A deliciously moist vanilla cake made from scratch with a homemade strawberry filling all covered in a rich cream cheese frosting.
This has become one of my favorite cakes now. It has THE best buttery vanilla cake as the base and is filled with a cooked strawberry filling.
Adding whipped cream cheese buttercream frosting just adds the perfect finishing touch and makes this cake taste like strawberries and cream heaven.
This cake looks impressive and with everything made from scratch, it tastes just as amazing. It’s not overly involved, but you do want to start on the filling either a couple of hours before or the day before you plan to assemble the cake.
The soft and moist texture of the vanilla cake is just amazing and the frosting just almost melts in your mouth. All that in combination with the tart and sweet strawberry filling, just makes this cake heavenly.
This delectable layer cake is perfect for birthdays and weddings or just any time you get a craving for yummy vanilla cake with strawberries. This recipe will definitely be a hit every time you serve it.
The strawberry cake filling can also be used as a filling for cupcakes, or other layer cakes like chocolate or white cake.
Now let’s talk a little about just some of the ingredients in this strawberries and cream cake. (The printable list of all ingredients are in the recipe card below.)
Ingredients for the filling:
Frozen strawberries: This recipe can be made any time of year because it calls for frozen strawberries so you don’t have to wait until things are in season.
Of course, if you want to use fresh strawberries, you can do that too.
Sugar and lemon juice: You’ll need sugar to sweeten everything up and lemon juice just adds a splash of flavor.
Cornstarch and water: This is what will thicken up the strawberry filling, so you don’t want to skip this.
Ingredients for the cake:
All-purpose flour: You don’t need any fancy cake flour for this recipe. All-purpose flour is the only flour you’ll need and it gets the job done perfectly.
Baking soda and powder: You’ll need both for this recipe. Don’t substitute them out though as they’re not exactly the same thing and they don’t sub equally.
Oil, sour cream and milk: These three things will add a lot of moisture to the cake, especially the sour cream.
Butter: There’s nothing better than a rich buttery cake and this recipe calls for 1 full cup of butter…yum. This will make the cake rich, buttery and moist.
Sugar: This, of course, is what makes a cake sweet, but it also gives the cake moisture. Try not to skimp on this ingredient.
Eggs: You’ll definitely need eggs to solidify everything and give it some lift.
Ingredients for the frosting:
Cream cheese and butter: This is the base for this icing and it gives it lots of buttery flavor with a slight tang of cream cheese.
Confectioner’s sugar: This will give the frosting its sweetness and thicken it up.
Vanilla and salt: Vanilla just gives a good flavor to anything and salt cuts the sweetness a little.
(Make sure to check out the FAQ section below in this post for ingredient and substitution questions.)
How to make this cake:
Let’s talk a little about how to a vanilla cake with strawberry filling. (The printable instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Step 1: Make the strawberry cake filling:
You want to make the filling at least 4 hours before you’re going to make the cake because it will need to cool down and chill before you put the cake together.
First, add the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice to a large saucepan and heat on medium and bring to a simmer. Let this simmer for several minutes until the strawberries break down a little and the mixture thickens up.
You’ll want to stir frequently and you may also use a potato masher to mash up the strawberries a bit while it’s heating.
Next, mix the warm water and cornstarch in a measuring cup until it’s smooth, then pour into the strawberry mixture. Stir and let the mixture lightly simmer for about a minute until it thickens.
You can add some red food coloring at this point to make the filling a stronger or brighter red color.
Next, allow the filling to cool to room temperature, then cover it and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Step 2: How to make the homemade vanilla cake layers:
First, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and grease and flour two, 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.
Next, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Whisk well and set aside.
In another medium-sized bowl, add the oil, sour cream, milk, and vanilla extract. Whisk well and set aside.
Now in a large mixing bowl, add the room-temperature butter and the sugar and mix with an electric mixer on medium-high for several minutes until it’s light and fluffy.
Next, add the eggs one at a time, and mix on low-medium only until just combined after adding each egg.
After the eggs are added, alternately add in the dry mixture and the liquid mixture to the butter mixture, starting and ending with the dry mixture.
Always make sure not to mix the batter too long.
Next, add the batter to the two prepared, 8-inch round cake pans and smooth the batter evenly.
Bake the cake layers at 325 degrees F on the middle rack for approximately 45-50 minutes.
Remove the cake layers from the oven and place them on a wire rack, still inside the pans, for about 15 minutes.
Next, turn the cake layers out of the pans and set them onto the cooling racks and allow them to cool completely before adding filling and frosting.
Step 3: How to make the cream cheese buttercream frosting:
To make the frosting, take a large bowl and add the room-temperature cream cheese and butter, then mix with an electric mixer on medium-high until smooth.
Next, add the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and salt and mix until smooth.
Now add milk if needed to reach desired consistency and mix well.
Finally, whip the buttercream for several minutes on medium-high until fluffy.
Step 4: How to assemble the cake:
Before assembling the cake, make sure that the cake has cooled completely and that the strawberry filling is chilled.
Next level the tops of the cake layers if necessary.
Now add a layer of the cake to a cake plate, then add a bit of the cream cheese frosting.
Pipe an icing dam just around the inside of the cake layer to keep the strawberry filling from squishing out.
Next, add ⅔ of the strawberry filling to the cake layer inside of the icing dam.
Now add the last layer of cake.
Then cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting.
At this point, you can add the remaining strawberry filling to the top of the cake, or leave the cake covered in just the frosting.
Serve closer to room temperature so that the cake is nice and soft, but store chilled since it’s covered in cream cheese frosting.
(Remember that the instructions will also be in the recipe card below.)
Tips & FAQs:
Yes, you can use fresh strawberries instead.
It’s best to defrost the strawberries.
Sour cream is best for this recipe, but if you don’t have it, you can try substituting it with full-fat plain yogurt.
Unsalted is always best because you can estimate the proper amount of salt that will be added plus salted butter has a different water content than unsalted.
That said, if you’re unable to get unsalted butter, then you can use salted in the cake and the buttercream, but make sure to omit the additional salt that each recipe calls for.
This is to allow the ingredients to mix together better. Sometimes when the ingredients are cold, the batter can clump up and cause texture issues.
Be very careful not to mix the batter too long. Scratch cakes should not be mixed for minutes at a time, or they will become very dense, and rubbery and the cake could eventually sink. Stop mixing once the ingredients are well incorporated.
You can if it’s lumpy, but otherwise, it’s not really necessary unless it’s just something you prefer to do.
Before assembling the cake, the strawberry filling needs to be chilled. The cake layers also need to be at room temperature or cooler. They don’t have to be chilled, but should not be warm.
The cake is fully baked when a toothpick inserted into the center of each layer comes out with a few moist crumbs on it or clean. The sides of the cake layers will also slightly pull away from the pans.
The cake layers can be made ahead of time and frozen if desired. Let the baked cake layers cool completely, then wrap them in plastic wrap and foil and place in the freezer for up to two months.
To thaw, place the wrapped cake layers on the counter at room temperature and let thaw completely, then remove the wrapping. Once defrosted, assemble the cake add the filling and frosting.
Because this cake is covered with cream cheese frosting and contains a fruit filling, it should be stored covered or in an airtight container in the refrigerator and can last up to 5 days.
If the cake needs to be stored and does not include the frosting or the filling, then it can be stored covered well at room temperature for up to 5 days.
I have not tested this recipe out as cupcakes, but it may work just fine. Fill 2 cupcake pans (24 cupcakes) with cupcake liners and fill with batter about ⅔ of the way full. Bake at 350 degrees F and start checking for doneness at around 15-20 minutes, although it may take a little longer.
I have not tried making this cake in a bundt pan, but it may turn out fine. Make sure to bake at 325 degrees F and start checking for doneness at around 50-55 minutes although the cake will likely take longer to bake all the way through since it will be a deeper pan.
Make sure to test with a toothpick inserted into the cake to make sure no raw batter is left on the toothpick.
Most cakes are best served closer to room temperature, especially when made with butter like this one. Since this cake must be stored in the fridge, set the cake out (or cut off a slice and set the slice out) to come closer to room temperature for about 20-30 minutes before serving.
You can also pop a slice in the microwave to warm up a bit, but only for about 10 seconds or so.
Yes, this cake works well for stacking as long as you use proper supports as you would stacking any cake.
Note About How I Write Recipes: I write recipes using volume (cups) measurements because here in the U.S., this is what people are more familiar with and I don’t want anyone to feel intimidated when baking. For metric measurements, click the ‘metric’ button under the ingredients in the recipe card below. The weights are converted by a program, not me, and it’s just a best guess. Please note that because I develop recipes using volume measurements, I can’t guarantee that weighing the ingredients will produce the exact same results.
Moist Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Filling (+ cream cheese frosting)
For the strawberry filling:
- 3 cups frozen strawberries, thawed and cut into pieces
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ cup water
- 2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
- Red food coloring (optional)
For the cake:
- 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour (Measured correctly: spooned into the measuring cup and leveled off – don't scoop and pack the flour into the cup)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or canola oil)
- 1 cup sour cream, near room temperature
- ½ cup milk, near room temperature
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (2 sticks)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, near room temperature
For the frosting:
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, near room temperature
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon milk or cream (may use an additional teaspoon to reach desired consistency)
For the filling:
- Make the filling at least 4 hours before making the cake as it will need to cool down and chill. It can also be made the day before and kept in the fridge until ready to use.
- Add the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice to a large saucepan. Heat on medium and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer for several minutes until the strawberries break down a little and the mixture thickens up. Stir frequently. You may also use a potato masher to mash up the strawberries a bit while it's heating.
- Mix the warm water and cornstarch in a measuring cup until well mixed, then pour into the strawberry mixture.
- Stir well and allow the mixture to lightly simmer for about a minute until it thickens, then remove from the heat.
- Feel free to add red food coloring to make this filling a stronger or brighter red color.
- Allow the filling to cool to room temperature, then cover it and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Grease and flour two, 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.
- Make sure to set the cold ingredients out, so they can come closer to room temperature before making the batter. This will keep the batter from clumping up and will help it mix better.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk well and set aside.
- In another bowl, add the oil, sour cream, milk, and vanilla extract. Whisk well and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the room-temperature butter and the sugar and mix with an electric mixer on medium-high for several minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, and mix on low-medium but only for about 20 seconds after adding each egg. If you mix too long or at too high a speed here, the cake can turn out rubbery or spongy.
- Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again on medium, only until everything is well incorporated.
- Alternately add in the dry mixture and the liquid mixture to the butter mixture, starting and ending with the dry mixture. (Add in ⅓ of the dry mixture and mix on medium just until combined. Add in ½ the liquid mixture, mixing only until combined. Add in another ⅓ of the dry mixture, mixing only until combined. Add in the last of the liquid mixture, mixing only until combined, then the last of the dry mixture and mix until combined.) Be very careful only to mix until just combined. Mixing too long and at too high of a speed can cause the cake to come out dense, rubbery or to fall in the middle.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again only for 7-10 seconds or so. The cake batter should be thick and fluffy at this point.
- Pour the batter into the two prepared, 8-inch round cake pans, smooth the batter evenly and bake at 325 degrees F on the middle rack for approximately 45-50 minutes. The cake is fully baked when a toothpick inserted into the center of each layer comes out with a few moist crumbs on it or clean. The sides of the cake layers will also slightly pull away from the pans.
- Remove the cake layers from the oven and place them on a wire rack, still inside the pans, for about 15 minutes. The cake layers will flatten out as they cool. After 15 minutes turn the cake layers out of the pans and set them onto the cooling racks and allow them to cool completely before adding filling and frosting.
For the frosting:
- In a large mixing bowl, add the room-temperature cream cheese and butter and mix with an electric mixer on medium-high until smooth.
- Add the confectioner's sugar, vanilla and salt and mix on medium until combined, then on medium-high until smooth. (You can add the confectioner's sugar half at a time to avoid making a mess.)
- Add milk if needed to reach desired consistency and mix well.
- Whip for several minutes on medium-high until fluffy.
- Cover the bowl and set aside until the cake has cooled down. If you won't use it for a few more hours, it'll need to be stored in the refrigerator until then. Make sure to take it out of the fridge about an hour before you use it so that it'll warm up to a more spreadable consistency.
Timeline and How To Assemble:
- Make sure the cake has cooled completely and that the strawberry filling is chilled. The cake does not have to be chilled, but it can't be warm.
- Level the tops of the cake layers if needed however these cake layers should already cool flat on the tops.
- Next, add a layer of the cake to a cake plate, then add a bit of the cream cheese frosting. It's also good to pipe an icing dam just around the inside of the cake layer to keep the strawberry filling from squishing out later on.
- Add ⅔ of the strawberry filling. Try not to add the filling close to the edges of the cake layer so that it doesn't squish out. There will be some strawberry filling left over and you can either add that to the top of the cake after it's frosted,, or add it to an airtight container, store in the refrigerator and use as a jam on toast, etc. Just make sure to use it within about 5 days.
- Add the last layer of cake, then cover the entire sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting.
- Feel free to add more of the strawberry filling on the top of the cake, or leave the cake covered only in the frosting.
- See the notes section for best ways to store this cake, how to serve it and for more questions.
If the cake does not include the frosting or the filling, then it can be stored covered well at room temperature for up to 5 days.
This cake can also be frozen. See the FAQ section of the post for more information on freezing the cake layers. How to serve: Most cakes are best served closer to room temperature, especially when made with butter like this one. Since this cake must be stored in the fridge, set the cake out (or cut off a slice and set the slice out) to come closer to room temperature for about 20-30 minutes before serving.
You can also pop a slice in the microwave to warm up a bit, but only for about 10 seconds or so. For other questions: Make sure to check out the TIPS & FAQs for this recipe in the blog post, which should answer other questions you may have about ingredients, substitutions, other pan sizes, etc. Nutritional values are an estimate. *This recipe card may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
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