This Triple Decker Strawberry Cake is an absolute showstopper. Its super moist, rich and really sweet!
Yesterday was my darling friend Mary’s birthday, and when you have that kind of friend, you make something extra special.
She’s a Southern belle who loves strawberries and poundcake, so naturally I hopped into the kitchen to create my crazy-delicious, triple decker Strawberry Cake with strawberry buttercream frosting!
The rich pink color of this dense cake and the intense strawberry flavor top-to-bottom makes everyone happy, and I knew it would put a smile on her face.
Guys, I really LOOOVE this cake. It’s a combination of a strawberry cake with Jello and a fresh strawberry cake, which is something that’s hard to find in most recipes.
The strawberry cake Martha Stewart makes uses fresh fruit, but it produces a one-layered coffeecake. That’s great with my morning latte, but it doesn’t really elicit the “ooh and ahhh” response I wanted for my friend’s special day.
The strawberry cake Paula Deen makes does use Jello to achieve its signature color (that’s “blush and bashful,” for any Steel Magnolias fans out there), but she uses frozen strawberries.
I think using fresh strawberries helps them retain their texture, even when baking, so that’s what I use in my Strawberry Cake recipe. Paula also uses a traditional cream cheese frosting, and like mine is, well, a work of art.
Let’s talk about the cake itself first, though.
My recipe starts with a cake mix, so it’s important to understand a little bit about the difference between that kind of cake – a butter cake – and a strawberry sponge cake recipe.
Traditional sponge cakes (like a genoise or Angel food cake) typically have little or no butter and replace leavening ingredients like baking powder or soda with air from a good solid whipping of the eggs (separated or not). This process creates light and airy cakes, but they tend to be dryer and particularly suited for absorbing strawberry syrups or berry liqueur.
Butter cakes are heavier (even with added baking powder) and moister. I really wanted a dense, rich cake for this particular recipe, so bring on the butter . . . and Jello.
Why Jello? Well, it’s a great way to add flavor to a cake without added moisture that might throw off the batter. The gelatin also works as a stabilizing agent, which helps prevent the top of the cake from cracking or splitting.
It comes in really vibrant colors too, so you can make colored cupcakes or cakes to suit a party theme. (Check the internet for some show-stopping multi-layered rainbow cakes or old-fashioned “poke” cakes with drizzles of those beautiful colors running through a white or yellow cake canvas.)
You CAN make a strawberry cake recipe without gelatin, but those typically don’t use a cake mix base either, so you’re signing up for a potentially tasty recipe but with a longer time commitment. (By the way, you’ll just be using the dry powder straight out of the Jello box – no need to add water and get it all jiggly.)
If you want an easy strawberry cake recipe, use mine.
If you want the BEST strawberry cake recipe, well, let’s just say you can’t go wrong with mine either.
Now, about that frosting.
Generally, when I make this cake, I use either a vanilla buttercream or a cream cheese frosting.
This time, though, I wanted to give the juicy red berries a seat at the frosting table. That took a little experimenting to get the technique and the moisture content just right, but the strawberry buttercream I ended up with is worth . . . every . . . minute. It’s sweet, light, and studded with berries – the perfect complement to my Strawberry Cake.
Needless to say, Mary was really excited when I did the big reveal on this cake, and I’m pretty sure I saw a little tear in her eye when she took that first bite. Don’t wait on someone’s special day, though – go ahead and make this for yourself today. It’s someone’s birthday somewhere, right?
Frosting: This Strawberry Cake recipe, at least the cake part, is my favorite kind of recipe. Dump everything into a bowl and mix. The frosting, however, is a little more fickle. Buttercreams in general can be hard to work with just because butter tends to soften quite a bit at room temperature. To achieve my strawberry-speckled version, you’ll have to take extra care because of the natural juices from the berries. To minimize extra fussing, make sure to completely cool the layers of cake and then refrigerate them for a bit (you can stack them with a piece of wax paper between each layer). The buttercream itself should also be refrigerated for about 10 minutes before frosting your cake. You’ll want to frost one layer at a time, then chill before adding the next layer, and chill again before frosting the sides. Your beautiful masterpiece should also live in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. It really is easy to assemble, but you’ll need some extra patience. As it turns out, patience is NOT a virtue I’m generously blessed with – just ask my hubby! J But I can make this cake, and so can you. Just give yourself plenty of time.
Fresh Strawberries: While I definitely recommend fresh strawberries both for the cake and the frosting in this recipe, you can substitute frozen berries in a pinch. Sometimes you just can’t find them fresh (or ripe), so just do what you have to do to make this recipe. I do suggest chopping the berries before they’re completely thawed to avoid a mushy mess, and make sure you drain them as much as possible.
No more layers: If the thought of managing a three-layered monster is intimidating, you can still enjoy this cake. The measurements here will make approximately 36 cupcakes. Just start checking them during the baking process at around 17 minutes since they’ll likely need to bake a few minutes less. You can also cook this in a 9”x13” pan (you’ll need to watch the cooking time on this one too), with enough batter leftover for about another 12 cupcakes. Either of these options will cut back on the frost-refrigerate-repeat steps too and save you some time.
Substitutions: For all the chocolate lovers, try subbing in your favorite chocolate frosting instead of my strawberry buttercream. The cake is substantial enough – and “strawberry-y” enough – to still shine through. You can even garnish the top with some chocolate covered strawberries. Mmmmm.
Serves up to 16
Source: Southern Living
- Cake Ingredients:
- 1 Box White Cake Mix
- 1- 3 Ounce Box Strawberry Jello
- 4 Large Eggs
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 1/4 Cup All-Pursose Flour
- 1/2 Cup Fresh Strawberries, Finely Chopped
- 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 1/2 Cup Milk
- Strawberry Buttercream Frosting:
- 1 Cup Unsalted Butter, Softened
- 2 (16 Ounce) Packages Powdered Sugar
- 1 Cup Fresh Strawberries, Finely Chopped
1.Make the Cake: Preheat the Oven to 350 degrees. Spray 3- 9 inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix all cake ingredients with an electric mixer on low until just combined. Scrape the side of the bowl, and increase mixer to medium and beat for 3 minutes.
3. Pour cake batter into prepared pans and bake until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 23 minutes.
4. Cool cake in pans on rack for about 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely. If using the following recipe for Strawberry Buttercream refrigerate cakes until completely chilled.
5. Meanwhile Make Frosting: In a large bowl, beat the butter at medium until it's pale yellow and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and strawberries and beat at low until well combined and creamy. Set in the fridge fo about 5-10 minutes to firm it up slightly (You just don't want it to be runny).
6. Spread one of the layers of cake with frosting then refrigerate. Frost the second layer and refrigerate until the frosting on both layers has firmed up a bit. Assemble all the layers and frost the top and sides. Refrigerate!