Strawberry Cream Cake

My father has been looking for an excuse to make this cake since he first saw it in Cook’s Illustrated (May/June 2006). With dual imperatives of Mother’s Day being two weeks away and my brother John’s birthday (never mind that John lives in Oklahoma and we live in California) dad finally had the motivation he needed. Cook’s Illustrated mentions in its write-up that this is a “special occasion” cake, and indeed it is. The cake is much more involved than our usual strawberry shortcake, but perhaps more suited to a formal occasion. In the following, our adapted recipe, we omit the 2 Tbsp of Kirsch from the strawberry purée, and we mash the strawberries with a potato masher instead of using a food processor.

Strawberry Cream Cake Recipe

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 large eggs (2 whole and 3 separated), room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Strawberry Filling

  • 2 pounds fresh strawberries (medium or large, about 2 quarts), washed, dried, and stemmed
  • 4-6 Tbsp sugar
  • Pinch salt

Whipped Cream

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Method

Bake the cake
strawberry-cream-cake-1.jpg
1 Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour round 9 by 2-inch cake pan or 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, by hand, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and all but 3 Tbsp of the sugar in mixing bowl. Whisk in 2 whole eggs and 3 yolks (reserving whites), butter, water, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.

2 Using a mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat remaining 3 egg whites at medium-low speed until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. With machine running, gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form, 60 to 90 seconds. Stir one-third of whites into batter to lighten. Add the remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard parchment. Invert cake again; cool completely, about 2 hours.

Strawberry filling
strawberry-cream-cake-2.jpg strawberry-cream-cake-3.jpg
3 Cut in half 24 of best-looking berries and reserve. Slice or quarter remaining berries; toss with 4 to 6 tablespoons sugar (depending on sweetness of berries) in medium bowl and let sit 1 hour, stirring occasionally. The sugar will macerate the strawberries, making them soft, and generating liquid. Strain the juices from berries and reserve (you should have about 1/2 cup). Put the strawberries in a bowl and use a potato masher to mash them; set aside.

In small saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer reserved juices until syrupy and reduced to about 3 tablespoons, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour reduced syrup over macerated berries, add pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Set aside until cake is cooled.

Whipped cream
4 When cake has cooled, place cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Reduce speed to low and add heavy cream in slow, steady stream; when almost fully combined, increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture holds stiff peaks, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more, scraping bowl as needed (you should have about 4 1/2 cups).

Assemble the cake
strawberry-cream-cake-4.jpg strawberry-cream-cake-5.jpg
strawberry-cream-cake-6.jpg strawberry-cream-cake-7.jpg
strawberry-cream-cake-8.jpg strawberry-cream-cake-9.jpg
5 Using large serrated knife, slice cake into three even layers. Place bottom layer on cardboard round or cake plate and arrange ring of 12-20 strawberry halves, cut sides down and stem ends facing out, around perimeter of cake layer. Pour one half of puréed berry mixture (about 3/4 cup) in center, then spread to cover any exposed cake. Gently spread about one-third of whipped cream (about 1 1/2 cups) over berry layer, leaving 1/2-inch border from edge. Place middle cake layer on top and press down gently (whipped cream layer should become flush with cake edge). Repeat with 12-20 additional strawberry halves, remaining berry mixture, and half of remaining whipped cream; gently press last cake layer on top. Spread remaining whipped cream over top; decorate with remaining cut strawberries.

Serve immediately, or keep chilled. If the whipped cream warms to room temperature it will be harder to keep stable while cutting. Serves 8 to 10.

strawberry-cream-cake-10.jpg

43 Comments

  1. Donna

    I used the Cook’s Illustrated recipe after seeing it and made it for a party. It was ABSOLUTELY delicious, but best if eaten within several hours of putting it together. Didn’t mind the extra work that Cook’s recommended although the kirsch is hard to find…I ended up using something close but not the same.

  2. Melissa

    I spent the day (really!) making this a few weeks ago for two friend’s birthdays, and it was great. There is an amazing bakery in Los Angeles, called Sweet Lady Jane, which sells a cake called “Triple Berry Shortcake”, and my friends raved that this rivaled their cake!

  3. Elise

    Hi Sarah,
    You can try making this with a pre-packaged mix, but I doubt that the cake would hold together. The scratch cake with its five eggs has the firmness to be sliced into 3 levels and to keep its form when layering in the strawberries and cream. It’s not even that difficult to cut and serve.

  4. Fliptrx

    Ann wrote:
    “Does the cake have to be made from scratch or can you use a pre-packaged mix?”

    Yes. and you can use frozen berrys for the center filling and Low Fat Dream Whip for the topping, just don’t forget the Kirch :)

  5. Elise

    Hi Kate,

    It was awesome.

    And thanks for your comment about my dad. I’ve got to start getting more photos of him doing some of the cooking. :-)

  6. Lisa Ratliff

    I made this and used amarreto instead of kirsch and it was great. It was easy to cut also, I was surprised.

  7. Wendy

    Wow! I made this cake for my son Matt’s birthday and to say the least it was spectacular! It not only looked fabulous but sliced like a dream and tasted even better! This is a keeper and well worth the time to make it. Thanks!

  8. Jen

    I made this for my fiance’s birthday, and it was great- it looked just like the picture, and tasted every bit as good as it looked! It took the better part of two afternoons to make (I have class in the mornings), but it was well worth the time and effort- everyone raved about it, and for the first time in my memory, there was no leftover cake after the party! Thanks so much for the recipe- it’s definitely one I’ll be using again.

  9. Jill

    Made this yesterday for a friend’s birthday party; it was a hit! Absolutely delicious and pretty, too. I’d recommend keeping it in the fridge until serving time. I’ll be making this again for sure. Thanks, Elise!

  10. Wendy B.

    I made this for a family meal last summer and it is by far just as pretty and amazingly fabulous as it looks! No kidding! It does take a little time to prepare, but is definitely worth it. Easily enough desert for my 3 grown sons, wives, husband, mom and I. Rave reviews were given. Thanks so much for this recipe. I will use it again and again. ;>

  11. Rita Scannell

    What is cake flour?
    Here in Ireland we can get plain white flour or self raising flour – I’m wondering if its the latter?

    Note from Elise: Cake flour is a special low-protein, low-gluten flour made from a soft wheat, for a lighter texture, finer crumb cake. It is not self raising flour.

  12. Rosangela Custódio

    Delicious!!! I maked and liked very very much.
    I love strawberry, but Strawberry Cream Cake is…
    …wonderfull!!!
    Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!

  13. Brennen P

    Hey Rita,

    Cake flour is a bleached and refined flour with a very low percentage of gluten (protein). The recipe should be fine with normal all purpose flour, but don’t use a self rising one.

  14. Laura

    Hey there!

    Can the cottage cheese in the “Whipped Cream” section be substituted for ‘fresh cream’?

    Thanks :-)

    Not unless you want a cottage cheese cake. Doesn’t sound particularly appealing to me. ~Elise

  15. Sharon Noonan

    Recently ate dinner w/son and family and I brought this for dessert. My grandson was about to have his 5th birthday and after eating this cake, told his mom this was the cake he wanted for his birthday party! Just wanted me to add “Happy Birthday and his name to the top.” Children and grownups alike loved the cake and all wanted the recipe. Directed them to this web site!

  16. steph

    Hey guys I baked this cake and it smells like eggs. Can anyone help out. I followed the instruction to a t and I cooled the melted butter down. I am so frustrated I have made a second cake and it still smells like eggs. I almost want to cry

  17. Tbnes

    I made this cake in July and it was good, but more time intensive than I’d like given that it wasn’t extraordinary. It tasted like something I’ve bought at the local grocery store. My cake definitely didn’t look as pretty, but I think I can work on that. I really liked the cream cheese icing, but it was a bit too sweet for me. Overall a very nice recipe to have on hand.

  18. Cathie

    I have made this cake several times; didn’t find it THAT labor intensive. Got the best results with local Ohio grown berries! Yumm….

  19. Thao Phan

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it this pass weekend for Father’s Day Dinner and everybody loved it. My older sister loves marscapone so I just used that instead of cream cheese. Too bad I only made one cake, because I know some of my family wanted to take some home!

  20. Beth

    Thanks for your blog, Elise, I always start here when I am looking for a new recipe to try, then use your links to surf. Made this yesterday and to my surprise it turned out as lovely as the pic. I think it would be less labor intensive the second time around. It is not complicated. I had the cake and strawberries ready to go and made the frosting at the end of dinner -finished the cake while everyone ewed and awed. It was my grandson’s birthday cake (requested strawberries), but I think for the adult version I might sprinkle the warm cake with the kirsch before assembly. Sliced beautifully!

  21. will

    Loved this cake. Made it for my out-laws and they just couldnt get enough! Couple of points. Dont be afraid to use all of the strawberry filling. It balances the whipped cream perfectly. On the note of quantity, I also found that I probably used just a bit too much whipped cream. Even though I whipped the cream cheese to death, it still makes the whipped cream a bit heavier than normal and can make the cake incredibly rich. (Not necessarily a bad thing!)

  22. Carrie

    This is one darned good looking cake! I dipped the strawberries for the top in bittersweet chocolate (still halves) and drizzled the whole thing with chocolate. It’s gorgeous and delicious! Thank you so much for posting this recipe!!

  23. Paulina Popovskaia

    Would it be okay if I chilled it over night and serve it for Thanksgiving dessert? It will be impossible to make it on Thanksgiving day! Want to make as surprise for mother..

    I would recommend that if you plan to make ahead you make ahead all of the parts, chilling them separately, and assemble them right before serving. ~Elise

  24. Megan

    Fantastic cake with a beautiful presentation. Did not take too long to put together. If slicing the cake into 3 layers is difficult..pour 1/3 of batter into one cake pan and 2/3 into the other. Take smaller one out around 20 minutes, about 30 mintues for the other… works perfectly.

  25. Anna Maria

    Dear Elise,
    I love your website! Thank you for all the wonderful recipes.
    Since now it is strawberry season I was wondering if one could make the strawberry filling and keep it in the fridge or freazer.
    Thank you.
    AM

    Hi Anna Maria, I suspect chilling in the refrigerator would be okay, but freezing would not. Not sure though, so if you try it, please let us know how it turns out. ~Elise

  26. Jen

    okay, my cake did not come out looking like the photo on here. i was soooo sad cause i tried so hard. i tried to double the cream by putting 16 insteat of 8 but i did not double the cream, i only bought the two cup one. my cream came out all waterey, and the cake started falling to one side, it was horrible, my dad even tried to help me, but im still going to take it to my boyfriend family!

  27. Michele

    Made this cake yesterday for a 4th of July barbecue and it was really delicious. I used Frangelico instead of kirsch as it was what I had on hand. My only criticism is that the strawberry filling seemed a bit too thin. I chilled it before using and that helped, but I still had to press with spoon to further drain before using. Maybe I didn’t drain them well enough the first time around. Next time I may try not mashing all the strawberries for the flling. Loved the whipped cream topping, the cream cheese gave it more stability than regular whipped cream, which was a good thing for yesterday’s near-100 degree temperatures! I used a packaged white cake mix, using the richer variation using milk, melted butter and whole eggs rather than white and baked it in 3 layer pans, which worked out fine.

  28. Vasil

    An awesome recipe, made this cake few times now, last one with a small twist of my own for my mom’s birthday. Made two cakes with huge 24′ by 9′ two layer cake with a layer of meringue and cream filling with strawberries, blueberries and raspberry, covered by fondant. And the top was a heart shaped Strawberry cream cake, was delicious. Thanks Elise. And big thanks for your father.

  29. Diana Bonilla

    Hi Elise. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I wanted to make something really nice for my niece who turns 8 tomorrow and ran into this recipe and it was a God send. The cake was a hit. I will definitely be keeping this recipe to repeat for the future. Hugs and thanks again :)

  30. Sandra

    I normally just use whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar to make the cream filling and topping. I like it being light and not too filling. I am just thinking if adding cream cheese will make the cream more stable and easier to spread. Instead of heavy cream and cream cheese, do you think marscapone and whipping cream will work too (if I prefer a lighter version)?

    I think that would be delightful. ~Elise

  31. Elena

    I made this cake for my mom’s birthday, and it was great. I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out perfectly, looking just like the picture, and tasting delicious. I was surprised that the cake was not hard to cut into three. It did take some time to make, but that’s expected for a cake of this quality, and I managed fine despite juggling three children under 3.

    Thank you for your blog! I find it both practical and inspirational for myself as a young (mid-20s), busy wife and mother. Your site is a big help with building my cooking skills.

  32. Sarah

    I have made this cake twice following the directions exactly (with the exception of using all purpose flour rather than cake flour, which is hard to find where I live) and it turned out perfectly. I found that the first time making it felt very labor-intensive, while the second time was much easier since I knew what needed to be done and how much I could cheat by making stuff in advance. The second time I also made extra strawberry filling to spoon onto the slices when serving–highly recommended! I can pictures many possible variations using whatever berries are in season. This cake is really impressive-looking and got oohs and aahs from everybody who ate it. Thank you, Elise!

  33. Sonia

    Thank you Elise for posting this recipe! Ever since I found this post a few years back I have made sure to make this cake at least once every summer, and here I am making it again! Just a tip; if your cake smells like egg when you take it out of the oven, you won’t be able to taste it once you’ve actually assembled the cake. Good luck!

  34. Anastasisa

    This cake is fool proof! Everyone loves this cake. A couple of things, It is very important to use cake flour in this recipe. And I found that mascarpone cheese is a great alternative for the cream cheese in the whipped cream. Its lighter and just works better! Sometihng I’ve learned from Giada on food network. Other than that the cake is perfect!

  35. Sabrina

    I’ve made this cake many times and it’s seriously good! I think it tastes better the day after it’s been made. Also, I have a question; would the cake still be good if I used chocolate cake instead of the white cake?

    Your guess is as good as mine. ~Elise

  36. mariam

    This cake was laborious, but well worth the effort. I’ve never baked a cake from scratch before but your detailed instructions were fool-proof. Thank you so much!

Post a comment

Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for waiting. First time commenting? Please review the Comment Policy.

Some HTML is OK. URLs are automatically converted to links. Line breaks are automatically converted to paragraphs. The following HTML tags are allowed: a, abbr, acronym, b, blockquote, cite, code, del, em, i, q, strike, strong