Fresh Strawberry Cake is a must have when berries are in season! This strawberry cake is perfectly balanced with a semi-dense, but moist and buttery yellow cake that's lightened up by fluffy whipped cream icing. It's filled with homemade strawberry filling and sliced strawberries for a sweet and fresh contrast.
There's something about cakes with whipped cream icing that's just hard to resist. For example, one of our favorite cakes, iced with whipped cream icing, is a fresh strawberry cake. The strawberries just have that strong, fresh berry scent that pairs soo soo well with whipped cream. And the sweet but tart freshness of strawberries really lightens up a dense, buttery yellow cake along with the fluffy whipped cream. It's like the perfect, dream dessert. If I wasn't lactose intolerant, I'd be reluctant to share, lol. 😆
Now let's dive into some fresh strawberry cake FAQs and tips!
What is yellow cake?
Yellow cake, also known as yellow butter cake, is a cake that uses butter and whole eggs to achieve a pale yellow color in both the batter and the cake. Yellow cakes cake be flavored with vanilla, so sometimes, it's also referred to as vanilla cake.
For this fresh strawberry cake recipe, I am using a modified yellow cake recipe. I'm adding some oil to the mix!
Can I substitute oil for butter?
In this recipe, I added ¼ cup of oil in place of butter to help keep the cake more moist. However, if you prefer, you are more than welcomed to use all butter. The cake will be richer and tasty, but it will not be as moist as cakes with some oil.
Also, because this cake uses mostly butter, it will be much denser than an oil based cake. You'll especially see the difference if you refrigerate the cake. It will become quite solid. But worry not! Just let the cake chill at room temperature for a few minutes and the cake should become soft again.
Should I use cake flour or all-purpose flour?
For our recipe, we decided to use all-purpose flour for the cake. Although, cake flour will indeed make a softer, more tender cake, we didn't see the need to make the cake extra tender. The whipped cream icing creates a nice contrast with a less fluffy cake, and the cake is able to withstand all the moisture from the icing without going mushy.
How to prepare the yellow cake for fresh strawberry cake:
- Preheat the oven at 350F and prepare two 8 inch cake pans lined with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt).
- Cream softened butter with sugar until pale and fluffy, then add the oil and mix until incorporated.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition to incorporate. Mix in the vanilla.
- Alternating between the flour and milk, mix ⅓ of the flour into the batter, just until incorporated, then add ½ of the milk. Repeat with adding ⅓ flour, then the rest of the milk, and the remaining ⅓ of flour.
- With each addition, make sure to not overmix the batter. Overmixing will make tough, dry cakes.
- Divide the batter evenly into the two cake pans and smooth the tops as evenly as possible.
- This cake batter is a little on the thicker side, so it will require some smoothing out to prevent uneven baking and and rising.
- Bake the cake for about 30-35 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs.
Can I use frozen strawberries for this strawberry cake?
I highly recommend using fresh strawberries instead of frozen ones for the cake. When thawed, frozen strawberries tend to disintegrate and lose their texture. However, this is perfect for making the homemade strawberry filling for the cake!
Do I have to make my own strawberry filling?
No! You don't have to make your own strawberry filling. If you prefer, you are welcomed to use whatever strawberry filling or strawberry preserve you'd like to fill the cake. But this homemade strawberry filling is so simple, quick, and easy, it's no hassle at all. All you need is to chop up some strawberries and cook it with some sugar.
How do you assemble the fresh strawberry cake?
I find fresh strawberry cakes very appealing decorated rustically, but I was excited to decorate it differently this time. If you want to ice the strawberry cake the same way as mine, here's how to do it:
- Level/ cut off the top of the cake that's domed to make the cake easier to work with. Slice both of the cakes evenly in half. Flip the cakes onto each other in the orders of bottom, top, top, bottom.
- Working with the bottom and the 1st cake layer, make a well around the edge of the cake by pipping a ¼ inch rope. This will prevent your filling from running off.
- Next, fill the cake with half of the homemade strawberry filling and spread it out as evenly as possible. Top the strawberry filling with enough whip cream to fill the well and level out the whipped cream evenly.
- Arrange the sliced strawberries on the entire surface of the whipped cream, except for the ¼ inch border around the cake to prevent the strawberries from poking out. Place the next layer of cake on top and gently press down on the cake to adhere it to the icing.
- For the middle layer, give the layer a generous dollop of whipped cream and spread it out evenly. Arrange a layer of the sliced strawberries as before and place the next layer of cake.
- For the last layer, repeat the steps for the 1st layer. Place the last layer of cake, bottom side up, on the filling. Make sure the cake is straight on the sides and gently press the cake down to compress and adhere the cake to each layer.
- Give the cake a 'crumb coating' with the remaining whipped cream to catch and lock in all the extra cake crumbs. Then with the softer whipped cream, give the cake a ¼ inch thick icing on the top and sides. Decorate the bottom of the cake with shell borders with a star tip and garnish the top of the cake with fresh strawberries and flowers.
What is the trick to making smooth whipped cream icing?
The trick to having a smooth cake with using whipped cream as icing is to not over-whip the cream. When making whipped cream icing, it is best to whip the cream to stiff peak if it's used to fill the cake or for crumb coating. However, when using whipped cream as icing for the cake, it is best to whip the cream to something between soft and medium peak.
A soft to medium peak whipped cream is much smoother and better for icing than stiff peak whipped cream. Although stiff peak whipped cream is sturdier and holds its shape better, it tends to become clumpy and not smooth, which is not aesthetically ideal.
Should the fresh strawberry cake be refrigerated?
Yes! Definitely refrigerate the fresh strawberry cake after it's iced to help keep the whipped cream icing's integrity. The heat will melt and break the whipped cream if it's kept out for too long, and plus, since it is cream, it is best to keep it refrigerated.
If you're looking for other cake recipes, you may like these:
- Orange Olive Oil Cake
- Easy Carrot Loaf Cake
- Super Moist Vegan Chocolate Cake
- Japanese Cotton Cheesecake
Bake with love!
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Fresh Strawberry Cake
For the yellow cake:
For the strawberry filling:
- 2 pint strawberries , divided
- ½ cup granulated sugar
For the whipped cream icing:
- 3½ cup heavy whipping cream , divided
- 9 Tablespoon granulated sugar , divided (about ½ cup + 1 tablespoon or to you preference)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla (optional)
For the yellow cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F, and prepare two 8 inch cake pans lined with parchment paper and very lightly grease the sides with oil.
- In a bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together softened butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the oil to incorporate. Adding one egg at a time, fulling mix and incorporate each egg before the next addition. Once the eggs are incorporated, stir in the vanilla extract.
- Mixing on medium low speed and alternating between the flour mixture and milk, beat in ⅓ of the flour and ½ the milk. Repeat this step until all flour and milk has been incorporated. Make sure to only mix the batter until everything looks just incorporated and no lumps remain. Overmixing will result in tough cakes.
- Divide the cake batter into the two prepared cake pans and smooth the batter as evenly as possible. Bake the cake for about 30-35 minutes, until the cake is golden brown on top and an inserted toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes, until comfortable to handle. Remove the cakes from the pan and let the cakes cool completely on a wire rack.
For the strawberry filling:
- While the cake is baking, hull and roughly chop up 1 pint of strawberries. Place the chopped strawberries and sugar in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Stir the strawberry filling every so often, and let it cook until the filling is a thick syrup, about 10 minutes.Transfer the strawberry filling into a clean bowl and let it cool completely before applying on the cake.
- For the other pint of strawberries, hull and thinly slice half of them. Save the other half to garnish the cake. Keep the strawberries chilled until needed.
For the whipped cream icing:
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of heavy cream and 5 Tablespoons of sugar. Whisk the heavy cream until it becomes stiff peak. Transfer ¼ of the whipped cream into a pipping bag or ZipLoc bag. Keep the whipped creams chilled until needed.
- In another mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1½ cups of heavy cream, 4 Tablespoons of sugar, and vanilla. Whisk the cream until it reaches something between a soft and medium peak. The cream should be thick enough to hold its shape but should not be lumpy. Chill until needed.
The fresh strawberry cake assembly:
- *Feel free to decorate the cake however you like. The following steps are for assembling the cake to look like the pictures above.*Remove the parchment off the cakes and flatten the cake top, if needed, by trimming of the excessive dome. The cake tops do not need to be perfectly flat, just flat enough for the cake to stack straight.Next, slice each cake evenly in half to create 4 layers.
- Starting with the first layer, well the cake by pipping a thick rope of whipped cream to line the edge of the cake. Place half of the homemade strawberry filling inside the well and evenly spread the filing with an offset spatula. Top the filling with the stiff peak whipped cream, enough to fill the well. Spread the whipped cream as evenly as possible. Arrange the fresh sliced strawberries on the whipped cream, keeping a ¼ inch border.
- Top the first layer with the matching half of the cake. Gently press down to adhere the cake to the whipped cream. Fill this layer with ¼ of the whipped cream. Spread the cream out evenly to fill the cake, trying to keep it as leveled as possible. Arrange sliced strawberries on the whipped cream, ¼ inch from the border.
- For the next layer, use the half of the cake with the leveled top. Place the leveled side down on the strawberries and cream. Repeat the same step as the first layer.
- Top the third layer with the last and final half of the cake, bottom side up. Gently press down on the cake to compact and adhere. Make sure the cake is not lopsided. Use the rest of the stiff peak whipped cream to seal up the cake and the crumbs by applying a "crumb coat." The cake should look kind of like a naked cake at time point.
- Next, with the soft-medium peak whipped cream, reserve ¼ for pipping and use the rest to coat the cake generously. The cake should have about ¼ inch thick whipped cream icing all around.
- Garnish the top of the cake with the remaining ½ pint of strawberries and pipe the border around the cake with the reserved whipped cream icing.Enjoy the cake or keep it chilled until needed.
- The yellow cake can be made ahead of time and refrigerated up to 5 days, if properly wrapped. It can also be made and kept frozen for up to 2 months if properly wrapped and stored.
- The strawberry filling/ jam can be made head of time and refrigerated up to 5 days. However, the fresh strawberry slices should not be cut until the cake is ready for assembly.
- Please do not make the whipped cream icing until you are ready to ice the cake or the whipped cream will deflate and break. Also, try to ice the cake as fast as possible and chill the cake when finished to maintain the integrity of the icing.