Summer is practically here, and with it comes berry season! It’s a toss up between which I love more: eating fresh berries straight out of the container or baking them into beautiful desserts. It’s really a win-win. This layer cake is made only with freshly pureed strawberries and no artificial flavors, unlike a lot of recipes that call for strawberry gelatin instead. This creates a more subtle and natural berry flavor, instead of tasting like strawberry flavored candy. If you still have strawberries left over, try out these Strawberry Hand Pies!
The almond buttercream is my preference here, but you can certainly use a vanilla buttercream or your favorite frosting. Fresh whipped cream is also a delicious option that is lighter and pairs well with the berries. The important thing to remember is to let the cake rounds cool completely before adding layers of frosting between them. Warm cake + frosting = a dripping mess!
Assembling a Layer Cake
Let me start by saying that you 100% have the option to make a sheet cake with this recipe, using a 9×13″ pan instead. However, if you’ve never tried a layer cake before I really encourage it! It’s not as hard as it looks and has a beautiful outcome. But I do have a few things to keep in mind for success…
1. Trim your cake rounds so that they lay flat. It’s common for the centers of the rounds to puff up a bit while baking which will create uneven layers. Take a serrated knife and carefully level each layer by trimming any excess from the top.
2. Start with a crumb coat! A crumb coat is a thin frosting layer that is applied to the cake and then refrigerated before frosting with a thick, outer layer. The purpose is to seal in all the stray crumbs so that your final, outer layer is clean and crumb-free. Here is an awesome tutorial to guide you!
3. Have the right tools. It’s handy to have a cake spinner, to turn your cake easily as you frost, but it’s not necessary. More important is a flat, angled spatula to achieve a smooth finish (if that’s your intent!)
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 c. granulated sugar
- 1½ Tbsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¾ c. vegetable oil
- 1½ c. strawberry puree
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 4 eggs (beaten)
- Almond Buttercream
- 4 c. powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 c. unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp almond extract
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease and flour your cake pans.
- Cut the stems off of the fresh strawberries and pulse in a food processor until there are no large chunks.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Add the vegetable oil, strawberry puree, vanilla, and lemon juice to the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
- Add the eggs and stir just until smooth.
- Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans.
- Bake until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean (about 25 minutes).
- Let cool for 5 minutes and remove cake from pans to cool on wire rack.
- Cream the butter and gradually add the powdered sugar until combined.
- Mix in salt and almond extract (to taste).
- Once cake rounds have completely cooled, frost in layers.
I added a few drops of red food coloring into 2 of the cake rounds in order to get an ombré (this is optional).
Cake is best on the day of baking but will keep 1-3 days.