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!
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.
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!
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 these Pink Lemonade sprinkles will take it to the next level. They’re the perfect finishing touch!
- 1 ¼ lbs fresh strawberries, pureed and reduced to ¾ cup
- 3 and 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted before measuring
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/8 cup (2.25 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup whole milk, at room temperature
- A few drops of pink food coloring, optional
Strawberry Buttercream Filling
- ½ cup freeze dried strawberries
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ Tbsp whole milk, room temperature
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
- 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 cups powdered sugar
- Juice and zest of 2 ½ medium lemons
- 4 Tbsp whole milk
- ¼ tsp salt
Make The Cake:
Start by pureeing 1 ¼ lbs of fresh strawberries with a food processor. Afterwards, you should be left with about 2 cups of puree. Place the strawberry puree into a saucepan over medium-low heat and simmer for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. When you’re done with the reduction, you should have a little over ¾ cup. Place the reduced puree into an airtight container and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes, or until it reaches room temperature. You want it to be room temperature before adding it to your cake batter, so wait to begin preparing your batter until then.
When the strawberry puree has reached room temperature, preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare three 6-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.
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 3 minutes.
Turn the mixer to low and add the vanilla and sour cream until incorporated, about 1 minute. Keeping the mixer on low, add all of the dry ingredients at once until just combined, then add the milk until just combined. Whisk the reduced strawberry puree and a few drops of pink food coloring (if using) in by hand and then pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, about ¾ full.
Bake the cakes for 35-40 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:
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 3 minutes.
Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time, scraping down the bowl and paddle after each addition. Add a pinch of salt and continue to mix on low for another 30 seconds.
Make The Lemon Buttercream Frosting:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Prep time: 1 hr 15 min
Cook time: 40 min