Fresh Strawberry Cake

Who would dream this strawberry-packed cake begins with my yellow cake mix? This makes one very impressive strawberry cake or 24 big and beautiful strawberry cupcakes.

Fresh Strawberry Cake
For the cake:
  • Vegetable oil spray or shortening for greasing the pans
  • Flour for dusting the pans
  • 1 package (21.6 ounces) Cake Mix Doctor’s Old-Fashioned Yellow Mix
  • 1 package (3 ounces) strawberry gelatin, if desired
  • 1 cup mashed fresh strawberries (2 cups fresh berries)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup milk
  • 4 large eggs
For the frosting:
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup mashed fresh strawberries, well drained (1/2 cup berries)
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
For the garnish:
  • 3 to 4 whole strawberries, fanned or sliced
  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist or grease three 9-inch round cake pans and dust them with flour. Set the pans aside.
  2. Place the cake mix, gelatin, mashed strawberries, oil, milk, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until incorporated, 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the mixture lightens and is smooth, 1½ minutes longer, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula, and place the pans in the oven. If three pans don’t fit on the center rack, place the third layer on the upper rack, watching to not overbake.
  3. Bake the cake until the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, 18 to 22 minutes. Remove the layers from the oven, let them cool in the pan 10 minutes, run a knife around the edges, gently shake the layers to loosen the cake, and invert them once, then again, onto wire racks to cool right-side up. Let the layers cool 30 minutes before frosting.
  4. For the frosting, place the cream cheese and butter in a medium-size bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low until combined, 30 seconds. Add the strawberries and sugar, a little at a time, beating on low speed, until the sugar is incorporated. Increase the mixer to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy, 1 minute more.
  5. To assemble the cake, place one layer, right-side up, on a serving plate. Spread the top with ¾ cup frosting. Place a second layer, right-side up, on top of the first and spread with ¾ cup frosting. Place the third layer on top and frost the top and side of the cake with the remaining frosting, working with smooth, clean strokes. To make slicing easier, place the uncovered cake in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes.

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