Summer Solstice Strawberry Crunch Cake

Strawberries. Sweet, luscious, red through and through strawberries. They herald the summer season of fruits, and do so delightfully as we move to the longest day of the year.

Happy Summer Solstice! Here we are at the longest daylight of the year, which means twilight here until nearly 9:30 p.m., tons of fireflies, and I’m loving it. My granddaughter caught one on her first try a couple of nights ago, and I remembered catching them and putting them in a canning jar when I was a kid. Of course, on the longest day, that means chattering of the birds really early as well, but their music is indeed welcome after a long winter. And to my friends in the southern areas of the globe, Happy Winter Solstice, and the celebration of the wonderful return of the light!

Celebrate the season with strawberries

My grandson requested a strawberry cake, not just any strawberry cake but one that would remind him of those summery ice-cream creations with the strawberry and crunchy cake-like coating. It was a tall order, but I came up with a lovely dessert that pleased everyone.

Always something special on Sunday

      My mom loved making cakes. She worked hard all week, and on the weekends would fuss with at least one lovely dessert for Sunday dinner. Often cream puffs, or a pie, but she loved most making beautiful frosted layer cakes, topped with mounds of buttercream or her favorite seven-minute frosting, They were always lovely to look at, and a flavorful treat.

Childhood memories

      During strawberry season, she would make a wonderful cake using the wild strawberries that grew by our home. They were tiny little gems, the size of your pinkie nail, and picking them was quite tedious! But their flavor was beyond anything the commercial growers could produce. Precious as they were, I think my mom thought tossing them in a cake would be the best way to extend the harvest to all seven of us!

The elusive recipe

      I could not find her recipe for this cake in her box, so I set about experimenting. While there are a few wild strawberries around here, not nearly enough to consider using in a cake, so the farmers market would have to do. This year, the strawberries are the best I’ve tasted in years, so I was hopeful. 

A slow start

      My first attempt was a failure. I just used my mom’s yellow cake recipe and tossed in chopped strawberries. The cakes fell in the middle, drastically, I’m assuming because the strawberries released too much liquid. I cried, but just for a few moments. Now, this became a challenge.

So, now what do I do?

      I looked in a few cookbooks, not much there, and then on-line, and the recipes were all over the place. Many used strawberry Jell-O, which I immediately rejected for its artificial flavors. A lot of them started with a cake mix, and for the same reason I passed them by as well. I noticed some of the scratch cakes called for making a strawberry puree and reducing it to concentrate the strawberry flavor. This sounded reasonable to me, since this would reduce the amount of liquid the strawberries exuded. Maybe my cake wouldn’t fall.

Daughter, the baker, to the rescue

      Then I called my daughter, who loves to bake as much as her grandmother did, and she told me that if I wanted to ramp up the flavor, I needed to add some freeze-dried strawberries (not dehydrated), which are sometimes hard to find, but she told me where to look. She said to add twice as much as I thought I should. As for making it taste like those ice-cream treats, she said to pick up some of those strawberry flavored wafer cookies, and they would be great sprinkled on top or in the filling. I actually found some made with real strawberries! Cream cheese frosting seemed to be the way to go, so I decided to use my white chocolate cream cheese frosting and add some more of the freeze-dried strawberries. OK, I had a plan.

A few changes, here and there

      I adapted a recipe I found from Life, Love, and Sugar baking site for the cake. This called for making the puree, but I change a few things. I used a non-fat yoghurt rather than the sour cream because that is what I had on hand. I also used oat milk rather than dairy, and cake flour rather than all-purpose. To enhance the strawberry flavor more, I added a cup of pulverized freeze-dried strawberries to the batter as well as to the frosting. I used the food processor to grind them to where I wanted, not a powder, but with some texture left. Some of her reviews said the cake was quite dense. To further lighten, I separated the eggs and whipped the whites to fold in at the end. 

Did it taste like my mother’s cake? Nope, but it was bursting with strawberry flavor and delicious, and maybe my memory is a bit off after all this time. Did it taste like a strawberry ice-cream bar? You bet it did, and everyone was delighted with the flavor and texture. I will definitely make this cake again, but only when the strawberries are in season.

Great minds and all that!

      A final, humorous note: This morning, as I was finishing this post, I spotted a very similar cake on my friend Terrie’s wonderful site Comfort du Jour! The cakes could have been twins to look at, but vastly different in flavor! Great minds and all that! Her twist, and of course there is always one, was to create a Strawberry Daiquiri Cake, and by the looks of it, and some trial and error, she definitely succeeded in creating the flavors she wanted with rum and boozy strawberry daiquiri syrup to soak the bake layers. Take a cruise over to see her luscious cake, with much more detailed instructions than mine! I even forgot to take a photo once we cut the cake!

Summer Solstice Strawberry Crunch Cake

  • 3 cups of chopped strawberries
  • ¾ cup sour cream or yoghurt, or plant yoghurt
  • ¼ cup milk, or plant milk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cups unsalted butter or vegan butter
  • 1 cup pulverized freeze-dried strawberries
  • Pink or red food coloring, optional
  • 1 ½ recipe white chocolate cream cheese frosting, below
  • About 8 oz. strawberry wafer cookies, more or less
  • 1 cup more chopped fresh strawberries, and a few to garnish

      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three 8” cake pans by buttering, flouring, lining with parchment, and buttering and flouring that as well. Set aside.

      First, make the strawberry reduction. In a food processor, purée the berries until they are smooth, about 1 ½ cups. Slow boil over medium heat until thick and reduced by half. Let this cool.

      Combine the strawberry reduction, yoghurt, milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in a large bowl.

      In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl if beating with a hand mixer) combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. On the lowest speed, add the butter a tablespoon at a time, making sure it is incorporated before adding the next piece. The mixture will start clumping together like beach sand. Add the freeze-dried strawberries. This is going to start smelling really good just about now.

      Slowly add the strawberry mixture, a little at a time, also on low speed, and scraping down the bowl. You can add food coloring here if you want a deeper color. I didn’t bother because I was looking for flavor not color, but it is your cake!

      Beat the egg whites to very soft peaks, then gently fold into the batter.

      Divide among the prepared cake pans and pop in the oven, setting the timer for 25 minutes for the first check. Bake until that ever-present toothpick comes out clean.

      Let cool completely. In the meantime, crush up the wafer cookies.

      Make the frosting, below. To assemble the cake, place on cake plate and add some of the cream cheese frosting to the top of that layer, along with a half cup of the fresh chopped strawberries. Add a nice layer of the cookie crumbs on top, them repeat with the second layer, place the last layer on, and frost the entire outside of the cake. Get as fancy as you like, and garnish with a few more pretty strawberries.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

      This is 1 ½ recipe of my usual frosting, with freeze-dried strawberries added. Make sure all ingredients are soft and at room temperature.

  • 2 1/2 8 oz. (226 g.) bricks cream cheese, room temperature (total 20 oz. or 565 g.)
  • 12 oz. white chocolate
  • 1 ½ sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups 10X confectioners sugar
  • 2 cups freeze-dried strawberries, pulverized

      In a double boiler, melt white chocolate. Set aside to cool slightly. 

      In the stand of an electric mixer (or use a hand mixer) beat together cream cheese and butter, both softened at room temperature. 

      Once nice and fluffy, add the chocolate and vanilla extract. Sprinkle in confectioners’ sugar and the strawberries.

Local strawberries, sweet and juicy, and red all the way through. Ah, the season is just too short!

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71 Comments Add yours

  1. lisinmayenne says:

    Wow, that is stunning! 😊Happy solstice, Dorothy! 🌞🍓

    1. Happy Solstice to you too Lis!

  2. Yummy! That looks and sounds wonderful. Happy Solstice!

    1. Thank you! And Happy Solstice to you too!

  3. gabychops says:

    Thank you, Dorothy, the cake looks wonderful!


    1. I appreciate that Joanna! This one really is about the pretty first! Then the flavor follows through.

  4. Mary says:

    Your cake looks scrumptious!!
    I have questions – What is the weight of a Cream cheese ‘brick’.
    What is 10X? Is it Confectioners Sugar?
    These queries are probably not mightily important as I would just use my own recipe but there is somebody out there that may not know. :)) Thanks!
    We have just had our Shortest Day at the other end of the world. :))

    1. Suzassippi says:

      Thank you for asking this, Mary. All I could think of was 10 “times” but that did not make sense!

      1. 8 oz. is a package, or 226 grams.

    2. Thanks Mary, I’ll adjust. The brick is 8 ounces, and 10X is indeed confectioners sugar.
      Now, my friend, your days will start getting longer, and in no time you will feel the light really return!

  5. Looks delicious and the freeze dried strawberries sound a great idea 🙂

    1. It’s amazing how much flavor is in the freeze-dried fruits. I particularly love the raspberries, and use them to coat my chocolate truffles. So much flavor packed into these little bits!

  6. Ronit Penso says:

    This beautiful cake is a true celebration of strawberries! As for the frosting, I think half of it would be gone by the time I’d frost the cake… 🙂

    1. What I love about the frosting, and I know you will appreciate too, is that it is not overly sweet. With the strawberries, it’s pretty amazing!

      1. Ronit Penso says:

        Definitely my kind of frosting! 🙂

  7. Suzassippi says:

    This is really a beautiful work of art, and I would truly love to have a slice! I think I still have my grandmothers strawberry cake recipe, but not positive. I used to make it on occasion and we liked it, but it did not look anything like this bakery window pretty design!

    1. Oh thanks Suz! The cream cheese frosting is so easy to work with, and I love fussing with a piping bag to make the pretty! I’d love to see your grandmother’s recipe if you ever locate it!

  8. Now, you’re talking my language – cake, strawberries, and frosting. Yum. It’s kind of funny too that I was pulling up a ‘lot’ of wild strawberries today, but I made sure to eat the ripe berries before I pitched them. We have some areas covered in wild strawberries which is some spots is too much of a good thing. 🙂

    1. Wild strawberries. Love them! I had some in my backyard, but the birds got to them first. Early birds!

  9. My oh my, that cake looks utterly delicious! And the boozy variety would certainly be gilding the lily. I appreciated how you chronicled your failure as well as your success. A very happy solstice to you on this sweetest day of the year. A beautiful day in Maine as I’m sure it was in your area.

    1. Thank you Laurie! We had a stunning day! Sunshine, it hit 80, but no humidity, and beautiful blue skies. A perfect way to celebrate summer.

  10. I’m going out on a limb and confessing that I would make a bowl of frosting just to use on my toast in the morning. This looks divine! Thanks for sharing such joy. Hugs, C

    1. You just toast that bread up Cheryl and slather the frosting on your toast. As long as you add a couple of fresh strawberries, its all good!

  11. TaMara says:


  12. Nancy says:

    Wow… this looks fantastic! I bet it is bursting with sweet strawberry flavor.
    Your story today reminds me of what I have been doing the last few weeks. I am looking for my Mom’s special Pineapple Cake. I went through her cook books and I think I found it. Wish me luck!

    1. My fingers are crossed Nancy!
      My brain is now working. I bet my mom’s strawberry cake recipe was in her old cookbook, the one that no longer had a cover and was her mothers. I don’t know what happened to that book, but it is funny because I don’t know the name of it, I think it was from the 40s based on the was it was laid out, and several photographs remain in my memory. One was the pineapple upside down cake!

      1. Nancy says:

        The filling to the pineapple cake is in my Mom’s cook book without a cover! The actual cake is in another, and the frosting is in another. It’s why I had to do some detective work!
        These old memories get us going, don’t they?

      2. That’s so funny Nancy! Eventually, we’ll likely get all the pieces of the puzzle to fit!

  13. Gail says:

    Freeze dried strawberries and strawberry wafer cookies. Pure genius. I’m dying to take a bite out of the crunchy cake. 🍃🍓🍰

    1. It really did remind everyone of those strawberry ice cream treats from childhood!

  14. brwbmm says:

    What a gloriously extravagant cake! Do you have a photo of the interior (if there’s any cake left by now)?

    1. Sadly, Marjorie, I forgot to shoot the inside or slice of the cake. When I brought it out, the masses arrived and grabbed their pieces and by the time I thought about it, there were only crumbs remaining!

  15. Jenna says:

    This sounds amazing Dorothy! A WOW dessert for sure!

    1. It really was stunning to look at. Everyone was so excited to dive in, I forgot to take a picture of it sliced!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Truly enjoyed this chronicle of recipe development. Trial and error leads to success and it looks delicious!

    1. The result was really scrumptious, and quite frankly if my grandson had not asked for it, I probably wouldn’t be making a strawberry cake!

  17. terrie gura says:

    I’m still chuckling about our timing, Dorothy! Your cake looks gorgeous, especially with the fresh berries on top. White chocolate in the frosting sounds amazing! Do you mind sharing what you used to pulverize the strawberries into powder? I ended up with lots of bits in the mix and bright red powder all over everything.

    One more crazy coincidence, I almost used the same recipe from Life, Love and Sugar!!! The reverse creaming method was a bit more than I dared to risk. Perhaps another day! 😄

    1. So funny! I’d never tried the reverse creaming method before, so I figured it was worth a try. The cake was nice and tender, and had a lovely crumb.
      I just pulverized my freeze-dried strawberries in the food processor. A few wisps of strawberry powder seeped out but not much, and I stopped when it got to the place I wanted it. When I make my truffles, I grind it really fine, to a powder.

  18. Nothing says “IT’S SUMMER, BABY!” like luscious strawbs! Great background stories and another fab recipe. Thanks, D! 🍓 😋 🍓

    1. You are very welcome! It was fun to make, and I can see why my mom loved taking the time to fuss with things like this on the weekend after along week’s work.

  19. I would love a piece of this lucious looking cake.

    1. Why thank you Jovina! Sorry, but it disappeared rather quickly!

  20. NativeNM says:

    What a beautiful cake! Happy Summer Solstice!

    1. Happy Solstice to you too, and thank you very much!

  21. Kevin says:

    The cake looks amazing. Pleased that you are able to make the most of local strawberries at their peak of freshness.

    1. Thanks Kevin! That’s what I do! I love to celebrate every “season!”

  22. nancyc says:

    What a pretty cake! Strawberry cakes are the best for summer! 🙂 The frosting looks so rich and creamy—yum!

    1. The frosting is really tasty, not too sweet, but creamy and full of flavor from the freeze-dried strawberries.

  23. Looks so good!

    1. Thank you! It was as tasty as it looks.

  24. CarolCooks2 says:

    I can just taste the strawberries and the little crunch from the wafers this sounds delicious 🙂 x

    1. Thank you Carol! It was a treat for all.

  25. Marilyn says:

    This cake looks delicious!

    1. Thank you Marilyn. It was fun to make.

  26. Christy B says:

    Dorothy, that finished cake not only looks beautiful but I also love the way you iced it – The piping at the bottom is beautiful! I could see the strawberries releasing liquid so totally understandable about that first attempt. You took the challenge and conquered! Happy Summer xxx

    1. It was a little frustrating at first, then quite rewarding!

  27. This sounds amazing Dorothy!

  28. Forestwood says:

    Interesting additions and process to make an amazing cake. The story my husband would love with all that frosting. Enjoy the Midsummer!

  29. Aoc says:


  30. What a cake filled with many little surprise taste bites!

    1. Thank you! It was surprising!

  31. Oh my goodness. Just incredible and delicious looking!

  32. Lickthespoon says:

    What a wonderful idea to use freeze dried strawberries. I’m definitely going to have to try making this cake!

    1. Thank you! The freeze-dried berries pack tons of flavor!

  33. The perfect cake to celebrate! It looks so beautiful!

    1. Thank you! It’s a great celebration cake.

  34. Christy B says:

    Back to look at this one again and drool… 😉 Have a nice weekend, Dorothy!

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