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Strawberry lemonade cake needs no frosting to make it shine. The sweet-tart flavor is perfect for spring gatherings.
I’m always a little apprehensive when my birthday rolls around.
It’s not that I’m hearing the drumbeats of the march of time; it’s just that nervousness that comes from hoping you don’t get dragged to a surprise party and pee yourself when everyone jumps up, or worse, frown and sigh.
I’m a classic Taurean introvert who doesn’t like surprises (but still wants to be fussed over) so I like to make my own birthday cake.
This usually works out pretty well because I can actually make the flavor I want, never mind the kids’ tastebuds, and I know it will actually turn out.
Not that I didn’t appreciate the chocolate-zucchini-raspberry cake my husband and son made me one year.
This year I had been thinking about doing something with strawberries, and I recalled how much I liked the fig and nectarine cake I made in the fall. It already heavily featured lemon, so I thought a strawberry lemonade cake was just the thing for my birthday.
strawberry lemonade cake recipe
My strawberry lemonade cake recipe features a dense lemon cake with halved strawberries baked into the top. I really love what the strawberries do for the visual of the cake, not to mention the flavor.
I also decided to add a light bit of herbal taste to this cake. I like to add herbs to my lemonade anyway, so it only seemed fitting.
Right now our garden is full of herbs in preparation for summer and house showings, so I decided to use delicate thyme. You can skip the thyme if you like, or try mint instead.
As this strawberry lemonade cake doesn’t use baking powder or baking soda, you get a denser, tart cake that actually reminds me of a frangipane tart, despite the complete lack of almonds.
Between the tart lemon, the sweet strawberries and the dense crumb of this strawberry lemonade cake, I’d say I hit birthday cake success with this recipe.
how to make strawberry lemonade cake
Honestly, the fig and nectarine cake was easy but this strawberry lemonade cake is even easier.
I baked this strawberry lemonade cake for a bit less time than the fig and nectarine cake, and didn’t bother with changing the oven temperature halfway through. See? Streamlined process.
Even though it’s a fairly quick cake to throw together and none of the steps are hard, there are a few strange-sounding instructions that I must ask you to follow.
You might think I’m a bit bonkers for asking you to coat the inside of your springform pan with dry bread crumbs, but believe me. They’re exactly what this style of cake requires and you’ll be glad you went along for the ride here.
I also ask you to beat the eggs and sugar for a full 2 minutes. Don’t skimp here; the bubbles that form during this process are the only leavening this strawberry lemonade cake gets.
You can use more strawberries than called for if you like, but adding more will also add to your baking time to account for the additional moisture. Gently press them into the top of the batter; they will sink slightly but still be visible, so create a pretty pattern if you like.
Lastly, bake the strawberry lemonade cake in the bottom third of the oven. It really will make a difference!
You can serve this strawberry lemonade cake with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or just on its own. It doesn’t really need anything else — except maybe someone to celebrate with.
Strawberry Lemonade Cake
- Dry bread crumbs, for dusting
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3 lemons
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces strawberries, hulled and halved
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and coat with bread crumbs. In a bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the granulated sugar and eggs at high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Beat in the butter. Zest the lemons and set aside 1/3 of the zest. Beat the remaining 2/3 zest and the thyme into the batter.
- Juice the lemons and remove seeds. At low speed, alternately beat in the flour and lemon juice until almost incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the batter until smooth.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Gently press in the strawberries.
- Bake the cake on the bottom third of the oven for 45-50 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean with a few crumbs attached.
- Transfer the cake to a rack to cool. Run a thin knife around the edge and release the springform. Sprinkle with the remaining lemon zest, cut into wedges and serve.