This strawberry shortcake starts with a super easy, moist vanilla cake you can mix with a spoon. It’s layered with sweetened strawberries and clouds of homemade whipped cream for the perfect spring or summer dessert.
I milk strawberry season for as long as I can, adding those juicy red gems to chicken salads, salsas, milkshakes, and more. And when it comes to dessert, I’m convinced nothing beats old-fashioned strawberry shortcake. It’s my favorite quick and easy-to-make dessert for dinner parties where I can prep everything ahead, then stack and serve.
Some strawberry shortcake recipes use biscuits—a style attributed to the Northern U.S. My strawberry shortcake recipe is Southern-style, starting with the simplest vanilla cake. It comes together quickly with merely a spoon and is super moist with the addition of sour cream and oil. Along with vanilla, I add a little almond extract for a gentle flavoring. The whipped cream is perfectly sweetened with powdered sugar that melts in easily to make cloudy pillows for the sweetened juicy-ripe strawberries.
What’s in Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry shortcake requires just a few basic ingredients. The most important thing about this recipe is to use the best in-season strawberries you can find.
- Baking powder
- Kosher salt
- Sour cream (use full-fat sour cream or yogurt because fat = flavor and also helps create a more tender and rich cake).
- Vegetable or canola oil
- Almond extract (optional but I always add it)
- Fresh strawberries (the sweetest and best-looking you can find)
- Heavy whipping cream
- Powdered sugar
Pro Tip : Add ½ tablespoon of lemon zest for a more zingy strawberry shortcake.
How to Make Strawberry Shortcake
What I like most about this recipe is how quickly and easily it comes together. The cake can be made without a mixer so it’s extra simple. Bake, then cool, and whip that cream and macerate your strawberries.
Bake That Cake
Prep your pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter or spray an 8 or 9-inch square pan and then line it with a parchment sling, and butter or spray once more. A smaller pan gives the cake more height for taller slices of cake.
Mix your dry ingredients. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to a medium-sized bowl, and whisk to combine.
Mix your wet ingredients. Add the sugar, sour cream, eggs, oil, vanilla, and almond extracts in a separate, large bowl and whisk well to combine.
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. The batter will be lumpy and that’s okay. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
Bake and cool. Bake the cake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then pick up the sling and carefully transfer it to a cooling rack.
Prepare the Strawberries
Macerate your berries. Wash, hull, and slice your berries. Always taste them first—if they’re very sweet, you won’t need to toss them in as much sugar. The longer they sit, the more juices they’ll purge. Macerate for at least 15 minutes, but 30 minutes is ideal.
Make the whipped cream. Using powdered sugar instead of granulated helps the sugar dissolve easier into the cream. While I don’t use a mixer for the cake, I do use this hand mixer (I love that it’s cordless) to whip the heavy cream, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. If you’re feeling like a forearm workout, whisk until you get soft peaks.
Pro Tip : I whip the cream in a bowl placed in the sink so the cream doesn’t splatter all over the kitchen.
Assemble the strawberry shortcake. Allow the cake to cool a bit then cut it into 9 equal squares. Slice each square in half, horizontally. Layer the bottom half with a few dollops of whip cream to make a dreamy bed for a few scoops of strawberries and their juices. Top with the other half of the cake and top with more whipped cream and strawberries. I like to finish it off with some powdered sugar to make it extra pretty.
What is the Difference Between a Cake and a Shortcake?
Back in the day, a “shortcake” would have resembled something crisp and crumbly, akin to a biscuit. Everyone has their own idea of what strawberry shortcake should be. For some, it’s a biscuit and for others (like me), it’s a cake.
Why do They Call it Strawberry Shortcake?
Historically, strawberry shortcakes were not originally made of cake, like my version here (and so many others you’ve seen), but rather a biscuit-y type of concoction. “Short” dates back to the 16th century and the English used it to refer to something crisp and crumbly, made with shortening or lard. Similar to the regional discrepancy between stuffing and dressing, some researchers say Southerners tend to make a cake for their strawberry shortcake, while Northerners tend to go the biscuit route. I say, do whatever makes you happy, but I like the cake version, so that’s what I always make.
More Classic Desserts You’ll Love
- Banana Pudding
- How to Make THE BEST Peach Cobbler
- Classic Tiramisu
- The BEST Carrot Cake
- The Best Classic Lemon Bars
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
For the cake:
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup sour cream , at room temperature (you could also use yogurt, full-fat works best here)
- 2 large eggs , at room temperature
- ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract , optional but so good
For the strawberries and whipped cream:
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar , divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt , (use ⅛ teaspoon if using Morton's brand, as it is much saltier)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter or spray an 8 or 9-inch square pan and line it with a parchment sling (so the parchment hangs over at least two sides like a sling), then butter or spray once more.
- Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to a medium-sized bowl, and whisk to combine. In a separate large bowl, add the sugar, sour cream, eggs, oil, vanilla, and almond extracts and whisk well to combine. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. It will be lumpy and that’s fine, just make sure there are no dry pockets of flour that haven’t been incorporated. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Place in the oven to bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the sides begin to pull away from the pan. Note that it may take a bit longer if you use an 8-inch pan. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then pick up the sling and carefully transfer to a cooling rack. The cake can be made up to 2 days ahead of time.
- When ready to serve, wash, hull, and slice the strawberries—you should get about 4 heaping cups. Add them to a large bowl, along with the sugar. With a large spoon or spatula, toss and let macerate for at least 15 minutes (ideally 30) tossing the strawberries often to help them release their juices.
- While the strawberries macerate, make the whipped cream. Add the heavy cream, ¼ cup of powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt to a large bowl. Use a stand mixer or hand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip everything on low speed. I whip my bowl of cream in the sink so it doesn't splatter everywhere. Gradually increase the speed to medium and then medium-high once the mixture thickens. Whip to soft peaks.
- To serve, cut the cake into 9 equal squares. Slice each square in half, horizontally. Spoon a few dollops of whip cream onto the bottom cake half then top with a few spoonfuls of strawberries in their juices. Top with the other half of the cake, and then top with more whipped cream and strawberries. Repeat with all of the other cakes. Dust the tops with sifts of powdered sugar and serve.
More Delicious Ways to Enjoy Fresh Strawberries
- Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad
- Strawberry Shortcakes with Balsamic Vinegar
- Berry Delicious Fruit Salad
- Strawberry Arugula Salad with Watermelon and Feta
- Strawberry Spinach Salad with Chicken and Avocado
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