Nothing says summer like classic southern strawberry shortcake! So I decided to dress it up a bit and make this strawberry shortcake layer cake with whipped mascarpone frosting and juicy macerated strawberries.
Why You'll Love This Cake!
- Perfect summer dessert - This strawberry shortcake layer cake is pretty enough for dinner party or bridal shower but still simple enough for a cookout or fourth of July bbq!
- Light, spongey cake layers - The lemon cake has a super light, buttery texture that soaks up all the juices from the strawberries!
- Fresh macerated strawberries - Fresh summer berries are the star of this stunning cake!
- Creamy mascarpone frosting - I just love the way mascarpone tastes with the strawberries! If you don't like mascarpone, you can do stabilized whipped cream frosting instead.
- Super easy to decorate - All you need to make this cake look beautiful is fresh strawberries and flowers! No fancy piping techniques necessary!
The best thing about this cake is most of the ingredients are super simple and easy to find!
- Cake flour - I always use cake flour in my cakes because it makes them super soft and tender, but all purpose flour also works great!
- Almond flour - I like to use a combination of almond flour and cake flour (or all-purpose flour) in this cake recipe because it makes it super light and tender!! It also gives just the slightest almond flavor which is delicious! However, you can easily just swap it out for cake flour/all-purpose flour if that's all you have.
- Mascarpone - Mascarpone is an Italian cheese that's very similar to American cream cheese. It's smooth and soft but more neutral in flavor compared to tangy cream cheese. And in my opinion, that mild flavor makes it much more versatile!
- Macerated strawberries - Macerating strawberries is just a fancy way of saying to soften strawberries by adding sugar! They're sweet, syrupy, and what makes strawberry shortcake so memorable! All you have to do slice the strawberries, sprinkle with sugar, and let rest for about 20 minutes. (Just note, you do have to use fresh strawberries, frozen will not work!)
- Lemon - A combination of lemon juice and lemon zest adds some brightness and tang to the cake!
How to Make Shortcake Layers
Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly spray three 6 inch layer cake pans with pan spray.
Whisk the cake flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add in the eggs and lemon zest and and beat until fully combined and smooth.
Gently fold in the flour mixture until just combined.
Pour ⅓ of the batter into each cake pan (they will only be about half full). Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Place a cooling rack on top of each cake pan and invert. The pan should slide cleanly away.
Let the cakes cool completely to room temperature before trimming.
Tips for Perfect Cake Layers
There are a few tricks that will help you get perfect, even layers for this strawberry shortcake layer cake!
First, you need good nonstick cake pans and pan spray. I use three 6×2 inch Fat Daddio’s layer cake pans and I love them!! It's super important to get actual layer cake pans because the sides are perfectly straight! It's a little annoying because this means you can't stack them, but your layers will have perfect sides! With just a tiny bit of pan spray, the cakes just slide right out and never stick! For pan spray, I love both Everbake Pan Spray and Baker's Joy!
Next, is trimming your cake. This can be a little tricky, but it's super easy once you do it a couple times. Let the cakes cool completely to room temperature, then take a large bread knife and very carefully slice off the very top of the cake so that you have a perfectly even layer. I like using a big bread knife because it's sharp, serrated, and long enough to go through the entire layer at one time.
This shortcake bakes up pretty evenly, so you may not need to trim the layers at all!
Tips for the Best Baked Goods
Use room temperature ingredients! Always make sure ingredients like butter, eggs, milk, yogurt, etc. are at room temperature before baking (unless the recipe indicates otherwise)! This ensures they'll incorporate into the batter more easily and leads to overall better texture. Remove all ingredients from the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before baking for best results.
Measure your flour correctly! It's most accurate to use a kitchen scale, but if you're measuring by volume you want to spoon and level! Fluff up the flour a bit with a spoon, and then spoon flour into the measuring cup. Once it's overflowing, use the back of a knife to level it off. Don't ever pack flour into the measuring cup or you'll end up with way too much! Improperly measured flour can lead to dry, dense baked goods. [Measure cocoa powder the same way!]
Use an oven thermometer! Just because your oven says it's 350, doesn't mean it is! If you oven hasn't been calibrated recently, it can be as much as 30 degrees off, which will negatively affect all baked goods from cakes to macarons! An oven thermometer is the easiest/cheapest way to ensure your oven is always at the proper temperature.
Make sure you baking powder is fresh! Baking powder is important for helping baked goods rise properly, but it has a relatively short shelf life once opened, so it's one of the few items I never buy in bulk! To test if your baking powder is still fresh, add a small amount to boiling water. If it bubbles it's still good to use, but if not it's time to toss it!
Cake Decorating Tips
- I absolutely love my rotating cake stand! I hesitated buying one for a long time, but it really does make getting nice, even frosting so much easier!
- I use a 6 inch cake board to transfer my cakes from the turning caking stand, to the stand I like to photograph with.
- The best thing about this strawberry shortcake cake is that the sliced strawberries are all you need to make this cake look stunning!
Pro tip: Add some blueberries to the top and in between the layers for a patriotic red, white, and blue cake! Perfect for Memorial Day or the 4th of July!
Since the mascarpone frosting is fragile and the strawberries are syrupy, this cake is best served the same day. However, you can store it in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Yes! While the assembled cake is best served the same day, the cake layers can be made and frozen up to a month in advance! Wrap the layers indivuvally with plastic wrap, and then seal in a freezer safe bag for the best results.
This strawberry shortcake layer cake recipe is designed for 3 six inch cake pans. But it will also work well with 2 eight inch cake pans.
Tips for Success!
For best results I always recommend using weight measurements (especially when baking) because it's the most accurate. Kitchen scales are super affordable and also reduce the number of dishes you have to do! However, all my recipes also include US customary measurements for convince. Use this chart to convert measurements for common ingredients!
Substitutions: In all my recipes, I've included substitutions that I know will work, but I cannot guarantee results if you substitute ingredients that I have not recommended. [For example, granulated sugar and honey are indeed both sweeteners but they have very different properties so they can not always be swapped 1:1. Using honey in a cookie recipe that calls for granulated sugar will yield a giant mess.] In the recipe card you'll find links to the specific ingredients/brands that I use.
A note on salt: I almost exclusively use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt because it's the best all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. If you're not using kosher salt, consult this handy guide for a conversion chart! When in doubt, if you're using table salt just reduce the amount by half for baked goods. When cooking, I prefer to under-salt because you can always add more! If you've over-salted, adding a little bit of acid (like lemon juice) can help.
More Cake & Cupcake Recipes
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Strawberry Shortcake Layer Cake
- 2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 cups fresh strawberries, for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly spray three 6 inch layer cake pans with pan spray.
- Whisk the cake flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add in the eggs and lemon zest and and beat until fully combined and smooth.
- Gently fold in the flour mixture until just combined.
- Pour ⅓ of the batter into each cake pan (they will only be about half full). Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Place a cooling rack on top of each cake pan and invert. The pan should slide cleanly away.
- Let the cakes cool completely to room temperature before trimming.
- Once the cakes are fully cooled. Using a sharp bread knife, trim the cakes until the layers are even.
- While the cakes are cooling, thinly slice the strawberries and place them in a medium sized bowl.
- Sprinkle with the sugar and lemon juice and toss gently until all the strawberries are coated.
- Cover and let rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
- Add the heavy cream to a large bowl with the powdered sugar, vanilla, and almond extract. Beat on high with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form.
- Add in the mascarpone and continue to mix until the frosting is fully combined and smooth.
- Place the bottom layer of cake on your cake stand and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of the syrup from the macerated strawberries.
- Then spread about ⅓ of the mascarpone frosting evenly on top. Then top with about half of the macerated strawberries and 1-2 tablespoons of the syrup.
- Place the next layer on top and repeat.
- Place the final cake layer upside down so that the top of your cake is as even as possible. Smooth the rest of the frosting over the top layer and then top with fresh strawberries if desired.
- Serve immediately!
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.