Easy and Elegant Strawberry Cake for Mother’s Day

Local strawberries are in season for a few short weeks in the spring. Refreshing and healthy, I like to feature recipes using Louisiana berries as a way to support local farmers as well as include fresh fruit in our meals. I have in mind a cake which I made years ago for a bridal shower; a poke cake. And with Mother’s Day coming up soon, it is a very striking cake for this festive occasion, too.

The cake is called a poke cake because after it is baked; you poke holes in the cake and pour in hot flavored jello. This makes a very striking pattern throughout the cake and a fruit favor. I’m adding a filling of fresh strawberries soaked in Mandarine Napoléon liqueur and a whipped topping/cream cheese icing with additional fresh strawberries as a garnish.

This recipe really isn’t difficult to make – hence the title “Easy and Elegant.” To simplify things, I used a boxed cake mix. Usually the recipe calls for a white cake mix and the batter is baked in a single layer 9″ x 13″ cake pan. I took a chance and baked my cake in two 8″ x 8″ pans for two layers with the fresh sliced strawberries soaked in liqueur in the middle. I probably will keep to a single layer next time as this is much easier to  handle. In this case, spread the liqueur soaked strawberries on top of the cake and then ice it. The icing is a simplified version of the one used on a Chantilly Cake.

Any combination of flavored jello and fruit can be used. I saw recipes on the internet for cherry jello and cherry pie filling on top of the cake.

Nutritious Strawberries

Strawberries are very nutritious. They are rich in vitamin C and have smaller amounts of manganese, folic acid and fiber. Strawberries are rich in antioxidants providing benefits, for example, with cardiovascular health and diabetes blood sugar control.

The downside of current market produce is that pesticide residues are often found in strawberries. According to the “World’s Healthiest Foods” WEB site, the 2015 Pesticide Data Program showed that over half the strawberry samples tested by the US Dept of Agriculture had pesticide residues. Organic strawberries had a much lower pesticide residue rate. (www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=32) Just information to be aware of. I’ll still purchase strawberries, but may think about buying organic ones in the future.

Strawberries are very perishable; have a plan to use them quickly!


For the cake, I used a Duncan Hines Classic White Cake Mix and baked it according to the package directions. For the icing, I combined cream cheese, powdered sugar, almond extract and Cool Whip topping. The icing is a simplified version of the icing used on a Chantilly cake — which is heavy whipping cream, mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, sugar and almond extract.

To add the jello, poke holes in the cake about one inch apart while the cake is still hot. Next time I’ll use a smaller spoon handle to poke the holes. However, I don’t recommend using a fork to poke the holes the tines of the fork are too small.

Pour the hot jello into the holes. The idea is to get the jello in the holes; not on top of the cake where the jello will run off the cake. Then let the cake layers chill before placing on a cake plate and adding the strawberry filling and icing.

I made an icing using a combination cream cheese and cool whip topping. Much easier than using heavy whipping cream. Cream the cheese, which should be at room temperature, with powdered sugar and almond extract until the mixture is soft and creamy. Then carefully fold in the whipped topping. This makes a delicious icing with a hint of almond which can be used on many other cakes, too.Here’s my cake. Easy and elegant.

Easy and Elegant Strawberry Cake

  • Servings: 12 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients for cake:

  • 1 (16.25 oz) box Duncan Hines Classic White Cake Mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 large egg whites
  • Additional oil and flour for oiling cake pan
  • 1 – 4 oz package strawberry jello
  • 1 cup water

Ingredients for filling:

  • 1-1/2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Mandarine Napoléon liqueur or Grand Marnier liqueur

Ingredients for icing:

  • 2 – 8 oz pkg cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 8 oz container Cool Whip topping, defrosted
  • Additional whole strawberries for garnish
  • Blueberries for garnish, if desired

Method and Steps:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. If using dark cake pans, reduce heat to 325 degrees. Oil and flour either two 8″ cake pans or one 9″ x 13″ cake pan and set aside.
  2. To make cake, in medium mixing bowl of electric mixer, add the cake mix, 1 cup water, oil and egg whites. Beat on low speed just enough to blend; stir down sides with spatula. Then increase speed of mixer to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Divide evenly and pour into the two 8″ prepared cake pans or pour all the batter into one  9″ x 13″ cake pan. Bake the 8″ cakes for about 28 minutes or the 9″ x 13″ cake for about 25 minutes. Cake should pull away from edges of pan, spring back when top is touched and a tooth pick inserted comes back clean.
  3. While the cake is still hot, with the handle end of a wooden spoon or spatula, poke holes into the cake at approx 1 inch intervals.
  4. Heat 1 cup water to boiling. Pour powdered strawberry jello into boiling water and stir until jello is dissolved. Carefully pour jello into holes of cake. Refrigerate cake for an hour.
  5. Meanwhile make the filling, combine sliced strawberries, powdered sugar and Mandarine Napoléon liqueur or Grand Manier liqueur and let mixture chill for an hour.
  6. To make the icing, in an clean medium bowl of electric mixer, combine the cream cheese (at room temperature) and powdered sugar. Beat on high speed until the cream cheese is soft and creamy, stir down sides of bowl as needed. Add almond extract and beat until combined. Then carefully fold in Cool Whip with a lifting motion until combined. Keep at room temperature.
  7. To complete the cake, if using two 8″ cake pans, place first layer on cake plate with bottom side up. Add sliced strawberries in liqueur on top. Then place second layer, on top — bottom side down. If needed, trim sides of cakes so they are even. Ice with cake with cool whip/cream cheese icing. Chill cake. If using a 9″ x 13″ cake, do not remove from cake pan. Spread strawberry filling on top of cake. Then ice with cool whip/cream cheese icing and chill. When ready to serve, garnish with additional strawberries and if desired, with blueberries. Cut 9″ x 13″ into individual pieces and serve; garnish each slice with a fresh strawberry.

With Mother’s Day coming up, all my children are grown and moved away from home. But I have grand-babies – puppies. These adorable Dachshund puppies have filled our home for a few weeks with cuddly joy. 

It’s tempting to keep one – or two! At 7 weeks, they are ready to go to new homes and families. It will be sad to see them leave.

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