This jaw dropping strawberry cake features layers of soft vanilla sponge cake, light and airy whipped cream, and sweet macerated strawberries! An incredibly beautiful dessert, but surprisingly easy to make.
This strawberry shortcake is perfect for birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day … pretty much every celebration! It’s special enough to make for a celebration, but is super light and refreshing (making it especially fantastic for the warmer months).
When it comes to strawberry shortcake, there are 2 main methods for making it: one is using biscuits as the shortcake and the other is using an actual cake recipe (traditionally, sponge cake) as the shortcake. Today, my friends, we’re going over the sponge cake strawberry shortcake method!
Psst! If you’d like the other method, here’s how to make biscuit strawberry shortcake!
Each method has its own pros: biscuit strawberry shortcake is less fussy and less intimidating, with a richer flavor (thanks to all the buuuutter!) Sponge cake strawberry shortcake is lighter and airier, and wildly impressive to present! So it really depends on how much effort you’re in the mood to dedicate and what kind of flavor profile you’re going for.
Strawberry shortcake cake ingredients:
Although strawberry shortcake can look totally intimidating, it actually doesn’t feature a long host of ingredients. In fact, all of the ingredients are household staples that you probably already have sitting in your panty and fridge! Plus the steps are actually very straightforward – this cake just involves a bit more TLC compared to other dessert recipes.
So for the ingredients, you’ll need:
• flour: cake & pastry flour is preferred because it yields a nicer texture (a more tender and soft cake!), but you can use all purpose in a pinch. OOORRR you can make your own cake & pastry flour with all purpose flour and cornstarch!
• salt: to balance out the sweetness
• baking powder: for a light lift (and to make the sponge cake less temperamental!)
• eggs: LOTS OF ‘EM! The eggs are pretty much the main structure for this cake
• sugar: granulated sugar for both the sponge cake and the macerated strawberries, and powdered sugar for the whipped cream frosting
• butter: adds a nice richness and flavor to the sponge cake!
• vanilla: technically optional but also not. It seriously boosts the flavor, and it helps you avoid the dreaded eggy sponge cake!!!
• strawberries: USE FRESH! Frozen will not hold up in this recipe
• heavy cream: make sure the cream is cold so it whips up quicker, easier, and more stably!
How to make strawberry shortcake cake:
Make the macerated strawberries:
1. Combine strawberries and sugar. Mix and set aside in the fridge to allow the strawberries to release some juices.
Make the sponge cake:
1. Beat together eggs and sugar until tripled in volume. This. will. take. some. time! Seriously, don’t get bored early on. You may want to pop on some music or your favorite show. It’ll take 10 to 15 minutes of beating!
2. Sift dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Fold together until just combined. Take care not to deflate the eggs too, too much! Some deflating is normal and already factored into the recipe, but be gentle with her!
3. Mix some batter with butter. Combine about 1/2 a cup of batter with the butter. This is to lighten up the butter so it incorporates more easily into the rest of the batter – it helps gradually incorporate the butter without having to over mix!
4. Combine butter mixture and rest of the batter. Mix until just combined.
5. Pour, bake, cool. Pour the batter into cake pans, and bake. Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely to room temperature.
6. Pop the cakes into your fridge or freezer for 30 minutes. (Optional) This makes assembly easier.
Make the whipped cream frosting:
1. Whip cream and powdered sugar until it reaches stiff peaks.
1. Layer. Place a cake layer, top with whipped cream, strawberries, another cake layer, more whipped cream, and more strawberries. You can also drizzle some of the juices that the strawberries released on top!
2. Chill. You can serve the cake right away, but it’s easier to slice if you let it chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
Strawberry shortcake storage:
Something that never ceases to amaze me is the fact that strawberry shortcake actually keeps really well. It surprises me because the sponge cake is so soft, you would expect it to easily break down and get soggy – BUT NAY!
The added butter in the sponge cake helps it firm up slightly when stored in the fridge, which helps protect it against moisture and softening. Keep your shortcake stored in the fridge, and it should last up to 1 full week!
One last tip!
If you’ve never worked with sponge cake before, let me be the one to tell you that it’s insanely soft! Which is a blessing (because it’s delicious) but also a curse (because it can be difficult to stack and work with at room temperature).
So to make assembly a million and one times easier on you, I’d recommend popping the cake layers in the fridge or freezer for about 30 minutes (or until slightly firm) and assembly should be a breeze!
Check out these other recipes!
Strawberry Shortcake Cake Recipe
For the macerated strawberries:
- 3 cups fresh strawberries, tops cut off and halved or quartered (depending on the size)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
For the vanilla sponge cake:
- 1 & 1/4 cups cake and pastry flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (optional but highly recommended!!)
For the whipped cream:
- 2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
- Make the macerated strawberries: Combine strawberries and sugar in a large bowl. Mix together until the sugar is dissolved and the strawberries start to glisten. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Make the vanilla sponge cake: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line the bottom and sides of 2 (9 inch) cake pans with parchment paper, and set aside.
- Sift your flour, salt, and baking powder into a medium sized bowl, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the eggs and sugar together on high speed for 10 to 15 minutes, or until light, fluffy, and about tripled in size. You should be able to draw a figure 8 with the batter and it should take about 2 seconds to sink away. * This will be slightly quicker if using a stand mixer or slightly longer if using a handheld mixer.
- Add the sifted flour to the egg mixture, and gently fold together until just combined. Some streaks of flour are fine because we are going to mix this again in a second. At this point, it's better to under mix than over mix and risk deflating your eggs!
- In a separate medium sized bowl, combine melted butter, vanilla, and a bit of cake batter (about 1/2 a cup). Mix together until combined.
- Pour the butter mixture into the large bowl with the remaining cake batter. Again, gently fold together until just combined. Take care not to over mix! This time you do want to avoid any streaks of flour because it can cause problems while the cake bakes.
- Divide the batter evenly between your 2 cake pans. Spread into 1 layer, and bake in your preheated 350°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean of any batter or crumbs.
- Cool the cakes for about 10 minutes in your pans, then turn onto a wire rack. Peel the parchment paper off the cakes, and set aside to cool completely to room temperature. (Optional) Place the cakes in the fridge or freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up so they're easier to stack.
- Make the whipped cream frosting: In a large bowl, combine heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat together using an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment until it reaches stiff peaks (about 5 to 10 minutes on high speed).
- Assemble the shortcake: These cakes shouldn't really dome on top, but if they do, just slice the tops off to level the cake layers. Place one of your cake layers on your serving platter. Spread about half of your whipped cream on top of the first layer of cake, leaving a small boarder around the edge to keep it from spilling out. Top with about half of the strawberries. Place your second layer of cake on top, and layer again with the remaining whipped cream and strawberries. You can also add some fresh strawberries on top and spoon some of the juices from the strawberries over everything if you like! Serve right away, or chill for 1 hour beforehand to make slicing easier.