Strawberry Vanilla Cake from Scratch: No Jello or Extract!

Strawberry cake from scratch

As you probably know by now, for the last few months I have been baking and decorating cakes to serve on Friday evenings when I barbecue with my neighbors. One of these neighbors was unable to attend for a few weeks due to her work schedule. Poor girl would would text me every Thursday night to ask if I have anything sweet for her! I never do, because my cakes aren’t ready until Friday….usually at the last minute.

Well, last week her work schedule changed and she was able to come back to us. She specifically asked for a strawberry or lemon cake, and how could I say no? It is definitely time to take a break from regular ole chocolate or vanilla.

The one thing I knew is that I wanted to make it from scratch. I searched Pinterest for recipes and I did find some, but most of them were enhanced with Jell-o or strawberry extract. What I was looking for was an authentic strawberry flavored–not that artificial strawberry flavor that you find in candy. Don’t get me wrong. I love the taste of artificial strawberry. But I wanted something that felt authentic to not only make, but taste!

That led me to Melissa’s recipe over at My Cake School. I was immediately drawn in by the texture. Fluffy strawberry goodness! So, I tweaked her recipe just a bit to make it my own. I removed the strawberry and vanilla extracts but kept the pink food coloring. I also used a mixture of cake and all-purpose fours, but only because I ran out of cake flour. It still turned out perfect, no worries.

What turned me on the most about her recipe is that she used a mixing method that I hadn’t tried yet: The reverse creaming method. Rather than creaming together the butter, sugar, and eggs at the beginning of the recipe, you cream the butter into your flour mixture sort of like a scone (but not really since the butter is softened and you’re fully incorporating it…but you get the idea).

I’m always so nervous to deviate from people’s recipes because I’ve had so many absolute failures in the past. This is one that I can say turned out awesome and I will be using again and again. The cake was PACKED with strawberry flavor. I’m not even going to lie–I was worried about this. After all, I omitted the strongest strawberry flavor enhancers. But not only was the strawberry flavor strong, but I enhanced in other ways when I actually got down to creating the cake (You will see that in a couple of days!).

I really hope you’ll give this a try. It would even be good as a naked cake with some stabilized whipped cream and fresh berries for the filling–my goodness! Or perhaps diced up and made into a summer truffle. So many options…not enough cake!

Strawberry Vanilla Cake from Scratch
Yields 3
A scrumptious strawberry cake from scratch with absolutely no extract or artificial strawberry flavors.
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
  1. 4 large room temperature eggs
  2. 1/2 c of strawberry puree (Just pulse strawberries and a bit of water in a blender until smooth. Make 2 cups if you plan to assemble your cake like me).
  3. Vanilla bean seeds from one vanilla bean (If you don't have this, go ahead and add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract).
  4. 2-3 drops of pink food coloring (I used Americolor's Deep Pink shade).
  5. 2 1/2 c of cake flour
  6. 1/2 c of all-purpose flour
  7. 1 3/4 c of granulated sugar
  8. 1 tbsp baking powder
  9. 1 tsp salt
  10. 1/4 c vegetable oil
  11. 1 stick of softened butter, cut into pieces.
  1. Preheat your oven to 350º F and grease and line three greased and lined six-inch pans.
  2. Whisk together your eggs, strawberry puree, vanilla bean seeds, and food coloring. Set aside.
  3. Now, in the bowl of your stand mixer (or just a regular bowl if you'll use a hand mixer), combine your flours, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. While mixing at low speed, slowly start to incorporate your butter and the vegetable oil into your flour mixture. Once incorporated, beat on medium speed for approximately 1 minute. Your mixture will sort of look like cake crumbs.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add half of the egg mixture. Mix on medium speed until incorporated and then add the rest of the eggs in two additions, beating for about 20-30 seconds between each one. Your batter should be thick, fluffy, and pink!
  6. Divide the batter into your prepared cake tins and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes.
  7. You will know it's done when the top is springy, the cake is pulling from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let them cool for about 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  1. Melissa claims that this recipe makes 7 1/2 c of batter. I did not measure it, but this is helpful for dividing your batter into the pans.
  2. She also bakes hers in three 8x2 inch pans, but I made three 6x2 inch cakes using the same amount of batter. It's up to you! Obviously, the resulting cakes will be deeper in the 6x2 inch pans.
Adapted from My Cake School
Adapted from My Cake School


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