The dog days of summer are here. That means strawberries are on sale or popping up in your garden! Whenever I get my hands on a pound of strawberries, I love to make my family’s secret weapon- Strawberry Danish Dessert. Friend or foe, no one can withstand it’s power! A moist layer of yellow cake topped with sweet cream cheese and cool whip, adorned with sweet ripe berries. I’ve seen similar recipes online for this, but not the exact same as my families yet. This variation came from my sweet grandma, a quarter Danish herself.
This year I’ve made it a personal tradition to make 3 cakes. I keep one and deliver the others to two neighbors who I learn are having a hard time or who I want to get to know better. I’ve met some amazing people this way and made new friends. In fact, any time I want to whip something together that’s easy, uses just a few ingredients and makes a beautiful impression– this is the go-to recipe. What’s even better is it makes between 2-3 cakes depending on the pans you use. So potluck, family dinner, whatever you make it for, there is always an extra cake or two– because one is PLENTY for an event, if you catch my drift ;)!
ONE thing you will need are round fluted tart cake pans pictured here- like this one. I suppose you could use regular round cake pans too, but where’s the fun in that? For this recipe you can use either two 11 inch pans, or three 8 inch ones… just be sure they are indented in the middle to hold the berries and creamy goodness. If you want some but don’t want to spend a lot, keep in mind your local thrift store. I’ve had great luck finding these at Deseret Industries for a steal.
– One box yellow or lemon cake mix, along with whatever eggs, oil and water the cake requires
– One box of Junket brand Danish Dessert (in stores it’s usually by the gelatin and Jello. Or see *alternative recipe below
– 2-3 cups fresh strawberries (sliced) or raspberries
– One 8 0z package of cream cheese
– One 8 oz tub of cool whip
Make cake mix according to box. Grease and flour two 11″ fluted pans, or three 8″. Pour mix evenly between pans. Bake until toothpick comes out clean (10-15 min). While cakes are baking, prepare Danish dessert following “Fruit Sauce” recipe on box. Mix in berries and refrigerate (setting aside 3 berries for garnish). When cakes are done, use toothpick to loosen edges before dumping onto plates. Mix coolwhip and softened cream cheese with electric mixer until there are no lumps. Place cream cheese mixture in the fridge, setting aside 1/2 cup for garnish. Take the fruit sauce/berry mixture out of the fridge. Divide cream cheese mixture between cakes, and spread from the center of the cake, forming a rim along the edges. Then spread fruit mixture in the center of the cream, leaving a rim of cream cheese mixture. Top with a dollop of the cream cheese mixture and a berry. Refrigerate before serving.
These cakes taste the best when they are able to sit in the fridge for a few hours. They keep well for a couple weeks in the fridge… but never make it that long in my house.
After making these cakes since I was little, I have some tips to make it extra tasty below.
– I like to add an extra egg and substitute oil for butter for a homemade taste.
– To grease the pans, spread Crisco on the bottom. This can be messy but it’s KEY to keeping the cake from sticking to the fluted pans! I like to use a paper towel. Then dust the pans with flour- I do this by plopping less than 1/4 cup in the bottom, then shake and tap against the sink while turning the pan to spread it around.
– Dumping out the cakes so they stay in one piece can be tricky. If you’ve greased it well and floured it too, then just run a toothpick along the entire fluted edge of the pan, two times if needed until the cake starts to lift out. When you turn the cake pan upside down they should come out cleanly.
– Because I like to use the 11″ pans, it can be difficult to find a plate big enough! But I’ve found rattans work nicely. Just big enough to hold the cake, but not too big to place in the refrigerator.
– When making the fruit sauce, I like to add a little lemon juice and a bit of cinnamon to enhance the flavor.
– To warm the cream cheese leave it at room temperature for a while, or pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds or until melty.
– When garnishing the middle of the cakes, I like to slice a strawberry from the bottom, and spread it out, leaving the green on top. Raspberries are easier, I just place 3 on top of the cream cheese.
Origins of this recipe- My grandmother (a quarter Danish) told me that she learned the recipe from a Scandinavian neighbor. She adapted the recipe to add cream cheese sweetened with powdered sugar– she said it was too dry otherwise. My mother then adapted the recipe further replacing the powdered sugar with cool whip, which makes the cake require refrigeration but it’s lighter and delicious right out of the fridge.