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Favorite Birthday Cake Recipes and Ideas

Updated on September 6, 2012
What's your favorite birthday cake flavor?
What's your favorite birthday cake flavor? | Source

What's your favorite birthday cake?

If you are like many people you immediately thought of a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. It's a long standing classic and the favorite of many. The other classic is (of course) Devil's Food cake. Either of these are the best birthday cake for any age.

Make Cake Easily from Scratch

Many people choose boxed cake mixes but there is really no reason to settle for chemicals and toxins along with your cake and ice cream. It really doesn't take much longer to put together a delicious "from scratch" cake recipe that your family will love.

The following recipes will produce easy, homemade birthday cakes that are moist, velvety and full of flavor.

Best of all? Anyone who can carefully follow the instructions can make these cakes! Remember that any cake batter can also be used for cupcakes. Just shorten to baking time to about 12-15 minutes.

Yellow cake can have any number of frostings and fillings. In this image lemon curd fills between the layers while a Swiss buttercream covers the cake.
Yellow cake can have any number of frostings and fillings. In this image lemon curd fills between the layers while a Swiss buttercream covers the cake. | Source

Homemade Yellow Cake Recipe

This recipe makes an easy, homemade yellow cake that is great for birthday parties. You can use chocolate, vanilla, or any other frosting flavor you choose. The cake has a light citrus taste from the orange extract but you can leave it out if you like.

12 egg yolks is a lot but the perfect, moist texture of this birthday cake is worth it. Most commercial egg yolks will be light in color so will not give a rich yellow color - you may want to add a little yellow food coloring to get the look you want. Generally organic, pastured chickens will lay eggs with bright, orangey yolks and you'll have a deeper color.

Rate this Cake!

3 stars from 2 ratings of Yellow Cake

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 40 min
Yields: 8 - 10 servings


  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons orange extract, (may omit)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Instructions for Making Yellow Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.Grease and flour the pans of your choice, or spray with baker's release spray.
  2. Blend the flour, salt and baking soda together. Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. This will take about five minutes at high speed on an electric mixer. In another bowl beat the butter until creamy. Add 1/4 c of sugar and flavorings, and beat well. Continue beating while you add the rest of the sugar gradually. Scrape the bowl often. Test some of the mixture with your fingers - there should be no graininess to the butter when all of the sugar is is beaten into the mixture.
  3. Add 1/3 of the yolks and beat well. Continue adding yolks, 1/3 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until blended.
  4. Divide batter evenly between the pans. Bake the yellow cake for 30 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not over-bake. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out to finish cooling.

Variations on the Yellow Cake Recipe

You can bake the cake in a 13 x 9 inch pan, two square layers, or two round layers. This cake will yield enough batter to fill most of the figural cake pans from Wilton as well.

The flavors are easily changed by adding the following instead of the orange flavoring:

  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract and 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Stir chocolate chips into the batter
  • Stir colored sprinkles into the batter for a confetti cake
  • Separate half the batter out and color it with paste food coloring. Swirl it through the plain batter to create a marbleized effect.
  • Separate half the batter out and add 1 square melted unsweetened chocolate. Swirl through the plain batter

If you are having a Princess Party you can use a tiara on the top of the cake for an easy, but beautiful decoration.

Classis Devils Food cake with chocolate frosting
Classis Devils Food cake with chocolate frosting | Source

Devils Food Cake Recipe

The other birthday cake favorite is, of course, chocolate. This cake is moist and filled with deep, dark chocolate flavor. Makes 3 9- inch layers


  • 3/4 c Hershey's Dark cocoa
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c buttermilk
  1. Mix these ingredients together and cook them over medium heat.
  2. Stir constantly until the mixture coats the back of a metal spoon and you can trace a line in it with your finger.
  3. Cool to room temperature.


  • 2 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  1. Set aside.


  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Cream butter and sugar together until they are very light and fluffy.
  2. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, and beating very well after each.
  3. Add 1 tsp vanilla.


  1. Blend in the cooled chocolate mixture.
  2. Now, add mixed, dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the buttermilk mixture.
  3. Always begin and end with the dry ingredients.
  4. Spoon the batter equally into 3 greased and floured round cake pans (or whatever pan you are using) and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until done.
  5. Cool 10 minutes in pan.
  6. Loosen sides, turn out from the pan, and finish cooling.

Chocolate Frosting

This is a rich, very chocolate frosting that is rich and creamy. It is great for frosting a cake but a little thin for use in the decorating tube. For decorating the cake after you frost it use the Wilton Buttercream recipe below. It's not a real buttercream at all but very good for making scrolls, swirls, and flowers.

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 (1 ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  1. Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave, or in the top of a double boiler.
  2. In a large bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, vanilla and 1/2 cup of the cream.
  3. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture.
  4. Add remaining cream, a little at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.
  5. Let stand until spreadable . Frosting will thicken as it cools.

Mix up the cake filling and frosting for more variety. This Devil's Food cake has cookies and cream filling with chocolate frosting.
Mix up the cake filling and frosting for more variety. This Devil's Food cake has cookies and cream filling with chocolate frosting. | Source

Wilton Buttercream

This is the buttercream that most bakeries and cake decorators use. Because the base is shortening it holds up well in warm weather and for doing intricate decorations. It does not taste as good as butter-based buttercream though. This recipe makes 3 cups.

  • 1 c Crisco
  • 1 tsp clear vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp butter extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond
  • 1 lb confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tbs cream
  1. Beat the Crisco and the flavorings in a mixer until blended and fluffy.
  2. Add the confectioners' one cup at a time, with the mixer on low speed.
  3. Stop occasionally an scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  4. When all the sugar is mixed in the frosting will look a little dry.
  5. Ad the cream a little at a time until the right consistency is reached.
  6. It should be slightly stiff.
  7. Whip the mixture for several minutes to incorporate air and make it fluffier.

Use food color paste to vary the color. For other flavors just substitute other extracts and flavorings

A large birthday cake like this one is easy to make with a little practice
A large birthday cake like this one is easy to make with a little practice | Source

Embellishments for the Best Birthday Cakes Ever

There are all kinds of beautiful embellishments that you can put on your cake.

  • Edible glitter is a bit like sanding sugar but the pieces are flatter and bigger and reflect light. It adds a beautiful sparkle to cakes
  • Molded fondant shaped like almost anything
  • Marzipan
  • Colored dragees
  • Cake prints are edible prints that look amazing on cakes.
  • Sprinkles
  • Sugar pearls
  • Glazes

So, besides just adding frosting decorations there are many other embellishments for birthday cakes that will make your cakes look professionally done.

Baking Cakes is a Rewarding Hobby

Making beautiful birthday cakes for family and friends is fun and satisfying. Designer cakes are a gift in themselves and many people have found that baking special occasion cakes is a great way to make a little extra money.

A homemade birthday cake recipe is much better than boxed mixes when you have a found a good one - and just as easy

For cake decorating ideas you may want to check out:Cake Ideas. It is a hub with many links to images of all sorts of cakes, from childrens' birthday cakes to wedding cakes..


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