Spring desserts don’t get simpler or more delicious than this strawberry vanilla bean buttermilk cake.
strawberry vanilla bean buttermilk cake

Today we’re going to learn how to K.I.S.S.

Apparently, not everything in life has to be chocolate mocha covered, cinnamon ginger smoked paprika swirled, with a pickled cherry on top.

And nor would we want it to be.



But in this day and age when it feels like everything has done been before, sometimes we (I) feel this compulsion to throw our (my) whole spice rack and half of our (my) pantry into a meal to ensure that it’s original.

(Guilty as charged.)

But maybe what would be really crazy? Is if we didn’t.


What if we just took as few quality ingredients as possible, threw them in a pan, and called it a cake?

I think I just blew my own mind.


There are surely going to be a few skeptics out there and to you, I present this cake.

It is the simplest of simple – a buttermilk vanilla bean cake batter is topped with ruby red in season strawberries and a sprinkling of sugar before being escorted to the oven, where the cake puffs up around the berries, encasing them in its warmth, and the sugar creates a delicious golden crust.

But this just makes it all the more alluring. Each bite tastes like a bit of happiness. Just plain good, easy happiness.

And you can’t beat that. Even with a cinnamon ginger smoked paprika swirl. I promise.


When there are as few ingredients as this in a recipe, you really have to ensure that each one is the best it can be. So if strawberries aren’t in season or don’t look great where you are, then use whatever fruit your heart desires. This cake is really a blank canvas, so go crazy with it.

In a Mondrian and not a Pollock kind of way.

Strawberry Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake
Spring desserts don't get simpler or more delicious than this strawberry vanilla bean buttermilk cake.
Yield: 1 9-inch cake
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and 1 cup of the sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla bean paste. Mix until combined, about 1 minute.
  4. Turn the mixer down to low speed and slowly add in the flour mixture. Mix until combined and smooth, 1-2 minutes.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Arrange the strawberries facedown over the cake. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325F. Bake until golden and firm, about 45-60 minutes. Let cool before serving.
Very slightly adapted from Portuguese Girl Cooks
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice

For more strawberry sweet treats, check out these:

strawberry balsamic ice cream

Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream

pink lady cupcakes

Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

fresh fig and strawberry tart

Fresh Fig and Strawberry Tart

From around the web:

Whipped Strawberry Butter from Damn Delicious

Strawberries and Cream Cake from Gimme Some Oven

Rustic Strawberry Peach Tart from Sally’s Baking Addiction

No Bake Strawberry Lemon Cookie Pie from Life, Love and Sugar

Strawberries and Cream Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze from Averie Cooks


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64 Responses to Strawberry Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake

  1. Love a simple cake recipe like this! I can’t stop eating strawberries lately, so I would be more than happy to dive into a slice of this!

  2. Beth says:

    This is almost identical to a cake I’ve made for years, using raspberries. It truly is one of my favourite dessert recipes. I made it last weekend to rave reviews from my family, and I’ll make it again this summer!

  3. This looks so lovely! And I bet it will be perfect when the peaches come into season too!

  4. Lynn says:

    I like it when there are fewer ingredients – this looks lovely. And good!

  5. Meg says:

    Oooh, this looks amazing. I’m SO happy it’s berry season!

  6. Oh my word. That does sound too easy. Totally need to make this now. Fresh berries are coming my way VERY soon.
    Have a beautiful weekend Joanne!

  7. Love the simplicity of this beautiful strawberry cake – I agree, many times less is more. Have a great weekend!

  8. Johanna GGG says:

    looks delicious – though I am sure a rich chocolate ganache topping woudl be amazing – seriously isn’t everything better with chocolate – though if I can’t have chocolate load it with fruit – like these strawberries! And I love your strawberries huller – want one!

  9. Megan says:

    Adding this to my summer baking list!

  10. Monica says:

    Love the simplicity of this. There’s a buttermilk raspberry cake that was recommended to me that I’ve been wanting to make. I have a feeling it’s similar to this and I have a feeling I won’t regret making either. Happy Friday!

  11. JulieD says:

    Love this so much! I’m making this soon!!

  12. I love all these strawberry recipes I have been seeing in the blogosphere lately! This looks super fantastic. Sometimes simple is best 🙂

  13. I am coming over for allllll that cake right now! Yummmm so rustically elegant!

  14. Deena kakaya says:

    What gorgeously light and airy ingredients…goes to show what good quality ingredients can deliver x

  15. Heather says:

    And now I have a reason to go back to Whole Foods to get straweberries that are on sale!!

  16. My kind of cake, Joanne. A simple yet very beautiful cake, just the right thing for the summer.

  17. Abby says:

    Love simple things like this! Perfect to bring to a party too.

  18. Kinsey says:

    Wow that the is beautiful. I love how you point out that simpler is often times better. Restaurants and bloggers these days want to salt and spice everything! I have to admit, even though I love to read and taste green curry coconut turmeric ice cream, when it comes to enjoying a bowl, I would just like the chocolate chip cookie dough and while a jalapeno candied lime cake sounds cool, I would much rather have a generous wedge of this scrumptious strawberry cake.

  19. SallyBR says:

    THis looks amazing, and I am salivating, which is strange, I don’t have a sweet tooth… but the look of all those pieces of strawberries enveloped by vanilla cake is too much….

    awesome looking cake, and maybe even I could do it… maybe…

    (hope your finger is 101% healed)

  20. You are so RIGHT! Nothing can beat simplicity and this cake is just brilliant! Sometimes, it’s just important to shun all the fanciness and eat a proper cake with good, fresh and simple flavors! This just makes me droooool!

  21. You totally made it feel like Summer in here today! What a beauty of a cake!

  22. you’re right on. simple is the best! and this cake? well, can’t go wrong with strawberries 🙂

  23. cheri says:

    What a gorgeous cake Joanne, love the simplicity of it. Happy week-end!

  24. Julia says:

    UGH those sugar-sprinkled strawberries! So juicy and tasty.

    I’m a huge fan of simple recipes. Long-ass ingredient lists just confuse me, so I’m all about keeping ‘er simple. Especially if it’s dessert. Because laaaaawdy knows there’s no way I can wait for a complicated dessert to get in my belly. I have the patience of a 2-year old.

    This cake looks amaaaaaazinnnnnng!

  25. Pam says:

    It looks AMAZING!

  26. Simple foods are the best when they’re as tasty as this looks! I normally just aim for delicious over creative, because I’m pretty lazy and I keep my pantry pretty barren, so I’m glad people like you combine the two together for me 😉

  27. Zainab says:

    YES!! YES!! Just an honestly simple fresh great recipe. This cake is just plain good. (PS: Why do you love complicated things always?)

  28. Sometimes simple is best! This cake sounds amazing!

  29. I LOVE how those strawberries look sunk into the top of the cake like that! So pretty!! I will certainly be trying this with whatever beautiful berry I can find (and most likely what’s on sale, hehe)

  30. Kate says:

    I’m a big fan of keeping things simple. And strawberries. And vanilla cake.

  31. Eileen says:

    Yes! This kind of cake is my absolute favorite. Simple batter, lots of fresh fruit — perfection. And so good for breakfast too! 🙂

  32. I’ve been wanting to try this cake… it looks perfect!

  33. Simplicity can be one of life’s greatest delights. Bonus points when it’s in edible form!

  34. Christine says:

    This cake looks so wonderfully delicious! So happy berries are back in season. I have to ask, where did you get that tool to core strawberries? I’ve never seen one like that. I’ve got the old 2-paddle pincher type.

  35. Your cake looks so good, and you are right, simple is often best. Thanks for the link back!

  36. Allison says:

    I love the simplicity of this! Sometimes letting the freshest ingredients shine, turns out better than any over-complicated dish. Love this! The perfect early summer dessert!

  37. Fewer ingredients is better. Love this.

  38. Corina says:

    Simple but a beautiful looking cake. It’s nice to see the strawberries actually in the cake batter.

  39. Awwwww .. yeah! this is my kind of cake!
    I love the idea of those beautiful strawberries sinking into the batter a little and the batter puffing up around them. And then you’ve got the gorgeous buttermilk and vanilla in there. I’m in love! 🙂

  40. Susan says:

    Simple cakes are my favorite! The LBD of desserts. I have plans for this recipe!

  41. buttermilk and donut cakes are simply the best for eating the abundance of summer’s fruit.
    they have the simplest yet most flavorful taste for enhancing the sweet & tartness of berries.
    so yeah, I LOVE this!

  42. Simple is definitely best sometimes. This cake is, clearly, one of those times.

  43. This cake is absolutely gorgeous! So simple and classic, yet so amazing-looking and I’ll bet tasting too! Loving the combo of strawberries and vanilla bean. I can’t wait to try this cake this summer! 🙂 Pinned!

  44. I love strawberries and vanilla together, I actually made a cake using both these this weekend. Your cake looks absolutely delicious Joanne 🙂

  45. This cake looks amazing, Joanne!

  46. Just looking at this cake makes me happy! Simple is always good!

  47. Leah Davis says:

    I love baking with buttermilk and this combo sounds delicious!! Can’t wait for those super sweet summer strawberries!!

  48. What a fabulous cake with a few ingredients! Love the tangy taste of buttermilk in summer backing 🙂

  49. bellini says:

    This is an excellent way to celebrate the season Joanne.

  50. Hotly Spiced says:

    I love baking cakes that require very few ingredients. This does look like a wonderful summery cake with all those strawberries xx

  51. Foodiewife says:

    I’m guilty as charged, when I obsess about complicated recipes. It’s nice to sit back, relax and KISS, agreed. I adore strawberries, but I’m thinkin’ oooh, peaches. Yeah, this would be awesome that way. I love this cake recipe, especially how unfussy it is.

  52. I love simple! Your strawberry cake looks lovely. It’s nice to have fresh strawberries to bake with.

  53. Kathryn says:

    This is beautiful Joanne! I absolutely love simple cakes like this and you can’t beat the combo of squidgy strawberries and soft vanilla-flecked cake in summer.

  54. […] cream // strawberry-oat cacao muffins // strawberry crumble with oats, hazelnut and elderflower // strawberry vanilla bean buttermilk cake // strawberry cream roll // strawberry maple cornbread cake // triple berry […]

  55. Oh dear – this cake sounds like a slice of heaven!

  56. LOve this pie! Sounds so good girlfriend, and… I have to get one of those thing-a-ma-gigger- to hull the strawberries with- it would make my life easy! Lol…

  57. grace says:

    excellent use for strawberries, joanne! the end result is so attractive!

  58. Laura says:

    I don’t tend to go for the simple either, esp not in savory cooking, but for dessert this is perfect! I love homey baked goods like this.

  59. Lynna says:

    I love simple recipes like these. It makes it great for a quick baking session when you need to use up fresh fruits! 🙂

  60. […] a few, I found that their sweetness wasn’t quite all the way developed. I had been eyeing this cake from Joanne’s blog for days, so it seemed the perfect application for the tart, juicy […]

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