While we’ve been know to use a package of our favorite jello mix here and there – they add great flavor, color and usually a nice, thick texture – there’s something really refreshing about going back to basics and making a cake from scratch. Specifically, a lovely, summer strawberry cake. This one bakes in a 9×13 pan, with lots of fresh strawberries tucked into both the cake batter and the frosting. Nothing fake to be found here, just real flavor (and color) from real fruit! We love this and you will too, promise.
To get a light and fluffy cake that’s satisfying to bite into, without being heavy, we used cake flour, baking powder and baking soda. The leaveners give this cake great lift, the Greek yogurt keeps things moist, and the strawberries and lemon juice keep things feeling extra fresh. Win-win-win. We wanted the pink from the strawberries to really shine through, so we just used egg whites instead of whole eggs, to keep the yolks from coloring the batter; we added in a little extra butter to make up for the missing yolks.
Now, if you really want to amp up the flavor and color of this recipe, you could make a strawberry reduction by simmering one pound of strawberries for 20-30 minutes, then pour 1/2 cup of that into the batter instead of the diced strawberries, but that felt a little fussy, so we stuck with diced berries instead. Similarly, you could use freeze-dried strawberries in the frosting, which would make it taste amazing (although not necessarily better) and look super vibrant, but again, not really necessary when you’ve got summer’s finest berries folded into the mix.
This is a versatile batter that you can use just about any way you like: as seen here, in a 9×13; in a jelly roll pan; in two, 9-inch cake pans, you name it! We love this way best since it leaves us with a substantial cake we can sink our teeth into, and with a nice proportion of frosting to cake – it’s all about striking the right balance! In either the batter or the frosting (or both) you can add in a bit more lemon juice to pump up the brightness of the flavor, but we are completely addicted to this cake just the way it is. Try it and you will be too!
Strawberry Sheet Cake
1 hour to prepare serves 12-16
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup strawberries, chopped or diced
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup strawberries, diced
Preheat oven to 350º F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish or a jelly roll baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl or mixer, cream together butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes, or until fluffy and lightened in color.
Beat in egg whites, Greek yogurt and vanilla extract, then gradually mix in dry ingredients and milk, being careful not to over-mix.
Fold in diced strawberries, then transfer batter (it will be thick) to 9×13 or baking sheet.
Place in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes (if using 9×13) or 12-16 minutes (if using baking sheet), or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool completely.
While cake bakes, start frosting by beating cream cheese and butter in a large bowl or mixer for 2-3 minutes, or until fluffy.
Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, until fully incorporated, then slowly mix in lemon juice.
Once combined, mix in fresh, diced strawberries until thoroughly incorporated.
Once cake has fully cooled, spread frosting on in a nice, even layer, then slice, serve and enjoy!