I’ve found my new favorite birthday cake.
And not because I’ve never had vanilla cake with strawberry cream cheese frosting before, but because this particular recipe is a stunner and, in and of itself, a celebration. Especially if you like flavorful, moist cakes. It’s not fluffy, but the crumb is great! And it’s easy. I found the cake recipe online on Sally’s Baking Addiction, and made only minor changes. Now, I need you to know this. I eye-balled the frosting. And you can do it, too. Goodbye complicated recipes, hello fear-less baking.
I made this cake for my daughter’s 3rd birthday. I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, in general, and she answered very matter-of-factly that she wanted strawberry frosting. So strawberry frosting it was. I’ve had a few people message me about this cake since I posted it to Instagram because their kids have also requested some version of strawberry birthday cake. This is perfect for kids birthday parties, family birthday parties, or even an any day, no occasion necessary, cake.
The three secrets to successful cake baking are:
Always, always, always take the time to properly grease the pans. I don’t care who you are, what you do, or how much time you have. This step is crucial for successful cake. Butter, parchment, butter again.
Room Temperature ingredients. Alway start with everything room temperature. They will mix and react best by keeping everything stable and room temperature. If you forgot to set out the butter or the eggs, here’s a trick to get them to room temperature quickly. For the eggs, place them in a bowl with tap-hot water, changing the water as needed until the eggs feel room temperature. For the butter, boil water and use it to fill a large water cup. Dump the water and trap the wrapped butter in the steamy cup for 2-3 minutes, repeating the process until soft.
Do not over mix. An over-mixed cake is where dry, dense, lackluster texture is made, but luckily it’s avoidable. The trick is to hand-whisk to incorporate dry and wet, each and every time. Stop the mixer when it’s time to add the dry ingredients, pull out the whisk, and mix by hand until just combined. I instruct you to do so in the recipe, but it’s important to note here.
A few more tips that are relevant to this cake.
Fresh strawberries. Keep them out of the frosting, but feel free to add them in the layers. It may be tempting to add an abundance in each layer, but keep it to a minimum, 1-2 strawberries worth MAX. This is because the weight of the cakes will push the slipper slices out and you will get wonky layers, and strawberry juice bleeding out of the sides.
I use skewers to secure the layers in the crumb coat chilling step. This isn’t necessary, but definitely helpful with the slippery strawberries in there. Especially for cake baking amateurs, like myself.
Cakeballs. OMG YUM. This cake is a rockstar on it’s own, but if you don’t want to waste the tops, the cake balls got arguably more attention than the cake itself. Definitely try this out. It’s super easy.
My two cents on weighing and sifting the cake. Do it. Buy the scale. Buy the fine mesh strainer or sifter. Take the time. Cake can go wrong so easily. Trust me, I’ve messed up my fair share of cakes by being impatient and lazy. Learn from my mistakes. And a huge plus is if you’re weighing your ingredients, it’s a faster prep with less mess and dishes.
Strawberry Frosted Vanilla Birthday Cake
This amazing and easy vanilla birthday cake with strawberry frosting is easy and moist! Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction's Best Ever Vanilla Cake
- 420g cake flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 345g salted butter, room temperature
- 400g granulated sugar
- 3 larges eggs + 2 egg whites, room temperature
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1.5 cups buttermilk, room temperature
- 2 packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 stick salted butter, room temperature
- 1 bag (about 34g) freeze dried strawberries, crushed
- 2 lbs. confectioner's sugar, sifted
- 1-2 tbsp. whole milk as needed
- 4 fresh strawberries washed and sliced, and more for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350º. Prepare 3 cake pans by carefully coating each pan with butter, parchment paper, then buttering the parchment again. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift together cake flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
- Using a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed for 5 minutes, until very light in color and fluffy in texture. Scrape the bowl and beat in the eggs and vanilla extract until well combined. Mixture should look a little chunky or curdled. Remove the bowl from the standing mixer and whisk in by hand the dry ingredients until just barely combined. Then, whisk in the buttermilk until just barely combined. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl.
- Evenly pour the cake batter into the three prepared pans, and bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick poked into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the pans, and cool completely on a wire rack. Overnight if possible to insure the center of the cakes has completely cooled. If storing for overnight or longer, wrap cakes tightly and individually in plastic wrap and store in the fridge or freezer.
- Prepare the frosting in a standing mixer by combining cream cheese, butter, and strawberries until combined. Add in confectioners sugar 1-2 cups at a time until desired texture and taste is reached. Don't be afraid to use all 2lbs of sugar. Thin with whole milk, a tablespoon at a time, as needed.
- Remove the cakes from plastic wrap and using a cake wire or serrated knife (or very sharp chef's knife) cut the mounded tops off the cakes to flatten evenly. If you'd like to make cakeballs for a garnish, put discarded tops into a medium size mixing bowl and set aside. Place the first cake, flat side down using a bit of frosting to secure it to the plate. Dollop about 1 cup of frosting onto the cut top. Spread evenly to just about the side, leaving a little space at the edge of the cake without frosting. Layer in fresh strawberries in a circle in the center of the cake, careful not to come too close to the edges. Repeat with each remaining layer until you reach the top layer.
- Place the top layer, the final cake, cut side down so that the flat bottom is the top of the cake. Repeat the frosting step without adding fresh strawberries. Lightly frost the sides of the cake for a crumb coat. Adding a bit more frosting at each center seam (layer) to fill in the unfrosted edges. Place 3-5 skewers through the top of the cake to secure the layers. Refrigerate about 15 minutes.
- Optional step - make cakeballs for garnish. While the cake sets up in the fridge, add about a cup of frosting to the discarded cake tops and using your hands, mash the mixture until there are no large pieces of cake left and you can successfully form it into balls. Refrigerate as needed to handle and roll the cake mixture between your palms. Set the cakeballs in the fridge until ready to decorate the cake or to set out as a side dessert alongside the cake. YUM.
- Remove the crumb coated cake from the fridge and remove the skewers. Finish frosting the cake using an offset spatula (a flat edged cake spatula), or a regular silicone spatula if it's all you have. Decorate as you prefer, I always love the look of a rustic cake that is very organically frosted, but have fun and do your thing! Top with fresh strawberries and/or cake balls and enjoy!
Yield: 1 3-tiered cakePrep Time: 02 hrs. 00 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 30 mins.
Total time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.