My birthday is tomorrow, so let’s talk birthday cake! From elaborate layer cakes to ice cream cakes to marble cupcakes to cookie cakes, the cake you choose to have at your birthday celebration is highly personal. Some people have the same thing every year. Others, myself included, like to change it up. No matter which camp you fall into, I have loads of cake recipes for you in my archives. Here are some of my absolute favorites.
While feeling homesick on my birthday last year, I decided to recreate a Swiss-style Black Forest Cake that is hugely popular in my hometown. You won’t find any cherries or chocolate cake here, just layers of airy almond dacquoise, whipped cream and dark chocolate. It also happens to be naturally gluten-free and so, so good. I’ll be having the real deal for my birthday this year (lucky me!), but this homemade version hits the spot if you’re not near Fort Worth, Texas.
Who doesn’t love ice cream cake? This one is simple as can be, starting with sandwiching mint chocolate chip ice cream with two layers of chocolate cake, then finishing it with whipped cream and anything else you like! Feel free to change up the ice cream flavor or just use this as a template and change the recipe completely. There is no wrong way to ice cream cake.
Something about Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting screams “birthday” to so many people. Mine is made with very good things like sour cream and brown sugar, mixed using the reverse creaming method, and finished with an irresistible chocolate frosting.
This is the cake for that person in your life who’s a little extra. The one who likes all the bells and whistles and would enjoy slicing into a cake full of candy—this cake is for that person. Also? Hi, I’m that person.
Have you made these or any of my other chocolate chip treats? Let me know in the comments or on social media!
My birthday is coming up this weekend, so this week is all about birthday cakes!
I have made a lot of birthday cakes—a lot!—and they have all been highly personal. I’ve had requests for everything from mousse cakes to Funfetti to Neapolitan to Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut, but Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting is the favorite by far. For whatever reason, it just screams “birthday” to a lot of people. And while I am inclined to rebel against anything that everyone seems to love (hello, I am a Gemini), I can’t say I’d be anything but delighted to blow out candles on a Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting.
I mean, what’s not to love about an egg-yellow vanilla butter cake with rich chocolate frosting? Nothing, that’s what. This cake is a classic for a reason.
That said, not all yellow cakes are created equal. Yes, they’re all made rich and yellow from lots of eggs, yolks and butter, and they all have some amount of vanilla, but that is frequently where the similarities end. Some are too dense, others too light. Some taste vaguely like cornbread despite containing zero cornmeal (so weird). Even the really good ones vary wildly in terms of flavor and texture. I can say that from experience—I’ve tried a lot of them.
This Yellow Cake though? I like to think it strikes a balance. Yellow, buttery, vanilla-scented, not too dense, and not a hint of cornbread flavor to be found (seriously, it’s a thing). It’s made using the reverse creaming method I use for white cake. You mix the butter into the dry ingredients, then add loads of eggs and a mix of milk and sour cream. It feels wrong, but it’s so simple and produces tender results every time.
I haven’t even mentioned the Chocolate Frosting, but as you can hopefully tell from the pictures, it’s absurdly good. Made with cocoa, melted dark chocolate and just enough confectioner’s sugar, it’s pure luxury. I like to frost this cake simply for a homemade look with lots of swoops, but feel free to increase the batch size if you want to pipe. Birthday person’s prerogative, you know.
Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting makes one two-layer 9” round cake
Yellow Cake: 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 cup cornstarch 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed 2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 3 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, room temperature 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract 1 cup whole milk 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
Chocolate Frosting: 3 ounces dark chocolate 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 2 tablespoons heavy cream rainbow sprinkles, for garnish (optional)
Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.
Combine flour, cornstarch, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk ingredients together (I like to do this by running my mixer on its lowest speed for about a minute).
Add butter to dry ingredients. Gradually turn the mixer from low up to medium, to mix in the butter until there are no large pieces and the texture is sort of rubbly. This will take a few minutes.
With the mixer running, add eggs and yolks one at a time, followed by vanilla. Mix until combined.
In a measuring cup or small mixing bowl, use a fork to whisk together milk and sour cream. Running the mixer on medium, add the milk mixture in two installments and mix until combined. Scrape down the bowl well to ensure even mixing.
Divide batter among prepared pans. Tap each full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake layers on the center rack for 31-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let let layers cool in their pans for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges of the layer before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
Make the Chocolate Frosting. Place chopped dark chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring just until melted. Cool to room temperature (this can be done quickly by putting it into the fridge for 5-8 minutes, then whisking with a fork).
In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until very light and fluffy (about 4-5 minutes). Beat in confectioner's sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Mix in melted chocolate, followed by vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.
Fill and frost the layers as desired. Garnish with rainbow sprinkles, if desired. Serve.
Layer cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.
Why have one flavor of cake when you can have three?! This Neapolitan Bundt Cake has them all: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
All the flavors start together with a batch of my favorite go-to bundt base. It’s ridiculously easy: just dump everything in a mixer, then mix on low for 30 seconds before turning the speed to medium for 3 minutes. Easy easy easy.
Once the batter is ready, divide it in thirds. Leave one plain (vanilla), stir cocoa powder and melted chocolate into another (chocolate), and flavor the last with pulverized freeze-dried strawberries (strawberry).
I tried a few different methods for the cake assembly, including spooning them all in at random, but my favorite is the one you see here. I spooned one flavor at a time into the pan, then spread it around in a circle. It doesn’t matter if they’re all perfectly even—the layers of batter will produce a stripey marble effect. The imperfections are all part of the fun.
Neapolitan Bundt Cake takes just over an hour to bake and will need to cool completely before glazing…with three glazes! Gotta have one for each flavor, right? These glazes are all quick and easy to whisk together; the only thing you want to watch for is that they all have similar viscosity. Once mixed, drizzle to your heart’s content.
With a tight crumb, tender texture, and three flavors and colors, this Neapolitan Bundt will be a winner with everyone! It’s perfect for any occasion, including the first picnic or cookout back together after so many months apart.
Neapolitan Bundt Cake makes one 10-cup capacity bundt
For the Cake: 2 cups granulated sugar 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces 4 large eggs, room temperature 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 3 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teasp Kosher or sea salt 1 cup milk (preferably whole), room temperature
For the Strawberry Batter: 1 1.2 ounce package freeze-dried strawberries, pulverized red food coloring (I used 1 drop red gel), optional
For the Chocolate Batter: 2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder 2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 325F. Heavily grease a bundt pan with softened butter (or shortening) and dust well with flour. Set aside.
Make the cake. Make the cake. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Batter will be thick.
Make the Strawberry and Chocolate batters. Divide batter into 3 medium bowls, with about 1 2/3 cups batter going in each. Leave one plain. This is the vanilla batter.
To make the strawberry batter, whisk pulverized freeze-dried strawberries and optional food coloring into one of the bowls of batter.
Make the chocolate batter. Whisk cocoa powder into the last bowl of batter. Put chopped dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Whisk into batter.
To assemble the cake, spoon half the vanilla batter into the pan and spread around in a circle. Top with half the strawberry batter, and spread around in a circle. Top with chocolate batter, and spread in a circle. Add remaining vanilla, strawberry and chocolate batters one-by-one, spreading in circles before adding the next. It’s okay if this isn’t perfect—it will look great when sliced, I promise!
When all batters are in the prepared pan, smooth the top with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 65-75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in several places comes out clean.
Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a thin, flexible knife around all exposed edges. Invert cake onto a cooling rack and let cake cool completely. Cake may be made up to a day in advance; it will keep double-wrapped in plastic wrap until you are ready to glaze.
Vanilla Glaze: 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar pinch of salt 2 teaspoons whole milk 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Strawberry Glaze: 1 tablespoon pulverized freeze-dried strawberries (from about 1/4 cup pieces) 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar pinch of salt 2 teaspoons whole milk
Chocolate Glaze: 1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar pinch of salt 2-3 teaspoons whole milk
Make your glazes. For the vanilla, combine confectioner’s sugar, salt, milk and vanilla in a small bowl. Use a fork to whisk ingredients together until very thick, but pourable. If it’s too thick, add more milk by the 1/2 teaspoon up to 1 teaspoons (1 tablespoon); if it’s too thin, add more confectioners sugar in 1 tablespoon increments.
For the strawberry, combine freeze-dried strawberries, confectioner’s sugar, salt, and milk in a small bowl. Use a fork to whisk ingredients together until very thick, but pourable. If it’s too thick, add more milk by the 1/2 teaspoon up to 1 teaspoons (1 tablespoon); if it’s too thin, add more confectioners sugar in 1 tablespoon increments.
For the chocolate, combine cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar, salt, and milk in a small bowl. Use a fork to whisk ingredients together until very thick, but pourable. If it’s too thick, add more milk by the 1/2 teaspoon up to 1 teaspoons (1 tablespoon); if it’s too thin, add more confectioners sugar in 1 tablespoon increments.
Pour or drizzle glazes over cake. Let sit for 20 minutes to set. Move cake to a serving plate before slicing and serving.
Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.
This recipe may be halved and baked in a parchment-lined 9x5-inch loaf pan. Start checking the cake for doneness at the 55 minute mark.
Of all the bits and bobs you can mix into baked goods, none can compete with semisweet chocolate chips. They’re small, eye-catching and good in everything. Even if you’re not much of a baker, you probably have a bag somewhere in your pantry right now.
Tomorrow, May 15th, is National Chocolate Chip Day (not to be confused with National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, August 4th). Celebrate by making one of these chocolate chip-centric treats, or just eating the morsels by the handful!
I firmly believe that you can never, ever have too many everyday cake recipes. Ever. And even if you can, you should add this Brown Butter Strawberry Torte to the list anyway.
This is one hell of a cake, y’all. Rich brown butter batter is topped with tons of quartered fresh strawberries, then baked until golden and studded with little jammy berry pockets. Jammy berry pockets!!!
Brown Butter Strawberry Torte comes together with minimal effort. That’s the appeal of everyday cakes, after all: you can make them without thinking too hard or dirtying too many dishes, and then you have cake on a Tuesday or a Saturday or a Thursday or whatever. They’re great for eating in your pajamas or serving to company—a utility dessert if you will.
The most taxing part of this recipe is browning the butter, which requires five whole minutes of staring at a pan and occasionally swirling it until the butter is dark and nutty and wonderful. After that, it’s just whisking up batter, pressing in sliced strawberries and throwing it in the oven for an hour. In that time, the fruit softens and buckles into the batter, resulting in a rustic craggy little cake. I know I’m biased, but I think it’s really beautiful.
I think this goes without saying, but you can use any fruit you like in this cake with excellent results. I chose strawberries because they’re right on the verge of being in season, but blueberries, blackberries, mango, pineapple or any other fruit that goes with brown butter would all be good variations.
Brown Butter Strawberry Torte makes one 9-inch torte
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces 2/3 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon, for sprinkling 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed 2 large eggs, room temperature 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt 12 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled & quartered (about 3/4 of a 16 oz box)
For serving (optional): whipped cream fresh strawberries, quartered
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again. Set aside.
Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl and let cool 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, In a small-medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Returning to the large mixing bowl, whisk granulated and brown sugars into the brown butter. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Add dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
Transfer batter into the prepared pan, then use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to smooth it to the edges. Scatter strawberries over the top and lightly press them into the batter. Sprinkle the additional tablespoon of granulated sugar over the top. Bake 60-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs (not batter). Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge and releasing the springform.
Serve warm or room temperature with whipped cream and/or fresh strawberries, if desired. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for a few days.