren’t an experienced cake maker/decorator then you may need more time to complete this cake. To make the best use of my time, I make the icing as soon as the cakes go into the oven and then store it in the refrigerator until my cakes have cooled. You will need to remove it from the refrigerator and leave it out for a few minutes until it is easily stirred but not too warm or else it will become runny. If that happens return the icing to the refrigerator to chill for a few minutes. Always cover the icing with plastic wrap so that the top layer doesn’t form a crust.
Set the butter and cream cheese out so that it has a chance to come up to room temperature before making the cake.
Wash and dry the strawberries. Select one large strawberry for the center, and set it aside. Make the strawberry compote by dicing the rest of the strawberries up, adding them to a bowl, and smashing them with a fork or potato masher. Stir in a teaspoon of granulated sugar to the strawberries and set them aside.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. If your oven runs hot bake the cake at 350 degrees instead. Grease and flour your cake pans and then cut and place a parchment paper round in each one. I used 2 cake pans that were 9 inches large and poured the remaining batter into cupcakes because I only wanted a two layer cake. This makes enough for a three layer cake (8 inch cake pans), one large sheet cake, or 24 cupcakes.
Crack the four eggs in a bowl and set aside. Measure the oil and water. In a stand mixer or in a large bowl, mix up the cake mix with the strawberry jello and the two tablespoons of all purpose flour. Next mix in the oil, water, and eggs. Measure out one cup of the strawberry compote and mix it into the batter last. Do not over mix the cake batter or your cake will be tough, 2 minutes is usually plenty of time.
Evenly divide the batter between the cake pans and bake them on the center rack for 25 to 30 minutes depending on your oven. Use a toothpick to test the center for a completely cooked cake. My 9 inch round cakes took 28 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and allow the cakes to cool for 20 minutes before turning them out. I left my cakes to cool for an hour before I added the icing.
To make the icing:
Use a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Whip the room temperature cream cheese, butter, and salt together. Mix in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. The icing will start to thicken up after 3 cups of sugar, but once the strawberry juice is added it could thin it out too much. For this reason, I add the food coloring and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the strawberry compote, and then add 1 more cup of powdered sugar and mix it well. If you choose to have a less sweet and sturdy icing, then 3 cups of powdered sugar may be sufficient, but I needed at least 4 cups of powdered sugar. I didn’t sift the powdered sugar, but if yours has lumps then it will need to be sifted first.
To frost the cakes, place a dab of icing on the cake container base and then set the first layer of cake down (remove parchment paper first). Spread a thick layer of icing on top of the cake and then set another layer of cake down (remove the parchment round first). Add a thin layer of icing to the top of the second cake. I stopped here, but if you made three layers, then repeat.
Spread a thin crumb coat of icing around the sides of the cake, and place the cake into the refrigerator for about 15 – 30 minutes so that the frosting doesn’t become runny and the cake is more smooth when completely frosted. I add the icing to the fridge for part of the time so that it also stays cool, but right before removing the cake I take the icing out to warm up enough to be easily spread on the cake but not runny. Once the icing is spreadable but not too thin, I remove the cake from the refrigerator, and finish frosting the top and sides of the cake completely.
If desired pipe decorative swirls on the cake using a large tip so the opening doesn’t clog up from the strawberry compote. Place the large strawberry that you saved in the center. Return the completed cake to the refrigerator for a few hours to set up before serving. It will be much easier to slice and make clean cuts if the cake is kept cold. After slicing the cake I always put it back into the refrigerator to retain the shape of the icing on the cake.
Note – this cake is great if you need to make it the day before an event since the icing holds it’s shape when refrigerated.