Home RecipesLayer Cakes Vanilla Cake + Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Buttercream

Vanilla Cake + Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Buttercream

by Haley
Vanilla Bean Layer Cake + Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Buttercream | Flour Covered Apron

Three layers of vanilla bean cake, frosted with balsamic roasted strawberry buttercream and topped with a mountain of balsamic roasted strawberries.

Last weekend, I got to go on a little farmer’s market date with my mom. We share a mutual love for strolling through all the stalls of farm-fresh vegetables and artisan baked goods on a sunny Saturday morning. It’s a very good bet you can find us there almost every weekend throughout the summer.

But now that I’m out of the house, it’s rare that we get to go together. So, it was kind of a special occasion and we took that as an obvious excuse to share a warm chocolate almond croissant as we browsed. Together, we sampled all the freebies, picked out some vegetables for my dad (he’s the chef in the family), and bought boxes and boxes of strawberries so that I could bake this cake. I’ve had the idea for this balsamic roasted strawberry buttercream cake in my head for ages, and I knew I had to finish testing it for you before strawberry season passed me by again.

Three layers of vanilla bean cake, frosted with balsamic roasted strawberry buttercream and topped with a mountain of balsamic roasted strawberries.

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Vanilla Bean Cake

For the actual cake, I kept things pretty simple–  three layers of a classic vanilla bean cake with a tender crumb. It’s lovely and it serves as the perfect canvas for the strawberry buttercream. I highly recommend using vanilla bean paste (rather than vanilla extract) to flavor the cake.

Vanilla bean paste is what many would consider the happy medium between vanilla extract and scraping out an actual vanilla bean. It provides all the convenience of extract without sacrificing the appeal of actual flecks of vanilla bean and a more concentrated flavor. I’ve switched over to using vanilla bean paste in most of my recipes and I love being able to see those flecks in my finished baked goods! It’s a one-to-one substitute for vanilla extract, so you can easily put it to the test in some of your favorite recipes.

A pan of strawberries roasted in balsamic vinegar + a recipe for balsamic roasted strawberry buttercream

Balsamic Roasted Strawberries

Now, for the most exciting part of this cake… for the frosting and garnish, you’ll need TWO pans of balsamic roasted strawberries. If you’ve never had roasted strawberries before… let me tell you, you’re in for such a treat! Roasting the berries brings out and intensifies their flavor in the best way. And the addition of balsamic vinegar becomes a subtly tangy complement for the sweet strawberries and sugary frosting.

I actually have an extra batch of these balsamic roasted strawberries in my fridge as we speak, and they are perfect for eating by the spoonful serving on top of all sorts of things – ice cream, pancakes, yogurt, goat cheese, etc. But if we’re being real, mostly I’ve just been eating them by the spoonful because they’re sooooo good. You’ll probably want to do the same thing, but I promise it’s worth it to make sure you have enough for this roasted strawberry buttercream! And I insisted on making an entire double batch because I wanted a mountain of berries to put on top of the cake.

This vanilla cake is frosted with rosettes of balsamic roasted strawberry buttercream

Buttercream Rosettes

To avoid adding too much liquid to my frosting, I let half of my strawberries roast a little bit longer in the oven, so they were more caramelized and slightly “drier”. This is the batch that I pureed (using a blender or food processor), then added to the buttercream one tablespoon at a time. I ended up using 5 to 6 tablespoons of puree, which left me with a still-stable buttercream for piping.

You can frost this cake however you like, but here’s a quick tutorial for the rosettes (they’re easier than you’d think!):

  1. Fit a pastry bag with a large open or closed star decorating tip and fill it with the strawberry buttercream.
  2. Start at the base of the cake and pipe a row of rosettes all the way around the cake, covering the bottom third of the cake. For each rosette, start at the center and pipe a swirl, moving in an outward direction from the center. Slowly ease the pressure off the piping bag as you get to the end of the rosette and let the tail trail off (in the direction you are piping).
  3. You can cover the tail of the previous rosette with the next one, letting the rosettes slightly overlap each other.
  4. Pipe the second row of rosettes, starting the center point of each rosette directly above the place where two of the rosettes in the bottom row overlap (so the roses alternate position from a vertical perspective). Repeat with the third row of rosettes.
  5. Store the cake in the fridge to help the rosettes set and hold their shape.

Slices of vanilla bean cake with rosettes of balsamic roasted strawberry buttercream - Flour Covered Apron

To Prepare In Advance

The roasted strawberries should be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge and will keep for at least a week. The cake layers can be wrapped tightly in saran wrap and stored either at room temperature for a day, or in the freezer for longer. Once frosted, the cake can be stored (covered) at room temperature for a day, or in the fridge for 2-3 days. I recommend garnishing with the balsamic roasted strawberries shortly before serving.

Recipe for vanilla bean layer cake with balsamic roasted strawberry buttercream | Flour Covered Apron

Vanilla Cake + Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Buttercream

Three layers of vanilla bean cake, frosted with balsamic roasted strawberry buttercream and topped with a mountain of balsamic roasted strawberries.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword balsamic, buttercream, cake, frosting, roasted, strawberries, strawberry, vanilla, vanilla bean
Cook Time 55 minutes
Servings 1 six-inch cake


Vanilla Bean Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour*
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

Balsamic Roasted Strawberries**

  • 6 cups sliced strawberries, 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Buttercream

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened (3 sticks)
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 5-6 tablespoons strawberry puree (from the balsamic roasted strawberries, above)


Vanilla Bean Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line the bottoms of three 6" cake pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour the pans.

  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, oil, and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes).

  4. Reduce speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition. Then, beat briefly on medium speed until the mixture is light, smooth, and creamy. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix to combine.

  5. With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding 1/3 of flour mixture, then 1/2 of the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix between each addition until incorporated. You will have 3 additions of flour and 2 additions of milk.

  6. Divide the batter evenly between prepared cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cakes comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.

  7. Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then turn cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Balsamic Roasted Strawberries

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Gently toss the strawberries, sugar, and balsamic vinegar together in a large bowl. Divide the strawberries evenly between the prepared baking sheets and roast at 375 for 30-35 minutes, until the strawberries have begun to caramelize.***

  3. Place baking sheets on top of a wire rack and allow strawberries to cool completely.

  4. Once cooled, place half (one pan) of the strawberries in a blender or food processor, leaving most of the juices on the pan. Pulse until strawberries are pureed. Set aside for the buttercream and reserve the other pan of strawberries to decorate the top of the cake.

Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Buttercream

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar (about 1 cup at a time), mixing to incorporate after each addition. Add salt and vanilla bean paste, then mix to combine.

  2. Add the strawberry puree one tablespoon at a time until desired taste, consistency, and color is reached. I used about 6 tablespoons of puree, from well-roasted strawberries (i.e. they were on the drier side - see notes).

Assembling the Cake

  1. Level each cake layer by using a serrated knife or cake cutter to slice the domes off the top of each cake.

  2. Using a small amount of buttercream, attach the first layer to a six-inch cake board and cover with buttercream. Repeat with the second layer and more frosting. Finally, stack the third layer on top, cut side down.

  3. Frost the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream (a crumb coat), then chill the cake for about 20 minutes. Finish frosting as desired, using the remaining buttercream. I used a large, closed star tip to pipe rosettes around the sides of the cake. See directions in the post.

  4. Finally, top the cake with the remaining balsamic roasted strawberries.

Recipe Notes

*Make your own cake flour by combining 1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour with 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift together at least 3 times.

**If not topping the cake with strawberries, you may make a half batch just for the frosting.

***One pan of strawberries will be used for the strawberry buttercream and the other half to decorate the top of the cake. I let the one pan roast a little bit longer, so I had "drier" strawberries to use for the buttercream (as opposed to the ones on top of the cake).

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