This berry poke cake made completely from scratch is perfect for summer entertaining!
I remember the fourth of July when I first had a slice of the classic red, white, and blue poke cake made with yellow cake mix, jell-o, and cool whip. You know what cake I’m talking about, right? I loved it! It’s just so fun, not to mention delicious. Tender vanilla cake, a fruity filling, and creamy topping— what’s not to love?
It’s been years (decades?) since I’ve had a slice and lately I’ve had a craving. But since I’m more of a from-scratch kind of baker, I decided to make a completely 100% homemade version. And now I’m sharing it with you! Because it’s just that good.
The cake is a simple vanilla buttermilk sheet cake, which I baked in a 9×13 inch pan. Then I made a sauce with fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, cooking them until the berries are soft and the sauce barely starts to thicken. While the cake is still warm, I poked it all over with the end of a wooden spoon and poured the berry sauce over the top. The cake soaks up the sauce, so that when it’s sliced there’s little tunnels of fruit throughout. After a chill in the fridge, I topped the whole thing with real whipped cream.
This from-scratch berry poke cake does take a little more time to make, but I’m here to tell you it’s so worth it! This cake has so much flavor and substance, and flair you can’t get from a box. Give it a try and you’ll never go back. It’s going to be a new summer tradition in our house for sure!
baking tip:Alternating wet and dry ingredients
Many cake recipes (like this one) included instructions to alternate adding the wet and dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar. Believe it or not, this is for a good reason.
Adding the liquid all at once could saturate the creamed butter mixture and cause the batter to separate. Adding all of the dry ingredients will cause the batter to be thick and likely result in over mixing, which will yield a tougher cake. Instead, add them in two or three additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir ingredients after each addition, but only until just combined.
Berry Poke Cake
- 2 1/4 cup (270 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 3/4 cup (350 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup (310 ml) buttermilk
- 1/2 cup (80 grams) finely chopped strawberries
- 1/2 cup (60 grams) raspberries
- 1/2 cup (85 grams) blueberries
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Pinch of salt
Whipped cream topping:
- 2 cups (500 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or hand-held mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and creamy, 3 minutes. Scraped the bowl down as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla.
- Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Mix on low just until combined.
- Pour cake batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden and center bounces back when touched gently, 30-35 minutes.
To make the filling:
- While the cake is baking, make the fruit filling. Add the strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, sugar, lemon zest, water, cornstarch and salt in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, berries have softened, and juices have just started to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Use a wooden dowel or the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes about 1 inch apart all over the warm cake.
- Spoon berry filling over the cake, encouraging it down the holes.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill completely in the fridge, 1-2 hours.
To make the topping:
- With a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or hand-held mixer, beat the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla to medium peaks. Spread over the top of the cake.
- Serve immediately or store in the fridge until ready to serve. Can be made up to 1 day ahead.
- You can use fresh or frozen berries.
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