Strawberry Pazzo Cake is an Italian invention. Strawberry cakes are rare, so the recipe caught my attention. Then the word ‘pazzo’ (meaning crazy in Italian) intrigued me. I thought I would give it a try and this cake has turned into one of my favorites. It has the buttery pastry consistency I like and the typical sweet-sour flavor so traditional to Italian cuisine. It’s lovely.

Strawberry Pazzo Cake with Rosemary Crème Fraîche

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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Degree of Difficulty : Easy
Servings: 4 people


Gather all ingredients before starting recipe.

  • 6 tbsp butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing baking pan.
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 lb strawberries hulled and halved

Balsamic Glaze

  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Herbed Crème Fraîsche Topping

  • 1/2 cup crème fraîsche, or 1/2 cup rich sour cream
  • 2-3 sprigs Rosemary leaves finely chopped


  • Pre heat oven to 350℉
  • Slice 1 lb strawberries and add to a medium bowl. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar and set aside until ready to top the cake.
  • Mix 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 pinch kosher salt and 1 1/2 tsp baking powder in a small bowl.
  • Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 6 tbsp butter to a medium sized bowl. Mix on medium speed until the sugar and butter become creamy, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Gradually add 1 large egg, 1/2 cup milk and the 1 tsp vanilla extract to the butter mixture. The mixture will look curdled, but this is ok.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the egg, butter mixture and beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy. The batter will be quite thick.
  • Grease an 8" x 8" cake pan with butter and add the cake mixture. Smooth the surface with an offset spatula or knife.
  • Top the cake mixture with the sliced strawberries, cut side down. Do not overlap the berries on the cake.
  • Transfer cake to a preheated oven and set the timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, reduce heat to 325℉ and bake for another 45 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.
  • Remove cake and allow it to come to room temperature before slicing.

Balsamic Glaze

  • Combine 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper and any remaining strawberries and accumulated juices in a medium sized saucepan.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer gently until the mixture has reduced and has become syrupy, about 10 minutes.

Herbed Crème Fraîsche Topping

  • Finely chop 2-3 sprigs Rosemary leaves and combine with 1/2 cup crème fraîsche, or 1/2 cup rich sour cream. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.


  • Cut cake into 1" x 2" slices, serve with balsamic glaze drizzled over the slice and top with the Herbed Crème Fraîsche Topping.

Author Notes

This recipe first appeared in the Washinton Post in 2013. It was adapted from a cookbook written by Michael Chiarello.

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