Strawberries & Cream Upside Down Cake


There is a good chance that if my youngest is in the garden but is nowhere to be seen, he has found some strawberries and is gobbling them up before anyone else gets a chance to.

20190511_144747(All links open a new page, so you won’t lose your spot when you look around!  Get information on gardening and cultural traditions, recipes, stories, and more!)

20190511_144400Every so often, I get out to the strawberries before him and tuck some away in the freezer (after I’ve had my own share, of course!).  I like to use them for a variety of things to remind me of spring, which is when the first crops come in before summer really heats up.

20190511_144610One of my favorites is to make an angel food cake and drape it with fresh cut strawberries that have been soaking in a little sugar to make a syrup.  It’s my preferred version of strawberry shortcake.  However, I’m also a huge fan of upside down cakes (though, ironically, not as much the pineapple kind) and wanted to try a strawberry version.  I’ll confess, my first attempt was a sloppy, floppy mess.  A few tweaks and trusting my gut instinct (which had told me it wasn’t going to work all along on the first one) led me to this amazing cake.

20190511_144950The cake itself is similar in taste and texture to an angel food cake, but with a little more substance.  The strawberries are in that perfect middle ground between fresh picked and homemade strawberry jam.  Yes.  It’s that good.

Some quick notes before you begin:

I have made a few adjustments to the original recipe I posted, so if you’ve made this before please be sure to check for those changes.

One of the ingredients I adjusted was the quantity of baking powder.  As it turned out, when I was first testing out the recipe I was using baking powder that was older.  It worked but required more powder to get the rise I wanted.  When I purchased new powder, suddenly the batter was all over the oven floor.  Not where it should be!  I’ve reduced the amount of baking powder originally called for.

The other ingredient I changed was the quantity of strawberries.  I fluctuated in how much to use, and now realize that part of the problem getting it right was the baking powder issue mentioned before.  Too many strawberries and too much baking powder together make a disastrous mess.  I fixed that, too!

The baking time will fluctuate greatly depending on the type of strawberries used.  We grow our own and tend to have smaller, but juicier, fruits than what is often found at the grocery store.  I usually store mine in the freezer until I have enough saved to use.  High juice content and frozen berries will both lead to having longer baking times.  Your best clue as to when the cake is done is when you no longer see any jiggling in the middle when the cake pan is gently shaken.

I’ve also made the process less fussy.  There were steps I would do that didn’t really make a positive difference in the out come of the cake, so why bother?  This cake already needs a few steps as it is (and it’s very worthwhile!), so no need to add on to it.

Adding the whipped cream to the outside is optional, but really helps dress it up.  The cake is not the most attractive on its own.  I prefer to use unsweetened cream so it won’t be overly sweet.  Use what you prefer.

The video below shows the proper process for gently folding in the dry ingredients into the wet.  You want to avoid over mixing or being aggressive with incorporating the flour in order to get a tender cake.  Over doing it will cause the gluten in the flour to develop (like in yeast breads), and will lead to a tough texture full of tunnels.  It’s not what you want!

Strawberries & Cream Upside Down Cake Recipe

  • Difficulty: the folding needs attention, but it's easier than doing a fitted sheet!
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For the strawberry mixture:

  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter

For the cake:

  • 2 cups cake flour, sifted then measured
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 egg whites or about 1/3 to 1/2 cup (egg separating tutorial here)
  • 1 cup cold whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • additional whipped cream for serving (optional, but hey, why not?)


Preheat oven to 350 F.  Put the melted butter in the bottom of a 9 inch round cake pan that is at least 2 inches deep.  One with straight sides is preferred.  Swirl the butter around to coat the bottom of the pan.

If your strawberries are large, cut them into halves or quarters.  If small, you can leave them whole.  Mix the strawberries in a bowl with the lemon juice and the 1/4 cup sugar, tossing to completely mix.  Add the berries to the pan to evenly cover the bottom and be sure to scrape out all the sugar from the bowl.  You can arrange them to make a pattern, if you like.  Remember that you will be flipping the cake over after it is baked.  Set the pan aside.

To measure the flour, sift it first then gently scoop the sifted flour with a spoon into your measuring cup and level the top with a flat object.  Put the sifted flour into a medium sized bowl.  Add the baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Whisk the contents until they are uniformly mixed.  Set this bowl aside.

Place the egg whites in a clean bowl, preferably stainless steel or glass.  Beat them until they are stiff and still a little shiny.  Peaks should hold their shape.  Set the egg whites aside.

Beat the whipping cream in a mixing bowl until stiff and peaks hold their shape.  Gently add in the beaten egg whites, the milk, and the vanilla extract.  Using a spatula, gently fold the mixture together.  You don’t need it to be totally smooth, just mostly combined.  You want to avoid overmixing so that you keep the bubbles in the whites and whipped cream as much as possible.  See the video above.

Now add the flour and sugar mixture, 1/3 at a time, and gently fold with the spatula.  It’s okay if a few lumps of flour remain when you add the next 1/3 of the flour mixture.  Continue until all the flour is incorporated and the batter is mostly smooth.  Gently add the batter to the strawberries by dropping spoonsful over the berries.  You don’t want to mix the berries into the batter.  Smooth out the top and place the pan in the oven.

Bake the cake for 35 to 45 minutes.  Having frozen berries or very juicy ones can add up to 10 minutes more to the baking time.  The cake is done when you no longer see it jiggle in the middle.  The cake will also be golden brown.  Remove it from the oven and allow it to sit for 10 minutes on a wire cooling rack.

After the ten minutes, carefully loosen the cake from the sides of the pan by sliding a thin spatula or knife along the edge.  Place your platter over the cake and holding both carefully with oven mitts, flip the cake over onto the tray.  Don’t remove the pan, yet!  Wait a few minutes for the juices to sink into the cake a little first, then carefully remove the pan by lifting straight up.  You may need to gently jiggle the pan to completly loosen the cake.  If some of the strawberries fall off, scoop them up and press them back into the cake.  There may be a puddle of juices that drip down, but they will eventually be absorbed by the cake as it cools.  Any that don’t will thicken and can be pressed back into the side of the cake with a spatula.

Some strawberries fell after I lifted off the pan, I just carefully scooped them up and made a pretty little mound on the top!

Allow the cake to cool completely.  The sides might be a little rough, so you can smooth some whipped cream to dress it up if you want.  My preference is for natural, unsweetened cream, but the choice is yours.  This makes a lovely cake for special events or even just for fun!


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