This Fresh Strawberry Cake recipe is absolutely sublime and made with real strawberries - no mixes, gelatin or weird additives required! It's moist, tender, bursting with sweet strawberry flavor and generously slathered with a rich cream cheese frosting! Recipe can be scaled up or down by using the slider if you hover your mouse over the number of Servings.
Preheat oven & prepare pan: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13x2-inch baking pan with nonstick spray and line it with parchment paper, leaving about an inch hanging over the edge of the pan. (SEE NOTES)
Chop strawberries: Place the strawberries in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until strawberries resemble a chunky puree. (You should have 2 cups of strawberry puree.)
Reduce strawberries: Transfer strawberry puree into a medium saucepan. Place pan over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 40 minutes, or until puree is reduced by half (1 cup). Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to refrigerator and let puree cool completely. Remove reduced strawberry puree from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before you add it to the puree. (SEE NOTES)
Mix dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk until well combined. Set aside.
Combine sugar + butter: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment or a bowl with a handheld mixer, combine the sugar and butter. Beat on high speed until smooth and creamed, about 2 minutes.
Add the wet ingredients: Add in the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium speed until pale in color, about 2 minutes. Add in the yogurt, lemon juice and both extracts. Beat for 30 seconds, or until combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of bowl as needed.
Add dry ingredients: With the mixer on low, add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Add strawberries: Add 1 cup of the reduced strawberry puree and food coloring if using. Fold with a rubber spatula until everything is just combined.
Bake: Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the top is lightly golden in color and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean with a few moist crumbs. Remove cake from oven and place on a wire rack.
Cool: Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan by lifting up on the parchment paper edges. Transfer cooled cake to wire rack to finish cooling.
While cake is cooling, make the frosting: In the bowl a large stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and a pinch of kosher salt. Beat on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add in the powdered sugar and continue to beat for 5-6 minutes or until frosting is light and creamy, making sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add milk to thin frosting if desired (SEE NOTES)
Serve: Generously spread the frosting all over the cooled cake. Garnish with crushed freeze-dried strawberries, sprinkles and slices of strawberries if desired. Enjoy!
Strawberries: You can use fresh or frozen (thawed) berries for this recipe. However, if strawberries are in season, I highly recommend using fresh for the best tasting cake! Please note, if you use frozen and thawed strawberries they will require a longer amount of time to reduce than stated in the recipe!
Strawberry puree: You should have approximately 2 cups of strawberry puree after you run them through the food processor. It's okay if you have a little more or a little less. Simmer the strawberry puree until it's reduced by half and you're left with 1 cup, or a little more than 1 cup. Make sure you allow the the reduced puree plenty of time to cool down! I like to simmer the puree a day or two in advance and store it, covered, in the refrigerator. Be sure to allow the puree to come to room temperature before adding it to the cake batter. And, be sure to measure it! You need precisely 1 cup. If you have extra, use it on ice cream, frozen yogurt or sundaes!
Flour: Cake flour will yield the best tasting cake! It is really important you measure flour correctly! To properly measure flour, SPOON the flour into your measuring cup, and then LEVEL it off. Do NOT just dip your measuring cup into your container of flour! If you do that your flour will end up more compact – meaning you will end up with more flour than the recipe calls for!
Red food coloring: Food coloring is entirely optional! I added 2 drops to my cake to make the color a bit more vibrant. Make sure you start with just a drop or two of coloring. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out once it is added!
Frosting: Milk is entirely optional! If you want a thinner frosting, add in milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired frosting consistency is achieved. If you make the frosting in advance and store it in the fridge, add a splash of milk and whip for a few minutes to make the frosting fluffy again.
To make strawberry frosting: Place 1 cup (12 grams) of freeze-dried strawberries in the bowl of a food processor. Process until strawberries resemble a crumb-like powder. Make the frosting according to recipe directions. Add the strawberry ‘powder’ to the frosting along with the confectioner’s sugar. Beat until frosting is creamy. Add 1 tablespoon of milk and continue to beat until light and creamy, adding more milk if needed.
Bakeware: Do NOT use a glass baking dish for this recipe. It’s a poor conductor of heat and the edges of your cake will cook faster than the center!
To remove cake from pan: Line your baking dish with parchment paper to easily remove the cake from the pan.
Nutritional information is an approximation based upon 20 servings. Exact information will depend upon the brands of ingredients and precise measurements used.