You'll love this Fresh Strawberry Sheet Cake made from scratch! This light dessert features all-natural ingredients, with no boxed cake mix, gelatin or artificial sweeteners.
In the 1950's, there was a very popular strawberry cake recipe that featured a boxed white cake mix with a package of Strawberry gelatin, or "Jello®." This vintage recipe was super pink, super sweet, and loaded with preservatives, artificial ingredients and gelatin. (Gelatin is a derivative of animal collagen. I'm not wild about having animal collagen in my sweets.) Now, you can make a fresh strawberry dessert from scratch and enjoy the subtle, sweet flavor of real strawberries without all those additives and preservatives.
This recipe makes a 9 X 13 sheet cake which serves 12--16 slices, depending upon how you cut it. It is a light, white cake from scratch, with pureed fresh strawberries and and a strawberry-buttercream frosting.
Ingredients for Strawberry Cake
For the batter and icing, you'll need one pound of fresh strawberries (grab a few extra for garnish), cake flour, baking powder, milk, vanilla, butter, eggs, sugar, cream of tarter, cream cheese and powdered sugar. For exact measurements, see recipe card below.
Making a cake from scratch requires a little more time and equipment, but it's totally worth it! The freshness and flavor really shine when you use traditional means and methods. You will need a stand mixer, food processor, saucepan, three large bowls, a few smaller bowls (for dividing the egg yolks and whites), and measuring spoons and cups.
How to Make Fresh Strawberry Sheet Cake
First things first: Get out the eggs, milk and butter and allow them to come to room temperature, preheat oven to 350ºF, and lightly oil or butter a 9 X 13 baking dish.
- This recipe works because it relies on fresh strawberry puree, which is the first thing you'll make. Clean and chop the berries, then pulse them in the food processosr until they're liquid. Place the pureed berries in a saucepan and cook on low until they reduce in half; this takes about 30 minutes. Once the strawberry puree has reduced, remove it from the heat and let it cool. It will thicken upon cooling, and that's okay. One pound of fresh strawberries yields 1 ¾ cups of puree. You'll use one cup for the cake and the remainder for the icing.
- Next, assemble the cake ingredients. Use one big bowl for the dry ingredients and combine flour, baking powder and salt; use a smaller bowl for wet ingredients: milk and vanilla
- In the stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together; gradually add in wet and dry ingredients in 3 increments; add strawberry puree; combine well and set aside
- Use another large bowl and stand mixer to whip egg whites and cream of tartar to a soft peak; gradually add sugar to stabilize the egg whites
- Fold egg whites into the flour mixture
- Pour cake batter into a lightly oiled 9 X 13 baking dish
- Bake 40 - 45 minutes, or until the center is done (test with toothpick)
While the cake is baking, make the icing:
- Using the stand mixer, cream butter, cream cheese, vanilla and remaining strawberry puree together; gradually add powdered sugar in increments; icing is at the right consistency when it lightly sticks to the paddle
- Once cake is done in the center, allow to cool before icing
Make Ahead Timesaver Tips
Homemade cakes require a little more time than boxed, so if you find yourself short on time, make the cake in advance. Store the cake and extra strawberry puree in the refrigerator for up to three days. When you're ready to serve this dessert, remove it from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. While it's resting, make the icing. Apply icing and enjoy!
Another time saver is to make the strawberry puree and icing in advance, then make the cake later. You can store the icing and puree in the fridge for up to three days. When it's time to frost the cake, let the strawberry cream cheese icing come to room temperature first.
Can I Use Frozen Strawberries?
I love to serve this homemade dessert in the Spring, when strawberries are at their best, but if you don't have fresh berries, you can certainly use frozen strawberries. Just rinse and thaw!
Gelatin-Free Fresh Strawberry Sheet Cake is perfect for any Spring or Summer occasion--picnics, birthdays, potlucks, Mother's Day, Father's Day, wedding showers and baby showers! Your guests will rave about the fresh, subtle strawberry flavor!
Strawberry Sheet Cake
- Stand Mixer
- Food Processor
Cake Batter Ingredients
- 1 lb. strawberries (pureed = 1¾ cup); 1 cup for batter; ¾ cup for icing
- 3½ cups sifted cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 sticks butter ,unsalted
- 2 cups sugar (1¾ cup for batter; ¼cup for egg whites)
- 8 egg whites
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ stick unsalted butter
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup pureed strawberries
- Get eggs, butter, milk and cream cheese out and allow to come to room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Lightly oil or butter 9 X 13 baking dish
- Clean and pull stems from strawberries
- Make strawberry puree
- Place cleaned and stemmed strawberries in food processor and pulse 2-3 minutes until they are liquid
- Pour pureed strawberries into saucepan on low heat and cook for 30 minutes; stir occasionally
- Once strawberries have reduced down to about half, remove from stove and allow to cool (or put the strawberry puree in the fridge if you're in a hurry)
Make the Cake
- In a large bowl, add cake flour, baking powder and salt; combine and set aside
- In a smaller bowl, combine milk and vanilla; set aside
- In a stand mixer, use a really big bowl and the paddle attachment; cream butter and sugar together; beat on low for 5 minutes until the mixture is light and creamy
- Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture while the mixer is on low; add the flour mixture in increments of 3; add the milk/vanilla mixture; add 1 cup of the strawberry puree; combine well; set aside
- Using a clean mixing bowl with the whisk attachment, add egg whites and cream of tartar; whisk on medium until soft peaks form
- Once soft peaks have formed, turn setting to high and gradually add in remaining ¼ cup sugar
- Use a spatula and fold egg whites into cake batter
- Pour batter into prepared pan
- Bake 40 - 45 minutes, or until the center is firm and a toothpick comes out clean
- Allow cake to cool before icing
Make the Icing
- Use the stand mixer with a paddle and a large bowl
- Combine butter, cream cheese and vanilla in stand mixer on medium speed
- Add remaining strawberry puree; combine well
- Gradually add powdered sugar in one cup increments; icing is done when it holds to the paddle
- Use a spatula or off-set knife to spread the icing over the cooled cake
- Garnish with any remaining fresh strawberries
Shared at Meal Plan Monday