Semi-Homemade Strawberry Cake – Betty Crocker is a (Semi) Ho

This morning I found I had to come up with a birthday cake for later today. Most times, I would love to take a whole day to find the perfect recipe, get the ingredients, bake the cake, etc., but time and circumstance just didn’t allow for it. I couldn’t bring myself to just buy a cake either, so in the spirit of Sandra Lee and semi-homemade cooking, I baked a cake *gasp!* from a box.

Strawberry Cake Mix, Betty Crocker
Betty Crocker is a semi-ho

It was for a little princess, so I could have gone with a white cake frosted with pink-tinted icing, but if i was going to box it, it may as well be more interesting – pink cake! i couldn’t believe when i saw that a strawberry cake mix actually existed. then again, who knew you could just add water to flakes and get mashed potatoes or make an apple taste like a grape?

Strawberry Cupcake Batter
batter up

Suffice it to say that pink, at least strawberry pink from a box, is not a natural color for a cake. Natural colors are yellow, white, and brown, not hot pink. I was strangely attracted to it, though – so unnaturally bright and pink – and it smelled so very…strawberry. This overwhelming essence of strawberry will probably linger in my apartment until Thursday. Ok, maybe Wednesday. The funny thing is, even real strawberries don’t smell this strongly of strawberries.

Strawberry Cupcake cooking in tin
don’t worry. like your tan, color will deepen after baking

To redeem my culinary self, I made the frosting. canned frosting is way too sticky-sweet and way too artificial. Of course, I did just bake a cake the color of nuclear waste from a Barbie power plant, so I’m not quite sure what my real reasoning is. Nonetheless, cream cheese frosting would save me from guilt about *ahem* the box.

Strawberry Cupcake, baked
fake bake

For everything basic, I trust the Joy of Cooking, but its recipe for cream cheese frosting calls for cold cream cheese and a food processor. I had to look elsewhere because I just don’t trust using unsoftened cream cheese (too many experiences with chunky cheesecake, I think!), nor am I comfortable with food process-ed frosting. This one is good.

Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

This is essentially the same recipe as the Last Cream Cheese Frosting You’ll Ever Need, except that it uses softened cream cheese, 1 less tablespoon of butter and 1 less teaspoon of vanilla.


1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
4 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 c confectioner’s sugar, sifted (after measuring)


1. in mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla.

2. gradually mix in confectioner’s sugar. 2 c is a guideline; use more or less to get desired consistency for frosting.

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  • Anonymous

    very delicious

  • Megancake

    so did you doctor the mix at all? I have a pillsbury strawberry cake mix (found at the 99 cent store) that I would like to use but am rather timid about just following the box directions, I usually add sour cream and such to mixes which usually helps. Was this one ok on it’s own?

  • sarah j. gim

    anonymous: it most certainly was!

    cereal lady: i didn’t doctor it at all, though now that i think about it, adding fresh strawberry puree probably would have made it a lot better!

  • Anonymous

    how much strawberry puree would you suggest? your cake sounds exactly like what I want to make.

  • sarah j. gim

    basically, i would just replace whatever liquid is in the directions for the cake mix with straberry puree (or juice)

  • Anonymous

    I use that same box and prepare as directed except I add a tablespoon of strawberry preserves. I sometimes even add 1/2 a cup of pudding to make it extra moist. After it is cooled, I poke holes and pour strawberry jello over the cake to add flavor and it adds an interesting design to the cake. Then I top with slices of fresh strawberry and top with cool whip. Made it for Thanksgiving and no one ate any other desserts and I still get people asking for the recipe.

  • Lilac Kitten

    damn…that looks so good!

    You know what it would be perfect for? A Princess Party…with tiny silver ornaments.

    Plus, pink is always a hit with the ladies. Hey, if you can have bright green tea-flavored cupcakes…

  • sarah j. gim

    the cupcakes would never have made it to the Decorations phase. they were barely frosted before my niece lick-attacked them :)

  • nick yee

    congrats on posting :)

  • MsGourmet

    i must admit i too have had a *Bettty box momement* …

  • Simply

    Even though they are a toxic looking hot pink…they look so delicious T_T

  • Simply

    Even though they are a toxic looking hot pink…they look so delicious T_T

  • Jude

    A blog post. From you. Did something happen?
    Nice to see you posting again :)

  • the daniel

    Do not fear the JoC frosting recipe! I have used it with success, though it was with a proper Cuisinart and not some Sears-brand chopper.

  • H. C.

    Cream Cheese frosting is easily my favorite — so simple to make and I love how it adds a “cheesecake-iness” to anything it’s on. I can (and have) eat this off the spoon.

    What, no tablescapes or cocktail time?!

  • locksmith mesa

    look very delicious. I love strawberry!

  • Anonymous


    it actually looks like something out of El Bulli! like you’ve circumnavigated the foodie world in a mobius loop only to arrive
    back to home sweet home…

    wow, guess all that neon pink
    makes me a little woozy.
    love ya as always…

  • Jessica@Foodmayhem

    SO funny, I was just saying to my husband yesterday that the one thing I miss (since developing an allergy to food coloring 5 years ago) is Betty Crocker strawberry cake!

  • Anna

    Your photography is amazing! Makes you want to jump right into the photo so you can actually get a taste of whats pictured. Strawberry cake and cream cheese icing……what a way to go!

  • duodishes

    Oh it’s OK. No worries going semi-homemade. As long as it tastes good!

    We admit we’ve done the Sandra Lee thing before too. :)

  • Miss Turkiye

    first day here and i can already tell i’m going to get so fat. :)

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