I’ve seen a lot of recipes for strawberry cake that start out with cake mix and jello. Now, I love a baking shortcut as much as the next gal, but using real strawberries produces an even more delicious result. This Fresh Strawberry Layer Cake gets its color and flavor from strawberry puree, not a packaged mix. It’s also much easier to make than you might think, so plan on putting your summers strawberries to good use this season!
The cake batter is made entirely in the food processor, including the strawberry puree that gives the cake its color and flavor. The dry ingredients are combined in the food processor and the butter is cut in by pulsing. Cutting the butter in produces a cake with a very tender crumb that almost melts in your mouth. The wet ingredients are added after the butter – including the fruit puree, which goes in along with milk, eggs and vanilla – and the batter is whizzed until it is smooth and well-combined. From start to finish, it will only be a couple of minutes before you’re pouring your batter into the pans.
This recipe makes two 8 or 9-inch cake layers. If you want to make a taller cake, simple double the recipe or make it in two batches. The 8-inch cake layers will need a few minutes of extra baking time, but otherwise there is no difference between the two pan sizes. The pans should be greased and lined with parchment paper before the batter is poured in. The layers bake up to be relatively flat, which makes them easy to stack, with a moist pink crumb.
I made a simple vanilla buttercream for this cake, adding more strawberry puree to tie the flavor of the frosting in with the flavor of the cake. A cream cheese frosting is also an excellent choice. And if you want even more berries, feel free to add a layer of fresh fruit in with the frosting between the cake layers. Keep in mind that fresh fruit will leak a bit of liquid out into the cake, so the cake should be served immediately if you go with a fresh strawberry layer. Otherwise, the cake will keep well for a couple of days after baking.
Fresh Strawberry Layer Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled
2 large eggs
3/4 cup strawberry puree (approx 1 cup whole berries)
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 batch Strawberry Buttercream Frosting (below)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Cut butter into 4-5 chunks and add to food processor, then pulse until well-incorporated. Add in all remaining ingredients and process until batter is smooth and uniform, scraping down the sides as needed.
Divide the batter evenly into prepared pans.
Bake for 25-27 minutes (8-inch pan) or 23-25 minutes (9-inch pan), or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. Allow cake rounds to cool in the pan before frosting.
Turn one cake layer out onto a serving platter and remove parchment paper. Top generously with frosting, then place remaining cake layer on top of frosting. Frost top and sides of the cake, then garnish with fresh strawberries.
Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup strawberry puree (approx 1/2 cup whole berries)
1-2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 – 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 – 1/2 tsp pink food coloring (optional)
In a large bowl, beat together butter, strawberry puree, 1 tbsp milk and vanilla extract. Gradually blend in the confectioners’ sugar until a thick, smooth, spreadable frosting forms. If necessary, add in remaining milk to thin frosting. Pink food coloring may be added for a more intense pink color, if desired.
Makes enough for an 8- or 9-inch layer cake