Billowing Strawberry Poppy Seed Layer Cake

Billowing Strawberry Poppy Seed Layer Cake

Reminiscent of a poppyseed strawberry shortcake, this gorgeous cake is filled with sweet strawberries and fresh cream, making it perfect for late Spring and early Summer.

I adore this cake, but I hadn’t made it in years, primarily because while the original recipe tasted delicious, it was a logistical nightmare.  The cake was too stiff for the frosting and the frosting was too soft for the cake.  It literally fell apart when I sliced it.

While I considered the original recipe again, I realized why.  Cake made with butter really shouldn’t be refrigerated because it becomes dry.  However, the frosting for this cake is primarily cream and, therefore, must be refrigerated.  See the conflict?  My solution was to swap out the butter in the original recipe with vegetable oil.  I also increased the amount of cream cheese in the frosting to make it slightly more stiff.  The result was a cake that remained moist while refrigerated.  Success!

Billowing Strawberry Poppy Seed Layer Cake
Adapted from a recipe by Kathy Casey

Print-Friendly Recipe

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds


  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups cream


  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh strawberries (about 1 lb after being stemmed & thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice


  • 1 pint fresh strawberries for garnish

Prepare two 8-inch cake pans by greasing them, then lining the bottoms with parchment, then coating the sides of the pans with flour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together the oil and sugar.  In a separate bowl, mix together the milk and sour cream.  Add half of this mixture to the oil and sugar and mix until smooth.  In yet another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.  Add half of this to the wet bowl.  Mix until incorporated.  Then add the remaining milk mixture, eggs, vanilla, kosher salt and lemon zest, about one minute.  Lastly add the remaining flour and mix just until incorporated.  Stir in the poppy seeds.

Divide the batter evenly among the two pans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of each cake and turn it out onto a rack to cool thoroughly.

While the cake cools, whip the cream cheese and 1 tablespoon of vanilla in the bowl of a standing mixer for one minute.  Then add the powdered sugar on low one cup at a time.  When the sugar is completely incorporated, whip on high for 3 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream until stiff.  Take care not too overwhip.  Then fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

When the cake is completely cool, cut each cake in half lengthwise, making 4 layers.

Stem and thinly slice 1 pound of strawberries.  Then mix in 1/2 cup strawberry jam and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Set aside.

Place a dollop of frosting on your serving plate and top with a layer of cake.  Spread 1/3 of the strawberry mixture on top then top with approximately ¾ of a cup of frosting.  Leave a ¾ inch border around the edge of the cake.  Top with another layer of cake and repeat until all of the layers and strawberry are used.  Press down gently on the top of the cake to meld the layers together.  In order to stabilize my cake, I inserted four wooden skewers in the center, but that is not technically necessary.  Right after this picture was taken, I just snipped off the skewers at cake level before proceeding with the rest of the frosting.

Frost the outside of the cake with the remaining cream cheese frosting.

Garnish with additional stemmed strawberries and…

Ta Da! Moist, sweet (but not too sweet), strawberry, poppyseed goodness!

Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.