You Only Need 5 Ingredients To Make This Old-Fashioned No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake
Springtime means it’s almost time for one of nature’s sweetest treats — strawberries — to be picked fresh from the fields. Of course, strawberries are fantastic on their own, but they also add so much berry goodness to dessert recipes.
We’ve featured recipes for cheesecake-stuffed strawberries, chocolate-covered strawberries, and Strawberry White Chocolate Gooey Bars, just to name a few. Now, there’s another delicious delight to add to our strawberry recipe collection — and this one requires no baking.
The Old Fashioned Strawberry Icebox Cake will have you nostalgic for summer nights at your grandma’s house when you just couldn’t wait for a cold, creamy dessert. The vintage recipe comes from Michaela, creator of the website An Affair From the Heart, and all it requires is putting together some simple ingredients and then letting it set in the refrigerator for a while.
An Affair from the Heart
With only five basic ingredients, you can whip up a strawberry icebox cake in less than 15 minutes. The most challenging part of the recipe is waiting for it to set in the refrigerator before digging into it.
You will need the following ingredients to make this icebox cake:
heavy whipping cream
As far as equipment, you’ll want an electric mixer, measuring cups, a rubber spatula, a bowl, a 9-by-13 pan, and some plastic wrap. Michaela also uses a strawberry huller and a slicing tool to more easily cut the strawberries into uniform slices.
Michaela’s detailed recipe gives you step-by-step instructions on how to put together this strawberry icebox cake. Once you have your cream whipped, it’s simply a matter of building layers in the pan until it’s full of creamy, berry goodness!
An Affair from the Heart
It will take at least a couple of hours for your Old Fashioned Strawberry Icebox Cake to soften and set properly. You can even let it set overnight in the refrigerator, so this recipe is great for when you want to prepare a dessert a day in advance. Once it’s made, the cake will keep for about two days, but we doubt it will last that long!
Zoe Francois book takes the cake with fresh recipes
If you are like me and actually enjoy baking cakes from scratch (please, step away from the boxed cake, world!) then find some new flavors to add to your repertoire with “Zoe Bakes Cakes” by Zoe Francois.
Bestselling author and baker Francois collects more than 85 delicious recipes with plenty of photos as well as step-by-step guides to show some baking fundamentals, such as “when is the butter creamed” and more. A student of the Culinary Institute of America and pastry chef, Francois brings her love of baking to home cooks.
Recipes are divided into 9 chapters: Pound Cakes, Quick Bread and Bundts; Fruit-Studded Cakes; Soaked Cakes; Cake Layers, Loaves, and Sheets; Light-as-Air Cakes; The Layered Cakes; Rolled and Fancy Cakes; Icings, Frostings, Buttercreams and Ganaches; and Fillings and Flourishes.
If you’re wanting to start with something basic, chapter one; Pound Cakes, Quick Bread and Bundts is where to start. They are simple, easy to follow, and don’t require as much activity as other cakes. There are cakes such as Vanilla-Bean Pound Cake, Banana Bread with Swirls of Nutella, and Pumpkin-Mocha Swirl Bundt Cake. Fruit-Studded Cakes tend to be easier to handle as well, like the recommended Blueberry Muffin Cake or the ever-popular Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.
Soaked Cakes involve letting the cake soak in flavored milk or sugar syrup, which changes the consistency a bit. Try the ever-popular British dessert — Sticky Toffee-Date Cake, or the familiar Cinco Leches — Tres Leches All Grown Up or Tiramisu.
Layer cakes are what we usually think about when we think cakes, and there are plenty of simple and families ones, like the classics: White Cake, Yellow Cake, and Devil’s Food Cake, but then we get to fun variations, such as Hot Chocolate Cake, my forever favorite Red Velvet Cake, Banana Cream Cake, and Ultimate Carrot Cake.
Light-as-Air cakes are cakes that use whipped eggs, with or without yolks, depending on the cake. There’s the classic Angel Food Cake, but there’s also Espresso Sponge Cake and even Pavlovas.
Things start to get a bit more mix-match as we reach Layered Cakes, which includes fillings and the like for layered cakes, such as a Boston Cream Pie cake, Black Forest Cake, and German Chocolate Coconut Cake.
Rolled and Fancy Cakes, well there you know you’ve hit the fancier cakes. There’s a Pavlova Roulade, a Raspberry Charlotte Royale that has to be seen to be believed, a Blackberry Diva Cake, and even how to make a Wedding Cake.
My book club was reading a book set in Victorian England, so I made a Victorian Sponge Cake for the evening. This is a light-as-air cake that uses whipped eggs to give it a different texture, as well as self-rising flour, and is complemented by strawberries and whipped cream as a filling between the layers. When I made it, I should have whipped my cream a little bit longer, as it wasn’t as stiff as in the picture, but that didn’t matter when it came to taste — everyone raved about it and wanted more.
You can try one of the cakes with the Vanilla Raspberry Bundt below.
“Zoe Bakes Cakes” is published by Ten Speed Press. It is $30.
Contact Amy Phelps at [email protected]
“Reprinted from Zoe Bakes Cakes. Copyright ç 2021 by Zoe Francois. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House”
Makes two 8-inch/20cm loaves
1 lb / 454g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb / 454g confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
Scraped seeds from 1 vanilla bean
2 tsp citrus zest (optional)
1 lb / 454g eggs (about 9 large), at room temperature
1 lb / 454g all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup / 120ml Confectioners’ Sugar Icing or Simple Syrup
Preheat the oven to 325F / 165C. Generously grease two 8 by 4-inch / 20 by 10cm loaf pans and then line them with greased parchment paper.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute.
Turn the mixer speed to low, add the confectioners’ sugar to the butter, and mix until incorporated. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl often for even incorporation.
Add the vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and citrus zest (if using) and mix until incorporated.
Turn the speed to medium-low and add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined. Scrape the bowl after every couple of eggs.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing at low speed just until combined. Repeat with another one-third flour and then the final one-third, scraping the bowl and paddle after each addition.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pans. Smooth the tops and tap the pans on the counter a few times to release excess air bubbles. Set the pans on a baking sheet.
Bake until the cakes are golden and a tester comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto serving plates and let cool completely. Pour the icing over the cakes and let set before serving.
VARIATION: VANILLA- RASPBERRY BUNDT
Beautiful raspberries, studded like hidden gems, offer a sweet surprise to those expecting plain ol’ pound cake. Generously butter and flour a 12-cup / 2.8L Bundt pan. Gently fold 2 cups / 240g fresh (or frozen) raspberries into the batter and then pour into the prepared pan. Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 50 minutes. (If you use frozen fruit, the baking time can be longer, up to 1 hour 15 minutes.) Let cool as directed. Glaze with raspberry Confectioners’ Sugar Icing (see variation, page 204) before serving.
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Learn the Small Cake Equation and Make Every Cake a 6-Inch Cake
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This article is part of Spring Bake, a collection of brand-new recipes and ideas that will keep you in cake, buns, and cookies until summer.
March is the month of birthdays in my life. It’s my own birthday month, my partner’s birthday month, and the birthday month for about 25 of our friends. Historically, I’ve been inclined to celebrate all of these birthdays properly: with a big, boisterous layer cake.
But last year, when The Great Birthday Month entered its Pandemic Edition, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Why make a full 9-inch layer cake if I can’t throw the kind of big party that demands it? For Pandemic Edition: Year Two, however, I’m baking my way toward a return to normalcy. I’m baking layer cakes again. They’re just going to be 6 inches.
Nine-inch cakes make sense at bakeries and events: You get 12 wedge slices from a 9-inch cake or 30 1×2-inch wedding slices. But that’s an oppressive amount of cake for a modest gathering of newly vaccinated friends—and many days of cake-eating homework for an isolated household of two. For now, a 6-inch cake will do quite nicely, thank you.
While it packs the same festive punch as a 9-inch cake, a 6-inch layer cake just feels more casual than its full-size counterpart. Show up to someone’s house tomorrow and surprise them with a full-size layer cake that can feed 12? You look like a crazy person. But it’s a real power move to arrive with a tidy little 6-inch cake under your arm. It’s impressive but approachable—the Baby Yoda of cakes.
Here’s the only problem with 6-inch layer cakes: There aren’t many recipes written to accommodate a 6-inch cake pan. I just wrote a 6-inch recipe for my newsletter: a banana pudding cake with Nilla wafer buttercream for my partner’s birthday. But if you’re working with a layer cake recipe from the Before Times (or any recipe for an 8- or 9-inch cake), converting it to a 6-inch cake is an easy fix. It just takes a little bit of math. Don’t worry, it’s the fun kind of math—cake math.
Photo of Roses Downy Yellow Butter Cake on a serving plate with a layer of vanilla frosting on each layer of cake.
Please meet the Baby Yoda of cakes.
Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Lillian Chou TLDR: Wanna skip the math?
So you need a 6-inch cake ready in the next two hours and you don’t have time for cake math? Fine. Grab a layer cake recipe that calls for 8- or 9-inch round pans and multiply each of the batter ingredients by 57% (if starting from an 8-inch recipe) or 45% (if starting from a 9-inch). Make the cake using those smaller quantities of each ingredient and skip below to my instructions about baking times.
Need more details? Love to learn? Keep reading.
Cake math, step 1: calculate the area
To convert a recipe for any big cake into a recipe for 6-inch pans, start by determining the area of the larger cake pans. For square and rectangular pans, this is easy to do—just multiply the length and the height (a 9 x 9 pan = 81 square inches). Of course, layer cake recipes rarely use square or rectangular pans, which means you’ll probably have to calculate the area of a circular pan.
The area of a round cake pan can be calculated by multiplying π (3.14 is good enough) by the radius of the pan, and then squaring it (in other words, multiplying it by itself). Remember, the radius is half the diameter. So for a 6-inch round cake pan, π x 3 x 3 = 28.26 in2 (which, for sanity’s sake, you would round up to 29 in2).
Want to skip the pi part and get right to cake? Here’s a cheat sheet for the most common round cake pan sizes:
Area of a 6-inch round pan: 29 in2
Area of an 8-inch round pan: 51 in2
Area of a 9-inch round pan: 64 in2
Area of a 10-inch round pan: 79 in2
Cake math, step 2: convert the measurements
Now that we have the area of the pans, it’s easiest to work in percentages. Divide the smaller pan area by the larger pan area to calculate your percentage. For example, 29 in2 (the area of the 6-inch pan) divided by 51 square inches (the area of an 8-inch pan) = 57%. So a 6-inch pan is 57% of an 8-inch pan’s area.
Next, we use these percentages to convert the ingredient measurements. Multiply the original larger recipe measurement by the percentage to find the measurement of each ingredient for your smaller cake. Write down your results—don’t do this in your head as you go!
It’s best to do your conversions in grams. So, if an 8-inch cake requires 500 grams of flour, multiply that by .57 or 57% to find the measurement for the 6-inch recipe. 500 x .57 = 285 grams of flour. (If you need to convert a recipe from volume to grams, King Arthur Flour has an excellent ingredient weight chart.)
When you’re converting measurements, you’ll need to do some slight approximations, but don’t get too nervous about that. Round to the closest gram, up or down, except in the case of learners—I always round up on the leavener, because I’d rather have a little extra lift in the cake than not enough. You can just round to the nearest egg, too. If you want to get super-technical on the eggs, whisk an egg until homogenous and weigh out what you need. Save the rest for an egg wash (or a little treat for your dog). When you’re dealing in measurements as small as a tenth of a gram, again, don’t stress. Whichever way you round, your cake will be totally fine!
As an example, let’s convert Shirley O. Corriher’s Deep, Dark Chocolate Cake from a 9-inch cake to a 6-inch cake.
Cake math, step 3: bake—but watch the time
Once you’ve scaled down your ingredients, you can make the cake exactly to the recipe’s specifications—except when it comes to the baking time. For that, you’ll need to play it by ear. Keep the listed baking temp from the recipe the same, but don’t wander far from the kitchen. Start conservatively. If a recipe calls for a 25-minute bake time for a 9-inch cake, start with 10 minutes for a 6-inch cake, rotate the cake in the oven (you’re always rotating your cakes, right?), then give it another five minutes. Or, if you think it’s close, give it only another three minutes. Doneness is measured either when a cake tester comes out clean, or when the surface has a light spring when touched. Keep testing the cake until it’s done.
Tools of the small cake trade
The tools you need to bake and decorate a 6-inch cake are exactly the same as those you need for standard 8- or 9-inch cakes. Well, almost. There are a few things you need, and a few more that aren’t technically necessary but are really nice to have.
6×3-inch Cake Pans: The main character of today’s story. A 6×2-inch pan will work, of course, but I like the 3-inch tall pans. They give you a little more wiggle room if your conversion doesn’t quite fit.
Ateco Professional Offset Spatulas: For everyday baking, you’ll want a large and a small offset spatula. But for 6-inch cakes specifically, there’s a middle size that’s great. (Side note: I like a sturdier, stiff offset rather than a flimsy one with too much give. These are nice and beefy.)
6-inch Cardboard Cake Rounds: This is the base to build your cake on. You can, of course, cut your own out of scrap cardboard, but these are inexpensive and make your cake feel 400% more professional.
Finally, a note on frosting
You may have noticed that I only covered scaling down cake in this article, not the frosting. That was by design. Make the amount of frosting the 8 or 9-inch cake calls for, and you’ll have plenty to use for piping decoration. And if you have extra? Freeze it and use it for an impromptu single-layer snack cake at a later date.
So go forth, cut down your cakes to size! But always make the full batch of frosting.