Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


Mar 19

Tender strawberry cake layers with fresh strawberries and cream cheese frosting.

Just a few weeks ago, I was out in Dallas for work and had some time to grab lunch with my older brother, who lives in Addison. I end up in Dallas quite a bit for work and Chris always takes me to the yummiest restaurants (Porch, Smoke, and Savor, to name a few) and on this occasion, even took the time to find one of Dallas’ best cake shops, The Cake Bar.  

Of course I wanted to order a slice of everything, but narrowed it down to two – chocolate with chocolate frosting and strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting (a customer favorite, I was told). I’m typically a chocolate lover, but this time (to my surprise) I was blown away by the strawberry cake. It was perfection: flavorful and moist… and I just couldn’t stop shoveling it into my mouth. I knew immediately that I had to recreate this cake so I could enjoy it at home any time I wanted.

I’ve been looking at strawberry cake recipes and reading reviews for each one since I returned home. Based on my research, I knew I wanted to use flavored gelatin powder because it would give the cake an added punch of strawberry flavor that strawberry puree on its own didn’t seem to achieve in most recipes. The Cake Bar cake had such a great strawberry flavor, I’m convinced they use the flavored gelatin too. I’d love to find out someday!

The cake turned out super moist and fluffy, not dense like so many other strawberry cakes do. The sifted cake flour also helps to create a light cake.

So, as far as the cake goes, I’m giving it two thumbs up. I’m super happy with how it turned out and will be putting it in my arsenal of cake recipes.

As for the filling, I’ll be honest, I didn’t nail it. Don’t get me wrong, it tastes great (I wouldn’t share it if it didn’t), but it wasn’t quite the same as The Cake Bar filling. I made my filling a bit of a gelatin-like filling with fresh strawberries, but the more I think about it, the more I think The Cake Bar just used diced fresh strawberries. (I desperately need my brother to fly out here with a slice of that cake so I can compare it side by side, taste after taste.) So, try out the filling and let me know what you think. In my opinion, I don’t even think the cake needs the filling. I loved the cake and frosting just on their own. I’m curious if you think it’s needed or not. 

And a quick note about the frosting – I want to eat it morning, noon and night. It’s SO good! It’s my go-to cream cheese frosting, based off the one I use for the Honey Pear cake, and I use it with so many cakes – including a dark chocolate wedding cake I just did this past weekend. Yum!

Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield 1 3-layer, 8-inch cake

Strawberry cake layers with cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

For the Strawberry Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 (3 oz.) package of strawberry flavored Jell-O
  • 1 cup butter, cubed, room temperature
  • 5 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For the Strawberry Filling (option 1)

  • 3 cups chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

For the Chopped Strawberry Filling (option 2)

  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped and dried with a paper towel
  • 1 cup cream cheese frosting

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6-7 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • (this is enough frosting to use as a filling too, but if you plan to use the strawberry puree filling, you can half this recipe or save the rest for a batch of cupcakes!)

Instructions

For the Strawberry Cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray, then place parchment rounds on the bottom and spray again. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, flour, Jell-O, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine. 
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter and milk, a little at a time. Mix until incorporated.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the egg whites and vanilla extract. Stir to combine. Add the egg mixture to the batter, a little at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl along the way.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. I used three 8-inch pans and my cooking time was 22 minutes. Baking time should be between 22-25 minutes for either the 8-inch, but make sure to check on your cakes around 22 minutes, inserting a toothpick into the top of the cake (should come out clean or with just a few crumbs) or gently tapping the top of your cake (shouldn't jiggle, but instead, bounce back up when done).
  6. Let cool in your pans for 10 minutes and then invert onto wire cooling racks until completely cooled.

For the Strawberry Filling

  1. Combine the sugar and corn starch in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until combined.
  2. Add the chopped strawberries and stir until the sugar mixture starts to dissolve and the strawberries start to juice.
  3. Allow the mixture to come to a boil and start to thicken, about 3 minutes. Then, turn the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  4. Pour the mixture into a heat-proof bowl and let cool to room temperature or store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use. Can be made ahead of time.
  5. If you choose to do the fresh strawberries and cream cheese frosting, dry your strawberries with a paper towel by gently patting them. Add the fresh strawberries to one cup of the cream cheese frosting and mix. Spread the mixture gently between each cake layer.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and cream cheese and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until incorporated. 
  3. Keeping the mixer on low, add the cream, vanilla and salt.
  4. Turn the mixer to medium and beat the frosting for 3-5 minutes, or until it is light in color (almost white) and texture.
  5. To remove air bubbles from the frosting, use a wooden spoon to stir and push out the air bubbles. 
  6. If your frosting is too soft, add another half cup to one cup powdered sugar, or refrigerate the frosting, covered in plastic wrap, for 15-20 minutes.

When assembling your cake, make sure to pipe a rim of frosting around each layer to protect the filling from oozing out the sides. Additionally, after applying a thin crumb coat, chill the cake for 30 minutes in the refrigerator to set before frosting completely.

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