Old-Fashioned Fresh Strawberry Sheet Cake & Stove-Top Strawberry Buttercream
This cake is a twist on one of my all-time favorite cakes EVER — the White Texas Sheet Cake. We recently celebrated dad’s birthday, and I got the pleasure of making him his birthday cake. Before the party, I was talking with dad and he said “Mom told me you were making the cake” and then he unconsciously smirked and shook his head no and said “and, she told me what kind you are making!”
I laughed so hard and said “No she didn’t! AND your head is telling me that you aren’t telling the truth!” He tried to get the secret birthday cake info out of me – but I am all too familiar with his tricks. No cake intel for you dad!
One of dad’s favorite flavors is strawberry, so I took the White Texas Sheet Cake recipe and made a few minor adjustments, taking it from a sweet almond cake ((my mouth just watered)) and turning it into a fresh country-style strawberry cake.
Here is how I made the switch:
I cleaned and de-stemmed one 16 oz. carton of fresh strawberries & added them to a medium-sized pot.
I went on to make a simple strawberry syrup by adding ½ cup of granulated sugar & 1 cup of water to the strawberries, over a medium to medium-high flame.
As the strawberries started to release their juices, I mashed the “fire” out of them, just to give them a little nudge in the “juice releasing” department.
At this point, you can either strain the berries and set the syrup aside to cool, or you can strain the berries and allow the syrup to thicken by boiling for 5 more minutes. I am not sure one is better than the other, but I just wanted you to know, you have options. I like options, by the way.
I strained the syrup and set it aside to cool and then proceeded with the cake-making. Oh, I should mention ((while I am giving you options)) you CAN save the “berry mush” and add it back to the cake and/or the frosting, if you like the sight and texture of real bits of berry in your cake and frosting ((I like the bits, so I saved them)).
I reserved ¼ cup of berry syrup for the frosting and then added the remaining syrup back to the pot & combined it with water to total 3 cups of liquid, per the original recipe. Once the liquid is boiling, add the THREE sticks of butter, stirring until they melt.
The remaining steps follow all of the original cake recipe instructions: alternate adding eggs & the flour blend until both are incorporated ((stirring rapidly)) into the hot liquid. Finish the cake batter off by adding sour cream and flavoring ((I chose vanilla this time)).
But, I have to tell you one little thing about this process, or rather show & tell you (get it? show & tell?):
I was reminded of the good old lab days at the moment I added the flour blend (which includes salt and baking soda) to the hot melted butter/strawberry syrup mixture. It has to do with adding a base (baking soda) to an acid (strawberry syrup, which contains citric acid) in the presence of a catalyst (heat).
First, let me tell you, everything will be okay. Second, go slowly (don’t add all of the flour blend at once, if you like a clean kitchen) and keep stirring. Last, let me tell you that one of the byproducts of this chemical reaction is [latexpage]$CO_2$ – yes, the strawberry cake batter will erupt.
This reaction happens in a flash, then the batter “simmers down” and you can go on about your business. Take this moment as a fun opportunity to talk to your kiddos about science. It is called dessert and a show, my friends.
Add the sour cream, vanilla & strawberry mash,
and pour it in a parchment-lined & prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes-ish ((until a toothpick comes out clean)).
While the cake is baking, it is time to make the stove-top strawberry buttercream!
As with the cake, I followed the White Texas Sheet Cake buttercream recipe with just one minor adjustment in order to “strawberry-ify” it.
Instead of using the ¼c + 2T of milk originally called for, I used ¼c strawberry syrup + 2T of milk for the buttercream. This modification, in addition to a few tablespoons of the strawberry “mush”, gave this buttercream just the right amount of fresh strawberry flavor.
I finished the buttercream off by adding powdered sugar and vanilla.
Pour the buttercream over the slightly cooled cake, but take care not to spread and smooth too much. The more you mess with this stove-top version of buttercream, the more crystalized it will become. I prefer the glossy finish. So, pour it out evenly over the cake, quickly spread and then leave it alone.
Now, before I move on to the recipe card, let me pause and mention, I usually always have ½ to 1 cup of extra buttercream, you probably will too. So, with this information, I will caution you not to pour the entire pot of warm buttercream over the cake at once. Just proceed with caution.
PS: I love extra buttercream, and so do the kids! I usually send them to school with some vanilla wafers or graham crackers and a few tablespoons of buttercream. If that doesn’t make a school lunch yummy, I don’t know what will!
This cake is just the right amount of strawberry, with no artificial colors and flavors. Dad clicked his heels ((meaning he LOVED it)).
- 1 - 16 oz carton of fresh strawberries, cleaned and de-stemmed
- 1 c water
- 1/2 c sugar
- 1 c strawberry syrup
- 1/2 c water
- 1 1/2 c butter ((3 sticks))
- 2 1/2 c sugar
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 3/4 c sour cream
- 3 t vanilla
- 3 c flour
- 1 1/2 t kosher salt
- 1 1/2 t baking soda
- 3/4 c butter
- 1/4 c strawberry syrup
- 2 T milk
- 6 c confectioners sugar
- 2 t vanilla
- 1/4 t kosher salt
- For the syrup, place "syrup" ingredients into a medium saucepan over medium flame. Bring to boil and mash the strawberries to release all of the natural juices. Once the syrup has thickened slightly, remove from flame and strain. (Set the strawberry "mash" that was strained from the syrup aside to add to the cake batter and buttercream. if desired.) Allow the syrup to cool.
- Preheat oven to 375°. In a large saucepan, bring butter and strawberry syrup/water (reserve at least 1/4 c of strawberry syrup for the buttercream) to a boil. Combine flour, salt & baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Remove the butter & water from the heat, add sugar, stirring to dissolve. Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture, stir. Add a beaten egg, stir (quickly so the egg doesn't scramble) & and repeat this process until the flour and egg have been incorporated in the warm liquid and the batter is smooth. Add sour cream, vanilla & all but 3 T of the mashed strawberries* stirring to combine.
- Pour batter into a greased 17"x11"x1" jelly roll pan (I also lined it with parchment paper). Place in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and the toothpick tests clean.
- Meanwhile, combine butter, remaining 1/4 c strawberry syrup & milk in a medium saucepan & bring to a boil. Remove from heat & stir in confectioners sugar, vanilla, remaining mashed berries* & kosher salt. Continue to stir until smooth. Pour over cake** that has cooled for about 5 minutes but is still pretty warm.
- Yields 20 servings.
- *Adding the mashed strawberries is optional - but I think it helps boost the strawberry flavor and is pretty too!
- **Be sure not to over spread the icing because it will crystalize and lose that gorgeous glossy finish. Just pour, quickly spread and then leave it alone until ready to serve.