Inspired by the famous ice cream truck novelty: the Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake bar, this Strawberry Crumb Cake is bursting with real strawberry flavor!
This delicious cake is flavored and naturally-colored with lots of freeze-dried strawberries, layered with a fresh strawberry filling and topped with a buttery, shortbread crumble. We love strawberry season and this cake recipe is one of our favorite ways to celebrate and indulge!
Our strawberry crumb cake is a scratch recipe made with simple, minimally-processed ingredients. (No food dye, no strawberry jello, no cake mix and no golden oreos!) Here's what you'll need:
Freeze Dried Strawberries
Freeze dried strawberries are what give this Strawberry Crumb Cake it's beautiful pink color and BIG strawberry flavor. The best part is that freeze-dried strawberries are all natural, with no added sugars or food colorings.
These freeze dried berries are simply fresh strawberries that have been fully dehydrated through a special frozen vacuum chamber process. The result is a tart, colorful and crunchy berry that is great for snacking and baking. Freeze dried strawberries can be found in some grocery stores (like Trader Joe's) or online.
This recipe calls for freeze dried strawberry powder. It is made simply of ground-up freeze dried strawberries. Strawberry powder can be purchased online, but you are more likely to find whole slices of freeze dried berries. To make the dried strawberries into powder, simply process them in a food processor on high speed for about 30 seconds.
Baker's Journal: 1 Tablespoon of freeze dried strawberry powder weighs about 5 grams. This recipe can be made with a 1.2 ounce bag of freeze dried strawberry slices.
How To Make This Recipe
Our Strawberry Shortcake Cake recipe is based off our favorite sour cream coffee cake recipe. It's the basis for many of our baking recipes including our Chocolate Chip Muffins. This easy recipe is made from three components: 1) the crumb topping, 2) the strawberry filling and 3) the fluffy, strawberry cake!
1. Crumb Topping
This vanilla crumble topping is simple to make and adds a delicious texture to the top of the cake! Simply combine the flour and sugar in a small bowl. Then drizzle over the melted butter and vanilla extract. Stir to combine and set aside while you prepare the cake batter.
When the cake is finished baking you can dust the entire cake with a little additional strawberry powder. The bright strawberry crunch topping looks and tastes just like the strawberry crunchies on the outside of the ice cream bar!
2. Strawberry Filling
The strawberry shortcake filing uses finely-diced fresh strawberries, sugar, flour and a splash of vanilla. Simply mix everything together and set aside while you prepare the layers of strawberry cake.
3. Strawberry Cake
In a large bowl, whisk to combine all of the dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and freeze-dried strawberry powder).
Baker's Journal: The Ribbon Stage - The ribbon stage refers to a certain texture achieved when whipping egg(s) and sugar together. At this stage, the egg(s) and sugar will be very pale, aerated, and fall in thick ribbons from the whisk or paddle attachment. The air incorporated into the egg and sugar mixture helps to leaven the bread and create a tender, fluffy cake.
When done correctly, ribbons of batter will sit on the batter's surface for several seconds before blending in. Try drawing a figure 8 in the batter to test if your mixture has reached the ribbon stage.
Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl with a handheld electric mixer), whip the egg and sugar together until the ribbon stage is reached. Achieving the ribbon stage is the most important technique in this recipe.
Then, drizzle in butter and vanilla and mix to combine. Add in room temperature, full-fat sour cream in 2 or 3 additions. Mix until smooth, scraping the bowl as necessary.
Finally, add in the strawberry flour mixture. Be careful not to over mix! (Do not use an electric hand mixer for this step. Fold flour in by hand, instead.) If using a stand mixer, lightly pulse the machine onto its lowest speed until about 90% of the flour in incorporated. Then, use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl and finish mixing. The batter will be very thick.
Assembling & Baking
As pictured, we baked this recipe in a 9x9 square baking pan. However, you can also make this recipe into a loaf - as we did in this post for our Rhubarb Coffee Cake.
Grease the pan with a bit of melted butter or cooking spray and line with parchment paper. If you can, leave a little excess parchment paper hanging over the edge of the pan to help you easily remove the cake after baking.
Start by layering half of the strawberry batter in the bottom of the pan. The batter is very thick so, I recommend adding the batter to the pan in small dollops and then smoothing the batter into an even layer with a small offset spatula.
Next add the strawberry shortcake filling and spread in an even layer. Top with the remaining strawberry cake batter. (Because the batter is so thick, this step is a little finicky and difficult to spread. Add the batter in small dollops and don't worry if it's a little patchy! The strawberry shortcake crumbs will hide any imperfections!)
Finally add the vanilla crumb topping and gently press the crumbs into the top layer of batter. Bake in a preheated oven for about 50 minutes or until the center springs back when lightly poked. (If baking in a loaf pan, this recipe will take closer to 60 minutes to be fully baked.) Cool cake completely on a wire rack before dusting with additional strawberry powder, slicing and serving.
Pro Tip: Bake this recipe in a cake pan on top of a cookie sheet. The cookie sheet will make it easy to get in and out of the oven and catch any fallen crumbles. Also, be mindful not to open the oven door during baking. While that sweet strawberry scent is enticing, temperature swings in the oven can cause the center of the cake to collapse. Avoid opening the door or rotating the cake for at least 40 - 45 minutes.
Serving & Saving This Recipe
This Strawberry Shortcake Crumb Cake is so good, we're guilty of eating it straight from the pan! It's a great addition to a special occasion or fancy brunch spread (hello, Mother's Day)! This recipe also makes for a yummy Spring dessert or a scrumptious afternoon snack!
- Serving: For a pretty presentation, serve this cake with extra strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of home-churned vanilla ice cream!
- Saving: This recipe is best enjoyed the first day it was baked. However, leftover strawberry crumb cake can be stored in an airtight container on the countertop for 3 - 5 days.
More Strawberry Recipes You’ll Love
Check out these other delicious strawberry recipes!
Strawberry Crumb Cake
- 1 Food Processor (optional, to make freeze-dried strawberry powder)
- 1 Stand Mixer with the Paddle Attachment ((or Electric Mixer) Optional)
- 1 Square Baking Pan (8"x8", 9"x9" OR a standard loaf pan)
- 1 Small Offset Spatula
Vanilla Crumb Topping
- 1 Cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ Cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine kosher salt*
- ¼ Cup unsalted butter melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon freeze-dried strawberry powder Garnish
Strawberry Shortcake Filling
- 1 ½ Cups finely-diced fresh strawberries about 10 berries
- 1 ½ Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ Cups all-purpose flour
- 5 Tablespoons freeze-dried strawberry powder
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine kosher salt*
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 Cup granulated sugar
- ¼ Cup unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 Cup plus 3 Tablespoons full-fat sour cream room temperature
Vanilla Crumb Topping
- Gather, measure and prepare the Vanilla Crumb Topping ingredients as listed. To view metric measurements, toggle the US Customary/Metric switch at the top of this recipe card.In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Pour melted butter and vanilla over mixture and stir to combine. Set aside.
Strawberry Shortcake Filling
- Gather, measure and prepare the Strawberry Shortcake Filling ingredients as listed. In a small bowl, combine diced strawberries, flour, sugar, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Set aside.
- Gather, measure and prepare the Strawberry Cake ingredients as listed. For the most consistent results, we recommend using metric weight measurements whenever possible.Arrange a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat to 350° Fahrenheit (180° celsius). Meanwhile, prepare a square cake pan with parchment paper (or grease and flour well).
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, strawberry powder, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or medium mixing bowl with an electric handheld mixer or whisk) combine the egg and sugar. Mix on medium low speed until pale, aerated and the ribbon stage (batter falls in thick “ribbons”) is achieved. (a.)
- While mixing on medium-low speed, drizzle in melted butter and vanilla. Then, add the sour cream in 2 - 3 additions, mixing to incorporate between each addition.Add the flour mixture to the stand mixer and mix on the lowest speed until just incorporated. If necessary, finish mixing in any dry flour with a rubber spatula. Batter will be very thick.
- Spread one half of the batter into the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Level the batter with a small offset spatula.
- Next, spread the Strawberry Shortcake Filling in an even layer over the batter. Top with dollops of the remaining cake batter and spread until leveled.
- Sprinkle the Vanilla Crumb Topping over the strawberry cake batter. Press lightly into the top of the cake to secure the crumble.
- Bake the bread, for about 50 - 55 minutes (b.) or until the center of the cake springs back when lightly poked. (Be careful, it’s hot!)
- Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Use the parchement papaer to lift the cake from the pan and transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Once cooled, dust the cake with the remaining 1 Tablespoon of freeze dried strawberry powder.
- To serve, slice Strawberry Shortcake Crumb Cake into 9 squares with a sharp knife. Enjoy!
* A Note About Salt
Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on The Sage Apron are developed using Diamond Crystal Kosher salt. It is a great all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. If using table salt, reduce quantities by about half.