Strawberry Dream Cake from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2012

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Pink is a four-letter word in our house.

Our child epitomizes the phrase ‘tom-boy’ to a T. Her favorite doll? Spiderman (and Power Ranger Samurai, though she’s still missing a couple of those). In fact, I had to take away her Barbies because she was ruining them . . . on purpose.  Her favorite colors? Blue and green. Dresses? Be ready for looks of horror and loud protests. They’re only worn under duress for picture day.

So, when I make something like this cake, it’s an opportunity to tease my little one. I have fun dangling cake in front of her as something she won’t like because, oh the horror, it’s P.I.N.K. And she doesn’t let me down. There’s wailing and gnashing of teeth. Why, oh why do we have to have pink cake. Poor, poor Dudette.

On the other end of the spectrum is her good friend, nicknamed Boo. Boo is girlie. Boo wears dresses, tiaras, ballet shoes that sparkle and lots of pink.

When I decided I needed a boost on this pink cake, I showed the picture from the magazine to her and told her I had made it. “Oh, can I please come over and have some?” she whispered breathlessly, enthralled by the pinkness of it all.

So, today my friend Boo is coming over to have pink cake with me and I can’t wait.

The Process

I love the folks at America’s Test Kitchen for their passion and commitment to excellence. I really do. They claim to work on a recipe until it’s the best of the best and most times I would agree that they succeed. But, along the way they create a royal mess.

I’d love to stand in the corner of their test kitchen and see what happens after a recipe like this cake is developed. Did Lynn Clark, the cake’s author, do the dishes afterwards or did she leave them in the sink for others to clean up?

This isn’t a hard recipe to put together, but it creates a lot of work on the other end. The strawberries alone use a bowl for microwaving, a fine-mess strainer for pressing, the spatula and a saucepan. I just put the solids back into the original bowl, otherwise that would have been one more on the pile.

In the description, Lynn Clark said that adding the thick syrup, “turned the cake a pretty shade of pink.” Yes, that was true where the batter was concerned. It was nice to see the pink continue into the finished cake. It’s not a strong a color as theirs looks, but at least it’s there (and naturally to boot).

I can say that I am not a fan of adding 24 pieces of butter and cream cheese (for the cake and frosting) “1 piece at a time” until each is combined. Pffffft. Who has that kind of time for a cake?

The Verdict

This is good. In fact, it’s very good. I actually made it as dessert for a dinner party I had last night. Both guests ate their slices enthusiastically. The strawberry flavor does come through but I think the cream cheese taste overwhelms it a bit (which doesn’t bother me).  The cake doesn’t rise super high, but it is moist and light. The slices of strawberries between the layers is a very nice touch.

Hubby agrees with me that while this is tasty, for the amount of work it was to make, I probably won’t do it again because there are others that we like more. If this had been over-the-top in flavor, the work beforehand and after wouldn’t matter.

I can’t wait to find out what Boo thinks.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

The reasoning behind using frozen strawberries that the cake can be made year-round. However, since fresh strawberries are needed for the frosting part, doesn’t that negate that reasoning?

Strawberry Dream Cake from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2012
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Reviewed by:
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
  • 10 ounces (2 cups) frozen whole strawberries
  • ¾ cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups (9 ounces) cake flour
  • 1¾ cups (12¼ ounces) granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2¼ cups (9 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces and softened
  • Pinch salt
  • 8 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thin (2 cups)
  1. Put the oven rack in the middle and heat the oven to 350. Grease two 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease that and then flour pans.
  2. Put thawed strawberries in a bowl, cover and microwave about 5 minutes, when strawberries are soft and juices are released. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a saucepan and press the strawberries through, reserving the solids. You should have ¾ cup of juices. Bring juice to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, 6-8 minutes or until syrupy and reduced to ¼ cup. Add the milk to the juice with a whisk.
  3. Whisk together strawberry milk, egg whites and vanilla in a bowl. In another bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time and mix until pea-sized pieces remain. Add half of milk mixture. Beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add remaining milk mixture and beat until incorporated, 30 seconds. Give batter a final stir by hand.
  4. Divide batter between the two cake pans and bake until toothpick in center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Switch and rotate pans halfway through baking. Cool cakes on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and cool complete for 2 hours.
  5. Mix butter and sugar at low speed until combined, 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, 1 piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add strawberry solids and salt. Mix until combined.
  6. Dry sliced fresh strawberries.
  7. When cakes are cool, spread ¾ cup frosting over bottom layer. Press strawberry slices into frosting and cover with ¼ more frosting. Add top cake layer and spread remaining frosting over top and sides.

24 thoughts on “Strawberry Dream Cake from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2012

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  • October 31, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    I used this recipe to make cupcakes (baking them for 21 minutes), and they're AMAZING. Best strawberry cake and frosting I've ever had. Yes, it's fussy but it tastes so much better than the cakes with gelatin in it. Perfect. Thanks for posting.

  • Pingback: The Monday Muse ~ The Law Won, Hello Spring, BFFs, Dish of the WeekTaking On Magazines One Recipe at a Time

  • March 22, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    What did you do with the left over frozen strawberries? I'm thinking of putting them in the middle of the cakes. (My cakes are in the oven as we speak).

    • March 22, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      As I recall, I mixed the pulp from the frozen berries with the slices of fresh berries, much like you want to do. Hope you like it as much as we did!

      • March 24, 2014 at 6:40 pm

        So, the cake was a big hit. Everyone loved all the strawberries. Personally, I found the cake heavy. Did you whip the egg whites and then fold them into the batter? Because I just mixed them and added them as per the instructions. I'm wondering if whipping and then folding would result in a lighter cake. I didn't follow the directions for the icing and it came out all runny (delicious, but runny). So I poured it on, let it solidify (over night in the fridge) and then I made a buttercream icing (the next day) and incorporated the leftover cream cheese icing to it so I could ice the sides and pipe the edges. All in all it was quite good and I'm happy with how it looked and tasted. Next time I just want to improve it.

        • March 24, 2014 at 7:10 pm

          I'm so glad you guys liked it! No, I didn't whip the egg whites first, but I did give the batter a good beating until it was light and fluffy. I go by look, not time suggested because I figure their appliances have more power than my wiener ones.

  • March 9, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Do you have a strawberry cake recipe that you like more than this? My 2 year olds party is a week away and I just read your review. Thanks!!!!

    • March 10, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      Hi Rhonda. The only other strawberry cake I've made is a Strawberry Swirl Cream Cheese Pound Cake ( It was absolutely delicious. But, it's made in a bundt pan and doesn't have frosting. That being said, I think it would be fine with the frosting from this cake slathered all over it. Perfect for a two year-old.

      • August 20, 2014 at 6:54 pm

        I just finished making it, and the cake itself was not flavorful to me. The icing was OK. There is room for a lot of improvement in this cake. I thought it wa going to be the creme de la creme. Next time i know what i will do different.

    • April 1, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Rhonda, I'll agree with Justin that the most amazing strawberry cake I've ever had is made with a white cake mix with Strawberry Jello added. This recipe was developed years ago by a woman who worked for Quality Inns International at the time and who went on to become Executive Chef for Stouffer Foods. I'll try to track down my copy and post it here for you.

  • February 12, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    I saw this episode and I believe the reason given for using frozen strawberries was not seasonality but had more to do with controlling the liquid content. Haven't tried the cake, it sounds great but I am not sure about the "fussy" recipe!

    • February 14, 2014 at 10:57 am

      Ohhhhh … that makes sense! I'm generally not much for fussing with desserts; I'd rather spend the time in the kitchen with the main meal, but once in a while it's fun to do … IF the dessert turns out really, really well. :)

  • October 10, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    For years, including each birthday for the past 3 years, I’ve tried to make a strawberry cake like I remember having down home in NC, each time trying the “best researched recipe”. This year I’m going back to my mom’s simple recipe that “works every time”. Box of white cake mix, strawberry jello, and 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries split equally between cream cheese icing and cake. Much simpler, and delicious! It’s the reason I’ve been trying all these years in the first place,.. should have made Mom’s first!

  • July 26, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    What did Boo think of the cake???

  • May 9, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    I have a question for you. Why don't you subscribe to magazines rather than picking them up at the store when you see something you like? My problem is I subscribe to too many and fall behind. The subscription is so much cheaper (for example, Bon Appetite I get for $4.99/yr). Just wondering because I've seen you saw something on the cover you like and get it. Sorry if I am being nosy.

    • May 9, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      It is a good question and no, I don't think you're being nosy. To date, I have 30 magazines represented in the list. That's the magazine in general, not specific issues. No matter how less expensive, I just couldn't afford that many subscriptions. That being said, a lot of publishers send me free copies every month as a courtesy. I may not go through them, but the chances are greater if they're in the house already. But I do like to peruse the bookstore rack just to see what's new out there and to let something different catch my eye. Does that answer your question well enough?

      • May 10, 2013 at 6:51 am

        Yes, that answers my question. I used to do that but it killed me to pay full price for a mag. Some of those are really pricey. It works for you, don't change it :)


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