Birthday cake is not only an eye-catcher on birthdays. This cake is perfect for so many different events, thanks to the rainbow sprinkles it always has a nice colourful look. The cake itself and the frosting have a nice vanilla note. Between two layers of frosting there is a layer of crispy baked crumbs. The birthday cake is sweet and yet has a pleasant salty touch.
Tools & Equipment
- 1 quarter sheet pan
- 1 large sheet pan
- 2 strips of acetate, 50cm / 20-inch
- Cake ring, 15,2cm / 6-inch
- Curved spoon
- Parchment paper / Silicone mat
- Silicone spatula
- Stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment
- Wire rack
Plan ahead: the cake and crumbs need to cool completely after baking, therefore prepare them in advance. The frosting can be used directly, that’s why I make it just before I assemble the cake.
Buttermilk mixture: it is important to add it slowly with the mixer running on low speed, to make sure everything is mixed properly. This will take a couple of minutes and there should be no streaks of fat or liquid.
Storage of Crumbs, Frosting and Cake
The Crumbs: in an airtight container, the crumbs can be stored for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.
The Frosting: if you do not use it directly, store the frosting in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Before use, you should loosen it up in a mixer on medium speed for about 4 minutes.
The assembled Cake: can be kept in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Let it thaw in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Well wrapped in plastic, the cake can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.
How to make a Birthday Cake
Step I: Make the Cake.
Start by weighing all ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the shortening, butter, granulated and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then pour in the buttermilk mixture. Afterwards add the dry ingredients. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl between the different steps in the recipe. Spread the batter in the pan and top with the rainbow sprinkles. Bake for 30-35 minutes on 177°C / 350°F.
Step II: Make the Crumbs.
Mix sugar, cake flour, baking powder, salt and sprinkles. Add the oil and vanilla and stir. Continue paddling until small clumps form. Bake for 20 minutes on 149°C /300°F.
Step III: Make the Frosting.
Combine butter, shortening and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add corn syrup and vanilla and beat until the mixture is white. Finally add powdered sugar, salt, baking powder and citric acid. Mix for another 2-3 minutes until you get a white, smooth frosting.
Assemble the Birthday Cake
Prepare the vanilla milk: mix the milk and the vanilla extract. Place the cake, crumbs, frosting and vanilla milk on your work surface.
Put a piece of parchment paper on your work surface. Invert the cake and remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake. Take the cake ring to stamp out 2 whole and 2 half circles from the cake. Use the whole circles for the middle and top layer. Since you use the 2 halves for the bottom layer they do not have to be perfect.
Place the cake ring in the center of a silpate-lined sheet pan. Use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring.
Arrange the cake scraps in the ring and form a flat, even layer. Spoon half of the vanilla soak onto the cake layer. Spread one-fifth of the frosting over the cake and distribute one-third of the crumbs over the frosting. Spread a second-fifth of the frosting as evenly as possible over the crumbs.
Insert the second acetate strip, providing a transparent acetate ring 5 to 6 inches high. Place a cake round on the frosting and repeat the layering: frosting – crumbs – frosting.
Place the remaining cake round into the frosting. Spread the rest of the frosting over the top of the cake. Decorate your cake with the remaining crumbs.
Transfer the baking sheet to the fridge and let it cool for at least 12 hours to allow the cake and filling to set.
Remove the sheet from the fridge and release the cake from the cake ring. Carefully remove the acetate and place the cake on a plate. Slice the cake and serve.
Difficulty: medium / advanced
Taste: sweet, salty and buttery, with a nice vanilla flavor.
Texture: three fluffy cake layers, combined with a creamy frosting and crispy crumbs placed between the frosting and on top.
PROS: incredibly delicious and a real eye-catcher.
CONS: a bit more complex and you have to plan in advance, because the cake and crumbs have to cool completely and the assembled cake has to be refrigerated for 12 hours to fully set.
For the Cake
- 55g butter, at room temperature
- 60g vegetable shortening
- 250g granulated sugar
- 50g light brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 110g buttermilk
- 65g grapeseed oil
- 8g clear vanilla extract
- 245g cake flour
- 6g baking powder
- 3g salt
- 50g rainbow sprinkles
- 25g rainbow sprinkles
For the Soak
- 55g milk
- 4g clear vanilla extract
For the Frosting
- 172,5g butter, at room temperature
- 75g vegetable shortening
- 82,5g cream cheese
- 46g corn syrup
- 18g clear vanilla extract
- 300g powdered sugar
- 3g salt
- 0,4g baking powder
- 0,4g citric acid
For the Crumbs
- 100g granulated sugar
- 25g light brown sugar
- 90g cake flour
- 2g baking powder
- 2g salt
- 20g rainbow sprinkles
- 40g grapeseed oil
- 12g clear vanilla extract
For the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 177°C / 350°F. Pan-spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment paper.
- Mix the butter, shortening and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and stir together for 2-3 minutes on a medium-high. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beat for 1 minute after each addition on medium-high. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir for 4 minutes with the mixer on high. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
- Combine buttermilk, oil and vanilla and add the mixture slowly on low speed. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high and stir for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is white, twice the size of the initial mixture and completely homogeneous. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- In a medium bowl mix cake flour, baking powder, salt and 50g of rainbow sprinkles together. Add the dry ingredients with the mixer on very low speed. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds until the batter comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix again for 45 seconds on low speed.
- Spread the cake mixture evenly in the pan by using a spatula. Add the remaining rainbow sprinkles on top of the batter.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes on the center rack. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. The cake will rise, doubling in size.
- After 30 minutes, gently tap the edge of the cake. The cake should spring back slightly and the center should no longer jiggle. Leave the cake in the oven 3-5 minutes longer if it s not yet ready.
- Remove the cake from the oven and cool it on a wire rack.
- Wrap the cake in plastic and keep in the fridge overnight.
For the Frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat butter, shortening and cream cheese for 2-3 minutes on a medium-high speed, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Use the lowest speed of the mixer to add corn syrup and vanilla. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is white. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add powdered sugar, salt, baking powder and citric acid and mix on low speed to incorporate into the batter. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 2-3 minutes until you have a white and smooth frosting.
For the Crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 149°C /300°F. Line a pan with baking paper.
- Mix sugar, cake flour, baking powder, salt and sprinkles in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed until well combined.
- Add the oil and vanilla and paddle to distribute. The wet ingredients act like a glue holding the dry ingredients together into small clumps; continue paddling until this happens.
- Place the clumps on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
- Let the crumbs cool completely before using them.
Assemble the Cake
- Put a piece of parchment paper on your work surface. Place the cake onto it and peel the parchment from the bottom of the cake. Use the cake ring to cut out 2 circles from the cake. These are the top 2 cake layers. Use the remaining cake "scrap", put it together to make the bottom layer of the cake.
- Clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a silpate-lined sheet pan. Use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring.
- Arrange the cake scraps in the ring and with the back of your hand, push them together to form a flat, even layer.
- Spoon half of the vanilla soak onto the cake layer.
- Using the back of a spoon, spread one-fifth of the frosting in an even layer over the cake.
- Distribute one-third of the crumbs evenly over the frosting. Anchor them with the back of your hand.
- Use the back of a spoon to spread a second-fifth of the frosting as evenly as possible over the crumbs.
- Gently insert the second acetate strip with your index finger between the cake ring and the first acetate strip, providing a transparent acetate ring 5 to 6 inches high. Place a cake round on the frosting and repeat the process for layer 1.
- Place the remaining cake round into the frosting. Spread the rest of the frosting over the top of the cake. Decorate it with the remaining crumbs.
- Transfer the baking sheet to the fridge and let it cool for at least 12 hours to allow the cake and filling to set.
- Remove the sheet from the fridge and release the cake from the cake ring. Carefully remove the acetate and place the cake on a plate.
- Slice the cake and serve.
Recipe adapted from Christina Tosi / allaboutcake