This bright and summery Strawberry Lemonade Cake gets its pretty pink color and strawberry flavor from strawberry-flavored gelatin and lemon zest. It’s topped with a fluffy strawberry buttercream frosting and layered with tart lemon curd. Perfect for a summertime celebration!
❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe: This cake screams summer, with the nostalgic flavors of strawberry lemonade. It’s a total show-stopper for any occasion.
This Strawberry Lemonade Cake recipe is from a beautiful new cookbook, Cake By Courtney, by Courtney Rich. Courtney is a talented baker and her cookbook is filled with fun, fabulous cake recipes, as well as all of her tips and tricks for baking the best tasting and great looking cakes from scratch.
In the Cake Class chapter, she’s included instructions and step-by-step picture tutorials to help you feel she’s right there in the kitchen with you.
How to Make Strawberry Lemonade Cake
Before you start making the cake, let all of your ingredients come to room temperature. This is for easy blending, a uniform consistency, and taller, fluffier layers.
These cakes are baked at 325º F to keep the centers from rising into a hump. These cake layers will bake almost flat for easy assembly and frosting.
Make sure the cake cools fully before you add any frosting.
Courtney recommends scheduling your baking over a two to three day period if you’ve got the time. It’s less stressful and gives the lemon curd time lots of time to firm up.
So on day one make the lemon curd, on day two make the cake layers, and on day three decorate and serve the cake.
The strawberry flavor in the cake comes from Jello. Jello makes two box sizes. You’ll need the smaller box for this recipe, which is 3 ounces.
The strawberry flavor of the buttercream comes from a strawberry emulsion. Strawberry emulsion is a mixture that includes a rich red coloring and strawberry flavoring. You can find it at cake supply stores, online, and at some larger grocery stores if they have a cake decorating aisle.
Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
Make sure that your butter and cream cheese are room temperature before you start making the frosting. If your cream cheese or butter are cold they will not blend together.
If not using your buttercream right away, cover it with a damp paper towel and then a layer of plastic wrap to keep the paper towel damp. This will stop the buttercream from crusting over.
Lemon Curd Filling
The lemony part of this strawberry lemonade cake comes from homemade lemon curd. I’ve subbed my favorite lemon curd recipe in the recipe below.
You will start the lemon curd in the bowl of a mixer. Simply combine all of the ingredients except the lemon zest. Zest will not be mixed in until the very end.
Once you move the mixture to a saucepan, be sure to whisk continually so the mixture does not burn on the bottom of the pan.
The lemon curd mixture is done when it coats the back of a spoon with no dripping. When you run your finger through it, a streak will be left behind.
When transferring your lemon curd to a bowl, don’t scrap off any of the curd that may be sticking to the bottom of the pan if the curd started to burn.
Once transferred to a bowl the zest will be folded in and then the mixture will be chilled completely before using.
You will have leftover lemon curd which can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. (It’s great spread on toast.)
Assembling a Strawberry Lemonade Cake
When piping or spreading the buttercream on each cake layer, make sure the outer edge is slightly thicker. This will work as a dam for the lemon curd and will stop it from oozing out the sides of your cake.
Note that this buttercream is on the softer side. But if it’s too soft, you can chill it for 10 minutes in the fridge to stiffen it up slightly.
Sometimes when making a layer cake, the filling, in this case the lemon curd, can cause the cake layers to slide left or right as you are frosting the cake. If this happens, reposition the cake layers so that they are straight again.
Then insert a dowel (such as a wooden skewer) down into the center of the cake. This will stop the layers from shifting. Refrigerate the cake and remove the dowel once the cake is chilled thoroughly.
My version is decorated simply. You just smooth out the buttercream on the sides of the cake using an offset spatula.
Finish off the top with additional lemon curd and fresh sliced strawberries. (In the cookbook, Courtney piped pretty pink swirls all around the cake.)
The cake should be fully chilled to make sure all the layers are set before serving. However, the cake and buttercream are best eaten at room temperature. So take the cake out of the refrigerator 1 hour before serving.
This is a fun triple layer strawberry lemonade cake that’ sure to be a hit at your next get togther.
More Pretty Cake Recipes for Summer
Try these other beautiful cakes this season:
- Strawberry Angel Food Cake is an easy and classic summertime treat that’s light, airy, and perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up.
- Triple Berry Choux Cake has four layers of crisp choux pastry with creamy triple-berry cream.
- Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake Recipe is chock-full of juicy blueberries and delicious for breakfast.
Strawberry Lemonade Cake
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- ⅔ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 3 cups 345 g cake flour
- 1 tablespoon 12 g baking powder
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon 3 g salt
- 1 cup 226 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ⅓ cups 266 g granulated sugar
- 1 3 oz. package of strawberry flavored Jell-O
- 5 large egg whites room temperature
- 1 tablespoon 13 g pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup 240 g buttermilk, room temperature
Strawberry Cream Cheese Buttercream
- 2 cups 452g unsalted butter, slightly cold
- 6 oz. 170 g cream cheese, slightly cold
- 6 cups 750 g powdered sugar, measured then sifted
- 1 teaspoon strawberry emulsion
- 3 tablespoons 42g heavy whipping cream
- Pinch of salt
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, until well combined. Add the eggs and yolks and beat for 1 min. Add the lemon juice and mix until blended – the mixture will look lumpy.
- In a medium, heavy-based saucepan, cook the mixture over low heat until it melts. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. It should leave a path on the back of a spoon and will read 170°F on a thermometer. Don't let the mixture boil. (Once it was completely melted, mine thickened and reached 170º in just a few minutes, so watch it closely.)
- Remove the curd from the heat; stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming and chill the curd in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.
- Preheat your oven to 325 F. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray, line the bottom with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the cake flour, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. Sete aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and Jell-O. Beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes until light in color and fluffy.
- With the mixer on medium speed, add the egg whites, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Continue to beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes until smooth. Add the vanilla and stir to combine.
- With the mixer on low speed, add in intervals, blending after each addition, ⅓ dry ingredients, ½ buttermilk, ⅓ dry ingredients, ½ buttermilk, ⅓ dry ingredients
- Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 to 30 seconds.
- Divide the batter evenly between the pans (16 ounces in each). Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it.
- Remove the cake pans from the oven and let the layers cool in pans for about 15 minutes before inverting onto cooling rack to cool completely.*
Strawberry Cream Cheese Buttercream
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese for 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
- With the mixer on low speed, gradually add powdered sugar, mixing to combine after
each addition. Add cream, strawberry emulsion, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl at least twice during the process. The buttercream should be lighter in color and fluffy in texture.
- Start by playing one layer of cake on your serving platters.
- Add a thin layer of butter cream to the top and then add a "dam" around the outside edge of the layer with additional buttercream (see photos for more details). Fill dam with ¼ of the lemon curd mixture.
- Repeat with remaining layers.
- Frost the full cake with the rest of the buttercream, top with remaining curd.