For Evie’s 4th Birthday, she requested Strawberry cake -I think it was a memory from our beach trip to Florida earlier this year where we had Sugaree’s Strawberry Layer Cake. Since then, I’ve been on the hunt for a great strawberry cake recipe. I was surprised that my favorite of the versions included a cake mix and jello (since I’m a make-from-scratch baker) but the result is unbeatable -the layers are so soft and the frosting melts in your mouth. The flavor of the fresh strawberries is strong and it has so quickly become the new favorite birthday cake. I’ve already made it 3x this past week!
The cake has its quirks… it is very delicate and the frosting can get too runny and loose if directions aren’t followed closely. Shortcuts aren’t recommended here, because the result is so worth wait!
Strawberry Layer Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes Three 8-inch Layers
This is a great make-ahead cake. You can keep individually wrapped cake layers in the freezer and frosting in the refrigerator few days ahead. Even assembled, the finished cake can be refrigerated for the day and will thaw beautifully.
4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup whole milk
1 box white cake mix (18.25 oz)
1 box strawberry jello (3 oz)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, finely chopped
1. With the oven rack at lower-middle position, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch or three 8-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease parchment, and flour pans.
2. Whisk eggs, oil & milk in a bowl. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine cake mix, strawberry jello, sugar and flour on low speed. Slowly add egg mixture and mix until combined. Add strawberries and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase speed to medium and beat for two minutes.
3. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and smooth tops with rubber spatula. Bake until cake edges pull away from the sides and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. While in pan, run a knife around the edges of the cake and remove cakes from pans, discarding parchment, and let cool completely on rack. When completely cooled, individually wrap in plastic wrap and store in freezer until frozen before assembling and frosting the cake.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes Enough for a Three-Layer 8″ Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 pkg cream cheese (8 oz), room temperature
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
pinch of salt
8-9 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 cup fresh strawberries, diced
1. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream, vanilla extract and pinch of salt together until incorporated and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixing speed on low, add 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar. When fully mixed, add the strawberries and continue adding the remaining 6-7 cups confectioner’s sugar on low speed until just combined. Frosting should be thick enough to spread. Scrape down the bowl again and increase speed to medium and beat for no more than 15-30 seconds. (Over-beating will release too much strawberry juice resulting in a runny frosting.) Cover the frosting with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes to help the frosting set and harden.
Assembling the Cake
Because the cake is so fragile, and the frosting is so soft, it’s best to work with completely frozen cake layers (don’t worry, it will thaw in 30-60 minutes!) and refrigerated frosting.
1. Before starting, pull the frosting out of the refrigerator for 15 minutes to thaw slightly. Place a dollop of frosting on the cake plate to hold the first cake layer in place. Add a thick layer of frosting on top, and repeat with the remaining two layers.
2. With all three layers in place, start with a thin layer of frosting all over the layers and refrigerate the entire cake 15 more minutes to harden the frosting. With the rest of the frosting, add more to the sides and top until completely coated. For a smoother frosted look, dip a bench scraper in hot water and drag around the top and edges of the cake until smooth.