I first read about brita, pardon me, Brita-Kakku, cakes — described as a typical Finnish summer cake with a based of a butter cake with a meringue baked onto it, whipped cream, and fresh berries — a few years ago and was instantly mesmerized by not just by the delicious promise of these ingredients but because, forgive me, the mess of it. In image search after image search, I drooled over charmingly lopsided cakes with raw edges, whipped cream with no regard for boundaries, meringues that wobbled and crumbled as they pleased, berries tumbling free, and I wanted it. I realize that there are more practical ways to approach it, such as a single-layer cake, but I didn’t want practical, I wanted berry cake chaos.
And so I made a two-layer brita cake from a 9×13 in, perhaps, the least rational way possible: I divided it the long way. Although, I did have my reasons. Long, rectangular desserts fit easily in the bottom of shopping bags, a primary consideration of mine when making a cake to bring places. Even though I do understand that mathematically, one does not get more slices from a long cake vs. a square one of the same volume, it always seems easier to get as many servings as needed when you can cut straight across a narrow cake.
To appreciate this cake, you need two things: taste buds — hopefully a non-hurdle when cream, meringue, butter cake, and fresh berries are involved — and to embrace the dishevelment of it. It might be more of a pile of cake components by the time you get it all sliced, but unlike any messes in my non-cooking life, it will be a charming one, more trifle than … don’t say it, Deb… don’t do it… trifling. (Sorry.)
Note: I should mentions that cakes with meringues baked onto them are hardly unique to Finland, and they go by many other names. I’ve read about German, Swedish, and Polish versions and more, but this is the one that’s always stopped me in my tracks. I hope to hear about all of your favorites in the comments.
6 months ago: New York Sour
1 year ago: Chickpea Pan Bagnat
2 years ago: Any-Kind-Of-Fruit Galette
3 years ago: Potato Vareniki
4 years ago: Ruffled Milk Pie
5 years ago: Tall Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes and Potatoes Anna
6 years ago: Failproof Crepes + A Crepe Party, Crispy Tortellini with Peas and Proscuitto, Confetti Cookies and Roasted Carrots with Avocado and Yogurt
7 years ago: Not Derby Pie Bars, Liege Waffles and Mushrooms and Greens with Toast
8 years ago: Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars and Soft Pretzel Buns and Knots
9 years ago: Japanese Cabbage and Vegetable Pancakes
10 years ago: Warm, Crisp and a Little Melty Salad Croutons and Chocolate Buckwheat Cake
11 years ago: Creme Brulee French Toasts, Leek Toasts with Blue Cheese, Vermontucky Lemonade, and Easy Jam Tart
12 years ago: Endive and Celery Salad with Fennel Vinaigrette, Rhubarb Cobbler, and Broccol Slaw
13 years ago: Brownie Roll-Out Cookies, Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad
14 years ago: Martha’s Macaroni-and-Cheese and Crispy Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies and Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
15 years ago: Raspberry-Topped Lemon Muffins
Strawberry Brita Cake
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, divided
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- Finely grated zest of half a lemon
- 3/4 cup (170 grams) milk, whole or lowfat, or buttermilk, well-shaken
- 1 1/2 cups (200 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 pound (455 grams) fresh strawberries, halved or sliced
- Juice of half a lemon
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar, divided
- 1 cup (225 grams) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) sour cream or creme fraiche
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting, and mint leaves, for garnish (both optional)
Make the meringue: In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with 1/4 teaspoon salt on medium/low speed until they begin to thicken — they’ll look satiny and you’ll see some trails form from the beaters. Increase the speed to medium, and add half the sugar — 3/4 cup — a little at a time, letting each sprinkle disappear and beating 10 to 20 seconds before adding more. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste and continue to whip the mixture until the egg whites are glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted. Set this bowl aside.
Make the cake: In a second bowl, but no need to clean your whisk/beaters if you’re using them again, beat the butter with the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and beat to combine. Sprinkle surface of batter with baking powder and beat thoroughly into mixture. Add the milk and beat to combine; the batter will immediately look curdly and split and like you’ve made a mistake. You haven’t. Add the flour and beat until smooth; the mixture should come back together evenly.
Bake the cake: Spoon the cake batter into the bottom of your prepared cake pan and spread it into a thin, even layer. Dollop the egg white mixture all over the batter and gently spread this across the cake. (For both, a small offset spatula makes this easier.) Bake the cake for 20 minutes, then check for doneness — a toothpick inserted into the cake should come out batter-free. This can be harder to assess under a meringue, so try a few places. The cake might need 5 to 10 minutes longer to set. [Yes, I found this long of a baking time range in testing.]
Once baked, cool cake in pan for 10 minutes, then used the parchment surrounding the cake to carefully yank the cake and parchment directly onto your cooling rack to completely cool.
Finish cake components: In a medium bowl, combine strawberries, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and lemon juice and set aside. [It takes about 15 minutes for them to get juicy.] Combine the heavy cream, crème fraîche, remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, and vanilla extract or paste in a large, clean bowl, and beat mixture until soft peaks form.
Assemble the cake: Carefully cut the cooled cake in half the long way, creating two long rectangles. Loosen the parchment underneath, and carefully transfer the first half onto a plate. Swirl the top of it with half the whipped cream, then scratter with half the berries. [Will it be messy? Yes it will.] Place the second half of the cake on top of the berries and finish with remaining cream and berries. You can drizzle any extra juices from the bowl over the cake. Garnish with mint leaves and/or powdered sugar, if you wish.
To serve: Store the cake in the fridge until needed. Cut cake into messy, chaotic slices to serve. Leftovers keep in the fridge for 4 days.
173 comments on strawberry brita cake
Happy Jubilee Day, Deb! Can’t wait to make this!
I made a Norwegian Kvaefjordkake last year, which is a berry free and very almond centered sibling of this cake. It had nearly paper thin cake and so much whip cream/custard filling. There was no way to get a beautiful cut but every bite was amazing. I look forward to making this one since it is still berry season here and the slightly thicker cake layers look much more manageable for transportation! Chaos really is an accurate word for these in the best possible way.
Do you have a recipe? I like making macarons but ended up with a 10 lb sack of almond flour I’d love to use up.
Thanks! I’ll try that.
do you think it’s possible to double the recipe without any problems like collapsing? would it take longer in the oven? thanks so much
I’ve made Kvaefjordkake as well and it’s delicious (and messy)! The recipe I used was on Northwildkitchen and uses flaked almonds, no almond flour.
I this cake is featured in several pre-war cookbooks as Thunder &Lightening Cake. Norway claims it as their national cake, as do the Finns… and probably the rest of Scandinavia. My Norwegian grandmother said it was Norwegian and my Scottish grandmother got it from an American cookbook she got a a wedding present in 1930! Who cares? It’s delicious!! And it loves any filings… including toasted walnuts and pineapple with whipped cream…berries…shaved chocolate… etc etc
PS.. my mom made it in 2 round Cake pans, which reduced the chaos a bit.
That’s the way I did it, it was easier to handle.
In my German Mennonite world this is called a Himmel Torte and is often served with berries, but also tastes great with a rhubarb compote.
Oh, thanks for the rhubarb idea! Spring has been so cool that we don’t have local strawberries yet, but rhubarb is available!
Yes, thanks, that sounds perfect
Isn’t this related to the World’s Best Cake? Which is a pretty fabulous cake (also messy).
I’ve made a similar cake for years. It’s actually a Nigel Lawson recipe – lemon meringue cake. Can’t believe I never thought of using strawberries. Duh! Thank you for this recipe. Can’t wait to make it.
“Nigel Lawson”–any relation to Nigella?
It’s most likely her second cousin, “Typo.”
Maybe a typo but Nigella’s dad was called Nigel, hence her name!
That would be amazing with strawberries…a lemon cake, meringue, and strawberries sound like a dessert made in Heaven! My husband is diabetic. Any idea if Monkfruit Sweetener will substitute into the meringue okay?
I made a similar cake some years ago, and I believe the author claimed it was Swedish. It was fantastic, baked in 2 8-inch rounds, topped with raspberries and sliced almonds, but it was more memorable because of the sheer number of bowls needed. Clean up was a chore. I think you’ve managed to streamline the process while keeping the integrity, so I’ll be giving this one a try!
Well, doesn’t this look absolutely magical. I’m slightly horrified that I’ve never heard of this type of cake before. Delicious chaos is my favorite kind of chaos!
OMG, Deb. How did you know I’d just purchased waaaay too many strawberries for a strawberry rhubarb pie and had no idea what to do with the pound of leftovers? I’ll be making this little delight tomorrow.
Can I bake the cake in advance and put it together with the strawberries and cream another day? Should I store at room temperature or the fridge?
Yes. I’d keep it at room temp.
Thanks. Would you cover with cling film or foil (or would that make the meringue weep) or leave as is in the pan? A bit worried but may bake in advance.
I wouldn’t cover it. I think the open air is best for meringue and if you keep it in the pan, the cake underneath should stay moist.
If you were, say, making this for your own birthday, would you in good conscience make it ahead and keep it in the fridge? Does it really keep well?
It’s delicious on the second, third, etc. days. But the texture is less complex over time. The meringue top, of course, eventually gets less crisp/crumbled under cream and berries.
My Eastern European great grandmother made a variation of this cake with apricot filling and a cup of ground walnuts folded into the meringue.
Oh, yum!!! Here in Germany, my family calls it Himmelreichtorte and makes it with raspberries instead of strawberries. This used to be the cake I always requested for my birthday as a kid … fun memories!
Hi. Himmelreichtorte sounds interesting. Can you please share a recipe link for the same?
Love this… because strawberries, meringue, cream …mmmm
Nigella Lawson has a similar cake, baked in a round pan in her SUMMER
cookbook. I have made it for my strawberry season birthday. It is always messy and always delicious.
I have always loved this cake but only here have I learned so much about it! Thank you! As I started down the rabbit hole I discovered a variation using RUM extract in place of vanilla- I think that will be my next version… but rhubarb compote also gets my attention. I’ll see what looks good at the store!
Looks delicious! I made a Polish variation of this cake (Pane Walewska Cake), with blackcurrant jam, vanilla custard, and coarsely chopped walnuts onto the meringue: https://ludanyo.blogspot.com/2020/10/walewska-asszony-sutemenye-pani.html
Kvæfjordkake: The World’s Best Cake (Verdens Beste) for my birthday! My daughter makes as my special request ❤️
From Norway! And because my birthday is in June she adds fresh strawberries 🍓 as garnish- fabulous.
This just went to the top of my list to bake for the Jubilee in the UK. Replacing my other dessert pronto! Interested if anyone knows from similar cakes if you can bake the cake and meringue the day before and assemble with cream/berries the next day?
I made this yesterday as my Jubilee cake and it was delicious and a huge hit with my friends. Great recipe and all of deb’s tips are spot on (offset spatula to spread; testing cake – mine took 24min). I didn’t make in advance as was worried about it keeping, but would do that the second time and assemble the next day. I might make even more of the whip cream! and love the variations other readers are suggesting so may try some of those. Another winner!!!
Every year, I choose a “different” recipe for my birthday cake, as I love to make my own. I’ve done simple to complex, but this one is definitely it for this year. No doubt.
And I absolutely love the word “scratter” and will be using it every time I’m tossing toppings around a dish.
Dicipus Chaos is my new favorite band name.
This was the cake my mother always asked for for her birthday. I made it in rounds and sprinkled it with sliced almonds before baking, even messier but good
Ooh! I love this and I splurged on a baking set from Amazon because I got ambitious with some pie cookbooks. I like that it’s a messy cake. Cakes are generally too fussy for me and so much rests on how they’re iced or how perfectly they come out of the pan, that this looks exactly like the spring “Malfotti” of cakes. Thanks!
Any chance this would work with cup 4 cup GF flour?
Hey there! I can’t speak to Cup-4-Cup flour, but King Arthur’s Gluten-Free all-purpose flour does marvelously when substituting in gluten-free flour. My gluten-eating husband barely, if ever, knows!
I made this last night. It was delicious! I also ate too much! I will have to try it with rhubarb or a rhubarb/strawberry combination next.
A neighbor recently closed her Finnish bake shop but still sells her most popular bakes to her old customers. Brita is one. Lemon is my favorite as well as rhubarb but all of her britas are wonderful. She knows we are all hooked on them and posts the photos on Facebook which has the same reaction as you described when you saw brita for the first time. However wonderful, they are EXPENSIVE as she sells in boxes of 2 slices. I felt it might be too intimidating to try but your recipe sounds very doable. Thank you! I will be posting after giving it a go. My wallet thanks you as well.
Out of purely academic curiosity, is it common for buttermilk and regular milk to be interchangeable in a recipe? Or do you end up with a slightly different cake based on which you pick here?
Not always, but here it works fine. Buttermilk can add a more complex flavor. When buttermilk is called for and baking soda, but not baking powder, it would be necessary to swap it with another acidic ingredient, not just milk, or the baking soda may not fully activate.
My daughter was born June 21 – this has been her birthday cake for a few years now. I tweaked a similar Food & Wine recipe from a few years back. My mother in law used to reminisce about a cake her mother made in the 1930s – it was a yellow cake with a white center and then a chocolate ganache. She did not know what the center was. She knew it wasn’t frosting or whipped cream. The first time I made it I knew that the meringue was what the center was in that cake she always talked about. Eureka! She is no longer with us but maybe she nudged me to this recipe because she probably eats it every day now with her lovely mother.
Having a party and already decided on your poolside sesame slaw and dulce de leche chocoflan and thinking of adding this but doing it as a single layer so everyone can have a thin slice of both lol!
Going on the must-make list! My 9×13 is glass, or else I have a 9.5″ metal round I could pair with a 9″ metal springform (and just let the top layer be the .5″ smaller than the bottom). Which would you try, and would you adjust temperature or first-guess bake time or anything else?
I baked mine in my Pyrex and it worked fine, just took the full 30 min to bake.
This was INSANELY good! Thank you for the recipe!
thank you, yes I like these too for their “unevenness” and imperfection compared to the works of art that many cakes have become, it’s nice to just enjoy simple cake ingredients as a dessert rather than a museum piece!
I have a gorgeous giant bag of tiny beautiful strawberries my friend grows on her farm in the freezer. Do you think if I defrost them I can use them in this recipe? Since you’re going for ‘juicy’ w the strawberries I would think so? Love your recipes deb!!
I just made this. Really good and people loved it. I agree with the comments about the meringue sort of disappearing in the final product. I used a metal pan and it cooked for 25 minutes. Definitely not done at 20. Strawberries were cheap and in season, so I doubled them. I strongly recommend that you do the same.
This recipe release was perfectly timed. I made this for my partner’s birthday dinner and it was a huge hit. I loved the extra tang added by incorporating the sour cream into the whipped cream. I also found that super thin sliced berries helped with the stability.
I am however upset that the recipe mentions how to store leftovers. I was super excited to have cake for breakfast this morning, but that’s impossible because we ate the whole cake last night 😂. I think I will make this again next week for his actual birthday.
When is the vanilla added to the cake batter?
I think the cake gets lemon zest and the meringue and whipped cream get the vanilla.
Made this yesterday and it was quite a hit! The merengue, however, didn’t provide the crispness I was hoping for. Kind of disappeared into a thin layer. Maybe because it was a pretty humid day? Any advice?
This was the perfect easy summer dessert and was inhaled by all at the table! I baked mine in my pyrex 9×13 and it took the full 30 min; at 20 it was still pretty wobbly. Thanks for this incredible dessert!! It looks far more complicated than it was. I always appreciate how Deb uses as few vessels as possible – I can easily see how this recipe could have ended up being a 10 bowl extravaganza, but really it wasn’t, which means my dishwasher handle all the prep containers and dinner dishes. Thanks for an incredible summer dessert!!
I couldn’t get my whites to stiff peaks, I suspect the whisk attachment was contaminated, but it still baked up beautifully. I used half almond milk and half yogurt for the dairy, and we had raspberries instead of strawberries because grocery day came before recipe drop this week haha but it is still impressive and quite easy, other than all the bowls heh. Deb I appreciate that I often don’t need to procure anything for your new recipes, either because we have similar pantry elements or your recipe has those lovely flexibility notes, which is good because I am not particularly patient especially when it comes to food!
I made this for my Mom’s bday supper tonight and it was a hit! I made the cake/meringue yesterday, let it cool completely, covered it, and put it in the fridge not realizing the meringue would soften as I have never made it before. It still turned out fine though. That whipped cream mixture was amazing, btw. I think I’ll be adding sour cream to my whipped cream from now on. It adds that little bit of something… so good! Thanks Deb for another great recipe!
We Finns usually assemble the cream and the berries/fruit just before serving the cake, so that you get the maximum crispness on the meringue. And that the berries won‘t have time to colour the cream. So you can also transport the cake to the rural coubtryside cottage in a hot car without problems, the berries and the UHT-cream in the cool bag, and when it‘s time to eat, just whip the cream and layer the parts of the cake. I know, UHT cream doesn‘t sound like gourmet, but it‘s practical for a summer trip. Here in Germany, I would take a „whipped cream spray bottle“ if I were to make a picnic with brita cake.
I love the version with some ground almonds in the cake base (just sub some of the flour with almond flour), and tangy rhubarb compotte on the top. Just saying.
Actually reading this while on vacation in Finland and plan to make it, after catching my breath, when we arrive back home in San Francisco. Haven’t yet encountered a similar dessert here though there are lots of berries used.
This was a huge success and hit at the birthday party I brought it to! The lemon addition gives it such a nice summery feel. I did half the sugar for the cake and it still came out great and not overly sweet.
Made this for brunch dessert today! It was perfect!! I didn’t have strawberries but did have blackberries and blueberries that worked wonderfully. The cake base itself is lovely I think next time I’ll skip the meringue and do fresh lemon curd with the cream. It really is the perfect mess for spring and summer. Not overly sweet and fresh
For the cake it says add egg yolks but they aren’t listed in the recipe! Are they yolks from the separated eggs for the merengue??
Yup, you use the yolks from the eggs whites used to make the merengue.
Excellent recipe! I made it yesterday and we devoured most of it on the spot. My cake needed the full 30 to bake and was even then just done where the cake meets the meringue. Perfect summer cake.
My Polish mother and grandmother made a very similar cake in 8 or 9 inch round cake pans; so much easier to assemble. When berries were not in season they would bake the layers with walnuts or coconut on top of the meringue and put custard, instead of whipped cream, between the layers.
Strawberry season has already come and gone here in MD. Do you think blueberries would work instead? I’m guessing they wouldn’t be as juicy, but still delicious! Thank you!
You could make a blueberry compote to add the juicy factor in
I live in Maryland also (in Baltimore) and we’re going strawberry picking tomorrow! So it’s definitely not gone in all parts of Maryland. :)
Nice! I’m in Southern MD, and they peaked here a few weeks ago. They’re gone from the farmer’s market, although there may still be one U-pick place open. Hope you get delicious berries!
It’s directions like “carefully yank” that keep me smitten.
It was my birthday on Sunday and this was what I made. The strawberries were not perhaps as ripe as they should have been but the cake was still a showstopper. I was really pleased to have no half eggs left over, well done for that. It had a big impact for comparatively little messing about and what’s not to like about that?
I am Swedish but living in the US. This cake has in my past unwillingly but always been attributed to Norway, and has been a favorite recipe there for years. NY Times wrote an article about it. Living abroad my appreciation for Norwegians has increased and survived the jokes I was brought up with and I willingly now are giving them the credit!
This was the cake I requested that my mother make for my birthday several times. It was called a blitztorte. Thank you for reminding me about it.
Made this for my son’s birthday yesterday and we really enjoyed it. I wished for a little bit of crushed berries to make it a bit juicier but it was still delicious. Super easy too!
Absolutely fantastic. Baked about 23 minutes, could of gone a little less. But Deb is right, the meringue makes it a little harder to gauge doneness.
You must add the sour cream to the whipped topping. So good. Also I did blueberry in stead of strawberry because family is adverse to strawberry (eyeroll).
Everyone loved this.
I live in Sweden and we make a version of this every year for Midsommar. It’s called Ernst Midsommar Tårta 🤩. It is soooo good. Everyone I know who’s tried it thinks it’s the best thing they’ve ever eaten. I’m happy to send you to recipe of you would like to compare!
This is very similar to the Norwegian Kvæfjordkake, but with berries (which sounds like a great addition!).
Question: I made this last night for a party. It was scrumptious and beautiful. I noticed when serving though that the meringue layer seemed to have disinigrated once the cream was on it.. Everything was fully baked – the cake and meringue. Is this normal? Thx
The same thing happened to me! The meringue puffed up beautifully and everything seemed well cooked, but it collapsed into a very thin sugary layer. It was delicious, but it appears that Deb’s meringue layer is fluffy and white in the photos. I’m wondering if it’s either a high altitude thing or if I beat the egg whites too much? I seem to be meringue challenged – I made the lovely lemon curd mini-pavlovas for Easter and they didn’t seem to be quite right, either. Delicious but not quite right in terms of texture.
I too had the problem with the meringue collapsing. The meringue also became very soft. The cake rested for a few hours before assembling, and it was rather humid in the kitchen, so I’m wondering if the humidity got o it. The cake was still delicious, and will try again.
Did you use a stand mixer with a whisk? My meringue got quite firm but I used a high speed on that part.
I just made this- had it in the oven for the full 35 minutes (20+10+5) finally got a clean pull on my toothpick and took it out to cool for 10 minutes. Tried to pull it out of the pan and cake batter was still totally liquid! Not sure what I’m doing wrong here…
Same thing happened to me. I see other versions of this cake don’t put the whipped cream on the top. They just sprinkles some berries. So then the middle layer of meringue may melt down, but the top should stay high and crunchy. Then maybe dollop the top with whipped cream as you’re serving. I’m obsessed with this cake, but I want it more meringue forward, so that’s my plan for next time!
So fun (and easy!) to make… my favorite baking alchemy in all its forms, meringue, cream, and cake! The farmer market lady gifted me an extra bucket of berries so this was the perfect foil. Had mascarpone on hand, and was a delicious alternative to creme fraiche. Gold candles down the line of almost tumbling pisa, for my friends birthday, but it stayed upright and was so pretty and delectable. And almost immediately, gone in tummies, and have shared the recipe for more to come. Thank you!!
My husband and kiddos made this for me for my birthday and it was SO GOOD! And reportedly not too hard to pull together but lusciously messy and perfect.
oh yes, we Germans are big about meringue as well. I hate it when it’s hard (you can get it pure in bakeries – it’s just overly sweet and dry in my opinion), but it’s wonderful when it’s baked soft on top of cheesecake or – my personal favourite – rhubarb cake! <3
Hi Deb, I’m a long time fan : ) . Do you think the cake could be made with olive oil instead of butter and be equally delicious? Amy
Different flavor profile but still could be good. A more neutral/flavorless oil could work too.
My cake was dry and hard, meringue soft so not sure what i did wrong? Would love some suggestions.
Fantastic result. I just followed the recipe step by step and couldn’t be more pleased. And not as messy as Deb led me to believe. With a strawberry-blueberry combo it screams Fourth of July. I skipped the optional garnish and used buttermilk, which I think added some complexity. My hint: have everything at room temperature except for the whipping cream (I always refrigerate my bowl and beaters first too). This might be the best dessert I’ve had in a long time!
Well this was a rampaging success. And once we’d eaten the more messy ends and placed the remainder in an upside 32 oz strawberry container, the leftovers look like I bought it from a bakery! I loved it; my family loved it; I brought in some for my foodie colleague and she came running to my office after five minutes to gush over how good it was. This is definitely a “too many strawberries” (is there such a thing?) keeper.
We’ve had a similar passed-down family recipe called a “swedish upside down torte” and it always is delicious and catches everyone off guard since it is so unusual with a butter cake and meringue baked in. We serve it in round form baked in cake pans, and it is spectacular and delicious.
The summer I was 17 I stayed with a host family in Finland and they made what they called “Ruth Anna’s” cake, which was this but with raspberries instead of strawberries and slivered almonds sprinkled over the meringue prior to baking. It has been my go to summer cake since then and I’ve had to share the recipe after bringing it to various celebrations. I’m pretty sure the name I have was just a family name they used for it, but I will keep calling it that.
I made this last night. No notes. Excellent as is though I did top my cake the short way rather than the long way. Didn’t feel the need to live dangerously. Have everybody look and ooh and aah prior to cutting because it becomes a bit of a mess after.
I think the “make the cake” section is supposed to tell us to use the other 1/2 tsp vanilla. The cake ingredient list calls for 1 tsp divided; we use 1/2 in the meringue.
I imagine it’ll be a subtle difference!
Good point; I made the cake this morning (haven’t assembled yet) and didn’t even notice that!
It goes in the whipped cream
Really had fun making this but was disappointed that the meringue virtually disappeared under the whipped cream and strawberries. Not a bit of meringue crunch or anything. It became a thin layer of additional sweetness and vanilla flavor, but otherwise, AWOL!
Is this what to expect?
I apologize if someone has already asked this – I read a lot of the comments below but didn’t go through them all.
Thanks so much –
yes, I am going to make this but before that: what are those flat-ish glass bowls dishes in the third pic? I have the steel versions and would love to have the glass ones!
The meringue seeped into the cake making for a glob in the middle ☹️
It’s still the 11th where I am–Happy Birthday, Deb! I made this for my daughter’s first birthday, the same day as yours, and it was a hit at her little party. She loved the whipped cream and berries. Such a pretty, delicious summer cake.
I am celiac. Do you think I could use the light choc cake recipe you have for your Swiss roll to make this as it’s GF?
Just made this for my husband’s birthday. It was fun to make, fun to serve, and delicious!
The one question I had was whether there should be another 1/2 tsp of vanilla that should go in the cake batter? I see 1 tsp of vanilla (divided) listed in the instructions, with 1/2 in the merengue, but not sure when the other 1/2 comes in. Thank you!
This was excellent. Can’t wait to make it again!
Did not work out for me. I followed the recipe exactly: no substitutions, all the steps in the correct order. The meringue was perfectly made: glossy, stiff, not dry. However, after 25 minutes, the cake was definitely done, but the meringue, though looking beautiful on top, did not seem fully set in the middle. When the cake cooled, the meringue collapsed into a thin, sweet chewy layer. The assembled cake was just a regular pound type cake with whipped cream and strawberries: not necessarily bad, but certainly not something worth buying farmer’s market strawberries for. A few other bakers here seem to have a similar problem. I don’t see how this cake can work at all: wouldn’t the steam from the cooling cake ruin the meringue? Did any one actually get the crunchy meringue layer?
My meringue was, as I expected, like the topping on a lemon meringue pie, soft, airy and slightly chewy; not like a crunchy meringue cookie or shell. The layer in the middle of the assembled cake did collapse and get a bit lost in the whipped cream, but it still provided some contrast that I think I would have missed if I only had the cake and cream.
I read some recipes for similar cakes and some suggested flipping the bottom layer so the meringue was on the bottom rather than between the two cake layers. So, that’s what I did and the two meringue layers – one at the way bottom and one at top underneath a layer of whipped cream and strawberries stayed meringue-like.
Now that I’ve made it, this cake has dethroned Nigella’s Lemon Meringue cake as my special occasion favourite, and it was really simple to make. The biggest difference between this one and Nigella’s (besides the strawberries) is the cake itself-there’s more of it, and the texture is perfect. The overall creation is satisfying but still feels light from the whipped cream and berries. I will absolutely make this again and again, with whatever fruit or curd is available. Thanks Deb!
I took the cake out of the oven about an hour ago and the meringue is very sticky and soft. I had thought (hoped!) it would get crisp. Maybe it’s due to the humidity in NYC today? Sad if that’s the case since it’s such a lovely summery cake. Do you think I could put it back in the oven to crisp before serving it tomorrow night? Could that work?
A winner! Made this as part of a thank you dinner to friends who came to visit and treated us when we went out. It was a showstopper for sure! It sliced more easily than I imagined and is a beautiful mess of a centerpiece. Thanks for another great dessert!
My friend I made this for a couple weeks ago just riffed on it with apricots, pistachios, and gorgeous black cherries. I’m planning a riff soon with raspberries and thinking of chocofying it — chocolate in the cake and meringue, and some shavings with the raspberries over the whip. Also thinking of pear and hazelnut in fall — so many ways to play!
WOW it looks so delicious!! I can’t wait to try it tmr! Thanks for sharing this.
There is a similar cake in Denmark called granddad’s beard. It is with a similar cake toppet with strawberry jam and then topped with the meringue and baked.
I definitely had to leave the cake in the oven at least 10 minutes longer. But I made it for a friend’s birthday dinner and it was delicious! A messy delight.
I am NOT a great baker. If I can make it, anyone can. And should.
I found this cake did not need the layer of whipped cream – the cake base with meringue then plain, sliced berries was plenty sweet, and lighter, more refreshing. Everyone went NUTS for it, kids, too. I am going to make it again right now with fresh cherries.
I just made this for Father’s Day. In the written instructions, there’s no mention of adding the rest of the vanilla? I realized this after I assembled it and put it in the oven. It’s a small thing, I’m sure it will still be delicious! Just wanted to let you know. Thanks!
The rest of the vanilla, I believe 1/2 tsp, is in the whip cream.
I came home from a festival with a container of local strawberries. I happen to see the video you produced for the strawberry brita cake and decided to make it. It was easy and the results were outstanding. The cake was soooo good. It takes me back to the birthday cakes we would have as children, maybe better.
Is it possible to double the recipe and bake in a half sheet pan? I need to make this for a crowd and while it will certainly be more wonky, one pan is better than two 9×13 pans.
Great dessert, better than shortcake- helped my son make it for Father’s Day
I made this, and first things first: it was super delicious and a huge hit. My question is this: is the meringue supposed to kind of fall and melt a little after the whipped cream goes on? I saw that it stays in the fridge for a few days, so I made it a couple of hours before serving, and my crunchy meringue was reduced to a little barely there layer. Not sure if that was the intent? Or if I’m supposed to assemble it immediately before serving?
I think there is an error – where does the other 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla for the cake go – in the cake batter?
This was so easy to make, and it turned out exactly as expected. I will definitely make it again!
This was truly fantastic. I bake a lot of cakes and this is one I’ll bake again and again. I had perfectly ripe local strawberries and it was a treat. Also used buttermilk which I would recommend if you have it.
For enquiring minds; the recipe as written worked perfectly for two 8-inch rounds and was beautifully messy.
Tanya’s comment asks, “Did any one actually get the crunchy meringue layer?” and before I use some gorgeous strawberries, I’m wondering the same thing. For comparison, the excellent, delicious pavlova recipe here bakes the meringue on its own at 250 for 1 hour 15 minutes, then stays in the cracked-open oven as it cools. So I’m guessing the intended texture here can’t be pavlova-like, but is it crisp at all?
I think if you served it right after assembly you’d get some crunch. Mine sat for an hour or so and we didn’t get crunch, but the sort of pillowy meringue layer was great.
It’s a little crisp but not like a solid meringue. It’s plush right under the top edge.
Deb, I’ve been following you for years and once again a recipe that did not disappoint. I made this cake for a get-together we hosted last weekend with a bunch of our friends. There were about 28 people in total, half adults and half kiddos. I decided on this cake for the adults and cookies and ice cream for the kids. After the kids had been served their dessert, I walked out with this cake and it was like moths to a flame and one child yelled “THAT’S not fair!”. It probably wasn’t, but there has to be some advantage to being an adult right? The adults were in Strawberry Brita Cake heaven with every bite. There was not even a crumb or dollop of whipped cream to spare. The cake came out perfectly as written, I wouldn’t change a thing. Thank you and happy summer!
In the three weeks since this recipe has been published, I have made this cake twice. The first, my daughter licked her plate clean (literally), and I gave the rest away to friends because I knew it wasn’t safe in our house. And the second time I doubled the recipe for Father’s Day because I knew everyone would want seconds. This is not a cake to just make once. Don’t say it didn’t come with a warning label! 😉
Just made this last night – lovely! Like a cloud with strawberries on it. The light lemon zing with the light sweetness and sweet strawberries is lovely. And easy to make too. Thank you!
Could I substitute marscapone for the sour cream?
Yes, it should be fine.
I subbed some homemade whole milk yogurt and it worked fine!
This cake was SO good–and not nearly as difficult as it sounds :) Perfectly balanced and not too sweet. I’m now ready to try it with our local peaches!
I invited friends over for tea so I could have an excuse to make this. It was exquisite, despite deficiencies on my end, such as having to bake it in a 9×13-ish roasting pan because I don’t have a 9×13 cake pan, and my egg beaters ceasing to function halfway through. This will be a new Midsummer tradition!
I made this exactly as written and it was magical. Other posters commented on them meringue layer being thin and collapsing into the cake, but I did not have this issue. I think the key is to make sure to add the sugar to the egg whites gradually and really beat at high speed for 10-20 seconds as instructed prior to adding more sugar. This creates a strong, glossy meringue that puffs and browns beautifully during baking. Mine required 23 minutes after which time the meringue was puffed and browned and the cake magically moist. When I assembled it right before serving, guests were oohing and aahing at the transformation. Well worth the 4-bowl (meringue, cake, cream, strawberries) effort!
Do you think you could halve this recipe somehow? Not sure how to halve the eggs!
Insanely delicious results, but a lot of cake for just the two of us! We should all have such problems :)
Maybe in an 8×8? You could still have two layers, if you wanted.
Just made it yesterday…PERFECTION! Loved the crunchy sweet meringue and all those strawberries!
after ciking strawberries this long weekend, making jam, pie and eating enough fresh to fill a battleship, i had a spare few cups left. this showed up in a search so I decided to give it a try. we are not shortcake fans, but the meringue topped cake intrueged me. the cake is easy to put together and bakes up beautifully; mine took 21 minutes to bake through. assembly was a fingerlicking treat! we had it for our 4th of july dessert and IT. WAS. SPECTACULAR. easily will feed 10. even my hubbie (who never seems overly impressed with a new recipe) stated this would be great at a party “to really wow them!” thank you for our new summer fav dessert. :o)
Made this for 4th of July today and it was lovely! I toped the meringue with sliced almonds, and used a mix of raspberries, blackberries & blueberries for color. I’m at high altitude (5000′), so for anyone curious about adjustments, I did the following: used 10% less sugar in cake and meringue; reduced baking powder to 1.5 tsp; added 2 Tbs. extra milk, and baked at 360 for 20 minutes. For the meringue, I tried to stop just short of stiff peaks, but it still collapsed quite a bit once baked. Next time I will try to keep closer to soft peaks. All in all, though, a wonderful summer treat!
I think there are so many versions of this cake that we don’t know yet. But this one looks pretty good, I’m going to try it by next weekend. Thank you.
Made this for a bbq and it was a huge hit. Took about 40 minutes to bake in my oven. I kept checking but the bottom layer was still raw.
Ended up with a slightly messier, more “batter-forward” end product than expected… couple takeaways for subsequent attempts (I will definitely make it again–it was delicious and enjoyed by all!). For context, I tried to follow the recipe exactly. Butter/buttermilk brought to room temp before used; whisk/bowl stuck in freezer for a bit before doing the meringue and later the whipped cream. Meringue came out nice and pillowy–just the cake was a underdone.
1) I used a 13×9 Pyrex, whose sloped sides undermined (literally) the structural integrity of the cake when I removed it to cool; the sides collapsing away distracted from the larger issue that the very center of the cake was still pretty raw. Next time I will definitely use a pan with vertical sides. Thinking about possibly splitting into two 6×9 pans.
2) Boy howdy is it difficult to gauge the doneness of this cake! (For what it’s worth I am not a super experienced baker.) My oven runs a little cool, so I checked it at 25 min, at which point three separate stabs came back clean and the meringue was perfect. Didn’t check it at the very center, facepalm.
As always, Deb’s instructions were spot-on as written. Nonstick spray on the parchment was essential. Hoping these reflections from a less-than-perfect attempt by an infrequent baker might help others :-)
Great Feedback. I used all of the extra ten minutes on this. the cake bottom was a perfect golden brown. Glass pans rarely work for baking. I am glad you are planning to make this again.
This was my Birthday cake this year. It’s like a combination of Pavlova and a Strawberry shortcake. Loved it! Thanks for posting.
This cake was a big hit! I did find that I needed about half a cup more of the whipping cream. Thank you for introducing me to this dessert, I will most certainly make it again.
This worked for me. I cut and stacked it length-wise and it was the right choice. The meringue was light and crispy, and provided a delightful texture. I needed the the extra ten minutes cook time suggested in the recipe. I used the convection setting on my oven. I added vanilla pastry cream in between the layers and it was wonderful. I am taking this recipe on vacation and will make it for my folks.
Not to be dramatic but this was maybe the best cake I’ve ever made, and I’m a chocolate gal. Melt in your mouth, so flavorful, an absolute delight. Wide eyes all around with first bites. Easy too! Will absolutely make again.
delicious cake! i don’t have a 9×13 cake pan, so used two 9″ round cake pans and it turned out great. the meringue also puffed up quite a bit in the oven but deflated after a few mins out of the oven.
A lot of ingredients but surprisingly easy to follow and very few places where you can go wrong.
My Austrian MIL makes something like this with red currants on top, and it’s fabulous.
I made this cake on my birthday and it turned into so nice that my friends can’t recognised that i made this cake myself not bought from bakery shop. thanks for this recipe.
I have just made this cake. I seem to have everything cake pan except a 9×13 so I used two 8 inch round pans. I was really excited to make this cake and found the recipe very easy to follow. I baked the cake at 350 and continuously checked for doneness every 5 minutes after 25 min. I baked it for 40 minutes. The cake is completely done on the bottom and sides, the meringue is puffy and brown. However the cake right below the meringue is still completely raw. Has anyone else had this problem?
That was amazing!!! Made for a small gathering of friends. Everyone LOVED it. Not a bit left. Make exactly as directed. Baked 30 minutes
Deb, is there a reason why you don’t alternate the milk and flour/baking powder here and instead add the baking powder first, then all the milk, and then all the flour?
I find it easier this way — always one bowl.
THANK YOU SO SO MUCH for this recipe.
This sommer I have hosted few dinners and each time i have made this cake and each time it worked so wel (it’s not the only receipe), it pleases kids and adults.
It is a favorite in our house!!
P.S.: pasta with butter is frequently served in France to kids, sometimes we had ham and gruyère
Can I use frozen organic strawberries since there are no local ones now? It looks fabulous for a Labor Day party we’re going to!
Made this over the summer and fell in love! Today I’m making individual gingerbread-cranberry versions for an American Thanksgiving dinner.
Has anyone tried to make this gluten free? I am making it for a friend’s birthday and one person coming can’t have gluten. I really don’t want to compromise the cake’s flavor or texture!
I made this, while it was still delicious meringues were not crisp at all, they were very soft and a similar texture as the cake. What did I do wrong? I would like to make it again but with crisp meringues. Thank you!
The meringues from the oven or after they cooled?
Right from the oven they never had a hard outer layer. I was hoping after it cooled they would get crisp but that didn’t happen either. They definitely browned, not sure what went wrong.
This recipe and variations of it have been published in the US for over 100 years, most coming from Scandinavian immigrant communities. It evolved to the Anglicized names of Thunder & Lightening Cake, and Golden Meringue Cake and it’s published in Joy if Cooking. My grandmother’s, both my Norwegian one and Scottish one both made it , as did my mom, with many different filings of course.. but the best is strawberries and whipped cream!
We make a Swedish version of this cake very Midsommar. It’s so delicious! Our recipe is almost identical but we don’t macerate the strawberries, just slice them, and we only use fresh whipped cream, minus the crème fraische. I’m happy to send you a photo if you’d like! Love the way you describe it as a strawberry chaos.
Also, we sprinkle sliced almonds over the meringue layer before it bakes. Adds an extra yumminess & crunch.
Hi Deb! Is it okay to make this with a different berry? Strawberries freak me out (it’s the whole nematode thing).
These are absolutely wonderful I’ve been doing one for forty years. I’m looking forward to this one.