Strawberry and Lemon Cake with Lemon Glaze for #BakeTogether

This was a good week for baking. The past couple of weekends have seen me on the road to Snowmass and wrapping up the Goaterie challenge I did with La Fuji Mama at the same time so I absolutely craved something simple from my kitchen. No real deadline, no interviews, just bake something with my own twist on an Abby Dodge inspired cake. Sounds easy and fun, right? Think again!

View of the Rocky Mountain Foothills

View of the Rocky Mountains from my neighborhood. The start of the foothills are 30 minutes away.

Baking is never easy in Denver, the Mile High city. Although we are not really in the mountains, a gradual incline from the Colorado/Nebraska border sees us at the entrance to the Rocky Mountains, 5280′ up in the air. That altitude difference means that the magical combinations made by ‘flatlanders’ (yes, you folks living at sea level!) are subject to unique causes that affect our baking up here ‘in thin air.’

The problem is twofold. Air pressure decreases as the elevation increases so when baking, without the same amount of pressure, leavening agents work too quickly, the gases that make something rise have time to rise and escape and well, a fallen baked good is too often the result. Cookies are flatter and I’ve made many a cake that has been rescued with either a bit more icing or maybe some fruit like the Ricotta pound cake shown above which developed a surprise sinkhole (and desperately needs a new photo)!  Add to that, our dry air means that ingredients are drier, including flour, so we have to antidote with a bit more moisture. How much? Who knows?!! I include a primer on high altitude cooking

on this site but nothing really makes quite the difference that experience does and even then, making a recipe the first time…well, there is definitely some finger crossing involved!

Almond Cake with Jam

The Almond Cake with Preserves pictured above? That is the bottom; because the top fell so much in the center that splitting it actually left me with one whole layer and one donut layer; I think you can sort of tell that the center is sinking a bit; there simply is no cake in the center of the now bottom layer! But I got the shot and my guests enjoyed the cake, sinkhole and all!

I participate in a monthly event called #Baketogether, inspired by the lovely Abby Dodge. You can call it a challenge but it’s so without hard deadlines (I mean it…Abby will change the deadline if someone is running late with their contribution!) or firm adherence to someone else recipe so it’s really an opportunity to make something in conjunction with others, our pretending we all are actually baking together instead of in separate kitchens all over the globe. This month the challenge is all about summer fruits baked into a cake. I had considered making a cherry upside down cake, but I’ve done that before and besides that I had no cherries in the house. BUT…I did have strawberries which I’ve never, ever baked into a cake; preferring to always serve them as a fresh topping. Hmm, wonder if those would work?

Strawberry Cake photo used with permission from ‘What’s on My Plate’

So I did a Google search wondering if I was crazy to think about putting strawberries into a cake and found that one Martha Stewart had done it and several others bloggers (Smitten Kitchen

, Two Peas and Their Pod and What’s On My Plate)  had as well, using her recipe so I was tempted…but I also appreciated the honesty of the author at What’s On My Plate who found the result it a bit lackluster. I decided to go for it, but knowing I would up the flavor profile in mine with some lemon and sour cream.

I loved the results but look at the difference in these cakes! I spent no less than 15 minutes painstakingly cutting strawberries and arranging them in a beautiful starburst pattern that totally sunk out of sight! Can you see how my lines of strawberry created divisions in the finished result above; that was handy I guess? I made mine in a springform pan which I would do again but the next time will remember parchment paper to ease that effort.  Did it taste good? It did; the addition of the lemon and sour cream component was evident and I’m sure it boosted the flavor considerably. Would I make it again? Absolutely…the end result was sort of like having a cake layer on top of some fresh homemade strawberry jam with a lemony glaze on top of the cake; nothing wrong with that. I’m glad I had planned the lemon glaze, it was a big boost too. Next time I’ll use even less baking powder but I’m OK even if I get the same results. It was a totally perfect, light, summertime cake; ‘almost in the mountains’ style!

After I finished this article today I read a blog post about keeping it authenticate; sharing some of the mess of our lives, not trying to pretend like everything is perfect. That was my reality today but I always tend to share my successes and my disappointments. My thoughts show up on these pages as they spill from my head to my fingers and except for some typos and occasional reworking of grammar, what you get is just that…what I’m thinking at the time. I love to cook and I enjoy taking photos but the writing? Well, I never know what I’m going to say, ever, and if the occasional drama from my life filters in…it’s simply that the recipe, the experience, the memory…they all influence what is said on this blog.

I mentioned it to a friend the other day that I should share what it takes for me to get a photo for my blog posts. She urged me to do just that. I’ll wait for the right time but I assure you, the bum leg, the cane in one hand and having to carry everything else in the other, the dog jumping all over, well, it’s a story for sure but I’ll do as I always try to…put a positive and or a funny spin on it. Else I would cry…that’s my reality!

Here’s a list of the others who participated in this month’s #baketogether with me:

Strawberry and Lemon Cake with Lemon Glaze for #BakeTogether
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A perfect summer dessert with fresh strawberries in a lemon flavored cake with a lemon glaze.
Serves: 8 servings
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus sugar
  • 2 Tbsp turbinado sugar (or use 2 tablespoons white sugar)
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp lemon rind
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
For the Glaze:
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
To Make the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 or 10-inch springform pan, cake pan or pie plate.
  2. Beat butter and sugar on on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Reduce speed to medium-low; mix in egg, sour cream, milk, and vanilla.
  4. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl and whisk together.
  5. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.
  6. Add lemon juice and lemon rind and beat just to incorporate.
  7. Transfer batter to buttered cake pan or pie plate. Arrange strawberries on top of batter, cut sides down and as close together as possible.
  8. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of turbinado or regular white sugar over berries.
  9. Bake cake 10 minutes.
  10. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool.
  11. Drizzle with lemon glaze.
  12. Cut into wedges. Cake can be stored at room temperature, loosely covered, up to 2 days.
To Make the Glaze:
  1. Mix the lemon juice and confectioners' sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl; stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the lemon zest and butter.
  3. Heat the ingredients on high for 30 seconds to melt the butter.
  4. Whisk the glaze until smooth.
  5. Drizzle the glaze over the cake.

My previous efforts have included a Chocolate Hazelnut Pie with Frangelico for May and last month my most adventurous effort, a Trio of Sorbets which combined either wine or liqueur with herbs from my garden in sorbet form.


  1. Tina says

    Thanks so much for sharing all your recipes, they look delicious and I cant wait to try all the ones I pinned! :)

  2. Mari says

    Love your recipes and can’t wait to try this cake. I would love to save recipe and do have a recipe box but, cant see how to save.

    • Creative Culinary says

      I am working now to add a recipe box feature to my site; hopefully will have it finished over the weekend. Soon. Very soon.

    • Creative Culinary says

      Just saw your comment Deb so apologize for the late reply but you are so right. Had a perfect blend of summertime in that cake!

  3. says

    I didn’t realize you were gimping around like I am! Getting the photos for posts is a real challenge these days–you have my sympathy, for sure! I give you a lot of credit. Baking at altitude seems to be a real crapshoot. But this is a really nice cake you came up with. I’m glad you shared it with us. :)

    • Creative Culinary says

      The truth is…until I started putting photos on this blog, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Not that I didn’t want things to turn out right but every cook I know has those moments. It’s the photographing of those moments that is harder to deal with!

  4. says

    I can’t imagine having to deal with altitude issues when baking — or boiling water for that matter! What a lesson. A recent cake of mine developed a huge sinkhole, and I don’t have elevation to blame. Either way, the cakes sound delicious. I’d love a generous piece right now :)

    • Creative Culinary says

      I would not have a lot of things on my blog if I didn’t like the photo! I might take new pics occasionally…and even then I keep the old one posted; it’s a great reminder that I have indeed come a long way. Most days. :)

  5. says

    Well, it looks beautiful to me! I’m one of those “flatlanders” you mentioned. I know high altitude baking is such an issue, as you’ve shown us here. I sure admire those who deal with it on a daily basis! I think I’d get frustrated and give up.

    Thankfully, as long as a dessert is tasty, it doesn’t matter if it’s got a sink hole in it. :)

    • Creative Culinary says

      Yes, you are one of my ‘flatlander’ friends! You wouldn’t give up either but you do have to give in to things not always being perfect and you’re like my friends…they never mind eating them as long as they taste good!

  6. says

    Hi Barb!!

    This is SO my kind of dessert – I could literally taste it as I read your post!!! I really admire your perseverance – I think I would become so frustrated I’d just give up so … my hats off to you!!!

    I would definitely make it again because I think it looks just as it is supposed to – it is almost like a pudding cake!. Now I am intrigued to try this combo with a cake recipe I have to see if the strawberries stay put.. and then of course I’d have to try yours to check out the flavor differences…. looks like I am going to be VERY busy!!!!

    • Creative Culinary says

      Some people who have moved to this area do give up…but I love to bake so I just had to learn acceptance. A lot of acceptance. That it might happen and that no one else will judge the finished results quite as critically as I do!

  7. says

    Barbara this is FANTASTIC!!!! Not only did I FINALLY learn why there’s a difference in altitude baking (they didn’t teach us at at the CIA) but now you have provided yet another amazing recipe to try! and taken the guess work out! (I totally would have spend the time perfectly cutting and arranging the berries too!) Love this!

    • Creative Culinary says

      To think I can impart knowledge not taught at the CIA…wow! But then they don’t have schools up in the air; though I think Johnson and Wales does. Now wondering how they deal with sharing the secrets of altitude baking. Thanks for visiting Jessica.

  8. says

    I think living above 6,000 ft. has really humbled me when it comes to baking. One thing I have found out is that you never have to apologize to other high altitude cooks when you have a sinkhole in your cake, even at a food blogger meet up! We all understand. Your cake looks wonderful and that lemon glaze is the perfect touch.

    • Creative Culinary says

      Isn’t that the truth and good thing too! I’m not the sort that makes something over and over to get it perfect. I make it and we make do with the results and I just hope that I learn enough the first time to adjust accordingly if I made something again. But not always! Glad to have a ‘sister in altitude’ cause I know you’re a ‘sister in attitude!’

  9. says

    Whats not to love Barbara … cakes like these make me weak in the knees. Off to check out the #baketogether event. Sounds like something I’d love to be part off. What I missed on twitter, I found here! Thank you!!

  10. says

    You cake looks utterly gorgeous to me! Lemon cake full stop i find irresistible, and berries in cakes just elevates them to another level so i can only imagine how lovely this is :) Great post too with awesome photos!

    • Creative Culinary says

      Thank you Sasha; everyone’s kind comments are helping me to get over my own version of ‘altitude sickness.’ :)

    • Creative Culinary says

      It certainly had the best of summer tastes Jenn…and I’m betting yours comes out totally different so be sure to let me know!

  11. says

    I have always loved how you adapt recipes to suit your personal tastes and your personal cooking environment. You really should write a book about the adventures and challenges of cooking in high altitudes as I’m sure it would be a wonderful read, as are all your delightful posts. I’m looking forward to reading of your challenges when taking pictures for your blog. From this reader’s perspective you appear to carry it all off so beautifully so a behind the scenes *peek* into what you have to overcome to get the fantastic photos that you do would be a great and informative read for sure!

    • Creative Culinary says

      Sunken Strawberry Cake has quite a ring to it huh? We are too far away from each other! I loved the glaze too; I use a bit of butter…butter makes it better. :)

    • Creative Culinary says

      It’s something I’m used to be then there are days like this when it can be disappointing; I really had such a pretty design!

  12. says

    Oh my that looks scrumptious. I would loose my mind dealing with altitude baking but I guess I would eventually adapt :) If I can bake in sticky, drippy humidity I think I can eventually get the hang oxygen deprived baking…lol. Great post , luv you!

    • Creative Culinary says

      It’s true; our weather affects all of us in different ways and another truth is that even if I don’t always love the look; I can usually find a way to make it work. That ricotta pound cake? Looked like it was meant to be filled with fruit and a friend was disappointed hers did not sink!

  13. says

    Barb, every time I drool over your baked goods, I tell myself, “Gee, if I live where Barb lives, I know I won’t be baking.” The extra math and extra science is not for everyone ;-). But the lemon cake IS.

    Thank you!

    • Creative Culinary says

      Yes you would…you just have to get used to not getting the results that used to be so easy to achieve. I didn’t really think about how flat my cookies looked for so many years until I started blogging and seeing what they looked like at sea level. All I knew was my kids ate them up!

  14. says

    This cake sounds absolutely divine!! Despite sunken strawberries, I still want to devour a piece right this very moment! This is a wonderful #baketogether creation that I will certainly be making in the near future.

    • Creative Culinary says

      Thanks Kate, you are so sweet. I tell ya…the lemon glaze was good enough to eat with a spoon. How did I know that? Hmmm; I’ll never tell!

    • Creative Culinary says

      Thank you Alan…I’m sort of used to used to it now! 2nd time is usually better but I don’t pitch a perfectly good end result…on the blog it goes!

    • Creative Culinary says

      I always let someone know if I have a less than perfect finish…because we aren’t perfect. I’m not a food stylist or food photographer; the food most of us make is for consumption so we can only do so much right?

    • Creative Culinary says

      I lived in North Carolina and loved the mountains but the Smoky’s are really sort of just big hills compared to the Rocky Mountains!

    • Creative Culinary says

      You are so sweet…the secret is to be prepared to have an issue and not let it fluster you…I seem to find fixes for most everything. Eating up the dish is the best way to hide the evidence!

  15. says

    I can’t believe that this is the same cake Abby and I made! I must admit that I don’t really like strawberries cooked in a cake (ducking as to avoid being brained with a cane) but I love what you did with the recipe. Loved the layer of cake over a layer of compote… and looks aren’t everything! It’s rather luscious, I say!

    • Creative Culinary says

      I had a feeling that’s why you don’t see it a lot…but it sort of turned out like jam on the bottom, cake in the middle and the yummy lemon glaze on top. You’re safe for the time being…I wouldn’t be able to catch you. :)


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