Strawberry Cream Cake

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

We just made a couple small changes to the recipe. We left out the Kirsch since we didn’t have it and didn’t think it was necessary. Rather than using a food processor to mash the berries we used a good old fashioned potato masher, which of course worked fine.

Strawberry Cream Cake Recipe




  • 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


Bake the cake
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
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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
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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.

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Showing 4 of 47 Comments

  • Nancy

    This recipe is a reputation-maker! It was delicious and a lot of fun to make. Whenever I bake something from a blog I try to come back and leave comments for others so here are mine.

    First, the cake layers were delicious, tender, fine-textured and fun to make. Folding is definitely key. If you’re new to baking, do yourself a huge favor and learn to fold properly – it will make you a much better baker. Slicing the cake into 3 even layers was tricky but I didn’t freeze them before attempting it. I got out my ruler and marked the layers before slicing through them then slid a thin piece of metal, the bottom of a removable bottom tart pan, under each layer to move them.

    A lot of people had trouble with the strawberries. I squeezed as much of the juice out of the macerated berries as I could and cooked it to a thick consistency, stirring frequently. The smell in the house drove everyone crazy it was so delicious. I kept going until it was a pretty thick syrup. Also, while reducing the juice, I continued pressing liquid out of the berries.

    In the cream filling I used mascarpone which tasted great and added a nice mild tang but when the sugar was added, the mixture became gritty and felt like it had separated slightly. I went ahead and added the (cold) cream and beat it well which helped quite a bit but not completely. Luckily no one but me seemed to notice so I ran with it.

    When I put the cake together I spread the macerated berries over the full cake layer, not just in the center, and covered them and the sliced fresh berries with whipped cream. After putting each cake layer in place, I used a small, thin cookie sheet to carefully press the layers into place being careful to not push the cream out the sides. Since the side of the cake isn’t covered with anything I wanted the layers to be level and flat.

    This cake was delicious after sitting 5 or 6 hours in the fridge. Thank you so much for posting it! I can’t wait to make it again – this weekend.

  • Nancy

    ARGHHHH! I just posted a long comment with some tips that I think would be really helpful but without notice the site tried to post the comment and it seems everything is lost. Please, Elise, if you find the comment, let me know so that I can post it again.

  • Anani

    Hi, I am Anani, I am 10. I made this cake for my brother’s 4th birthday. We loved it. Even my Dad who is a harsh cake critic loved it. It was even better the second day. Thanks for a great recipe!

  • Jon

    The cake part gets soggy like crazy, especially because it’s cut into thin layers. I had to make this with Genoise since that’s dryer and can absorb all the moisture from the berries and cream without falling apart.

  • 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!

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