This fresh strawberry cake is a strawberry lover’s dream! With three layers of moist strawberry cake, strawberry filling, and the most heavenly strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream, it’s the perfect cake for Spring or Summer!

A slice of moist strawberry cake on brown parchment paper.

Strawberry cake- a serious hit in every bakery I’ve worked at! After months of testing, I’ve perfected this recipe to create a cake that’s moist, flavorful, and bursting with fresh strawberry flavor.

We’re using a few key ingredients and methods for achieving the perfect cake texture, flavor-packed filling, and silky smooth frosting.

I found the best way to bake with strawberries is to cook off excess liquid, then it can be used in both the cake batter and the filling. I did something similar in my chocolate strawberry cake– it was a huge hit!

If you’re short on time but still looking for a delicious strawberry dessert, try my strawberry crumb cake, or if you’re craving a true summer cake, try my strawberry shortcake ice cream cake instead!

Tips for the Best Strawberry Cake

Use a kitchen scale. Baking with a scale is my #1 baking tip! This is crucial for accurate results not only in ingredient measurements but also in portioning the cake batter for even layers!

Read the instructions carefully. We’re using a few methods, like the two-stage method for the cake batter, that you might not be familiar with. I highly recommend reading through the instructions at least once before starting.

Use ripe strawberries. If you want to use fresh strawberries, look for ripe ones- they are naturally sweeter and more flavorful. Avoid strawberries that are mushy or bruised.

Don’t skip the strawberry emulsion! I found a small amount of high-quality strawberry emulsion really enhances the flavor. Just a small amount creates a true bakery-style cake!

Chill the cake after filling. This will prevent the cake layers from sliding and the filling from oozing out. Usually, 20-30 minutes in the fridge does the trick!

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

Ingredients needed to make homemade strawberry cake in bowls with labels.

Strawberries: Like when I make my strawberry rolls, I prefer using frozen strawberries because they can be used year-round, but you can use fresh strawberries if you have lots on hand.

Strawberry emulsion: I tested this recipe with so many variations- strawberry extract, strawberry emulsion, extract and emulsion, just the strawberry reduction, and finally found that a splash of emulsion gives it the perfect bakery-style flavor! It’s completely optional but worth trying! I used the brand LorAnn.

Sour cream: This ingredient enhances the cake by adding moisture, tenderness, and a rich flavor. I use it in my strawberry crunch cupcakes for the same reasons, ensuring they are just as delightful and moist. Full-fat Greek yogurt is a great substitution!

Whole milk: For extra moisture, richness, and a tender crumb. If you need to substitute it, I recommend 2% milk.

Oil: This recipe uses roughly half butter and half oil. I found that when testing, this yields a super moist strawberry cake that stays that way for days!

Food coloring: While optional, know that without it, the cake is naturally a grey color. Adding a touch of red or pink gel food coloring brings back the pretty strawberry color!

Recipe Instructions

Step 1: Make the strawberry reduction. Cooking down the strawberries will take about 30-45 minutes. You should have roughly two cups when finished. If you have more than this, you must reduce it further. Set it aside to cool to room temperature before mixing a portion of it with the milk!

Step 2: Combine the dry ingredients. In a stand mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients with the butter until it looks sandy. Make sure your butter is cool room temperature, and not too warm, or the cake will be dense.

Step 3: Mix in the oil. Mix in a portion of the strawberry milk and the oil. Beat on low speed for exactly two minutes- it will look pasty when done. Then, scrape down the bowl.

A process collage of the steps for making the strawberry cake batter.

Step 4: Mix in the wet ingredients. Mix half of the wet ingredients into the batter, scrape down the bowl, then mix in the rest. Beat on medium speed for 10 seconds to ensure a smooth batter and to give the cake structure.

Step 5: Bake the cake layers. Evenly distribute the strawberry cake batter into the prepared 8-inch cake pans, then bake!

Step 6: Cool the cake. Let the cake pans cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. The cake should be pulled away from the sides of the pan. Flip them over to remove the layers and let them finish cooling on the rack.

A process collage of the steps for filling and frosting the strawberry cake.

Step 7: Fill the cake layers. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top of a leveled cake layer, then pipe a border around the edge. Spread the strawberry filling to the border, then continue with the next layer in the same way, placing the last layer upside down.

Step 8: Frost and decorate the cake. Cover the cake with the rest of the buttercream. Decorate with fresh strawberries, freeze-dried strawberries, and dollops of frosting.

Making Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Step 1: Cook the egg whites. Cook the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler until the sugar dissolves and a thermometer reads 165°F.

Step 2: Whip the meringue. Pour the meringue into a stand mixing bowl and whisk until the meringue has cooled and no longer feels hot, between 90-95°F.

A process collage of the steps for making the strawberry swiss meringue buttercream.

Step 3: Mix in the butter. Once cool, turn the mixer down to low and start mixing in the butter 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Once the butter is fully combined, turn the mixer up and beat until it looks light and fluffy.

Step 4: Add the strawberry reduction. Finally, mix in half a cup of the reserved strawberry reduction.

Storage, Freezing, and Make Ahead

Storage: Keep any leftover slices of strawberry cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Freezing: Store the entire cake in the freezer for up to 1 month. You can also cut it into slices, wrap each in plastic wrap, and freeze them for up to 1 month.

Make ahead: Because the strawberry filling takes some time to reduce, you can make it up to one week in advance and keep it in the fridge until ready to use. Make sure to bring it to room temperature before mixing it into the cake batter!

FAQs

Why is my buttercream soupy?

This means the buttercream is way too warm. Refrigerate the whole bowl for 20-30 minutes, then continue beating it until it gets light and fluffy. If it’s not soupy but resembles soft whipped cream, you should be able to refrigerate it for 10-15 minutes.

Why does my buttercream look curdled?

If it looks curdled or greasy, it’s because it’s way too cold. You can place the bowl back over a double boiler and heat it until the edges start to melt, or you can remove a portion of it and warm it in the microwave until melted. Pour it back into the mixing bowl and continue beating until it looks light and fluffy.

Can I use fresh strawberries instead of frozen ones?

Yes! Note that the strawberries may reduce faster than the indicated cooking time.

What should I do if my filling is too runny?

Cook it longer to allow more moisture to evaporate, or add a bit more cornstarch mixed with water to thicken it up.

Can I use a different type of buttercream?

Yes, you can make cream cheese buttercream and add the strawberry reduction to it. You can also make chocolate fudge frosting for a chocolate strawberry flavor!

Strawberry cake with fresh strawberries on a wooden cake board.

If you tried this or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how it went in the comments; I love hearing from you! Also, please leave a star rating while you’re there! You can also tag me on Instagram or Facebook so I can check it out!

A piece of strawberry filled cake on parchment paper.

Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Filling

5 from 1 vote
– by Cambrea Gordon

This fresh strawberry cake is a strawberry lover's dream! With three layers of moist strawberry cake, strawberry filling, and the most heavenly strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream, it's the perfect treat for Spring or Summer!
Print Recipe Save Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time: 4 hours
Cook Time: 23 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 23 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 servings

Equipment

Need Metric Measurements?Use the button options below to toggle between US cups and Metric grams!

Ingredients 
 

Strawberry Filling

  • 6 cups frozen strawberries
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Strawberry Cake Batter

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup strawberry reduction, from recipe above
  • 2 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon cake flour, *See notes below for measuring*
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup cubed unsalted butter, cool room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon strawberry emulsion, optional
  • 1 small drop of red food coloring

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cool room temperature & cut into tablespoon pieces
  • 1/2 cup reserved strawberry reduction, from recipe above
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Instructions

Make the Strawberry Reduction

  • Cook the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a pot over medium heat, stirring and mashing occasionally, until reduced and thickened, about 30-45 minutes. Mix together the cornstarch and water and stir it into the berries. Cook 2-3 minutes longer until thickened. You should have roughly 2 cups of filling. If you have way more than that, you’ll need to cook the berries down longer. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
    6 cups (734 g) frozen strawberries, 4 tablespoons (50 g) granulated sugar, Juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water

Make the Strawberry Cake Batter

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease the sides of three 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  • Whisk together the reserved strawberry compote with the milk. Set aside.
    1 cup (220 grams) whole milk, 2/3 cup (160 g) strawberry reduction
  • In a stand mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. On low speed, mix the butter into the dries, until it has a sandy texture, about 2 minutes.
    2 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon (345 g) cake flour, 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, 1/2 cup (113 g) cubed unsalted butter
  • Then, add 1/2 cup (120 g) of the strawberry milk and the oil to the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed for exactly 2 minutes. Then, scrape down the bowl.
    1/2 cup (105 g) vegetable oil
  • Add the sour cream, eggs, strawberry emulsion, and food coloring to the remaining strawberry milk and whisk to combine. Mix half of this mixture into the batter. When combined, scrape down the bowl, then mix in the rest. Once combined, scrape down the bowl one last time and beat on medium speed for 10 seconds.
    3/4 cup (170 g) sour cream, 3 (150 g) large eggs, 1 teaspoon strawberry emulsion, 1 small drop of red food coloring
  • Evenly distribute the batter into the prepared cake pans, about 540 grams in each.
  • Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the edges are barely golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Let the pans cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove them from the pans and let them finish cooling on the rack.

Make the Buttercream

  • In a large bowl over a double boiler with simmering water, whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and a thermometer reads 165°F.
    4 (155 g) large egg whites, 1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • Pour the meringue into a stand mixing bowl with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until the meringue cools to roughly 90-95°F, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Turn the speed down to low and mix in the butter 1-2 tablespoons at a time. When all of the butter is combined, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until it looks light and fluffy. Finally, mix in the strawberry reduction and salt.
    1 1/2 cups (339 g) unsalted butter, 1/2 cup (95 g) reserved strawberry reduction, Pinch of fine sea salt

Assembly

  • Trim a thin layer off the tops of the cake layers. Place the first layer on your serving board and spread a thin layer of buttercream on top. Pipe a border dam around the edge to hold in the filling, then spread half of the remaining strawberry reduction in the center. Continue the same way with the next cake layer, placing the last one upside down so that the top of the cake is flat. Chill for 30 minutes.
  • Spread a thicker layer of buttercream to cover the top and sides of the cake. You can pipe any leftover buttercream with a star tip to create dollops on top. Decorate with freeze-dried strawberries or fresh strawberries, and enjoy!

Video

Notes

*Measure your dry ingredients properly. This is my #1 baking tip! Do not ever scoop a measuring cup into your flour, as this always leads to using too much flour. Instead, use the spoon-level method. This means fluffing the flour first, then spooning it into your measuring cup/spoon. For the BEST results, use a kitchen scale!*
Troubleshooting tips for the buttercream: If soupy, chill the bowl in the fridge for 20 minutes, then re-whip until thick and fluffy. If curdled, take out a portion and microwave it until runny. Add it back to the bowl and re-whip it until it is thick and fluffy!
Notes on strawberries and flavorings: You can use fresh or frozen strawberries. I found a touch of strawberry emulsion or strawberry extract really makes the flavor pop, but it’s totally optional!
Using food coloring: Without the food coloring, the cake will naturally be greyer in color. 
Serving: 1serving | Calories: 683kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 45g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 133mg | Sodium: 410mg | Potassium: 201mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 67g | Vitamin A: 1136IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 127mg | Iron: 1mg

The calorie information provided for the recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.

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2 Comments

  1. Just keep coming back for more recipe!I made brownie Blondies ,butter lemon brownie, strawberry shortbread cookies,and easy brown Nutella bar. OMG the best5 stars