small batch strawberry cake

Very Small Batch Strawberry Cake

This small batch strawberry cake recipe starts with a fluffy, white sheet cake base. It is then topped with a fresh strawberry buttercream frosting. The cake is actually a very small sheet cake. How small is very small? The cake is baked in a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan! However, don’t confuse this cake with a pound cake. The strawberry cake recipe makes only enough batter to fill about an inch of the loaf pan, resulting in a very small sheet cake that’s about a quarter of the size of a regular 9 x 13-inch sheet cake. When sliced, the cake results in 8 petite squares. Alternatively, you can also slice the cake crosswise into thirds or even larger halves for more generous portions.

What flavor is white cake?

When researching strawberry cake recipes, I saw a handful of recipes with fresh strawberries in both the batter and frosting. However, my strawberry cake recipe is more simple—the strawberry flavor mostly comes from the strawberry buttercream frosting and fresh strawberries on top. Instead, I decided to make the cake base a white cake. White cake tastes mostly like vanilla and milk. I found that the white cake contrasted wonderfully with the buttercream and fresh fruit, resulting in a lovely “strawberries and cream” flavor.

What is the difference between white and yellow cake?

Both white and yellow cakes are vanilla flavored cakes. However, yellow cake recipes use whole eggs, and while white cake exclusively uses egg whites. Doing so results in a crumb that is almost pure white. It’s the perfect cake base for wedding cakes and funfetti cakes (where, the white cake base allows the sprinkles in the batter to really pop).

That being said, egg yolks help give baked goods a tender and moist texture. Without the egg yolks, white cakes are more finely grained and less tender. It’s hard to find a good white cake recipe that isn’t too dry and firm. Fortunately, I adapted this strawberry cake recipe from the white wedding cake recipe in my cookbook, Weeknight Baking. When researching different recipes for my cookbook, I found that using the reverse creaming method helped keep the white cake’s crumb soft and tender. Check out the section below on how to make this white cake to learn more!

small batch strawberry cake

Why You Should Make This Strawberry Cake

In addition to being extremely delicious, there are other good reasons to make this strawberry cake recipe:

This strawberry cake recipe is very small batch.

This strawberry cake recipe makes a very small 9 x 5-inch sheet cake, roughly the quarter of a size of a regular 9 x 13-inch sheet cake! That’s the base of a standard 1lb loaf pan! What does that mean exactly? The cake results in 8 petite servings. It’s the perfect amount for a small household celebrating special occasions at home during these crazy times!

This strawberry cake recipe uses small quantities of ingredients.

Because this strawberry cake recipe is small batch, it uses only a small amount of pantry ingredients. Specifically: the cake uses less than 1 cup of staples like flour, sugar, and milk! Furthermore, the recipe also uses only 1 stick (4 ounces or 113 grams) of unsalted butter between the cake batter AND the buttercream frosting. Cool, right?

This strawberry cake recipe comes together quickly.

All in all, the strawberry cake batter takes about 10 minutes to make. And because it makes such a small amount of batter, it only takes 25 minutes to bake in the oven (regular sized sheet cakes typically bake for about 40 minutes). The strawberry buttercream frosting is a breeze, too. It takes 5 minutes to whip up the frosting, and even less than that to assemble and decorate the cake!

This strawberry cake recipe has parts that can be made ahead.

That being said, if you find yourself still strapped for time, you can actually split up this strawberry cake recipe over the span of a few days. Why? That ensures that you’ll be in the kitchen for 30 minutes or less every day! This kind of time saving work to make the recipe fit into your schedule is the premise of my cookbook, Weeknight Baking.

Because the cake needs to be cooled completely to room temperature before frosting (otherwise, the frosting will melt on the warm cake), I usually make the cake the day before I’m planning on serving it. That way, on the second day, all I need to do is spend five minutes to make the frosting. There’s no need for me to sit around and wait for the cake to cool (that usually takes 1 to 2 hours). It saves me a ton of time! Be sure to check out the “Best Strawberry Cake Recipe Tips” section for more information on how to store the cake for frosting later!

small batch strawberry cake

Small Batch Strawberry Cake Ingredients and Substitutions

Now that I’ve convinced you to make this small batch strawberry cake recipe, here’s your shopping list for the recipe:

Small Batch Strawberry Cake Recipe Shopping List

  • whole milk
  • large eggs
  • pure vanilla extract
  • all-purpose flour
  • granulated sugar
  • baking powder
  • kosher salt
  • unsalted butter
  • confectioners’ sugar
  • fresh strawberries OR strawberry jam

And let’s talk about some of its key ingredients:

Milk

This small batch strawberry cake uses ⅓ cup whole milk.

Can I use skim, low-fat or non-fat milk instead of whole milk in this small batch strawberry cake recipe?

Yes, but with reservations. Skim, low-fat, and non-fat milks will lead to less flavorful baked goods.

Can I use non-dairy milk like almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or oat milk instead of whole milk in this small batch strawberry cake recipe?

Yes! You can use alternatives like almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, and/or oat milk in this recipe without altering the results. However, be mindful that using an alternative milk with “strong” flavors (like coconut or oat milk) will impart their flavors into the strawberry cake, too. Specifically, your cake and frosting might have a subtle coconut or oat milk flavor to them, too.

Egg White

This small batch strawberry cake uses 1 large egg white.

Can I use a whole egg in this strawberry cake recipe instead?

I’m sorry, I don’t 100% know, but I don’t recommend it. In theory, you can probably get away with using a whole egg yolk in this cake. However, you’ll likely need to add more minutes to the recipe’s Bake Time to compensate for the additional fat and moisture from the egg yolk. Your cake crumb will also come out more yellow as opposed to white.

That being said, it’s always risky to add more fat and moisture to a cake recipe, especially one that uses such small amounts of ingredients. Right now, this strawberry cake recipe uses just enough flour and baking powder to match the amount of butter in the recipe. Adding more fat by way of the egg yolk without upping other ingredients too might cause the cake to sink in the middle. Let’s avoid that, please!

Okay, but what do I do with the leftover egg yolk though?

Don’t throw it out! You can save the leftover egg yolk for up to three days in the fridge; simply put it in a small ramekin and cover it tightly with plastic wrap until ready to use. It might dry out a little, but it’s perfectly fine for use in other recipes. Both Epicurious and The Kitchn have great articles on what to do with leftover egg yolks. I personally have had my eye on this small batch, single egg yolk cookie recipe from Buttermilk By Sam.

I can’t/don’t eat egg. How can I make these egg-free? Can I use a 1-1 egg replacer or a common egg substitute like flax eggs or applesauce in this recipe?

I’m sorry, but I don’t know. I’m fortunate enough to not have any dietary restrictions and this type of special diets baking is not my specialty. Instead, please refer to my friends Ashlae at Oh Ladycakes (this cake recipe of hers looks particularly promising!) and Dana at Minimalist Baker if you’re looking for egg-free cake recipes. Both are mostly vegan and well-versed in baking without eggs and other dairy.

That being said, if I had to make an educated guess, I don’t think either applesauce or flax eggs work in this recipe. If they do, you’ll end up with a dramatically darker cake—it will no longer be a white cake! It might still be tasty though (though I suspect it will be denser and heavier than the original recipe).

And if you’ve had success with 1-1 egg replacers in other cake recipes, it might work in this recipe, too. I just can’t 100% guarantee it. I rarely bake with those types of egg replacers because they’re expensive and my household doesn’t have any egg restrictions.

Strawberries

This small batch strawberry cake uses 1 Tablespoon fresh strawberry puree or strawberry jam for the strawberry buttercream frosting.

What is strawberry puree?

In this recipe, I instruct you to make strawberry puree to flavor the buttercream frosting. Make strawberry puree by throwing a handful of strawberries (I used four) in a small blender or food processor. Blend/process until the strawberries are mashed. That’s it!

That being said, the taste of strawberry puree can be a little too subtle (especially if your strawberries aren’t at peak ripeness yet). If you want a strong strawberry flavor, you can cook down the strawberry puree, similar to how you would reduce a sauce. Transfer the strawberry puree to a small sauce pot. Add 1 Tablespoon of water and cook over medium heat until reduced to about half or a quarter of the original volume. I usually do this step when the cake is baking in the oven—it usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely before using in the buttercream frosting recipe. Although it’s more work, you end up with a stronger strawberry flavor.

If this sounds like too much work for you, no worries! Make life easy and take a shortcut. Use 1 Tablespoon of strawberry jam instead.

Can I use frozen strawberries instead of fresh strawberries in this strawberry cake recipe?

Yes! Follow the instructions above to make strawberry puree but with frozen strawberries instead. However, I recommend thawing the frozen strawberries and letting them come to room temperature before using it in this recipe. If you add the strawberries when they’re still cold to the frosting, it might curdle the buttercream. Why? The butter will get cold and refuse to blend in with the other ingredients.

Can I use other fruit instead of strawberries in this strawberry cake recipe?

Yes! This strawberry cake recipe also works with other fresh or frozen berries like blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Simply swap out the strawberries in the recipe for the berries of your choice!

small batch strawberry cake

How to Make Small Batch Strawberry Cake

Here are the basic steps to make this strawberry cake from scratch:

First, make the white cake:

  1. Prep your ingredients for the white cake. (Prep Time: 5 minutes)
    For this recipe, it’s especially important that certain ingredients like butter, milk, and egg whites are warmed to room temperature. This batter will curdle if some of the ingredients are colder than others. If you’re short on time, my cookbook Weeknight Baking has great tips on how to bring ingredients to room temperature quickly!

  2. Make the batter with the reverse cream method. (Work Time: 10 minutes)
    Typically, most cake recipes are made with the traditional creaming method. That is, the recipe instructs you to cream the butter and sugar first, then add other ingredients like eggs and the dry and wet ingredients later. This white cake recipe is made with the reverse creaming method. The recipe first instructs you to beat the butter with dry ingredients, then add the liquids in the recipe later.

    Why? Coating the butter in dry ingredients prevents the development of gluten, leading to a softer, more tender texture similar to the result you’d get if you used cake flour in the recipe. You can read more about the exact science in this Bon Appetit recipe and this Cooks Illustrated article.

  3. Bake the white cake. (Bake Time: 25 minutes)
    Because the strawberry sheet cake is so small, it only needs 25 minutes to bake in the oven! Pretty cool, right? As the cake is baking, you can prep the strawberry puree (see above) for the buttercream frosting.

Then, make the strawberry buttercream frosting:

  1. Prep your ingredients for the strawberry buttercream frosting. (Prep Time: 5 minutes)
    I mentioned above that I like to make the strawberry puree while the cake is baking in the oven. It’s also important to set out the butter for the frosting at this time.

  2. Make the strawberry buttercream frosting. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
    The strawberry buttercream frosting is a simple American buttercream frosting that comes together quickly. Simply beat the butter until creamy, then add the confectioners’ sugar, strawberry puree, and milk until light and fluffy!

  3. Frost and Assemble the Cake. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
    Sheet cakes are my favorite type of cake to make because they are so fast and easy to assemble! Simply scoop the frosting on top of the cooled cake and use an offset spatula to swoop and swirl it around on top of the cake. Don’t forget to garnish with fresh strawberries!
small batch strawberry cake

Small Batch Strawberry Cake Recipe Troubleshooting and FAQ

FAQ: Tools to Make A Small Batch Strawberry Cake

Can I bake this small batch strawberry cake recipe in an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan instead of a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan?

Yes! The only difference is that your strawberry sheet cake will likely be a little bit taller than mine. You may also need to add a few minutes to Bake Time.

I don’t have a loaf pan. Can I bake this small batch strawberry cake recipe in another type of cake pan?

I’m sorry, but I don’t know. Whether it works depends on the kind of pan you use. And note that because this recipe is small batch, you’d likely need to double the recipe to fill big pans like a bundt pan, a 9 x 13-inch cake pan, and so on. If you’re interested in making other types of strawberry cakes (like layer cakes, sheet cakes, and more) I’ve included links to other strawberry recipes on my blog below.

If I had to make an educated guess, I’d say that this recipe probably best translates to either a single 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pan, or two small 6-inch cake pans. But note that you’ll end up with very thin cakes—especially if you go the 9-inch cake pan or two 6-inch cake pan routes.

Can I double the white cake recipe to make the cake in an 8 x 8-inch cake pan instead?

Yes, in theory, you can double the recipe quantities and make the cake in a larger 8 x 8-inch cake pan. However, you’d also need to increase Bake Time. I would start checking for doneness after 30 to 35 minutes of Bake Time. Don’t forget to double the strawberry buttercream frosting, too! You’ll need more frosting to cover the larger cake.

FAQ: Small Batch Strawberry Cake Recipe Results

I want to make a regular sized batch of this small batch strawberry cake. What should I do?

Buy my cookbook! The regular sized version of the recipe is available there, lol. But if you’re looking for a (free!) white cake recipe, I suggest checking out this recipe for this white chocolate and raspberry sheet cake and this homemade carrara marble wedding cake. Both recipes use a white cake base that is easily adaptable with other frostings and flavors.

Help! My white cake batter curdled. What did I do wrong?

Uh-oh! For this recipe, it’s especially important that your butter, milk, and egg white is warmed to room temperature. The batter has a tendency to curdle if some of the ingredients are colder than others.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to fix cake batter when it’s curdled. This article from The Kitchn has some instructions on how to do so. Some of the solutions involve adding more flour or more liquid into the batter. However, if it were me, I’d honestly just start from scratch. Adding more flour or liquid is always tricky—you may end up with a heavier, denser cake that sinks in the middle!

Help! My strawberry buttercream frosting curdled. What did I do wrong?

First: Make sure your strawberry puree (see above) or strawberry jam is at room temperature. Ditto with the milk. Adding cold strawberry and/or milk to the butter base could potentially cause the butter to solidify, causing a curdled, mottled buttercream frosting.

Second: follow the instructions to add the milk in slowly. If you pour all of the milk in at once, the frosting has a tendency to curdle. You want to add the milk 1 teaspoon at a time, just until the frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. It’s likely that you won’t need to use all 1 Tablespoon of the milk. If your strawberries are especially liquidy, you may not even need it at all!

Similar to fixing curdled cake batter, you can add more confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the frosting becomes smooth once more. Fixing curdled buttercream is far easier than fixing curdled cake batter—there’s no need to worry about the cake collapsing in the center!

FAQ: Small Batch Strawberry Cake Storage

Can I make the strawberry cake batter and save it for baking later?

Yes, but I don’t recommend it. Instead of pouring the batter into the cake pan, simply cover the top of the mixer bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 36 hours. When ready to bake, pour into the prepared loaf pan. There’s no need to wait for the batter to come to room temperature. However, you may need to increase Bake Time slightly to compensate for the chilled batter.

Why don’t I recommend it? One of the best things about the reverse creaming method for making cakes (see the section above for more info) is that it results in a flat, level cake. However, the longer the batter sits, the more the flour will absorb liquid and hydrate—you can read more about the food science in my post for small batch blueberry muffins. The resulting cake will likely have a domed top. While this is ideal for muffins, it’s not so great for sheet cakes. The ideal sheet cake has a flat, level surface that’s easy to frost!

Can you freeze strawberry cake?

Yes! You can freeze strawberry cake after it’s been baked both unfrosted AND frosted.

To freeze unfrosted strawberry cake, simply turn out the cake into a sheet of plastic wrap big enough to wrap the entire cake in. Tightly wrap the cake and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, unwrap and discard the plastic wrap, and cover the top of the cake with buttercream frosting. Let thaw at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then garnish with fresh strawberries and serve.

To freeze frosted strawberry cake, follow the instructions for assembling and decorating the cake with buttercream frosting. Place the frosted cake in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours, just enough for the frosting to stiffen. Once the frosting is stiff, carefully wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, let thaw overnight in the refrigerator overnight.

How to store small batch strawberry cake

Place any leftover slices in a single layer in an airtight container. The cake can be stored at room temperature for 1 day. After that, transfer the container to the refrigerator and refrigerate for up to 2 more days.

Best Small Batch Strawberry Cake Recipe Tips

Time Saving Tip

  • Real talk: it’s rare that I make a cake and frost it all on the same day. Why? Cakes need to be cooled completely before being frosted (otherwise the frosting melts!). That can take a few hours, and I don’t want to sit around waiting all day to make a cake!

    So, as a result, I usually split the work up over 2 days. On the first day, I make the cake. Once it’s cooled, I then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and leave it on the counter overnight. The next day, I make the frosting!

    This method allows me to fit cake making into my schedule and gain back control of my time. If you like this technique, check out my cookbook—many complicated, time-consuming recipes are broken up in this way.

Ingredient Tips

  • Most white cake recipes are made with clear, artificial vanilla. That’s because artificial vanilla is colorless—using it in this recipe will result in a snow white crumb. If you have a bottle at home, I suggest you use it instead! In a pinch, pure vanilla extract works just fine. The cake, however, will be slightly yellower.

  • To make strawberry puree, blend or process four strawberries in a blender/food processor until mashed. Alternatively, you can use strawberry jam. Check out the ingredients section above to learn more!

Cake Making Tip

  • Don’t panic if the top of your cake comes out pretty yellow looking! That’s normal. When sliced, the crumb will still be pretty white!

Video Tutorial for Small Batch Strawberry Cake Recipe

Use the video player below to watch my Instagram Story tutorial on how to make this small batch strawberry cake recipe! The arrows to the left and right of the frame allow you to skip through the different recipe steps. You can also hit the “pause” or “enlarge” buttons on the upper right hand side of the frame to pause or enlarge the frames accordingly.


Alternatively, head to my Instagram profile to watch these Stories on mobile! The circles underneath my bio indicate saved Instagram Story highlights depicting various recipes. Clicking on one of the circles will play the videos you see above. You may need to scroll right to find this small batch strawberry cake recipe.

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Get the Recipe: Small Batch Strawberry Cake Recipe

This small batch strawberry cake is baked in a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan to make a very small sheet cake! The cake is made with a fluffy, white cake base that is then topped off with a fresh strawberry buttercream frosting.
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Ingredients

For the Very Small White Cake

  • cup (2.65 ounces or 75 grams) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • cup (3 ounces or 85 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (3.5 ounces or 99 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 Tablespoons (2 ounces or 57 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the Strawberry Frosting

  • 4 Tablespoons (2 ounces or 57 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh strawberry puree or strawberry jam (see baker's notes)
  • 1 Tablespoon whole milk
  • fresh strawberries, for garnish

Instructions
 

For the Small Batch Strawberry Cake

  • First, make the sheet cake. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the pan's two long sides. Spray the parchment, too.
  • Pour the milk into a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Scoop out 1 tablespoon into another small bowl. Add the egg white and vanilla to the bowl with the small amount of milk and whisk to combine.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat on low until just combined, about 15 seconds. Add the butter all at once and beat on low until the mixture has the texture of coarse meal, with pea-sized pieces of butter throughout, about 3 minutes. Add the first bowl of plain milk all at once and increase the mixer to medium. Beat until the batter is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the mixer to low and add the milk and egg white mixture in two or three additions, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition, then beat until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to smooth its top.
  • Bake the cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top of the cake bounces back when gently pressed. A skewer inserted into the cake should come out with a few crumbs attached. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before frosting.
  • Once the cake is cool, make the strawberry buttercream frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-low until soft and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer on low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar and beat until combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low, add the strawberry puree, beating just to incorporate the liquid—if it still seems dry, add the milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until creamy. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl once more, then beat on medium-high until the frosting is creamy and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Assemble the cake. Use an offset spatula to cover the top of the cake with the frosting completely. Garnish with fresh strawberries.
  • Serve and store. Serve immediately. The cake will keep in an airtight container for 1 day. After that, transfer to the refrigerator and refrigerate for up to 2 more days.
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!

This post was last updated on 9/4/2020.

Michelle holding Weeknight Baking cookbook covering her face.

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Weeknight Baking:
Recipes to Fit your Schedule

Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.