This Strawberry Shortcake Layer Cake is made with a fluffy vanilla sponge cake, strawberry simple syrup, fresh strawberries and lightly sweetened whipped cream. All layered together to produce a striking version of a summertime classic.
Make this into a 2-layer cake or 3-layer cake based on your preference!
Why You'll Love this Recipe
Strawberry shortcake is a summertime favorite and feels like the perfect treat. Whether you're making homemade biscuits or buying store bought sponge vessels to hold your berry juice, you really can't go wrong.
This cake is the best combination of flavors, textures, and sweetness. Now, turn that whole situation into a gorgeous Strawberry Shortcake Layer Cake and you've got yourself what we like to call a glow up! This would be the perfect birthday cake for summer birthdays!
Made with a light and airy sponge cake, a strawberry simple syrup is brushed on each layer to provide sweetness and moisture to the cake. Each layer is filled with fresh cut strawberries and lightly sweetened homemade whipped cream. Eaten slightly cold, you could almost describe the cake as refreshing.
More Strawberry Recipes
If you're looking for more strawberry recipes to go with this strawberry shortcake layer cake, try:
- Strawberry Rhubarb Tartlets
- Mini Strawberry Cheesecake Cups
- Strawberry Whoopie Pies
- Strawberry Banana Cake with Strawberry Frosting
While this cake can look absolutely striking, the ingredients list is actually quite simple.
- Sponge cake: all-purpose flour, baking powder, lemon juice (or vinegar), sugar, and eggs.
- Simple syrup: water, sugar, and fresh strawberries.
- Frosting: heavy whipping cream, gelatin, powdered sugar, vanilla extract.
- Strawberry puree: strawberries, sugar, cornstarch.
See recipe card for full ingredients list and quantities.
- While I love this as a traditional strawberry shortcake flavor, you can also mix this up with your favorite type of fruit. Try this with blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries!
- Cut the cake into either two layers, or three layers. I quite prefer the distribution of a three-layer cake.
- If you'd like to make the decorative colored swirls on the outside, you can either follow instructions to make the strawberry puree, or use store-bought strawberry jam. I prefer to make the homemade version, as it makes for the most striking color.
- If you plan to eat the entire cake the same day you make it, you can omit the gelatin. Otherwise, it's very important to stabilize the whipped cream so the cake will last for a few days.
How to Make This Recipe
This recipe is made with four different components: sponge cake, strawberry simple syrup, strawberry puree, and fresh whipped cream.
Sponge Cake for Strawberry Shortcake
One: Beat the egg whites and remove to a separate bowl. Then, whisk the yolks and sugar until light and fluffy and ribbons form.
Two: Alternate adding and folding in the sifted dry ingredients and whipped egg whites until completely incorporated.
Three: Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
Four: Bake the sponge cake until it has risen and is a light golden color. Cool completely.
Strawberry Shortcake Cake Assembly
Five: Make the strawberry simple syrup while the cake is cooling by combining strawberries, water, and sugar over medium heat.
Six: Use a serrated knife to cut the sponge cake into three even layers.
Seven: Brush the simple syrup onto the first cake layer the whole way to the edges.
Eight: Make the whipped cream and spread some on top of the cake layer, spreading it to the edges.
Nine: Add sliced strawberries over top of the whipped cream.
Ten: Cover the strawberries with another layer of whipped cream, then continue with the next cake layer
Once the top cake layer has been added, cover the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream. Add swipes of the strawberry puree in random places all over the sides and top of the cake, then use an offset spatula or cake scraper to go around the cake once or twice to produce the pattern seen in the photos.
- Over whipping the egg whites can lead to a dry cake.
- Take care while folding the sponge cake batter to get to the very bottom to get any fallen flour, but also be careful not to over mix and deflate the batter.
- I like to make the strawberry simple syrup and strawberry puree a day in advance so the flavor has time to develop. It also makes for fewer steps on baking and assembly day.
- Be sure to use gelatin to stabilize the cake if you don't plan to eat the entire cake on the day it's made. Otherwise, the whipped cream will fall.
- I find that the cake has the best flavor and texture after being assembled for about 6-8 hours so the sponge cake has had time to soften up and absorb flavors.
Shortcake is made with a buttery, biscuit like dough and cake it made with a light and fluffy batter. This recipe uses a sponge cake, most similar to the small individual sponges that can be bought in grocery stores.
The best way to do this is to not add the strawberries directly onto the cake layers. In this cake, the strawberries are nestled into the whipped cream so they keep their texture.
Store the assembled cake in the fridge for up to three days. Cover any exposed pieces of cake with a piece of plastic wrap. The rest of the cake can remain uncovered.
I do not recommend freezing this cake. However, the sponge cake (prior to assembly) can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, placed into a zip top bag, and frozen for two to three months. Unwrap completely and thaw at room temperature.
More Cake Recipes
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Strawberry Shortcake Layer Cake
- 9-inch spring form pan or cake pan
- Immersion blender, blender, or food processor (if using strawberry puree)
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour 210g
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs separated, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar divided (200g)
- ¼ cup vegetable oil 60ml
- ¼ cup water warm (60ml)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar
Strawberry Simple Syrup
- ½ cup water 4oz
- ½ cup granulated sugar 100g
- ¼ cup sliced strawberries about 3 large strawberries
Strawberry Puree (optional for decorating)
- ½ lb strawberries 8oz
- 3 tablespoons sugar 19g
- ½ tablespoon corn starch
- 1 tablespoon water
Strawberries for Filling
- 1 lb fresh strawberries sliced (16oz)
Whipped Cream Frosting
- 4 cups heavy whipping cream 960ml
- ¾ cup powdered sugar 90g
- 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin 8g
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃ and line the bottom of 9" cake or springform pan with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and lemon juice (or vinegar) and whisk on medium speed until foamy.
- With the mixer running, slowly pour in half of the sugar (½ cup, 100g) and increase the speed to medium high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. The meringue will stand up as a stiff peak on the tip of the whisk.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape out the meringue into a separate bowl.
- Add the egg yolks and remaining sugar (½ cup, 100g) to the bowl of the stand mixer and mix on medium speed with the whisk attachment until pale in color, fluffy and doubled in volume, and ribbons form.
- With the mixer running on medium speed, slowly pour in oil then scrape down the sides. Turn the mixer back on to medium and slowly pour in the water and vanilla. Mix for another minute.
- Use a fine mesh sieve to sift ⅓ of the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture and fold it in with a rubber spatula. Then, add ⅓ of the egg whites and fold it in until no streaks remain.
- Repeat the process with the remaining flour mixture and egg whites, taking care to get the spatula to the very bottom of the bowl (the flour will sink to the bottom and get stuck). Take care not to over mix, but very gently fold.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then run an offset spatula or knife around the sides and remove the cake from the pan to finish cooling.
Strawberry Simple Syrup
- While the cake is cooling, combine the water, sugar and strawberries in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until hot and the sugar has dissolved. Pour into a bowl or glass jar and let cool. This can also be done a day in advance and stored in the fridge.
Strawberry Puree (optional)
- In a saucepan, cook the strawberries and sugar over medium low heat until the strawberries are easily mashed down with a spatula and develop juices, about 5 - 7 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix the corn starch and water, then add to the strawberries and turn to medium high just until it bubbles.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and blend with an immersion blender (or blender/food processor) and set aside to cool. This can also be done a day in advance and stored in the fridge.
Whipped Cream Frosting
- Before mixing, place the bowl of stand mixer and the whisk attachment in the freezer or fridge for 15 minutes. This helps the cream whip up best.
- Once the chill time is almost up, add the gelatin and water to a small saucepan and allow it to bloom for 5 minutes. Then, turn the heat to the lowest setting and stir to dissolve. Depending on your stove top, either keep the gelatin on the lowest setting or turn off the burner - the gelatin needs to remain in a liquid phase.
- When ready, add the heavy whipping cream to the bowl. Whip on low for about one minute, then turn to high and whip until soft peaks form. Turn to low and spoon in the powdered sugar and add the vanilla.
- Turn the mixture back to high, and once stiff peaks have almost formed, slowly add in the gelatin while the mixture is running, whip until incorporated and until stiff peaks have formed.
- Place in the fridge until ready to use.
- Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into three horizontel even disc layers. Place the first layer onto a cake stand (or whatever you want to serve it on) and slide parchment paper under the cake to keep your stand clean.
- Using a pastry brush (or a spoon), fully coat the top of the first cake layer with the simple syrup.
- Add a dollop of whipped cream to the top and spread evenly over the cake layer, reaching the whole way to the sides. Layer half of the sliced strawberries evenly over the whipped cream, then add another dollop of whipped cream and spread it evenly to cover the strawberries.
- Add the middle layer of cake and gently push down so you remove any gaps in the strawberries and whipped cream. Complete the same process with the simple syrup, whipped cream, strawberries, whipped cream.
- Before adding the final layer, add the simple syrup to the underside of the cake (the crumb side, not the browned side) then place the layer crumb-side down and lightly press down.
- Add the remaining whipped cream to the top and sides of the cake so it is fully covered. If using the strawberry puree, use a spatula to add small swipes of the puree to the tops and sides of the cake, then smooth it out to the desired texture.
- Be sure to get the spatula to the very bottom of the bowl to incorporate all flour.
- Don't open the oven door until you're ready to check the cake.
- When closing the oven door, do not let it slam or the cake can fall.
- Don't cool the cake in an area that is overly cool or drafty or else the cake can fall.
Can I use 3 separate cake pans?
Hi Deb, theoretically, yes, but it will be a very short bake time! I haven't tried so I would start checking before the 10 minute mark for doneness.
My sister loves strawberry shortcake so i used this recipe for her birthday cake and it came out great! I followed the instructions exactly and was super careful with folding at the end and my cake didn’t fall!
Ahh yay!! Wonderful news, sounds like you aced it! Thanks so much for reporting back.
I'm sad to say that this recipe did not work for me. I was so excited to try it for my grandson's birthday cake. He is a big fan of strawberry. I read the recipe over several times, watched the video and proceeded to make the cake. The cake did not rise for me. I'm sad to say that I did not stop there... I attempted it a second time, carefully following each step...same results. I went back to an old favorite recipe for my third attempt at his birthday cake which came out perfect. I am a seasoned baker and I'm still baffled as to why this recipe failed me twice. I hope you have better luck than I had with this recipe.
The Cozy Plum
Hi Nonna, I'm so sorry to hear this didn't turn out for you. It is a notoriously tricky sponge - a few other readers had previously said they also struggled with it. I went back and tested a new sponge cake recipe that isn't as finicky and have updated the recipe card and post to use the new recipe that I'm certain you will find better success with!
I was super excited to make this cake for my sisters birthday tomorrow but I’m sad to say my didn’t turn out right, the cake didn’t rise. I’m not sure if I over mixed it or maybe it was the lemon zest that I added but it was about a half inch high, definitely can’t make it into 3 layers.
The Cozy Plum
Hi Luisa, I'm sorry to hear this cake didn't work out for you. Genoise is a tricky batter and can easily be over mixed and completely fall if not folded properly, which sounds like this may have been the case here.
So freaking good! This was my first time making a genoise sponge and your instructions made it so easy to follow. I got rave reviews from the family picnic I brought it to!
The Cozy Plum
I am so happy to hear this news! A genoise sponge can be tricky, so I'm glad to hear the instructions helped you 🙂