Luscious Strawberry Lemon Cake made from scratch is the perfect recipe for spring and summer! This lemon layer cake recipe is made with an easy and moist lemon sponge cake scented with bits of lemon zest and fresh lemon juice, filled with lemon curd (from the grocery store!), and topped off with a freeze dried strawberry buttercream.
Layer cakes are one of my favorite things to make over a long, lazy weekend. I love making cakes like this on Friday and Saturday and bringing them over on Sunday for my family to devour!
This weekend we truly had a lazy, recharge weekend and it was so wonderful! Friday was spent frolicking different places for happy hour and we finished the night off with a delicious balboa bar in Newport Beach. I did manage to make it to the gym Saturday morning, but after that it was a one way trip to lazy town. I’ll be honest, I absolutely love what I do day in and day out. Styling photoshoots, creating content for my own site, and having a creative career are things I only dreamed about in life! But, burnout can be so real sometimes! I feel like I just totally drain all of my creative juices some weeks. It’s not that I’m tired of what I’m doing, it’s that I have to recharge so I can continue on!
Sooooo this weekend consisted of Riverdale episodes, pre made enchiladas, and an enormous amount of Rascal and Jared snuggles. We even took a Saturday afternoon nap which was so glorious! Also side note! Has anyone watched Riverdale?! Or is everyone watching Riverdale and I am late to the party?! I’m not one to ‘binge’ watch a lot of shows, but damn, I could not stop! It was one of those shows where you could casually be on your computer, the characters have great little quirks, and it’s based in a small cute little town. It’s basically Pretty Little Liars (which I am secretly obsessed with since high school!), but with more plot lines than just trying to find Allison. I can’t say enough. If you like quirky romance mystery shows, this is for you!
Besides being a weekend slug, I did manage to clean my whole house (win), go to Costco on a Sunday (double win!), and bake this fun strawberry lemon cake with lemon curd and strawberry buttercream!
Sometimes I think cakes can get a bad wrap for being a little boring, but I find them so fun! They are like little works of art! I have been enthralled with cakes ever since I was 17 and took those Wilton cake classes at Michael’s craft stores. Plus, you can literally do anything with cake! Frost it! Fill it! Leave it naked! The cake world is endless.
During the summer months, I find myself swapping out chocolate dessert flavors for more fruity and light ones. I save chocolate desserts for cold winter nights when I want something extra rich. I currently have 3 cartons of Tillamook Strawberry ice cream if that gives you a frame of reference. It has been my go to late night summer snack. I think this strawberry ice cream interest was what brought me to make this cake! I also really wanted to master strawberry buttercream (the secret is freeze dried strawberries!). This strawberry lemon cake is light enough for a weekend treat, but also gorgeous enough (and tasty!) for any summer party you have going on!
This Strawberry Lemon Cake with lemon curd and strawberry buttercream is sandwiched together with three different components:
The Cake: Two light and fluffy lemon cake layers are studded with strawberry chunks! This cake base comes together in just a few simple ingredients and is down right fluffy, if I do say so myself! You could stud the cake with any berry chunks, but I love a good strawberry-lemon combo! It tastes exactly like strawberry lemonade!
The Filling: To say I cheated is an understatement. I did the dirty and bought lemon curd from the grocery store. I did this for two reasons. One, Trader Joe’s has the best freaking lemon curd EVER. And two, I realized that the average person (aka modern working woman trying to always do three things at once) is 100% capable of making lemon curd, but I am all about taking shortcuts and saving a little time whenever possible. I hope that one day in my life I can be as calm, cool, and collected to make homemade lemon curd and bring Jared in for a taste test like Jeffery (lolz), but for now, Trader Joe’s is getting it done!
The Buttercream: My favorite part! I’m a ‘have my cake and eat it with lots of frosting too’ kind a girl. Full disclosure, I could NOT stop eating this buttercream while making it! I have always had trouble making strawberry buttercream, so I was stoked when I finally got it right! Using fresh strawberries can make the buttercream curdle, so I went the freeze dried route and I am never going back! Even if you never make this cake recipe, make the buttercream. It’s tasty and perfect on any cake treat!
The Lemon Cake
The Lemon Cake is a basic buttermilk cake recipe that is flavored with the whole part of the lemon. Meaning we are using both the lemon zest and lemon juice to really get that lemon flavor! I say channel your inner Ina Garten and get baking!
A Little Trick to Prevent Your Strawberries from Sinking
The only step is coating the strawberries in a little bit of flour before mixing them in to the cake batter. This is a little trick I learned when I first started baking! The flour helps the strawberries “stick” to the cake mixture, making sure they stay suspended throughout the cake as it rises in the oven.
Freeze Dried Strawberries
Freeze dried strawberries – or any freeze dried fruit, for that matter – is one of my favorite things to buy at the grocery store! Freeze dried fruit is simply fruit that has had the water removed, but preserves the flavor and nutritional value. It’s a perfect addition to the strawberry buttercream because, well, it’s real strawberries! And it makes the frosting pretty in pink! The color just sings all things summer!!
There are a few key points when putting this cake together.
- When the cake is done baking, make sure to cool completely to room temperature in the cake pans before removing. This should take about 30 minutes – 1 hour.
- Once the cooled cake is removed from the pans, place one on your serving platter. Be sure to place a few small pieces of parchment paper under the first layer of the cake. The parchment paper will catch any extra frosting and ensure a clean presentation. Using a piping bag or Ziplock bag, pipe a “dam” of buttercream around the rim of the cake and generously fill the center with the lemon curd. Gently top with the second cake.
- Place a generous amount of strawberry buttercream onto the top center of the now two layer cake and frost evenly over the entire surface with an offset spatula. When you are done frosting, remove the small pieces of parchment paper. Top with fresh sliced strawberries, more fresh berries, lemon slices, and enjoy!
Other great cake recipes:
- Simple Lemon Blueberry Cake with Lemon Buttercream
- Tiramisu Layer Cake with Whipped Mascarpone Frosting
- Chocolate Cake with Mixed Berries
2 Sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 Cups of granulated sugar
2 Large eggs + 2 yolks
Zest of one lemon
Juice from two lemons, strained
1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract
2 1/2 Cups of all purpose flour
1/2 Teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon of baking soda
1 Teaspoon of kosher salt
1 Cup of buttermilk
1 Cup of diced strawberries
2 Tablespoons of flour
1 Cup of lemon curd
1 Cup of freeze dried strawberries (I bought mine from Trader Joes)
2 1/2 Sticks of unsalted butter at room temp
4–5 Cups of powdered sugar
1/2 Teaspoon of salt
1/4 Cup of half and half
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake tins and set aside.
- In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and whisk well.
- In a separate large bowl fitted with a hand or stand mixer beat butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add in eggs and egg yolks one at a time with your mixer on low. Add in vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice until combined.
- In 3 separate increments add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, alternating and finishing with the last flour addition. In a small bowl toss together your diced strawberries and 2 tablespoons of flour. Fold strawberry chunks gently into cake batter.
- Pour batter evenly into two cake tins and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Cool for thirty minutes and remove from cake tins to finish cooling on a wire baking rack.
- In a food processor of vitamix, blend freeze dried strawberries until a powder consistency is reached. In a large bowl fitted with a stand or hand mixer beat butter until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add vanilla extract, salt, and 1/3 of powdered sugar to butter mixture until fluffy. Add in a tablespoon of half and half at a time after powdered sugar. If frosting is still or you live in a dry climate add two at a time. If you live in a humid climate, you may need less.
- Continue to add powdered sugar and half and half in two separate increments and mix until light and fluffy. Add in freeze dried strawberries as the last addition.
- Assemble cake layers and pipe a ‘dam’ around the rim of the cake with a ziplock bag or piping bag. Fill inner circle with lemon curd and frost evenly with strawberry buttercream. Optional: top off with fresh berries and lemons slices.