vanilla bean birthday cake
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.
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.Print
Vanilla Bean Birthday Cake
- 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
A classic vanilla bean birthday cake covered top to bottom in SPRINKLES! The perfect celebration cake!
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
- 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.
- In a large bowl, stir milk, egg whites, vanilla and vanilla bean seeds until combined.
- 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.
- Add milk mixture to flour mixture and beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl and beat another 15 seconds.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add 2 tablespoons milk, plus vanilla and salt. Stir until combined.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Good grief! That is GORGEOUS!!
Also, vanilla cake is my absolute favourite. 🙂
All that sprinkle pain? Worth it. This is gorgeous!!
You do know that I’d still be sweeping up sprinkles when my child graduated from college, don’t you? And I’m not sure there’s enough wine to keep me focused for that long. So, how about I just come over and have a piece of your cake? I’ll be there in a bit, because I need cake. xoxo
Seriously, THE PERFECT SLICE. Also, I didn’t know sprinkles could look so pretty. You are a cake whiz!
The most perfect birthday cake I ever did see!
Heading over now to check out the recipe! My oldest daughter (Phoebe) ‘s birthday is also in May and I need a cake! She loves sprinkles!!
I think I would accept that fact that I would be finding sprinkles in my kitchen for years to come if my cake came out looking this perfect! Swoon.
Is this 2 different cakes.? The big cake looks like yellow cake and the slice looks like white cake. It looks delicious!!
Prettiest…birthday…cake…ever!! I can only imagine what Avery’s bday cake is going to look like, ohmygerd! Those layers?! Stop.it. You’re more than welcome to bake me one for my bday…it’s June 5th…just FYI..no big deal…I’m a fan of sprinkles…obsessed with carrot cake…German chocolate?…will feed you root veggies for cake…I’ll stop now. 😉
I attempted the sprinkle cake a few months ago and I’m still finding sprinkles in my kitchen…it drives me insane!!! But somebody I know (ahem, me) has a birthday coming up and this looks just like what she wants!! It’s a good thing I make my own cake every year 🙂
Oh my goodness! Perfect cake. Every crumb looks amazing. That baby girl is going to get one stinken’ awesome cake!
Wow, that cake looks beyond amazing – I SO want a piece right now!! I admire your patience – I probably would have tossed a few sprinkles on top and called it a day.
I’ve tried (and failed) so many times at baking the perfect layer cake, mine never turn out as pretty as this one!!
Pretty!! Is there a trick to getting such solid sprinkle coverage on the vertical surfaces of the cake? I can imagine mine turning out patchy-looking.
This is the prettiest cake around the block!! Also… is it weird that I am super excited to see Avery’s fist birthday cake? I still can’t believe it is almost a year!!
Such a gorgeous cake! It couldn’t look any more perfect!
This cake is so pretty!
Charlotte– Nope, it’s all one white layer cake!
Julia — Lol! Noted. 😉
Zainab — I KNOW. I don’t want to think about it (it’s why I’m thinking about the cake instead ;)).
Turner — Just patience and time, really. I would sort of scoop some sprinkles into my palm and try to dab/press them onto the sides of the cake as I went along. I lost a LOT of extra sprinkles in the process, but after some time it came together.
This cake is gorgeous, Steph! Vanilla is my favorite cake of choice and the sprinkles are so pretty and festive! It’s the perfect celebration cake 🙂
Sooooo pretty Steph! It’s just the happiest looking little cake 🙂
Whaaaaaaat. GORGEOUS. And I need a recipe for basic vanilla cake and frosting, so it’s perfect. Hats off to you in the sprinkles! Was there a technique or did you just go to town on it?
OMG Stunning! I would say to make this for Avery’s bday but I feel like my heart would break watching her smash it after spending all that time on the sprinkles.
SPRINKLES!!! I am so excited about this as it’s my MIL’s birthday this month…will be a hit for sure…if I can handle those sprinkles! Wine = essential! =)
This is a stunning cake and I can only imagine how tricky it was. I would love to know how you did this so perfectly.
Holy sprinkles, this cake is an absolute beauty!
I’m so glad my birthday is only a few week’s away! Time to start ‘practicing’ my birthday cake, and I think that starts right here! Such a gorgeous cake. Sprinkles and wine on shopping list 😉
Michelle — I basically just put some sprinkles into the palm of my hand and quickly/carefully pressed them into the top and sides of the frosted cake. It wasn’t anything fancy/methodical (and MANY a sprinkle was wasted in the process :)).
Shannon — Basically just went to town. I found the best method was to put a few sprinkles in the palm of my hand and then carefully/semi-quickly press them into the top and sides of the frosted cake. There were sprinkles everywhere. 😉
Absolute perfection. Beautiful! But what I really want to know is how many sprinkles you had to sweep off your floor?? 😉
That cake is STUNNING–the texture…the vanilla bean flakes…and then—THE SPRINKLES!
Ashley — I’ll never tell. 😉
This cake looks amazing!! I wish I could have a slice (or three)!
OMG Stephanie, this cake is out of control!!! I love how you completely covered the cake in sprinkles; whenever I try to do anything like that, it always turns into such a huge mess. You’ve got mad skillz!
Michelle — Thank you! Though believe me, there was still a huge mess. My kitchen will never be the same. 😉
I’ve always wanted to cover an entire cake in sprinkles so I love this. And it truly does look like the perfect white cake.
This cake is so gorgeous and cute!
this just screams- CELEBRATE! its so pretty to look at…i bet even more amazing to taste!
This is just too much fun. And I’ll be waiting for that birthday cake in May!
This is my dream cake! All those happy sprinkles with the best vanilla cake and the best vanilla frosting. It doesn’t get better than that!
Love that the whole entire cake is covered in sprinkles!
This came out so pretty!!! I tried to cover a cake once in sprinkles and got so annoyed with the process that I just did the top and like one spot on the side haha it was interesting looking 🙂
Sprinkles are the worst for cleaning up but this cake really is so pretty! Can’t wait to hear what you decide on for Averie’s bday:-)
This is the prettiest cake I ever did see.
I have always wanted to make a cake just like this!
When I click on the link you have for The Kitchenthusiast to get the recipe, I get the message at the bottom. Any chance you have the recipe and can post it or send it to me…please? Thank you.
This site can’t be reachedblog.kitchenaid.com’s server IP address could not be found.
Try running Windows Network Diagnostics.
Hi Lynn, Thanks so much for letting me know! It looks like the blog post it linked to was recently taken down. 🙁 I’m going to post the recipe here as soon as I am able.