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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Classic Yellow Birthday Cake

I made some birthday cakes for a one year old's birthday a couple of weeks ago.   The birthday girl's dad has nicknamed her "bug" so they were going with a cute girly bug theme for the party.  Such a cute idea!  The plan was to do a half sheet cake and two smash cakes -- one for the party and one for pictures.

I topped one smash cake with a pink and black ladybug, the other smash cake was covered in whimsical polka dots in two shades of pink. 

For the sheet cake, I did a few more lady bugs across the bottom of the cake, a cute little bumblebee and some white chocolate butterflies, inspired by Hello Cupcake!

For the cake, I did classic yellow cakes with buttercream frosting - a simple crowd-pleaser that's also kid-friendly.  This is my favorite yellow cake recipe from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, it comes together so easily, bakes up really well and it is nice and moist.  I do think it works better for cakes than it does for cupcakes.  It doesn't require cake flour or separating egg whites and it's a really reliable recipe.  The cookbook calls for self-rising flour but I substitute all purpose flour with baking powder and salt.

One tip for you - make sure you use a good sturdy cake board for a large cake like a sheet cake.  I had one board under this one and it flexed a little in the middle, causing the buttercream to "crack" on the top of the cake.  Doubling up the cake boards, made it much sturdier, unfortunately the cake was already decorated and there was nothing I could do about it at that point.

Classic Yellow Birthday Cake
Recipe slightly adapted from Magnolia Bakery

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour three 9 inch round baking pans.  For extra insurance when baking layer cakes, I like to line each baking pan with parchment paper cut to size and butter and flour parchment paper.  (You can also use baking spray like Baker's Joy.)

Cream butter in mixing bowl on medium speed until smooth, gradually add sugar with mixer running, beating about three minutes until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for about one minute after each addition. 

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Combine milk and vanilla in a large measuring cup.  Add 1/3 of the flour and mix on low speed until just incorporated, follow with 1/2 of the milk mixture and alternate, ending with flour, mixing each addition until just incorporated.  Scrape down sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula and make sure all the flour is incorporated.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and smooth out the tops.  Bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and tops are light golden brown.  Cool about ten minutes in the pans and then turn out onto wire racks lined with parchment paper and cool completely.  Level each layer as necessary, fill with frosting or filling and frost as desired.


  1. Too cute! You did a wonderful job! :)

  2. So cute! I never would have noticed the crack if you hadn't said anything, but thanks for the tip!

  3. LOVIN' those pinwheel polka dots! Too cute!

  4. Love, love, love, ladybugs and butterflies! This is so cute!

  5. Adorable, you did a wonderful job. The colors were really cute.

  6. This recipe tastes really great, better than others I tried. Thanks!

  7. I assumed that recipe made the cake you show... but it is much too small. Did you have to double or triple the recipe to make a sheet cake? I kept my fingers crossed that it would rise... it didn't! Ha!! Oh well.

  8. @Asia -- I'm sorry for the misunderstanding... this recipe yields 1 9", 3 layer cake. I'm not positive what I did for the cake that is pictured but it's at least doubled and may be tripled. I can't remember for sure. A good place to reference is the Wilton website - there is a guide for how many cups of batter you will need based on the pan size. That is what I check when I need to make a large cake.

  9. Ohhhhhhh. Totally gonna make this one for my little girl!


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