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Strawberry Poke Cake

It is the front end of strawberry season.  I have an itch to make a strawberry cake that needs scratchin'.  This cool little cake takes care of any and all cravings of the strawberry variety.  It is a white cake that has holes poked into the top after it has cooled-- hence the name.  A strawberry gelatin syrup is then poured over the top.  The holes act as tunnels for the syrup and all of its flavor to seep down and spread throughout the body of the cake.  A layer of strawberry is spread over the top before a generous layer of whipped cream completes the construction.   

You'll note in the recipe that I call for a packet of whipping cream stabilizer. I do this so I can make the entire cake ahead of time without any weeping from the luscious cream layer.  But if you plan on making the cake and eating it immediately without any leftovers, you can omit the stabilizer.

This is strawberry shortcake in sheet cake form and a great way to serve a delightful dessert for a crowd.

Printable Recipe

Strawberry Poke Cake
serves 12-16

For the Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
4 extra large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
8 Tablespoons (4-ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Syrup and Topping
1 1/4 pounds strawberries (about 4 cups), hulled and divided
8 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup water
3 Tablespoons strawberry flavored gelatin
2 cups heavy cream
1 (.35-ounce) packet of whipping cream stabilizer

For the Cake
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F.  Butter and flour a 9 x 13-inch baking pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until they are light and creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla and scrape down the sides of the bowl; beat again.  Add one-third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.  Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.  Add the rest of the milk-egg mixture, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.  Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cake cool completely in pan on a wire rack, at least one hour.

For the Syrup and Topping
Cook 3 cups of strawberries, 4 Tablespoons sugar, lemon juice, and water in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, covered, until strawberries have softened, about 10 minutes.  Pour through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the solids to release their juices; reserve solids.  Whisk gelatin into the liquid and let cool to room temperature, at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, using a skewer poke about 50 holes in the top of the cooled cake (twist the skewer to make the holes slightly biggger).  Slowly pour cooled syrup evenly over the top of the cake.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until gelatin is set, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse reserved strawberry solids, 2 Tablespoons of sugar, and remaining 1 cup of strawberries until the mixture is pureed, about 10-15 pulses.  Spread strawberry mixture evenly over cake.  Using a wire whisk or hand mixer, beat cream, remaining 2 Tablespoons of sugars, and stabilizer until soft peaks form.  Dollop spoonfuls of the whipped cream over the strawberry layer and using an off-set spatula spread evenly over the entire cake.  Cut cake into squares and serve.  Cake can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance. Enjoy!

Source: Cake adapted from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, Syrup and Topping adapted from Cooks Country June/July 2007


  1. I love strawberries and this cake looks DIVINE

  2. AnonymousMay 20, 2012

    I LOVE your blog. I discovered it recently and have enjoyed your posts and recipes. You have a way with words that makes me smile. I've never heard of whipped cream stabilizer. Can you tell us more about it? What is it? Where do we find it? Thanks!

    1. Thank you! Whipping cream stabilizer is a corn starch blend that keeps the cream, once whipped, from separating or weeping. It stays stiff much longer. I use Dr. Oetker brand. They are blue packets that you will find in the baking isle.

  3. So pretty Nicole! How in the world do you always cut everything so clean and crisp. My cakes always look like a mess when I cut them - yours look straight out of a magazine!

  4. Looks so good, and would be so refreshing for this time of year! Is it a little weird that I have always been scared to make a poke cake? I totally need to just do it!

  5. Ooh poke cakes are my new obsession! So perfect.

  6. This is gorgeous, I have not seen anything like this. Would love to try it.


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