2½ cups all purpose flour*
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1¾ cups granulated sugar
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature
2½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract , optional, but highly recommended
⅔ cup sour cream
¾ cup milk , preferably whole or 2%, room temperature
3 cups sliced or diced fresh strawberries , divided
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
additional whole strawberries , for garnish, optional
8 ounces cream cheese , softened to cool room temp
1 cup powdered sugar
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups heavy whipping cream , really cold, straight from the fridge
What tastes like a strawberry shortcake, looks like a beautiful layer cake, and is sure to impress anyone and everyone you serve it to?
Answer: STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE CAKE!
If you’ve been around these parts for a while you know that I absolutely love baking with strawberries. During spring and summer, there are always strawberries in our kitchen. They are my favorite fruit to bake with!
I’ve had a Strawberry Shortcake Cake on my summer “to-bake” list for years. My goal was to come up with a cake that had all the flavors of strawberry shortcake stacked high in a gorgeous layer cake.
My main criteria were that the recipe needed to be fairly easy, completely from scratch, and it needed to taste AMAZING (duh). I fully expected to have to play around with this recipe multiple times until I got it right, but, somehow this came out perfect – just the way I wanted it – on the first try.
Strawberry Shortcake Cake
Vanilla Cake: I made three layers of a fluffy vanilla cake. The cake layers are light, yet sturdy enough to hold our filling and topping. If you’d prefer a two layer cake, you can bake the cake in two pans, rather than three. Your layers will be slightly thicker than mine.
Stabilized Whipped Cream Frosting: Strawberry shortcake has to have whipped cream (and not the kind in a can or that questionable whipped topping in a tub). This is the real deal – freshly whipped cream, lightly sweetened with powdered sugar, and flavored with a touch of vanilla. In order to keep our whipped cream firm, I also add cream cheese to it. This stabilizes the cream and helps it hold its shape. You will have enough frosting to frost the sides of your layer cake, if you desire. I like the rustic look of leaving the sides exposed.
Strawberries: Find the best strawberries you can and toss them with some strawberry jam (this makes them glossy and sweet). Strawberries go in between our cake layers, as well as on top of the cake. You can decorate the top of the cake however you like: I used a combination of diced strawberries and whole strawberries. I used thinly sliced strawberries for layering in between the cake (see below).
What I love about this cake is its versatility. It’s pretty enough to be served at a dinner party, yet casual enough to be part of a summer BBQ. If you know someone with a summer birthday, this cake would be extra pretty studded with candles and served to your loved ones. However/whenever you choose to make it – just make it! Grab those beautiful summer strawberries before they are gone.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt until combined. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (preferred) or a hand mixer, beat sugar, oil, eggs, egg whites, and extracts until combined. Add the sour cream and beat until combined. Add half of the flour mixture, beating until just combined. While still beating, slowly add milk, then the remaining flour mixture. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Be careful not to overmix it.
Line three 8-inch cake pans** with parchment paper and grease the pans. Evenly divide the batter between the three pans. Tap/gently drop the pans on the countertop a couple times to remove any air bubbles.
Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If necessary, rotate the pans once during bake time to ensure even browning. Place the pans on a rack to cool completely.
Combine the strawberries and jam and set aside (these will be used for the filling and topping). Note: I sliced the strawberries for the filling (about 2 ½ cups), and I diced the strawberries for the top of the cake (about ½ cup). You can slice or dice, your choice. You'll need about 3 cups total.
Place the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (preferred) or hand mixer, beat the mixture on medium speed until smooth. While the mixer is still whipping, slowly pour the heavy cream down the side of the bowl. Stop and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl periodically. Increase the speed to high and continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak. It is important that the cream stays cold so that it will thicken properly. If you're using a hand mixer, hold the bowl near the top and don't hold the bowl against your body.
Place one layer of cake on a platter. Top with one-third of the frosting, then top with about 1 ¼ cups of strawberries. Place another layer of cake on top and repeat. For the third/top of layer of cake, top with remaining whipped cream frosting, then place the remaining strawberries in the center. Decorate the outside with whole strawberries, if desired.
*TO PROPERLY MEASURE FLOUR: Fluff the flour with your measuring cup, scoop a heaping portion and level it off with the back of a knife.
**CAKE PANS: Using three cake pans produces cake layers that are on the thinner side (my preference for filling and stacking). If you'd prefer the cake layers thicker, or you do not have three 8-inch round cake pans, you can divide the batter between two 8-inch cake pans. Increase the bake time to 22-27 minutes.
EGGS AND MILK: To quickly bring eggs and milk to room temperature place the four eggs in a bowl of really warm tap water for about 5 minutes. Microwave the milk to take the chill off, about 15 seconds.
FROSTING: This frosting is stabilized with cream cheese, so it tastes like cheesecake whipped cream. If you don’t want the flavor of cream cheese you can use 8-oz of mascarpone cheese instead. Just be aware that the frosting will be softer than if you use cream cheese. Alternatively, you can use vanilla buttercream frosting or freshly whipped cream. Note: the homemade whipped cream will not be as stable, so you’ll want to add the frosting right before serving.
STORING: This cake is best served the day it is made. After assembly, refrigerate the cake, then bring to room temperature before serving.