STRAWBERRY CRUNCHY LAYER CAKE

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This Strawberry Crunchy Layer Cake is an amazingly delicious cake with layers of vanilla and strawberry cake, strawberry and vanilla frosting and strawberry crunchies on the outside. It’s completely homemade, moist and so darn tasty you won’t want to stop eating it!

  • Prep Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 14-16 slices

INGREDIENTS

CAKE LAYERS

  • 1 1/2 cups strawberry puree (3 cups [420g] chopped strawberries)
  • 3 cups plus 2 tbsp (406g) all purpose flour
  • 3 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp (140g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp (150ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp (388g) sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3/4 cups plus 1 tbsp (195ml) milk, divided
  • 1 1/4 tsp strawberry extract
  • 15 drops red food coloring

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE CRUNCHIES

  • 1 cup (130g) all purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup (155g) sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup freeze dried strawberries
  • 7 tbsp (98g) salted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

STRAWBERRY FROSTING

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp strawberry puree (1 3/4 cups [233g] chopped strawberries)
  • 1 1/4 cups (280g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups (575g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch or two of salt

VANILLA FROSTING

  • 2 1/2 cups (560g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 10 cups (1150g) powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4–6 tbsp water or cream
  • Pinch or two of salt

INSTRUCTIONS

NOTE: Strawberry puree is reduced down for both the cake layers and frosting. They are written out separately in the instructions, but you can cook it all at the same time, if you’d like.

TO MAKE THE CAKE LAYERS:

  1. Add the strawberry puree to a saucepan and cook over medium heat. Allow the mixture to come to a slow boil, stirring consistently to keep it from burning, until it has thickened and reduced by half to 3/4 cup, about 15-20 minutes. To measure, pour the puree into a measuring cup. If it’s more than 3/4 cup, add it back to the pan and continue cooking.
  2. When the puree has thickened and reduced, pour into a measuring cup and allow to cool to at least room temperature. This strawberry mixture can be made ahead, if you like, and stored in the fridge.
  3. Prepare four 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  5. Add the butter, oil, sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  7. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
  8. Add 1 tablespoon of the milk and mix just until combined.
  9. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Batter will be thick. Do not over mix.
  10. Divide the batter evenly between two bowls. It should be a little more than 3 cups each.
  11. Add the remainder of the milk (3/4 cup) to one of the bowls and gently fold to combine. Add the reduced strawberry puree, strawberry extract and red food coloring to the other bowl and gently fold together to combine.
  12. Divide each batter evenly between two pans, for 4 pans total, and bake the layers for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.

TO MAKE THE CRUNCHIES:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside.
  2. You’ll need two bowls – one for the vanilla crunchies and one for the strawberry. Add 1/2 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of sugar to each bowl.
  3. Add the freeze dried strawberries to a food processor and grind into a powder. Add the powder to the bowl for the strawberry crunchies. Stir well to combine.
  4. Add 4 tablespoons of butter to the strawberry bowl and the vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons of butter to the vanilla bowl and use a fork to combine each mixture until it comes together to form a crumble.
  5. Lay the strawberry crumble evenly out onto one of the cookie sheets and ay the vanilla crumble evenly out onto the other cookie sheet.
  6. Bake the crumbles for about 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it, particularly the strawberry crumble. The strawberry powder can brown quickly if left in for too long.
  7. Let crumble cool completely and then use your fingers to break into smaller pieces, if needed. It’s ideal for the crumble pieces to be no larger than a small pea.
  8. Combine all of the crunchie pieces together and gently toss to combine.

TO MAKE THE STRAWBERRY FROSTING:

  1. Add the strawberry puree to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat. Allow the mixture to come to a slow boil, stirring consistently to keep it from burning, until it has thickened and reduced by half to a little less than 1/2 a cup, about 10-15 minutes. To measure, pour the puree into a measuring cup. If it’s too much, add it back to the pan and continue cooking.
  2. When the puree has thickened and reduced, pour into a large measuring cup and allow to cool to at least room temperature. This strawberry mixture can be made ahead, if you like, and stored in the fridge.
  3. Add the butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth.
  4. Add about half of the powdered sugar and beat until well combined and smooth.
  5. Add about half of the strawberry reduction and beat until well combined and smooth.
  6. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix until well combined.
  7. Add the remaining powdered sugar and beat until well combined and smooth.
  8. Add additional strawberry reduction/milk or cream until your frosting is the right consistency.

TO MAKE THE VANILLA FROSTING:

  1. Add the butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth.
  2. Slowly add half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and 4 tablespoons of water or cream and mix until smooth.
  4. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add additional water or cream, as needed to get the right consistency of frosting.

TO BUILD THE CAKE:

  1. Use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes so that they’re flat. These cakes don’t have a large dome, but I like to make sure they’re completely flat.
  2. Place the first layer of strawberry cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round.
  3. Pipe a dam of vanilla frosting around the outer edge of the cake and fill it with about 1 cup of strawberry frosting. Spread evenly on top of the cake.
  4. Place the first layer of vanilla cake on top of the frosting, then top it with another dam of vanilla frosting and fill it with another cup of strawberry frosting.
  5. Add the second layer of strawberry cake, another dam of vanilla frosting and fill it with another cup of strawberry frosting.
  6. Add the final layer of vanilla cake on top, then frost the outside of the cake with the rest of the vanilla frosting. Refer to my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if needed.
  7. Press the strawberry crunchies into the frosting and cover the entire cake with them. The vanilla buttercream will crust over as it sits, so you want to add the crunchies immediately after frosting the cake or they won’t stick.
  8. Use the remaining vanilla frosting to pipe some swirls on top of the cake and finish it off with some fresh strawberries.
  9. The cake should be stored in an sir tight container until serving. It’s fine at room temperature for a day or so, but after that you’ll want to refrigerate it. I suggest adding the strawberries on top shortly before serving so they are fresh looking. Cake is best served closer to room temperature and should be eaten within 3-4 days.

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