Strawberry Poke Cake – A two-layer beauty with the most amazing fresh sweet whipped cream. A perfect summer celebration cake!
This past weekend marked the last of our family birthdays until the fall, which means I had my last birthday dessert request for awhile. My mother-in-law’s birthday was this past Saturday, and when I asked what she would like for dessert, she requested a white or yellow cake with some type of fruit. I thought of doing something plain Jane, but then remembered that I had been wanting to make an old-school poke cake for-ev-er. Can you believe this was my first one?!
Most poke cakes are made rather simply in a 9×13-inch pan, and while I love cakes like that for easy get togethers, I wanted something that looked a little more special for a birthday cake. SO, I turned it into a layer cake!
I made a very simple white vanilla layer cake, poked holes all over it, doused it in a fresh strawberry-infused gelatin syrup and let them sit overnight so the syrup could sink in and set. When I assembled the cake, I used my all-time favorite whipped cream frosting from my tres leches cake to fill and frost it.
The only thing you’ll see pictured that I do not recommend and didn’t include in the recipe below is that I used the discarded strawberry solids to mash up into a jam-like mixture, and added that to the filling along with the whipped cream. It was just too soft and when I cut the cake it sort of squirted out of the sides and made a bit of a mess. If you want more fruit flavor in the center, I would recommend just some finely chopped fresh strawberries – a much neater option! :)
This cake got ooh’s and aah’s and rave reviews from everyone who ate it. My mother-in-law loved her birthday cake, and I’m thrilled to finally be able to cross poke cake off my baking bucket list.
Now that I’ve done it, I can’t wait to try a million other variations! What’s your favorite?
Bake the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease parchment, and flour pans.
Whisk together the milk, egg whites, and vanilla in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Using an electric mixer, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only pea-size pieces remain, about 1 minute.
Add half of the milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds (batter may look slightly curdled). Using a rubber spatula, give the batter a final stir by hand.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth tops with rubber spatula. Bake until tops are light golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Place the pans on a wire rack and cool completely, about 2 hours.
Make the Strawberry Syrup: Cook the strawberries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, covered, until strawberries are softened, about 8 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl; discard solids. Whisk the strawberry-flavored gelatin into the juices and cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
Using a skewer, poke 25 holes in top of each cake, twisting gently to form slightly larger holes. Pour half of the cooled strawberry syrup over 1 cake layer. Repeat with the remaining syrup and second layer cake. Cover the cakes with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 1 day.
Make the Whipped Cream: Using an electric mixer, whisk together the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla on low speed until stiff peaks form. Increase to medium speed and whip until thick.
Assemble the Cake: Run a thin knife along the interior of pans. Invert one layer onto wire rack, then flip cake right side up onto serving platter. Spread 1 cup whipped cream over top. Invert second layer and place, right side up, on whipped cream. Spread remaining whipped cream over top and sides of cake. Garnish with additional strawberries, as desired. Leftover cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.