After making strawberry cupcakes, I decided to take the idea a step further in this layered vanilla cake with strawberry filling. I’ve been a fan of strawberry shortcake and similar desserts my whole life, but truth be told, they were never my favorite. I’d usually grab a vanilla cupcake or chocolate chip cookie over strawberry baked goods. But this cake is a total game-changer. The rich flavor really shines thanks to roasted strawberries. Plus, we eat with our eyes, and the marbled strawberry and cream cheese frosting is both delicious and pretty! This cake is a showstopper that I hope will become a hit with your friends and family the way that it has with mine.
Recipe Planning for this Strawberry Vanilla Cake
To knock out this recipe in one session, I recommend first roasting your fresh strawberries.
While they’re in the oven, dive into the steps for baking the cake layers.
Once the strawberries have roasted, let them cool as you bake your cake.
While your cake bakes, clean your mixing bowl and make the strawberry frosting.
Alternatively, roast the strawberries one day. Bake and assemble the cake with the strawberry filling the following day.
Ingredients for Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Filling
In the recipe card below, you’ll find all the ingredients you need for this strawberry cake. I highlight a few of the key ones and why they’re important.
- Fresh strawberry filling – By roasting strawberries, we soften their texture and release some of their water, leaving us with lots of pure strawberry flavor.
- Unsalted room temperature butter – Butter is a fat, and fat equals flavor! Mixing butter and granulated sugar incorporates air into the batter. This process helps your cake layers rise in the oven.
- Vanilla extract – In an online baking class I took once, Christina Tosi of Milk Bar taught us that you don’t need expensive vanilla extract for good flavor. So the extract from your local grocery store is perfectly fine for this recipe. I never taste much difference between pricier extracts and more basic ones.
- Almond extract – The combination of almond and strawberry is a good one. While not a requirement, almond nicely complements the vanilla and strawberry flavors here.
- Freeze dried strawberries – Freeze dried strawberries have a concentrated, more intense flavor than fresh or even dried fruits. They work well in frosting because they don’t add any excess moisture. Be sure to grind them into a fine powder before incorporating them into the frosting. This yields a smoother, more uniform distribution of flavor.
Steps for Baking this Moist Vanilla Cake
First, preheat oven to 350°F.
I use these bake even strips on most of my cakes. They help cake rise evenly during baking. If you want to do the same, start soaking two strips in water before proceeding with the recipe.
Line two eight inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Alternatively, you can generously butter and flour the pans or use non-stick baking spray. Whatever you decide, it’s important to use proper baking release spray or butter and flour so that your layers don’t stick to the pan.
To a large bowl, add and whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. Set aside.
Using the paddle attachment in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat your sugar, butter, and vanilla extract together on medium speed for 4 minutes. Stop mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add your eggs, canola oil, and Greek yogurt to your primary mixing bowl. Mix on low for about 3 minutes.
Add half of your buttermilk and half of your flour to your bowl of wet ingredients. Mix, repeat, and gently mix all ingredients together until just combined.
Pour and evenly spread the batter into your prepared cake pans. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until layers appear buttery and dense but bounce back at the touch of your finger.
Let cakes cool in pans 10-15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Roasting Strawberries for Filling
If you’re wondering what is the best filling for a vanilla cake, these roasted strawberries are high on my list. They’re juicy and bring tons of flavor to the cake. They’re also easy to prepare and make.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
To create your strawberry filling, toss fresh strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, and salt in a bowl before spreading berries out onto an aluminum or metal pan to bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping berries halfway through.
Bake time varies depending on the baking vessel and how it conducts heat – metal will be faster than glass, for instance.
Once they have a soft, syrupy consistency, remove from oven and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Let cool in refrigerator. I like to roast the strawberries one day and assemble cake layers the following with this strawberry filling recipe.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
This frosting is a hybrid buttercream frosting. It combines unsalted butter with cream cheese for a bit of tanginess.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment — or in a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer — beat the cream cheese until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and mix for another 1 minute or until fully combined.
Turn off mixer and add salt, powdered sugar, and almond and vanilla extracts to bowl. Mix on low setting to slowly incorporate powdered sugar before increasing to high setting for another 2-3 minutes. Add lemon juice if needed to cut sweetness (personal preference).
For pink and white frosting, remove half of your base frosting and set aside in another bowl. Then add finely ground freeze dried strawberries to mixing bowl and mix until well-combined.
Put white frosting in one piping bag and pink strawberry cream cheese frosting in another.
How to Make Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Filling
Pipe or spread a dollop of cream cheese frosting onto a cake circle to act as glue to hold the layer in place. Set first cake layer on top of that.
Pipe about a third of your frosting (you can use a mix of pink and white. If you want more white frosting on the outside with small pink sections, use more pink inside or vice versa.) on top of the bottom layer and spread evenly with a cake spatula.
Create thick piped border to contain filling. Spread ½ of your roasted strawberries inside the border. The border should be the height of the strawberries so their juice doesn’t leak out!
Place second cake layer on top of the first, adding more frosting between the layers as needed to insulate the berries. Then, starting from the base of the cake and moving to the top, pipe a thick layer of frosting all around your cake’s sides and top.
Place a cake scraper against the side of the cake and gently pull the cake around to smooth out bubbles in the frosting.
Pipe lines of the pink frosting around and on top of the cake, using the cake scraper to even it out and create a marbled effect. Top with remaining roasted strawberries.
Preventing Strawberry Leakage
While this cake is as beautiful as it is delicious due to freshly roasted strawberries, the fruit’s juices can cause issues if you’re not careful. Below are tips to make this recipe foolproof.
- Once you’ve put frosting on the top of your first cake layer, pipe a thick border of frosting around the edge of your cake. This will contain the roasted strawberries and their juice once you place them here. Use the photos in this post as a guide.
- When putting your second layer of cake onto the first – after you’ve added the filling and piped the border – add more frosting to the space where the two layers meet. Fully cover that area to ensure all juice is contained!
- In the final steps of scraping your cake’s frosting, your scraper will push excess frosting to the top of the cake, forming a small edge or crown around it. For a smooth cake, you’d typically push that toward the center of the cake with an offset spatula. Don’t do that here, as that rim of frosting helps contain the strawberries and their juices.
If your cake top turned out differently, no problem! Pipe a small border using your favorite piping tip around the rim of the cake top. This will keep your juice in place.
FAQ for Strawberry Filled Cake
Vanilla can get a bad reputation for being bland. However, because of its easygoing flavor, it pairs so well with many flavors. You could always try something different, like a Biscoff buttercream or Oreo-flavored black frosting.
Adding a filling like what you see here is another way to take a standard vanilla layer cake up a notch. Or decorate the top of it with whatever fruits are freshest and in season for you.
Ingredients like eggs, butter, and other dairy products are important in trapping air into your baked goods as you mix the batter or dough for them. That air expands during the baking process in the oven. This can mean the difference between a dense and crumbly cake and a nice, fluffy one. So you should always bake with room temperature ingredients if a recipe calls for it. This one does.
This cake will remain most fresh if stored in the refrigerator for about five days. If possible, bring out about 30 minutes before serving so that cake can reach room temperature for best flavor and texture.
Even with the filling, this cake will freeze pretty well for 3 months. Store slices in wax or parchment paper in an airtight container.
Tips for Perfecting this Recipe
- Don’t overmix your batter! Overmixing batter can yield a denser cake, the opposite of a soft and fluffy baked good. Pay attention to the photos in this recipe for visual cues on how your batter should look before baking.
- Let cake layers cool before assembling cake. If the layers are still warm when you pipe frosting onto them or try to add the strawberry filling, you’ll regret it. The frosting may melt, and the warm cake’s texture won’t be quite sturdy enough to hold the strawberry filling well.
- For a more flavorful dessert, eat cake the next day. The added time allows the flavors to meld together longer, resulting in a stronger taste.
Bake Like a Pro: Use a Kitchen Scale
Weighing your ingredients and writing or following a recipe using a standard metric like grams ensures consistency. The sizes of measuring cups vary. Using them for a recipe can result in noticeable issues and differing end results for baked goods.
I highly recommend investing $30 or less in a kitchen scale.
More Dessert Recipes
If you’re looking for more fruity recipes like this vanilla cake with strawberry filling, I bet you’ll love this strawberry apple crumble. It doubles as a dessert and breakfast food.
Or check out this carrot cake recipe! It’s moist and sweet, due in part to the pineapple juice inside it.Print
Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Filling
This moist vanilla cake with strawberry filling is packed with fruity flavor. A rich strawberry cream cheese frosting covers this layer cake.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cake Assembly Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 2 hours
- Yield: 1 8-inch, 2-layer cake 1x
- Category: Cakes
- Cuisine: American
- 2 1/3 cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups (260 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 sticks (171 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 T vanilla extract
- 3 eggs at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (190 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
- 3 T (35 grams) canola oil (or other colorless, odorless oil like vegetable or rapeseed)
- 3 T full fat Greek yogurt or sour cream at room temperature
Roasted Strawberry Filling
- 16 oz strawberries (ends up being about 1.5 cups of pureed strawberries)
- 3 T granulated sugar
- 1 T lemon juice, bottled or fresh
- Pinch of salt
Marbled Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
- 1 stick of butter, room temperature
- 3/4 block (170 grams) of cream cheese, room temperature or slightly softened
- 4 cups (460 grams) of powdered sugar
- 1 1/3 cup (1 oz/30 grams) freeze dried strawberries, finely ground into a powder
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- Pinch of salt
- Optional: A few drops of lemon or lime juice (or white vinegar) to cut sweetness; add to your preference
Roasted Strawberry Filling
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Toss berries, lemon juice, sugar, and salt in a bowl before spreading them out into an aluminum or metal pan to bake for about 20 minutes, flipping berries halfway through.
- Once they’re softened and have a syrupy consistency, remove from oven and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Let cool in refrigerator.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 8” round cake pans or coat them with baking release spray. I use damp cake strips on my pans for more evenly baked layers.
- To a large bowl, add and whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. Set aside.
- Using the paddle attachment and the bowl of a stand mixer, beat your sugar, butter, and vanilla extract together on medium speed for 4 minutes. Stop mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add your eggs, canola oil, and Greek yogurt to the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix on low for about 3 minutes.
- Add half of your buttermilk and half of your dry ingredients. Mix gently and then repeat until ingredients are combined.
- Pour and evenly spread the batter into your prepared cake pans. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until layers appear buttery and dense but bounce back at the touch of your finger.
- Let cakes cool in pans 10-15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Frosting & Cake Assembly
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and mix for another 1 minute until well combined and smooth.
- Mix in the powdered sugar, almond, and vanilla extract. Continue mixing until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Remove half of the frosting and set aside in another bowl.
- Add ground freeze dried strawberries to mixing bowl and mix until well-combined.
- Put white frosting in one piping bag and pink in another.
- Pipe or spread a dollop of cream cheese frosting onto a cake circle to act as glue to hold the layer in place. Set first cake layer on top of that.
- Pipe about a third of your frosting (you can use a mix of pink and white. If you want more white frosting on the outside with small pink sections, use more pink inside or vice versa.) on top of the bottom layer and spread evenly with a cake spatula or large metal spoon. Create thick piping border to hold in filling and spread ½ of your roasted strawberry filling inside the border. The border should be the height of the strawberries so that they don’t leak out!
- Place second cake layer on top of the first. Then, starting from the base of the cake and moving to the top, pipe a thick layer of frosting all around your cake’s sides and top.
- Place a cake scraper against the side of the cake and gently pull the cake around to smooth out bubbles in the frosting.
- Pipe lines of the pink frosting around and on top of the cake, using the cake scraper to even it out and create a marbled effect.
- Top with remaining roasted strawberries.
Keywords: vanilla cake, strawberry filled cake, vanilla cake with strawberry filling, cream cheese frosting, strawberry dessert