There’s nothing like a good strawberry cake, and I’m very excited to share this one with y’all today! A few weeks ago I had the most wonderful opportunity to visit Deloach Farms, which is a local farm in my area. I had never even heard of it! But Kate, one of the owners, reached out to me on Instagram and my mom and I were able to spend a Friday morning with her and learn all about their farm. Plus pick tons of strawberries! The season was pretty much over at that point because it gets so hot here, but there were a few strawbs left and I was happy for the opportunity to snatch them up!
ABOUT THE FARM:
Deloach Farms is one of 9 bicentennial farms in the state of Alabama, and the only one here in Shelby County. It was settled in 1820 and they’re still farming there today! It was a commercial farm prior to the pandemic, but they saw a need in their community towards the beginning of Covid and decided to try out delivering their goods on a local level. And it went so well and was so successful that they switched gears and are doing local delivery boxes full-time now! (Local friends, you can check it out here!)
This year was also the first year they did U-Pick strawberries! Kate told me they planted about 3,500 this year and next year they’ll be doubling it. So look out Shelby County and Birmingham area folks—7 thousand strawberry plants will be waiting for you in 2022!
Plus, the farm is growing! And I’m super pumped for all the expansion going on there. There’s a store, a vineyard, and they’ll be adding some event space, too. If I remember correctly, Kate even mentioned hopes for festivals and things! I can’t wait to see what they’ll have scheduled in the coming year!
I went home with two buckets full of strawberries that day, Chandlers in one and Camino Reals in the other. As much as I love strawberries, I’ve never really thought about the different kinds. Chandlers are big and super sweet. Camino Reals are smaller, a little more old fashioned, and I was delighted to learn they have a hint of a honeysuckle flavor! Contrary to the other u-pick strawberry farm I visited earlier in the summer, at Deloach Farms you can sample the strawberries as you pick them. So be prepared to bite into a juicy berry and be amazed!
My mom and I immediately washed our little strawberry gems and stored them in the freezer. I had a beach trip planned for a couple days later but knew I’d be making something extra special with them when I got home.
I shared these strawberry cupcakes last year, and this cake is similar to that, but most of my inspiration for this one came from my grandmother’s strawberry cake recipe. My mom always gushes about that cake and the strawberry frosting, which was sort of poured over the cake and the sides. I made it once maaany years ago when I had my college food blog, but it occurred to me that I never shared that one here. The original recipe (that my grandmother typed up with her typewriter on an index card) calls for a box cake mix, the mix-ins, a strawberry jello mix, and a box of frozen strawberries. Creating a from-scratch version seemed like the perfect way to use up some of my strawberries, and I think I can say that my grandmother would like it!
Homemade Strawberry Compote:
To flavor the cake layers here I decided to make a compote with my freshly picked and then frozen strawbs. It’s literally just the strawberries, a little bit of water, and a tablespoon of cornstarch. It all gets cooked down on the stove until it’s a jammy consistency and then it’s set aside to cool.
Because this recipe uses actual strawberries (as opposed to many strawb cakes that call for a strawberry jello mix for added flavor & color) which lose some of their vibrancy while baking, the color on the inside is more of a muted pink. But I did layer some fresh strawberry slices between the layers for a little boost of fresh flavor.
The Best Strawberry Frosting on Earth:
I shared some of this cake with my friends Ashlee and Halie, and while they said they loved the cake itself, they were like “This frostingggg.” And I was like, “I know, right!?”
It might seem like a bit of a pain, but the key ingredient here is a package of freeze-dried strawberries. Frosting is weird to flavor because adding too much liquid can really mess with the texture and thickness. Jams can work, but you have to add quite a lot (at least in my experience) for the flavor to really come through. Which is how I figured it would have gone if I used some of the compote for the frosting. After googling strawberry frosting recipes, the internet’s verdict was that freeze-dried is the way to go.
And like, hooo boy is it the way to go. It’s a little extra work to grind up the freeze-dried berries in the food processor (mostly I just hate cleaning mine), but adding the strawberry powder to the frosting gives it SO much flavor and a gorgeous color. No food coloring here, friends! I could have eaten it with a spoon. I was so tempted. I might have a little bit.
I really hope you’ll give this strawberry cake a try! It’s comforting and delicious and such a great way to use up juicy and gorgeous strawberries. To my local readers and friends, be prepared to hear me blab some more about Deloach Farms because they have fun and exciting things in the works! You can give them a like on Facebook and follow them on Instagram to stay in the loop!
Special shout out to my dad who made me this new photography surface! This is the first time I’ve used it and I’m already obsessed 😍
Strawberry Layer Cake
- 3 cups halved strawberries
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 cup strawberry compote
- 1 1-oz package freeze-dried strawberries (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp milk or cream
- 5-6 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
For the compote:
- Combine strawberries and water in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 4 minutes, or until strawberries become soft. Use a potato masher or a rubber spatula to mash the strawberries until mushy and there aren’t any large lumps. Reduce to a simmer, add cornstarch, and stir until dissolved. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon/spatula and has the consistency of jam or jelly. You should have about 1 cup of compote. It’s okay if the mixture is still slightly thin because it will thicken a little as it cools. Let compote cool completely.
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add eggs, oil, vanilla, milk, and strawberry compote. Mix on medium speed with an electric mixer until all ingredients are incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary, about 1 minute.
- Divide batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until cakes are lightly golden brown and set in the center. (Test by inserting a toothpick into the center of each cake layer. If it comes out clean, they're done!)
- Let cakes cool in pans for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting:
- Place the freeze dried strawberries in a food processor and process until finely ground. Press through a mesh sieve and discard larger pieces.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and shortening until smooth. Add the ground strawberries, vanilla, and milk (or cream). Mix until well combined; scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure all the strawberry is incorporated.
- Add half of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until mostly combined, then medium-high speed until completely combined, about 1 minutes. Repeat with second half of powdered sugar.
- Level cake layers with a serrated knife or cake saw. Place one layer on a cake stand or cake plate and spread with a layer of frosting. Arrange a layer of sliced strawberries over the frosting. Repeat with second layer, frosting, and sliced strawberries. Place the third layer on top and cover the whole cake with frosting. Garnish with strawberries and fresh flowers, if desired. Store in the refrigerator.
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