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.
Serving Suggestions: This French Strawberry Cake goes very well with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!Storage/Freezing: This cake is best enjoyed the day it's baked or the next day -- the fresh berries tend to get soggy after a day or so. Inspired by this Foodtastic Mom recipe