Strawberry-Marsala Cake

I came across this cake from the New York Times cooking website; a Joe Trivelli recipe adapted by Charlotte Druckman. He is the head chef at The River Café in London. What caught my attention initially was the use of Marsala in the cake, and also browned butter!

In his book The Modern Italian Cook, published in 2018,Joe Trevelli has an apple cake using Vin Santo. Ms. Druckman changed the apples to strawberries, and used Marsala instead. The browned butter remains a recipe ingredient.

This cake was good. Really good. In spite of the fact that I don’t really like cooked strawberries. But honestly, it seemed a waste of browned butter. The texture is great – moist and pillowy – and I’d eat this just for the cake. Which I did. But, I probably won’t make it again.

Strawberry-Marsala Cake

9 tablespoons/125 grams unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1 1/4 pounds/565 grams fresh strawberries
3/4 cup/150 grams superfine sugar, plus more as needed
4 extra-large eggs, whites and yolks separated
3/4 cup/180 milliliters sweet Marsala
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons/150 grams all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Heaping 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving

Melt the 9 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling it occasionally. As it melts, the butter will sizzle and foam. Continue cooking until the foam dissolves and the solids turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. (If the butter is spattering too much, reduce the heat a bit, and watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn.) Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square cake pan with butter, line it with parchment, then grease the parchment.

Hull the strawberries and slice them lengthwise, ¼-inch thick. Toss them in a bowl with 2 tablespoons superfine sugar and set aside while you prepare the batter. (If strawberries aren’t in season and yours are underripe or less sweet than they should be, you may want to add 1 to 2 additional teaspoons superfine sugar.)

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and 5 tablespoons superfine sugar together until pale. Whisk in the browned butter (scraping to include the solids, if you like), then whisk in the Marsala until incorporated.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift over the batter and gently whisk to combine, smoothing out the lumps as best as you can.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the wire whip on medium speed, or an electric beater, or simply a whisk and a bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining 5 tablespoons superfine sugar while beating to form a shiny meringue with stiff peaks, 5 to 7 minutes. Gently fold 1/3 of the meringue mixture into the batter, followed by the rest, then fold in the strawberries, using a slotted spoon to add the berries to the batter, leaving any strawberry juices behind.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top is golden and the cake is springy to the touch, 30 to 33 minutes.

Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve right away with some freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Bernadette June 6, 2023 at 6:05 AM - Reply

    I am not sure that I would like the combination of Marsala and strawberries. Sometimes I think recipe developers just make up combinations for the sake of being different.

    • Chef Mimi June 6, 2023 at 7:24 AM - Reply

      I know what you mean. Although it’s sweet Marsala, and that part worked for me.

  2. Frank Fariello June 6, 2023 at 7:13 AM - Reply

    Like you I’m not a big fan of cooked strawberries, although an occasional strawberry coulis is always welcome… I wonder how this would work with another berry like say blueberries?

    • Chef Mimi June 6, 2023 at 7:26 AM - Reply

      Well now that you mention it, that would be good!

    • StefanGourmet June 16, 2023 at 3:50 AM - Reply

      Blueberries would be great, but I might switch the booze to Recioto della Valpolicella or even port. Would also be great with cherries.

  3. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen June 6, 2023 at 1:51 PM - Reply

    Brown butter makes everything taste better! Here come the strawberries!

    • Chef Mimi June 6, 2023 at 4:53 PM - Reply

      That’s exactly why I was surprised that it didn’t really add much to this recipe.

  4. Charlie DeSando June 6, 2023 at 3:01 PM - Reply

    Very nice, the strawberries work well here

    • Chef Mimi June 6, 2023 at 4:53 PM - Reply

      The cake was good – nice texture!

  5. Ronit June 6, 2023 at 4:33 PM - Reply

    My kind of cake, strawberries included, though I can definitely see it working well with other berries.
    I like the recommendation to include the brown butter solids. Good stuff! :)

    • Chef Mimi June 6, 2023 at 4:54 PM - Reply

      Thanks, Ronit. Unfortunately I don’t think the browned butter added much flavor.

      • Ronit Penso June 7, 2023 at 8:28 PM

        That’s a shame! I was hoping it would be quite noticeable. Maybe the sweet wine overpowered it. Thanks for letting me know! :)

      • Chef Mimi June 8, 2023 at 7:35 AM

        Well… cook and learn! Right?!! Interesting recipe.

      • StefanGourmet June 16, 2023 at 3:52 AM

        I am wondering if using browed butter also changes the texture (as the water has been cooked out of the butter). But to make sure it is the browned butter and not the strawberries, it’d have to be made without strawberries.

  6. Cynthia M Woodman June 6, 2023 at 10:25 PM - Reply

    That cake sounds amazing Mimi! Can’t wait to try it!

    • Chef Mimi June 7, 2023 at 7:33 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Cynthia!

  7. David @ Spiced June 7, 2023 at 6:44 AM - Reply

    Like you, the first thing that caught me was the use of marsala in a cake recipe – unique! And now I’m intrigued by that idea of vin santo and apples. Great recipe for strawberry season!

    • Chef Mimi June 7, 2023 at 7:34 AM - Reply

      That does sound like a great combination!

  8. Healthy World Cuisine June 7, 2023 at 2:51 PM - Reply

    This strawberry cake looks extra moist and not too sweet which is something that I love.

    • Chef Mimi June 8, 2023 at 7:34 AM - Reply

      Yes! Me, too! It definitely wasn’t horribly sweet.

  9. Valentina June 7, 2023 at 4:04 PM - Reply

    I love strawberry season and I’m so happy we’re almost completely in it. I really like berries in baked goods and this cake looks fantastic. I love the golden “crust” on top. :-) ~Valentina

    • Chef Mimi June 8, 2023 at 7:35 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Valentina. The cake had a very nice texture to it.

  10. Ron June 8, 2023 at 3:37 AM - Reply

    My kind of dessert Mimi. I too would try it with anther berry or maybe rhubarb and strawberry.

    • Chef Mimi June 8, 2023 at 7:36 AM - Reply

      Hi Ron! Oh that does sound like a great idea!

  11. Sherry Mackay June 8, 2023 at 10:49 PM - Reply

    brown butter is terribly trendy it seems but i do wonder if it makes much difference to a cake or loaf? I reckon the sugar, fruits, chocolate or whatever would drown out the possible difference. THis does look fabulous tho i have to say :)

    • Chef Mimi June 9, 2023 at 7:46 AM - Reply

      Perhaps that was it. I mean, the cake was good, but I just couldn’t taste the lovely browned butter!

  12. David Scott Allen June 9, 2023 at 11:32 AM - Reply

    I actually can imagine this as a perfect combination… the strawberries, sweet marsala, and brown butter all together. Count me in! I think I’ll be making this soon.

    • Chef Mimi June 10, 2023 at 8:04 AM - Reply

      You’ll love it!

  13. Ann Coleman June 10, 2023 at 11:00 AM - Reply

    I’m not a fan of butter that I can taste, but otherwise, this sounds like a pretty good cake!

    • Chef Mimi June 10, 2023 at 12:40 PM - Reply

      Oh, interesting! Well, I wanted to taste the butter, but I couldn’t!

  14. Debra June 12, 2023 at 3:48 PM - Reply

    I can’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t find this an incredibly tempting cake! I am definitely moving this recipe up to priority. I have some entertaining in July where this will come in as perfect, so I think I need to make it very soon. I need to make sure I like it after all. LOL!

    • Chef Mimi June 12, 2023 at 7:04 PM - Reply

      Oh wonderful! You will love it!

  15. Thao @ In Good Flavor June 13, 2023 at 9:22 PM - Reply

    Marsala is definitely unexpected, but I’m glad it worked for you!

    • Chef Mimi June 14, 2023 at 3:56 PM - Reply

      I think port or sherry would be good as well.

  16. Raymund June 15, 2023 at 7:28 PM - Reply

    This sounds absolutely divine! The combination of Marsala and browned butter in a cake is intriguing and must add such a unique flavor profile.

  17. StefanGourmet June 16, 2023 at 3:48 AM - Reply

    Can you taste the Marsala in the finished product? The browned butter doesn’t add much flavor I gather. Adding strawberries or apple to a cake does help a lot to get a moist result. I agree with you on cooked strawberries, although this kind of recipe is better than cooking them until they taste like strawberry jam (which to me seems like artificial flavoring, even if made by myself from fresh strawberries). I also wonder if separating the eggs is really needed in this recipe, as that adds a lot of effort (not just the separating but also the folding).

    • StefanGourmet June 16, 2023 at 3:53 AM - Reply

      PS the reason why I asked about tasting the Marsala is because you could also add the Marsala after baking to definitely taste it.

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