Summery Strawberry Lemonade Cake Recipe

strawberry lemonade cake by sugar and sparrow

This cake recipe originally appeared as a guest post on SprinklePop’s blog. It’s too good not to re-share here, especially because several cake tasters described it by saying it “tastes just like summer.” Enjoy!

What’s more refreshing than lemonade on a warm summer day? Strawberry lemonade, of course! There’s something about blending the two flavors together that creates summertime magic, and when you incorporate them into cake, it’s just downright delicious! I think this Strawberry Lemonade cake is the perfect summertime treat, whether you’re celebrating with a shindig or just want to whip up something tasty and pretty to look at. I owe all of the inspiration behind creating this recipe to the Pink Lemonade sprinkle mix by SpinklePop, because just one look at them sparked the idea to incorporate refreshing flavor of pink (aka strawberry) lemonade into a cake. And just look at how beautiful the sprinkles make it!

strawberry lemonade cake recipe

Let’s talk about the strawberry cake underneath all that lemony buttercream. It’s made with real strawberries that have been pureed and then reduced to keep the addition packed with flavor, but not too watered down with juice. I’ll admit, the process of pureeing and reducing strawberries does add an extra step, but it’s so worth it. The texture is moist and fluffy, and the pastel pink color makes it so pretty to look at.

strawberry cake recipe with fresh strawberries

lemon buttercream recipe by sugar and sparrow

The cake is filled with strawberry buttercream to really enhance the strawberry flavor, then frosted with a lemon buttercream for a perfect tangy compliment. Made with real lemon juice and zest, the lemon buttercream has a tasty zing that can’t be matched with the artificial stuff. To top it all off, I’ve used a little yellow and pink food color gel to create an ombrè buttercream finish, making it resemble a glass of real strawberry lemonade. And it’s a real head turner with SprinklePop’s Pink Lemonade sprinkles as a garnish. Just look at how pretty these colors are!

Colorful cake with sprinkles by sugar and sparrow

sprinklepop sprinkles on cake by Sugar and Sparrow

The best part is, the cake and buttercream recipes are super easy to whip up, and everything can be made ahead of time if that’s your jam. And however you decide to decorate, using SprinklePop sprinkles will take it to the next level. They’re the perfect finishing touch!

Update 2020: I’ve changed the measurements in the recipe below to make exactly enough batter for three 6-inch cake pans or two 9-inch cake pans. I always do triple 6-inch layers when making cakes (I like ‘em tall!), and since I get so many questions on how to convert the original recipe into three 6-inch layers I thought I’d just do the math for you. So same great recipe, with the most requested amount of batter!

strawberry lemonade cake by sugar and sparrow
5 from 2 votes
Print

Strawberry Lemonade Cake Recipe

Layers of fresh strawberry cake paired with strawberry buttercream filling and lemon buttercream topping that tastes just like summer.

Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes

Ingredients

Strawberry Cake

  • 3/4 lb (12oz) fresh strawberries, pureed and reduced to 1/2 cup
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups (255g) cake flour, sifted before measuring
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cups (170g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (75g) sour cream, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 drops pink food coloring, optional

Strawberry Buttercream Filling

  • 1/2 cup (8-9g) freeze dried strawberries
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp (22ml) whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (240g) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups (339g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 1/4 cups (630g) powdered sugar
  • 2 medium lemons, zested and juiced
  • 3 Tbsp whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

Make The Strawberry Cake

  1. Start by pureeing 3/4 lbs of fresh strawberries with a food processor. Afterwards, you should be left with about 1 cup of puree. Place the strawberry puree into a saucepan over medium-low heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. When you’re done with the reduction, you should have about 1/2 cup (if you have more, keep cooking!). Place the reduced puree into an airtight container and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes, or until it reaches room temperature. Then, whisk it together with the whole milk and set aside. 

  2. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare three 6-inch or two 9-inch cake pans by spraying the sides with cooking spray and fitting the bottoms with wax or parchment paper circles. In a medium sized bowl, place the sifted cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk to combine.  

  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whip the butter on high for one minute. Scrape down the paddle and bowl, add the granulated sugar, and beat on high for another 2 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and add the eggs one at a time, making sure each one is incorporated before adding the next, then turn the mixer to high and beat for 1 minute.

  4. Turn the mixer to low and add the vanilla and sour cream until incorporated. Keeping the mixer on low, add all of the dry ingredients at once until just combined, then add the strawberry milk mixture and pink food coloring (if using) until just combined, about 30 seconds. Give the batter a few stirs by hand to make sure everything is incorporated without over-mixing. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, about 2/3 full. 

  5. Bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan for five minutes, after which you can turn them out and continue to cool them on a wire rack or sheet pan for several hours. 

Make The Strawberry Buttercream Filling

  1. With a food processor, grind freeze dried strawberries into a fine powder and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter on high until light in color and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the freeze dried strawberry powder, whole milk, and vanilla, and continue to beat on medium for 1 minute. 

  2. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time, scraping down the bowl and paddle after each addition. Add the salt and continue to mix on low for another 30 seconds.

Make The Lemon Buttercream Frosting

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter on high until creamy and light in color, about 5 minutes. Add the powdered sugar in two additions, mixing thoroughly for a minute and scraping down the bowl and paddle after each addition. Zest the lemons right into the bowl, then add the lemon juice, whole milk and salt and mix on high for 2 minutes. 

Assembly

  1. Torte the strawberry cake layers to desired height. Using a piping bag with about ½ inch opening, pipe a circle with lemon buttercream on the outer edge of the first cake layer and fill the middle with strawberry buttercream. Place the next layer of strawberry cake on top of the first, then repeat the process of piping a lemon buttercream dam and filling the center with strawberry buttercream. Place the third layer of strawberry cake on top, upside down so that the bottom of the cake layer serves as the top of the cake. Crumb coat the cake with lemon buttercream and place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. 

  2. If you wish to replicate the design I’ve created, you’ll need to color the lemon buttercream three different shades (yellow, pink, and orange). To do this, reserve about 1 ½ cups of lemon buttercream and color it with a few drops of yellow food color gel. Color the remainder of the lemon buttercream with a few drops of pink food color gel, then use a third bowl to mix about ¼ cup of the yellow buttercream with about ¼ cup of the pink buttercream to make the orange shade. 

  3. For the final coat of lemon buttercream, use a spatula to apply the pink buttercream around the bottom of the cake, the orange buttercream around the middle, and the yellow buttercream onto the top third of the cake. Smooth with a bench scraper and angled spatula until you have a pretty buttercream ombrè. Using a piping bag with your favorite piping tip attached (I’ve used Wilton tip 1M), create swirls around the top edge of the cake. Sprinkle generously with SprinklePop Pink Lemonade sprinkles.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead tips: You can reduce the strawberry puree up to two days before using in the cake recipe and store in the refrigerator until you're ready to make the cake. Just bring it back to room temperature by letting it sit on the counter for at least an hour. 

The cake layers can be made ahead and stored at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to two days. Alternatively, you can wrap them and store in the freezer for up to two months before thawing and decorating. 

Both buttercreams can be made ahead and stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you're ready to use them, bring them back to room temperature and re-whip with your stand mixer to bring them back to the right consistency.

29 Comments

  1. hi !!

    i have tried to make a gradient/ombre cake before but i wasnt able to get that ombre effect, instead the colors were just different coloured strips.

    any tips?

    • Hi Dana! Yeah I totally have tips for the ombre look: Instead of making each color a straight line around the cake, use an icing spatula to add each color so that it’s a bit more imperfect and slightly overlap your colors so they end up mixing with one another when you use the scraper. I wish I had a video of this! Gives me an idea for a future tutorial 🙂

  2. Tiffiny Aery

    What kind of lemons do you recommend? Can you five bake times for cupcakes?

    • Hi Tiffiny! I just used regular lemons (I think they’re called Lisbon Lemons?) and this recipe would totally work as cupcakes. The bake time for cupcakes is 15-17 minutes.

  3. Stephanie Johnson

    Hi. Maybe I read it wrong but your cake assembly has three layers of cake but you say to use two 6 inch cake pans. Also is there a way to make it bigger to use three 9 inch pans and if so by how much should I multiply the recipes by? Thanks!

    • Hi Stephanie! The recipe says to prepare three 6-inch cake pans, and this recipe will make just enough for those three 6-inch layers. To use three 9-inch cake pans I would double the recipe!

  4. Hello. I tried this recipe yesterday for a treat for my son’s job. HOLY MOLY !!!! Simply deliciousness all around. I used (3) 8 inch cake pans to get a shorter and wider cake. It came out beautiful and the texture of the Strawberry cake is amazing. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe. I wish I could post a picture of mine.

  5. Hello! I made this cake in the 3 6-inch and loved it. I’d like to make it slightly larger this time around, and make it in 3 8-inch. Would you recommend 1.5 the ingredients, or should the original be enough?

    • Hi Jessica! So happy you love the recipe! You can keep the measurements the same for a 3 layer 8-inch cake but the layers won’t be as tall (about 1 inch instead of 2). If you like the layers to be at least 2 inches tall, I would recommend 1.5x the recipe.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing! I can’t wait to try this cake, looks like pure summer! My question is I bought these Sprinkle Pop sprinkles and it says “contains items for decorative use only”. I’m assuming the metallic pieces. Do you just tell people not to eat the sprinkles? Thanks!

    • Hi Jessica! So the metallic sprinkles are coated in non-toxic gold and silver food color. Apparently it’s FDA approved in the UK and Canada, but is still awaiting the FDA approval from the US. Since they’re non-toxic and made for consumption, they’re perfectly fine to eat. I think she just has to label them that way because of the pending FDA approval in the US.

  7. Hi there, my lemon buttercream was very runny!! I followed the recipe perfectly. Any idea why? I would love to try again sometime but need to fix this problem. I added more powered sugar and it came out ok but wasn’t able to pipe the top. It looked sad.
    Thanks for your help.
    It was a great cake otherwise. I’m in love with the strawberry sponge.

    • Hi Rosani! How hot is your kitchen? If it’s a warm environment, or if you warmed the butter up for too long in the microwave, the butter can soften too much and make the frosting runny. In those cases, you can either add more powdered sugar (and salt to even out the flavor), or place the bowl of frosting in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes before re-whipping it to cool it down/firm it up.

  8. Hi there!

    I want to do 4 – 9 inch cakes. How can I adjust the recipe for 2 inch layers? Also, since it would be in a bigger pan, how long would I need to bake them for?

    • Hi Bree! This recipe actually makes quite a lot of batter as-is, enough for three 8-inch cake pans. I would 1.5 the recipe to have enough for 4 9-inch pans, bake them at the same oven temp, and check the cakes at about 40 minutes to check for doneness.

  9. Michelle Scarpato

    Can I use the strawberry buttercream filling as the frosting as well (understand that I would need to up the recipe a bit)? But just want to make sure it’s the right consistency for that purpose.

  10. Vanessa C.

    Whitney, hi! Thank you so much for this cake inspiration – I’m so excited to try out this recipe next weekend for my birthday. (I’ve never baked my own birthday cake since family+friends usually make / buy me one so this will be a first and I’m excited!)
    Since we’re still in quarantine in MA, I definitely don’t want to be stuck with a ton of leftovers and was thinking of doing two, 6-inch cakes (will split the layers for 4 layers too). Do you have any recommendations on how to cut the ingredients for this height / size cake?
    THANK YOU! 🙂

    • Hi Vanessa! If you half this cake recipe it will be enough for two 6-inch cake layers that you can then divide in half to make four shorter layers. For the eggs, use 2 whole eggs + 1 egg yolk. Let me know how it goes and happy birthday!!

      • Vanessa C.

        5 stars
        Whitney, this turned out spectacular! It was everything I had hoped for and more – thank you so much! I ended up sticking to your original recipe (not halving it) and it did not disappoint. I added a layer of strawberries to cut down on the buttercream between each layer and it was a fruity little treat in each slice. Thank you again!

        • Yay, Vanessa!! So happy to hear this recipe turned out even better than you expected 🙂 And the strawberries in between layers sounds like a brilliant idea – I’m gonna have to try that some time!

  11. Hi Whitney, this looks GORGEOUS. I’m living in a remote part of Northern Canada and it’s hard to get my hands on certain ingredients – i.e. the freeze dried strawberries. Any tips for a DYI hack for a workaround? Many thanks.

    • Hi Emily! I’ve never tried freeze-drying my own strawberries, but it looks like there may be some tutorials out there. The process involves removing all of the liquid from the berries (so not really freezing them per se), so if you want to try it yourself there are a few methods out there via Google/YouTube. If you’re able to receive Amazon packages where you live, this is the brand I use: https://amzn.to/3g862Ks and there are other brands available on Amazon as well. Good luck!

  12. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious cake! The strawberry cake is a stand alone outstanding cake but making the different icings and adding sprinkles is genius. Your instructions are very clear and I am so happy with this fun, enticing and unusual cake. I have already printed out several of your recipes, starting with the Vanilla Chai, and will practice perfecting your icings. Thank you and continue with the brilliant cake ideas!

    • Yay, Trish! So happy to hear that you love this recipe as much as I do. Thanks for taking the time to let me know and I’m so excited for you to try the Vanilla Chai cake next!

  13. brecklin

    this cake looks so delicious! it is my birthday in a few days and I am going to make this. YUMMMMMM!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating