vanilla bean birthday cake on cake stand

This recipe originally appeared on the KitchenAid blog. Scroll to the bottom of this post for the recipe!

Alternately titled, “That One Time I Covered an Entire Cake in Sprinkles and Lived to Tell About It.” ? Because oy, that is one not very easy task (but worth it, for the pretty-ness!).

More specifically, let’s talk about what’s going on behind those sprinkles: A perfect birthday layer cake. As in, a classic from-scratch white cake flavored and flecked with vanilla beans and then frosted with the most decadent, fluffy and smooth vanilla buttercream. It’s truly magical.

vanilla bean birthday cake with slice on plate

I made this cake not because there are any birthdays around here (though I am already planning Avery’s first-ever birthday cake for May because it’s a big deal and I want to solidify in her tiny baby short-term memory that her mother painstakingly researched and brainstormed the flavor and composition of her cake even if that’s just really kind of insane, mmmk?), but because I’m talking about Cake Baking 101 and such over on the KitchenAid blog today.

Over there, I talk about my tips and tricks for baking the best cakes, plus a few pointers on frostings. I don’t, however, discuss how many minutes (hours? days? I lost track) it took me to cover the cake in sprinkles. It just takes… a while. And a lot of sprinkles (and maybe also some wine). So be prepared. But like I said, it’s worth it — if nothing else for that moment when, for whomever you decide to make this cake, they see it in all its homemade, sprinkle-covered glory and gasp with glee. Because they will, I guarantee it.

How do I know? Because that’s what I did once it was all said and done, and it wasn’t even a surprise to me. I just really really ridiculously love cake.

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vanilla bean birthday cake

Vanilla Bean Birthday Cake

  • Author: Stephanie
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Description

A classic vanilla bean birthday cake covered top to bottom in SPRINKLES! The perfect celebration cake!


Scale

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for preparing cake pans
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 6 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • Nonpareil sprinkles, for decorating (optional)

For the frosting:

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray two 8-inch cake pans with baking spray. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper, then spray paper. Dust pans with flour; invert and rap pans to remove excess flour.
  2. In a large bowl, stir milk, egg whites, vanilla and vanilla bean seeds until combined.
  3. In a bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment or a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, stir cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until combined. Cut butter into cubes and add to bowl; stir on low speed 2 minutes until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl and beat another 15 seconds.
  5. Divide batter between prepared cake pans. Bake on center rack 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans 5 minutes, then carefully invert cakes and transfer, flat-side down, to a cooling rack to cool completely, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Meanwhile, make frosting: In a clean bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment or a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, beat butter on medium speed 3 minutes until soft, light and fluffy. Add 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating on high speed after each addition until just combined.
  7. Add 2 tablespoons milk, plus vanilla and salt. Stir until combined.
  8. Frosting should be a firm, yet smooth and spreadable consistency. If too soft, stir in remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until firm. If too firm, stir in more milk 1 tablespoon at a time until soft.
  9. Use a serrated knife to trim domed tops of fully cooled cakes to create a flat surface. Place one cake, cut-side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Use an offset spatula to frost top of cake. Top with second cake, cut-side down. Frost sides and top of cakes. Decorate with nonpareil sprinkles, if desired.

Notes

  • A buttercream-frosted cake can stay out at room temperature (covered with a cake stand topper or plastic wrap) for 2 to 3 days – after that, though, it’s best to store the cake in the refrigerator.
  • While you can use all-purpose flour for cakes, I find that cake flour really does make a difference. It gives the cake a lighter crumb but without being crumbly.
  • I also make sure my refrigerated ingredients (such as milk, eggs and butter) are at room temperature, so I take them out of the fridge a few hours before I’m ready to bake. For this recipe, I made sure the milk and egg whites were around 65°F and the butter was still firm but with some give. If the milk and eggs aren’t quite warm enough, place them in bowls or measuring cups in a shallow bath of warm water in the sink for a few minutes until they reach the appropriate temperature.

Keywords: sprinkles cake, vanilla cake, birthday cake, vanilla buttercream frosting