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Last Updated on March 9, 2021 by Chenée Lewis
It’s finally spring! Even though this year is definitely different, it’s still great to celebrate the weather getting warmer. You may be working outside the home, or have a busy work-from-home schedule, or maybe you have lots of time on your hands. Either way, this French strawberry cake recipe is a perfect way to celebrate springtime now that strawberry season is just about here!
This cake is similar to a traditional French apple cake, which is a single-layer cake with a moist, dense crumb that is baked with lots of fresh apples, traditionally made with dark rum. This is a lighter version, but we’re still using a lot of fresh strawberries in our basic vanilla cake batter, as well as some lemon zest to brighten it up a bit, and some buttermilk for a moist, flavorful cake!
Baking with Berries
Berries are so amazing to bake with, especially for springtime! This cake calls for fresh strawberries, which are just about to be in season here in Chicago, but you might also love baking with frozen berries, like with these Raspberry White Chocolate Blondies. Here, the berries are filled throughout the cake and also form a lovely topping! Plus, the fresh strawberries are juicy and keep the cake moist, and the sugar on top makes a light, crunchy crust. If you like strawberries, you will LOVE this cake!
Even if you don’t have fresh strawberries, I’m sure this French strawberry cake would also be fantastic with blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries! If you do substitute a different kind of berry, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear about your variations!
- unsalted butter – Your butter should be room temperature; that is softened until it can be dented with your finger, but not so warm that it looks greasy.
- granulated sugar – Adds the perfect amount of sweetness to this recipe — and we’ll save a bit of that sugar for our crunchy topping!
- eggs – make sure your eggs are also room temperature, like your butter. This helps this French strawberry cake to bake evenly and rise well.
- lemon zest – this is one of my favorite additions to this cake. It brightens it up so much and gives everything a delicious springtime feel!
- vanilla – make sure you use pure vanilla extract.
- buttermilk – I love using buttermilk in my cake recipes. It helps to add moisture to the batter and creates such a flavorful French strawberry cake!
- all-purpose flour – be sure you measure your flour correctly — my preferred method is to measure by weight using a kitchen scale.
- baking powder – gives this French strawberry cake a nice lift.
- salt – to bring out all these lovely flavors!
- strawberries – very important ingredient in this strawberry cake! You’ll need 1 1/2 cups of strawberries, a little less than 16 ounces.
- powdered sugar – I like to add a little powdered sugar to the top of this French Strawberry Cake as a finishing touch, but it’s totally optional.
This is a very simple recipe that requires no special tools! Just a hand mixer, a couple of mixing bowls, and a zester for your lemon zest, and you’re well on your way to making this French strawberry cake! Here’s a look at what else you’ll need:
Step by step
Check out this video for a complete step-by-step process of how to make this French Strawberry Cake. Basically, if you can use a hand mixer and a spatula, you can make this cake! It’s SO simple and easy:
- Cream together butter and sugar
- Mix in eggs, lemon zest, vanilla, and buttermilk
- Fold in flour, baking powder, and salt
- Fold in strawberries
- Spread into pan, top with more strawberries and sugar, and BAKE!
Easy as that! You got this!
This French strawberry cake is just the beginning! If you love strawberries I’ve got a lot of goodies for you! First off, my Vanilla Cake with Strawberries is an easy 6-inch celebration cake with macerated strawberries and stabilized whipped cream. So perfect for a birthday or any springtime celebration!
You should also try my Strawberry Banana Sorbet for an easy fruity treat that’s vegan, gluten-free, and has no refined sugars! It’s so easy to make and you won’t need an ice cream maker!
Equipment you may need
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter - softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar - divided
- 2 large eggs - room temperature
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour - 192g
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries - hulled and halved, divided
- Powdered sugar - for dusting (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper.
- Remove 2 tbsps from the sugar and reserve for later.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and remaining sugar for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add in eggs one at a time, followed by lemon zest, vanilla, and buttermilk and mix well after each addition.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently fold into wet ingredients with a rubber spatula until just barely combined.
- Fold in two-thirds of strawberries, reserving other third.
- Pour the batter into prepared cake pan and smooth. Top with reserved strawberries, and then sprinkle with reserved sugar.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Dust cooled cake with powdered sugar, if desired.
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