If you love the flavors of strawberries and cream, then you will love this vanilla cake with strawberry filling!
It's no doubt that fresh berries paired with whipped cream is a match made in heaven, and when you place them in between layers of fluffy vanilla cake, you end up with a show-stopping dessert that no one can resist! The vanilla cake is so light, moist, and easy to make with simple ingredients. The strawberry filling can be made with fresh or frozen strawberries, so it's perfect for any time of year!
The frosting for this cake is a stabilized whipped cream, which is basically just regular whipped cream with a little bit of gelatin added. If stabilizing whipped cream sounds intimidating, I promise you it is SO easy, and you will absolutely love the results!
WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
- Cake flour: Cake flour has a much finer texture than all-purpose flour and produces a cake that is extremely light and fluffy. If you don't have any, you can easily make your own by mixing all-purpose flour with a little cornstarch. (See the notes section for recipe!)
- Baking powder
- Butter: Unsalted and softened to room temperature. Properly softened butter should hold it's shape and be easily pliable when gently pressed in. You can also speed up softening by cutting the butter into small pieces.
- Vegetable oil: Cakes made with butter have the best flavor, and cakes made with oil have the best texture, so using both is perfect!
- Sugar: Cream the sugar with the butter first, which whips air into the butter and helps make the cake light.
- Eggs (room temperature): Room temperature eggs mix more evenly into the batter. You can quickly bring the eggs to room temperature by placing them in a bowl of lukewarm water for about 5 minutes.
- Vanilla extract: Pure vanilla extract is best, especially for vanilla cake, but if all you have is imitation vanilla it will definitely work. Some people even like the flavor better!
- Whole milk (room temperature): If the milk is cold when you add it in it can make the batter look lumpy. If that happens it's okay, it will fix itself once the dry ingredients are added.
- Strawberries: Fresh or frozen, sliced.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar enhances the natural sweetness in the strawberries and also helps soften them so they release their juices.
- Cornstarch + water + fresh-squeezed lemon juice: Whisk these together separately then add it to the filling to thicken it.
STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM
Stabilized whipped cream is just regular whipped cream but with an extra ingredient added that allows it to hold its shape for much longer, even days!
There are several ways you can stabilize whipped cream, but my two favorites are with gelatin or cream cheese.
Option 1: Gelatin. Whipped cream stabilized with gelatin holds it shape for days and has the exact same taste and texture as regular whipped cream.
- Heavy whipping cream
- Powdered sugar
- Gelatin: You can buy unflavored gelatin packets (usually Knox brand) in the baking aisle near other Jello mixes!
- Water (cold): For dissolving the gelatin.
- Salt: Optional
Option 2: Cream cheese. Whipped cream stabilized with cream cheese looks exactly like regular whipped cream, and tastes almost identical but with a slight tangy flavor. This method is easier than the gelatin method.
- Cream cheese (cold): I find it easier to use whipped cream cheese spread, but regular brick-style will also work. You can also use mascarpone cheese!
- Heavy whipping cream
- Powdered sugar
- Salt: I usually don't add salt when using cream cheese, but feel free to add a pinch if it needs it!
HOW TO MAKE VANILLA CAKE WITH STRAWBERRY FILLING
1. Line 3 - 8 or 9" round cake pans with parchment paper. Spray the inside of the cake pans and also the top of the parchment paper with non-stick spray. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
2. Whisk the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the softened butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add in the granulated sugar and continue to beat until well creamed with the butter, light, and fluffy. Add the vegetable oil and mix until combined.
4. Add the room temperature eggs, one at a time, and mix until well combined after each. Wipe the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then mix in the vanilla extract, and whole milk. Mix until smooth.
5. In 3-4 additions, add the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is smooth.
6. Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans. Gently tap the pans on the counter to even out the batter and to get rid of any trapped air bubbles.
7. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake layers to cool completely before assembling and decorating the cake. You can also freeze the cake layers overnight, which locks in moisture and makes decorating much easier the next day.
- Add the sliced fresh or frozen strawberries to a saucepan along with the granulated sugar. Place over medium heat, cook and stir, until the strawberries start to release their juices.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the cornstarch, water, and lemon juice until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add it to the saucepan, cook and stir, and try to mash the strawberries as you do to get as much of the liquid from them out as you can.
- Once you've gotten as much liquid as you can from the strawberries and the filling is starting to thicken, strain it through a fine mesh strainer and into a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the filling cool until you're ready to use it.
HOW TO MAKE STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM WITH GELATIN
Mix the gelatin and water in a small bowl. Be sure to use accurate measurements, because if you use too much gelatin the whipped cream will have a weird texture.
Set the gelatin aside and allow to bloom for 5 minutes. In the meantime, add the cold heavy whipping cream to a clean glass bowl and use a hand-held mixer to whip for 30 seconds, until starting to thicken. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract (optional) and whip for 30-40 seconds longer, until it's just starting to form soft peaks.
Microwave the gelatin for 5-7 seconds to dissolve the granules.
Pour the gelatin into the bowl of whipped cream with the mixer running on low. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the whipped cream is thick and billowy. About 1 minute longer. Be careful not to over-whip the cream or it can start to curdle. Once it's close to the right consistency you can use a whisk to whip by hand, which helps to avoid over-whipping.
HOW TO MAKE STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM WITH CREAM CHEESE
Use an electric mixer to whip the cold cream cheese (or cream cheese spread) in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the heavy cream and mix until starting to thicken, then add the powdered sugar and mix until thick and fluffy.
CAN YOU MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM IN ADVANCE?
Since it only takes about 5 minutes to make the stabilized whipped cream, it's best to just make it right before you're going to use it. It can be kept out at room temperature for a few hours, but shouldn't be left out much longer than that because of the dairy. It also sets quickly when placed in the fridge, which makes it harder to pipe or spread onto the cake.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
Place one layer of cake on a plate, cake stand, or cake board. Spread some of the strawberry filling in the center, then spread or pipe the whipped cream on top. Gently set a second cake layer on top of the whipped cream, then repeat with more strawberry filling, more whipped cream, and place the final layer of cake on top. Spread the rest of the strawberry filling over the top along with more whipped cream.
Top the cake with fresh sliced strawberries and pipe dollops of whipped cream for decoration. Refrigerate until ready to serve. To keep the berries fresh you can brush them with a little lemon juice, or just leave them off until you're ready to serve the cake.
MORE CAKE RECIPES
Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Filling
- 3 - 8 or 9" round cake pans
- 2 and ½ cups cake flour*
- 3 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoon (1 stick + 2 tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 and ½ cups whole milk, room temperature
- 3 cups sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- ½ tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon cornstarch
Stabilized Whipped Cream:*
- 1 and ½ teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
- 2 tablespoon cold water, for blooming the gelatin
- 1 and ½ cups heavy whipping cream, cold
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
- Line 3 (8 or 9") round cake pans with parchment paper and spray the inside with non-stick spray.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Make the Vanilla Cake:
- Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Add the softened butter to a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Use an electric mixer or the paddle attachment to beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar and mix on low speed until all of it is added in. Then, mix on medium speed until the sugar and butter are combined, light, and fluffy. Add the vegetable oil and mix until combined.
- Add the room temperature eggs, one at a time, and mix on low speed until well combined after each. Add the vanilla extract and whole milk and mix until smooth. Wipe the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
- In 3-4 additions, add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix on low speed until just incorporated after each, then mix until smooth once all of the dry ingredients are added. Don't overmix.
- Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans. Gently tap the pans on the counter to spread the batter out evenly and get rid of any trapped air bubbles. For the best results, try wrapping the pans with cake strips*, which help the cakes bake evenly so they don't have a domed top.
- Bake the cakes in the preheated oven for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan before removing, then cool completely in the fridge or freezer before assembling.
Make the Strawberry Filling:
- In a small bowl, whisk the water, fresh lemon juice, and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add it to the pan and continue to cook and stir, mashing the berries as you do, until most of the liquid is released and the filling is starting to thicken. Remove from heat and strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and into a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. As it cools it will thicken slightly.
Make the Stabilized Whipped Cream:
- In a small bowl, whisk the unflavored gelatin and cold water. Set aside for 5 minutes to bloom the gelatin.
- Dissolve the gelatin by microwaving for 5-7 seconds.
- Add the cold heavy whipping cream to a clean bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Use an electric mixer or the whisk attachment in the stand mixer to mix until starting to thicken, about 30 seconds. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract (if using) and continue to mix until very soft peaks form, about 30-45 seconds.
- With the mixer running on low speed, pour the gelatin into the bowl, then increase the speed to medium and continue to mix until thick and fluffy. About 1 minute. Be careful not to over-whip the cream or it can curdle, you can also switch to a whisk and mix by hand towards the end until it's the right consistency.
- Place one cake layer on a plate, cake stand, or cake board. Spread about ⅓ of the strawberry filling evenly over the top, then pipe or spread whipped cream on top. Top with a second cake layer, add more strawberry filling and more whipped cream. Add the final cake layer, with the bottom of the cake facing up. Spread the rest of the strawberry filling over the top, cover with more whipped cream, and add fresh sliced strawberries to decorate, if desired.
*HOW TO MAKE STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM WITH CREAM CHEESE
- ½ cup cream cheese or mascarpone cheese
- 1 and ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- ¾ cup powdered sugar