Old-Fashioned Strawberry Layer Cake

Layers of strawberry cake are topped with swirls of seven-minute frosting for a beautiful early summer cake worthy of any weekend brunch with friends and family.

Side view of Fresh Strawberry Layer Cake with Seven-Minute Icing on a plate with the remaining cake behind it.
Alison Bickel

My best friend’s birthday always featured strawberry cake when we were growing up. It’s the one time a year I ate it, and it was wonderfully innocent and guileless all at once—an integral part of annual slumber parties that included marathon sessions of playing with Barbies. There was a lot of pink going on.

This cake is reminiscent of an old-fashioned strawberry cake. I used strawberry preserves to boost the berry flavor and layer the filling with sliced strawberries to give you fresh strawberry taste in every bite.

Whirls of airy seven-minute frosting make this cake a showstopper. Garnish with whole berries for a beautiful finish. It’s a homestyle cake for all occasions.

Use Jam for Extra Strawberry Flavor

I wanted a cake with super-duper strawberry flavor. When developing this recipe, I tried every imaginable combination. Plain pureed strawberries didn’t come through. Cooking that puree down by half before adding it to the batter helped, but not enough to warrant the extra steps.

In the end, I went with store-bought strawberry preserves. You get all the strawberry flavor you want without having to do the extra work. Strawberry jam would work too, but I like the little blobs of strawberry you get with the preserves.

Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Strawberry Cake on a cake stand and topped with strawberries.
Alison Bickel

To Make the Cake Extra Pink

How do you get the cake pink? The preserves alone won’t do it—the cake layers bake up a pale pinkish tan. For that birthday party pink hue, you need to add 1/8 teaspoon of red gel food coloring to get an ultra-pink cake. It’s a little cheat that really boosts the cake’s appeal. You can skip it, but I say go big or go home.

Extra Strawberry Goodness

I use a marshmallow-like Seven-Minute Frosting both between the layers and to frost the outside of the cake. I fold in strawberry preserves (with a splash of water to loosen) the filling along with sliced fresh strawberries, so you get hits of fresh berries in every bite.

The better the strawberries, the better this cake will be. We’ve all encountered pale, crunchy strawberries before. It’s best to make this cake when strawberries are in season, late spring to early summer, so you can get juicy, ripe strawberries.

Strawberry Layer Cake Made with Fresh Strawberries set on a cake stand with a slice removed.
Alison Bickel

Frosting a Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting

Our Seven-Minute Frosting is like a light, spreadable meringue—glossy and very sweet.

It’s a quick and easy recipe, but you need to frost the cake immediately after making it before it sets up and you need to serve the cake within 4 hours of frosting it. When it comes to frosting a cake with seven-minute frosting: it’s one coat and you’re done.

If you prefer to frost the cake a day ahead, I recommend Cream Cheese Frosting or Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.

To frost a cake with seven-minute frosting follow these tips and tricks:

  • Use a lot of frosting!
  • Plop a pile of frosting on top of the cake and work it down to the sides with a large metal spatula.
  • Try to pass over the cake only one time with the spatula so you don’t pull crumbs into the frosting.
  • Once the cake is fully enrobed, go back and make some pretty whirls of frosting. Aim for billowy clouds that aren’t totally smooth—charming imperfection is the goal.

How to Store Fresh Strawberry Layer Cake

Serve the cake the day you assemble it. Plastic wrap will stick to its surface, so keep it uncovered—this cake is not ideal for transporting. If it’s hot in your kitchen, refrigerate the cake after decorating it. Otherwise, keep it at cool room temperature.

Leftovers will keep at room temperature, loosely covered with foil or plastic wrap, up to three days (if it’s quite hot in your house, you can refrigerate the cake). The cake will look somewhat of a wreck, with deflated, tacky frosting, and some of the frosting may stick to the plastic or foil, but will still taste delightful.

Overhead view of Fresh Strawberry Layer Cake with Seven-Minute Icing on a plate with the remaining cake to the left.
Alison Bickel

Make Ahead

You can bake the cake a day in advance, remove the rounds from the pan and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Keep the layers in the fridge to make them easier to cut; you can also keep them stored at room temperature, if it’s more convenient.

More Lavish Layer Cake Recipes

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Layer Cake

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Cooling, Frosting, and Decorating 55 mins
Total Time 2 hrs
Servings 8 to 12 servings
Yield 1 (8 or 9 inch) layer cake

It’s best to bake the cake the day before you want to serve it and frost the cake a few hours before serving it if you’re using the Seven-Minute Frosting Recipe I recommend. Seven Minute frosting is beautiful, but it doesn’t hold up overnight, so it’s best made and served on the same day.

Ingredients

  • For the cake
  • 1 1/4 cups (433 grams) strawberry preserves or jam, divided
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 drops liquid or 1/8 teaspoon gel red food coloring (optional)
  • 2 cups (270 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups (380 grams) sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • For the filling and garnish
  • 1 pound strawberries, divided
  • 1 recipe Seven-Minute Frosting

Method

  1. Preheat the oven and position the oven rack:

    Preheat the oven to 350°F and position a rack to the center of the oven.

  2. Grease, flour, and line cake pans:

    Grease and flour the sides of two round 8 or 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms of each cake pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

    Two cake pans lined with parchment to make Fresh Strawberry Layer Cake with Seven-Minute Icing.
    Alison Bickel
  3. Combine the wet ingredients:

    In a large glass measuring cup or medium bowl mix 3/4 cup of the strawberry preserves, plus the buttermilk, vanilla, and food coloring (if using), until smooth.

  4. Sift and combine the dry ingredients:

    Into a large bowl sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.

  5. Cream the butter and sugar and add eggs:

    Into a large bowl add the butter. Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter just until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula and beat again for about 30 seconds.

    Creaming butter and sugar in a stand mixer to make Fresh Strawberry Layer Cake with Seven-Minute Icing.
    Alison Bickel
  6. Alternate adding wet and dry ingredients to butter mixture:

    Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer running on low speed, add half the strawberry-buttermilk mixture and mix to thoroughly combine.

    Add the remaining flour mixture, beat until incorporated, and then add the remaining strawberry-buttermilk mixture, beating until smooth. The batter should be stiff, but not dense.

    Making a Strawberry Cake Recipe in a stand mixer.
    Alison Bickel
    Making the batter for a Strawberry Cake Recipe in a stand mixer.
    Alison Bickel
  7. Portion cake batter into cake pans:

    Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and spread with a metal spatula to smooth the tops over.

    Batter in cake pans for a Fresh Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Frosting.
    Alison Bickel
  8. Bake the cake:

    Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the edges of the cake begin to pull from the sides of the pans, about 35 minutes.

    Two baked strawberry cake layers in cake pans.
    Alison Bickel
  9. Cool cakes:

    Cool the cake in the pans on a rack, for 10 minutes. Then, invert the pans, peel off the paper liners, and cool completely.

  10. Make the strawberry filling:

    While the cakes continue cooling, hull and thinly slice about 5 large strawberries and place them into a medium bowl. You will save the remainder of the strawberries to decorate the cake as you wish. To the bowl with the sliced strawberries add the remaining 1/2 cup of strawberry preserves and 2 teaspoons of water. Gently mix to combine and set aside.

    Macerated strawberries in a bowl to make Fresh Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Frosting.
    Alison Bickel
  11. Make the Seven-Minute Frosting:

    Make the Seven-Minute Frosting. Once the frosting is made cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel to keep it from drying out.

    Frosting in a bowl to make Fresh Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Frosting.
    Alison Bickel
  12. Divide the frosting and finish the strawberry filling:

    Place about 3 cups of the Seven-Minute Frosting into the bowl with the strawberry mixture and use a rubber spatula to fold the frosting and strawberries together. This will be used to frost between the layers of cake. The remaining Seven-Minute Frosting will be used for the outside of the cake.

    Strawberry frosting in a bowl to make Fresh Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Frosting.
    Alison Bickel
  13. Cut the cake into layers:

    With a long serrated knife, split each cooled cake into 2 layers, creating 4 layers in total.

  14. Fill and frost the cake:

    Place 1 layer, cut side up, on a large plate or cardboard cake round. Top with a third of the strawberry filling. Repeat with the next 2 layers and top with the last cake layer, cut side down.

    Pile 2/3 of the reserved plain seven-minute frosting on top of the cake and use a large metal spatula to push the excess frosting down the sides of the cake. To avoid pulling up crumbs, push the spatula rather than pulling it.

    Use the remaining frosting to frost any unfrosted patches on the sides. Once the cake is fully enrobed, make whirls and swirls with the spatula or the back of a spoon. Don’t worry about it looking perfect.

    Layering the strawberry frosting between the cake layers to make Fresh Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Frosting.
    Alison Bickel
    Side view of a strawberry cake being frosted to make Fresh Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Frosting.
    Alison Bickel
  15. Garnish and serve the cake:

    Garnish the cake with the reserved strawberries in any fashion you choose. Cut and serve cake within 4 hours. Refrigerate leftover cake or keep at cool room temperature up to 3 days. The outer layer of frosting will dry out and get tacky, but the cake will still be delicious to eat.

    Side view of Homemade Strawberry Layer Cake on a cake stand and topped with strawberries.
    Alison Bickel