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Live, Love, Bake! With Monique Polanco

Live, Love, Bake! With Monique Polanco

When I think of summer fruits, one of first that comes to mind is strawberries. As the local orchards reopen for fruit picking, strawberries usually grow first. Something about biting into a perfectly ripe strawberry is so heavenly!  

I wanted to include these sweet, juicy fruits into a summer cake that would be perfect to bring along to a family barbecue or even a picnic.  

Sheet cakes are a little easier to make because you just use one pan, and there’s only one layer to decorate. They can also be easier to slice and serve than layer cakes because you cut the cake into simple squares.  

To make this cake, I started with my basic vanilla cake recipe and added fresh puréed strawberries for their flavor, and a couple of teaspoons of strawberry Jell-O to get that pink color. Yes, I said Jell-O! It’s completely optional, but without it, the cake will be more of a beige color. A few of drops of pink food coloring will also do the trick.  

After the cake is baked and cooled, whip up a smooth cream cheese frosting. Spread it on the top of the cake, then swirl more of the strawberry purée in the frosting.  

This strawberry sheet cake tastes like summer in one bite, and it will be the hit of your warm-weather gathering! 

Strawberry Sheet Cake 

Prep time: 25 minutes  

Cook time: 1 hour  

Servings: 12 squares 


Strawberry Puree 

  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped 
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar 
  • 2 tbsp water 


    • 1 cup sugar  


  • cup vegetable oil  
  • 3 large eggs  
  • 2 tsp vanilla 
  • 4 tbsp Strawberry Jell-O 
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tbsp baking powder 
  • ½ tsp baking soda 
  • ½ tsp salt 
  • ¾ cup sour cream 
  • 1 cup strawberry puree 


Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting  

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened  
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened  
  • 5 cups powdered sugar  
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1-2 tbsp heavy cream 
  • leftover strawberry puree 


  • strawberries, sliced in half 
  • lemon zest  


Strawberry Puree  

Add strawberries, sugar, and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook the fruit for 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes until the berries start to break down. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add the cooked strawberries to a blender, and blend until smooth. Place into a container with a lid, and refrigerate until fully cooled, for 2 hours or overnight.   


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed using a stand- or hand mixer. This should take for 3-4 minutes, when the mixture is fluffy and lighter in color. Add the vegetable oil and vanilla extract, and beat the mixture for about 30 seconds. Add in the strawberry puree, strawberry Jell-O, and sour cream, and mix until incorporated. Add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then add the flour one cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. After adding the last portion of flour, beat the batter just until combined.  

Spray a 9×13 baking pan with baking spray. Pour the batter into the pan evenly. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs. Cool completely on a wire rack. 


Add butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar to a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed while adding the vanilla and heavy cream. Set aside. 


Remove the cake from the pan and place it on a cake plate. Spread the frosting over the surface of the cake. Drop the remaining 5-6 tablespoons of the strawberry puree on top of the frosting, spacing the tablespoons out. Use a knife or an offset spatula to swirl the puree into the frosting. 

Garnish the cake with strawberry halves and lemon zest. 

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Monique Polanco is a cookbook author, food photographer, and food blogger for her blog, Peaches2Peaches. She resides in Rockland County with her family. 

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