Strawberry filled white cake is an elegant dessert made with layers of tender vanilla cake and fresh strawberry filling. Perfect for spring, summer, Valentine's Day, or any special occasion.
After several reader requests, I've turned my popular strawberry filled cupcakes recipe into a layer cake! This recipe is made with the same tender white cake, fresh strawberry filling, and whipped buttercream frosting you know and love, but now in an eye-catching two layer cake.
Cake flour and egg whites make this layer cake incredibly tender, soft, and light. Fresh strawberry filling adds the perfect amount of flavor and brightness that pairs perfectly with the sweet buttercream frosting.
Serve strawberry filled white cake at your next birthday party, potluck, anniversary, picnic, or summer party. It's perfect any time of year, but really shines in the spring and summer months when strawberries are in season.
- Cake flour - I do not recommend substituting the cake flour in this recipe. Cake flour gives your cake its tender texture and small crumb. If substituted with all-purpose flour, your cake will have a coarser crumb that readers often describe as a 'cornbread' texture.
- Leavening - Baking powder cannot be substituted with baking soda - the two are not interchangeable.
- Salt - Enhances the flavor of your cake without making it "salty".
- Unsalted butter - Adds flavor and moisture to your cake. If needed, unsalted butter can be substitute with salted butter. You'll also want to reduce the listed salt in half.
- Granulated sugar - Adds the perfect amount of sweetness and moisture to your cake. Granulated white sugar is a must if you'd like your cake to turn out white. Substituting with natural cane sugar or brown sugar will change the color and (potentially) the texture of your cake.
- Vanilla extract - Adds vanilla flavor to your cake.
- Egg whites - Egg whites from a carton or from fresh eggs both work in this recipe. You'll need six large (US) egg whites, which is 180 grams or ¾ liquid cup.
- Milk - I recommend whole milk, which adds the most moisture to your cake. This recipe will work with lower fat milks, but your cake may turn out less moist and will dry out faster.
- Strawberries - Fresh, in-season strawberries, or frozen, thawed strawberries are best for this recipe.
- Granulated sugar - Adds a hint of sweetness to the filling and helps act as a preservative for the fruit filling.
- Lemon juice - Brightens the flavor of the filling, helps balance the sweetness with a little acidity, and helps prevent discoloration. Does not make it taste lemony.
- Cornstarch - Thickens the filling made with the juices from the strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar. Depending on the juiciness of your strawberries, you may want to add a few tablespoons of water. I've made this recipe dozens of times - the juiciness of your strawberries can vary greatly. Fresh picked, in season strawberries are usually very juicy and require no extra water. Out of season strawberries tend to be a little dry in comparison.
- Unsalted butter - Unsalted butter and salt can be substituted with salted butter if desired. Make sure your butter is room temperature so that your frosting turns out smooth and velvety.
- Confectioner's sugar - Necessary for a smooth texture and can't be substituted with granulated sugar. Confectioner's sugar also adds stability and structure to the frosting. I don't recommend reducing the amount of sugar listed (yes, it is a lot, it is a sweet frosting) because a less sweet buttercream frosting tastes mostly of butter. Because there are so few ingredients in this recipe, the two main ingredients (butter and sugar) can't be reduced or omitted.
- Vanilla extract - Adds vanilla flavor to the frosting.
- Salt - Cuts the sweetness and enhances the flavor of the frosting.
- Heavy cream - Necessary to create the light and fluffy whipped texture of this frosting.
Whipped buttercream frosting is a traditional bakery frosting that is very sweet and made primarily with butter and confectioner's sugar. It is popular because it's very easy to prepare and requires no cooking or special techniques.
If you'd prefer a less-sweet frosting, I highly recommend trying my recipe for ermine frosting. It's cooked on the stovetop and contains much less sugar than buttercream frosting.
The tangy flavor of cream cheese buttercream frosting would be a great choice for this strawberry filled cake as well.
What size pan to use
This recipe will work with two 9-inch round or 8-inch round cake pans. 8-inch round cake pans make a slightly thicker cake, which can take a few minutes longer to bake in the oven. I've included baking time estimates for both sizes in the recipe card below.
Tips and tricks
- Make sure your butter, egg whites, and milk are all room temperature before beginning (not melted, not cold). Room temperature ingredients emulsify when mixed and create a creamy, even batter that bakes up fluffy in the oven.
- Sift or whisk your dry ingredients together. This removes clumps and helps make a smooth, even batter.
- Mix your dry ingredients just enough to incorporate them into the batter. Overmixing can overwork the gluten, causing your cake to turn out tough.
- I recommend using a hand mixer on medium speed for creaming together your butter, sugar, and egg whites. Then, switch to low speed for the dry ingredients and milk.
How to prevent dry cake
Here are some of my favorite tips, taken from my post 10 tips for baking cake, to help make sure your strawberry filled white cake turns out moist and tender!
- Do not substitute ingredients. The fats and sugar (butter, whole milk, granulated sugar, and egg whites) in this recipe help keep your cake moist. Substituting those ingredients will change the texture and moisture in your cake.
- Properly measure your flour. Too much flour can cause your cake to turn out dry. Either use a kitchen scale to weigh your flour (this is what I do and recommend), or spoon the flour into your measuring cup and level off with a knife. Scooping with the measuring cup directly from a bin of flour compacts it into the cup, adding up to 25% extra flour to the recipe.
- Do not overbake your cake. If you haven't substituted ingredients, the only other reason your cake will turn out dry is from overbaking.
- Watch your cake, not the time. Ovens are inconsistent and can run hotter or colder than the next oven. The time that worked for me may not work for you. Start checking your cake 5 minutes early for doneness.
- If your oven bakes unevenly, rotate your cake pan(s) halfway through baking.
- Three easy ways to check for doneness: 1. Does your cake jiggle a lot when you move the pan? It's not done yet. 2. Gently press on the top of the cake with your finger. If the cake pops back up immediately, it's done. If an indentation is left, your cake needs more time. 3. Poke a toothpick into the center of your cake - if it comes out clean or with dry crumbs, your cake is done.
- Do not slice into hot cake. Wait until your cake has cooled completely to room temperature before slicing. Otherwise, you'll release steam (moisture) from the cake if it's still warm.
- This is a baker's secret (optional, but effective!) - brush simple syrup over your cake before frosting. A layer of simple syrup helps keep the cake moist for longer. Simple syrup is a 1:1 ratio of water and granulated sugar, brought to a boil on the stove top until dissolved, then cooled to room temperature. I'd suggest about ¼ cup or more for this size cake.
- Gently flip and remove cooled cakes from their pans. Trim the rounded tops with a serrated knife to make flat layers. Place a dab of buttercream on your cake plate (to secure your cake) and top with one cake layer (cut side down). Pipe frosting around the top edge of this layer to create a wall to hold your filling.
- Pour strawberry filling into your frosting wall and spread to the edges in an even layer.
- Top with the second cake layer (cut side down).
- Carefully spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake in an even layer.
Strawberry filled white cake is best enjoyed the same day as baking, if possible. If not serving the same day, cake should be stored in the refrigerator due to the fresh fruit filling.
Frosted whole cake will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator and will dry out over time. The fresh fruit filling will also begin to break down. Sliced pieces will dry out faster than if the cake is left whole (the frosting helps insulate and protect the cake).
Allow refrigerated cake to sit at room temperature for one hour before serving.
Buttercream frosting melts around 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and should not be displayed outdoors in direct sunlight, especially in warmer or tropical weather.
Strawberry Filled White Cake
- 3 cups (336 g) cake flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ¾ cups (345 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 6 large (180 g) egg whites, or ¾ cup liquid egg whites, room temperature
- 1 cup (227 g) whole milk, room temperature
- 8 ounces (226 g) strawberries, hulled and diced
- 2 tablespoons (25 g) granulated sugar
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon cornstarch
Whipped buttercream frosting
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 cups (454 g) confectioner's sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup (75 g) heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans and set aside. Optionally (for easy removal), line the bottoms with a round of parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk (or sift) together the dry ingredients: cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and granulated sugar, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add egg whites, one at a time, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Add flour mixture to butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk, until all ingredients are just incorporated and batter is smooth. Do not overmix.
- Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans and spread into an even layer.
- Two 9 inch round cake pans: 26-30 minutesTwo 8 inch round cake pans: 28-34 minutesBake cakes, using time estimates above, until cake pops back in the center when gently pressed down. Or, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back with crumbs, not wet batter. Cakes should look golden brown across the tops. Ovens can run hot or cold, so I recommend relying more on how your cake looks and less on time.While cake bakes, prepare filling and frosting as directed below.
- Remove cake from oven and allow to cool completely in the pan(s) on a wire cooling rack.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until mixture has thickened and looks glossy. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, add room temperature butter and beat until creamy, about 1 minute.
- Add confectioner's sugar and slowly mix until ingredients are fully combined. Then, whip at high speed for 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
- Add vanilla extract. Then, add heavy cream and whip for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add additional heavy cream as needed to reach desired consistency.
- Gently flip and remove cooled cakes from their pans. Trim the rounded tops with a serrated knife to make flat layers. Place a dab of buttercream on the cake plate (to secure the cake) and top with one cake layer (cut side down).
- Transfer a small amount of frosting to a piping bag or plastic bag, cut off the tip, and pipe frosting around the top edge of the cake layer to create a wall to hold the filling.
- Pour strawberry filling into your frosting wall and spread to the edges in an even layer. Top with the second cake layer (cut side down).
- Using an offset spatula, carefully spread remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake in an even layer.
- Assembled cake is best served the same day as baking for best flavor and texture.
- If not serving cake the same day, it should be stored in the refrigerator (due to the fruit filling).
- Whole frosted cake will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator and will dry out over time. Fruit filling will also break down over time. Sliced cake pieces will dry out faster than if layer cake is left whole.
- Allow refrigerated cake to sit at room temperature for one hour before slicing and serving.
- For a less-sweet frosting, try my recipe for ermine frosting instead.
- Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking cake, based on reader comments and questions!