Fresh strawberries add the perfect amount of flavor and even a bit of natural color to this fresh strawberry cake from scratch! No box mix or artificial flavoring required!
As a kid, I thought you could only get strawberry cake from the box. It never even occurred to me that fresh berries could (and do) make an amazing strawberry cake! My conversion to fresh strawberry cake happened while we lived in California near some amazing strawberry farms. The berries were so sweet, they were practically dessert on their own. You know me though, I can’t be trusted around any ingredient – I always want to bake!
I started searching for fresh strawberry cake recipes, and came across this one by Foodie Bride, which I tried, and then spent some time messing with to come up with a different fresh strawberry cake from scratch recipe that was a bit more time efficient to make and had the texture I prefer in my cakes. This cake recipe works well for cupcakes too. I usually pair it with either a cream cheese icing or a Swiss meringue buttercream.
Would you believe this cake has no artificial coloring? You don’t need it. The cooked strawberries impart a lovely dusty pink shade to the batter. The color always seems to be darkest when the berries are in season. If it’s not a dark enough color for you, or you want a brighter pink *pop*, go ahead and add a little color. Any gel color will do, but if you’d prefer to keep it natural, the India Tree line is a good option.
This strawberry cake from scratch recipe makes either 2 dozen cupcakes, or 1 2-layer 8″ cake. I chose to bake my cake into three thinner layers by baking 1/3 of the batter in an 8″x2″ pan and the other 2/3 in an 8″x3″ cake pan. I used a cake level to split the taller layer in 2 to create this 3 layer “naked cake” look. If you’d like to see how I assembled the cake, hop over to the video I streamed via live feed on Facebook.
- 16 oz fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled with tops removed*
- 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 oz sticks unsalted butter, 6 , 170 g, softened
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 297 g
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup buttermilk, 56 g
- 3/4 cups strawberry puree, see above
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, 270 g
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- pink food color, optional
Do this part in advance, you can prepare the puree a day or two before baking:
- Mix the fresh or (thawed) frozen strawberries with the 1 1/2 tsp sugar, cover and let sit at room temperature 1-2 hours until the berries are juicy.
- Place the berries and 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan over medium/medium low heat and cook 10-15 minutes until very soft.
- Mash with a fork or potato masher and then strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds and pulp.
- Return the juice to your sauce pan and then cook an additional 10 minutes on medium low heat, uncovered. This will yield about 3/4 cup.
- Put the strawberry juice in a glass container and refrigerate until ready to use. If you are baking the cake that day, refrigerate 1-2 hours so the juice is cool.
Baking the Cake:
- Preheat your oven to 350 F (177 C, gas mark 4) and butter two cake pans, then line with parchment paper and set aside.
- Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl or with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping the bowl after each addition.
- In a measuring cup, combine the strawberry puree and buttermilk. If you didn't end up with 3/4 cups of puree for whatever reason, add a little extra buttermilk so you have 1 cup of liquid. Add the vanilla extract.
- In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add half the dry mixture to the butter and egg bowl, then half the buttermilk/strawberry mixture, then repeat. Stir just until all ingredients are mixed.
- The color you see in your bowl is the color the cake will bake. If you plan to use coloring for a stronger pink, add it now.
- Divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake 30-35 minutes. If you are baking the batter with 1/3 in one pan and 2/3 in the deeper pan for 3 layers, your smaller layer will bake for 25 minutes, and the double layer pan will bake 35-40 minutes. Cupcakes bake 20-25 minutes. Remove when a tester comes out clean and the center of the cake springs back lightly when touched.
- Allow to cool in the pan 10 minutes before carefully inverting onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Frost as desired!
* 1 1/4 lb fresh strawberries yields 1 lb fresh hulled berries. Feel free to use unsweetened frozen strawberries too.