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Recipes » Desserts » Cakes » Strawberry Poke Cake with Fresh Strawberries (No Jello)

Strawberry Poke Cake with Fresh Strawberries (No Jello)

Every slice of this poke cake with fresh strawberry puree in its middle, instead of the usual gelatin, gets tastier with every bite!

You will only need either a 10-cup Bundt or 10 x 2-inch round baking dish for this easy strawberry poke cake recipe without jello. The cream cheese glaze is decadent and comes together quickly with a few ingredients that include butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar.

a strawberry bundt cake with fresh strawberries and cream cheese glaze on a white cake platter

The loropetalum and azaleas are out in full bloom here in sunny Charleston, South Carolina, a sure sign spring has SPRUNG! Springtime in the southern United States equals early crops, and the sweet berry I’m boasting about today is among the earliest of them.

Cake recipes incorporating springtime’s sweetest fruit are abundant. Of course I want THE BEST strawberry cake recipe bursting with the flavors of fresh chopped strawberries! Who wouldn’t?

But…I cheat.

I don’t use Jell-O and leave the cake flour in the pantry, opting instead for boxed cake mix, room temperature cream cheese, and eggs. The cake batter that emerges from beneath the beaters on my electric mixer is dense.

It bakes up into a moist but closely packed crumb which perfectly reinforces the walls of all the holes I plan to poke! To accurately fill the holes, I grab my turkey baster.

The end result is a simple fluffy cake jam packed with real strawberries versus Jello mix!

a cake plate with a bundt cake and strawberries

Strawberry Bundt Cake Ingredients

  • yellow or white box cake mix
  • whole milk
  • room temperature cream cheese
  • large room temperature eggs
  • fresh strawberries
  • granulated sugar
  • fresh lemon juice
  • fresh lemon zest
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • unsalted room temperature butter
  • vanilla extract

How to Make Strawberry Poke Cake

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Generously spray a 10-cup volume cake pan (Bundt, round, or other) with baking spray. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Also set aside.

Clean the Fruit

First things first, clean your fruit. I empty all of my berries in a large bowl and add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and give them a good toss so that everybody is wet.

Cider vinegar is outstanding at removing chemical residue and kills some bacteria present in foods. I soak everything including lemons and limes before consuming, and always use the vinegar.

Fill the bowl of vinegar-doused berries with cool water and soak the fruit for 15 minutes. Drain, rinse, and use a pairing knife to hull and slice the juicy strawberries. Done!

Make a Fresh Strawberry Puree

In the barrel of your food processor, add 1 1/2-cups of the berries you just cleaned, white sugar, the zest of half a lemon, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Pulse 6 to 8 times or until the fruit is liquid enough to be drawn up into a baster.

Set the puree aside. Save the remaining strawberry slices fruit for garnishing the cake.

Assemble a Batter

In large bowl, add the cake ingredients and mix with an electric mixer on low speed for about 1 minute. Scrape your bowl.

Again, with the electric mixer increase to medium speed and beat 2 minutes more. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Place the pan on the prepared baking sheet for stability and place into the preheated oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick pulls out clean. Cool the cake for 12 to 15 minutes.

POKE!

Using the handle of a wooden spoon in one hand an a wet paper towel in the other, poke staggered holes in the cake at 1/2-inch intervals going almost to bottom. Use the wet paper towel to wipe the handle of your spoon to avoid things gettin’ gooey!

Use a baster to draw the puree. Insert the baster into the poke holes, filling each one and allowing it to settle while you fill another. Set aside any remaining puree to serve alongside the cake.

Cool (in the pan) atop a wire rack for 45 minutes, then refrigerate (in the pan) for at least two hours. The fruit puree must be well-chilled to adequately set.

Remove from the fridge and run the back of a butter knife around the outer and inside edges of your pan to loosen cake. Choose a pretty cake stand or serving platter and turn the pan upside down onto your selection, centering it before gently lifting the pan.

Glaze and Garnish

Those of you who follow me know my affinity for cream cheese frostings, this cream cheese glaze being among them and it couldn’t be easier. Place all of the glaze ingredients in a deep mixing bowl and beat on medium speed with clean beaters until smooth.

If too thick, add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you arrive at a desired consistency. I went for a thin glaze as seen in my photos, but I have also done a very thick ‘frosting consistency’ topping that I have piped to resemble the topping on the Nothing Bundt Cakes that are so popular. Do what feels right 🙂

At this point, garnish the top of the cake with any remaining berries you might have from when you started. Whole strawberries also look pretty.

Consider dusting with additional fresh lemon zest or Confectioners’ sugar if you like. There is no wrong answer!

Modifying the Norm to Make It Not Entirely Average

  • If you found yourself with leftover puree, another option to serving it alongside is to whisk it together with 3 to 4 tablespoons of strawberry jam, refrigerate until ready to serve, then drizzle it in conjunction with the cream cheese glaze for a real show-stopper.
  • Add 1/4-cup of berry jam (and three drops of red food coloring if desired) to the cream cheese frosting when assembling for a sweet strawberry cream cheese frosting, or opt for a homemade strawberry buttercream instead.
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Strawberry Poke Cake Without Jello

Jenny from Not Entirely Average
Every slice of this strawberry-licious poke cake 'pokes' a sauce of pureed fresh strawberries in its middle, tastier than strawberry gelatin!
5 from 1 vote
Servings: 12 servings
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Cooling/Refrigeration 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 12 servings
Calories 148 kcal

Equipment

  • 10-cup Bundt or a 10 x 2-inch round
  • baking sheet
  • parchment paper
  • food processor or blender
  • electric mixer
  • mixing bowls

Ingredients
 

  • 1 (15.25 ounce box) cake mix white or yellow
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk divided
  • 5 ounces cream cheese divided; room temperature
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups strawberries fresh; divided; cleaned, hulled, and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 medium lemon half the lemon zested and 1 tablespoon lemon juice reserved
  • 3/4 cups Confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a 10-cup volume cake pan (Bundt, round, or other) with baking spray. Set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Also set aside.
  • Empty strawberries into a large bowl and add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Toss so all are coated in the vinegar. Fill the bowl with cool water and soak the fruit for 15 minutes. Drain, rinse, and use a pairing knife to hull and slice.
  • In the barrel of a food processor, add 1 1/2-cups of the berries, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pulse 6 to 8 times or until the fruit is liquid enough to be drawn up into a turkey baster. Set the puree aside. Save the remaining sliced fruit for garnishing the cake.
  • In large bowl, add the cake ingredients and mix with an electric mixer on low speed for about 1 minute. Scrape your bowl. Increase to medium speed and beat 2 minutes more. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan on the prepared baking sheet for stability and place into the preheated oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick pulls out clean. Cool the cake for 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Using the handle of a wooden spoon in one hand an a wet paper towel in the other, poke staggered holes in the cake at 1/2-inch intervals going almost to bottom. Use the wet paper towel to wipe the handle of your spoon after each poke.
  • Use a baster to draw the puree. Insert the baster into each hole filling it and allowing it to settle while you fill another. Set aside any remaining puree to serve alongside the cake. Cool (in the pan) atop a wire rack for 45 minutes, then refrigerate (in the pan) for at least two hours. The fruit puree must be well-chilled to adequately set.
  • Remove from refrigeration and run the back of a butter knife around the outer and inside edges of your pan to loosen cake. Turn the pan upside down onto a cake plate, centering it before gently lifting the pan.
  • Place all of the glaze ingredients in a deep mixing bowl and beat on medium speed with clean beaters until smooth. If too thick, add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you arrive at a desired consistency. Garnish the top of the cake with any remaining berries you might have from when you started.
  • Top with additional fresh lemon zest or Confectioners' sugar if desired. Serve with remaining puree, freshly whipped cream, or ice cream.

Notes

Store Cake in Refrigerator due to the cream cheese glaze. Wrap with plastic film or place under a cake dome. Cake keeps in refrigerator 5 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 148kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 3gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 65mgPotassium: 126mgFiber: 1gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 326IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 0.4mg
Keyword baking, box cake mix, cake, cream cheese frosting, strawberry
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!
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