How to Make An Easy Birthday Cake From Scratch
Before we make this recipe for Easy Birthday Cake, did you ever wonder where the idea of using cakes to celebrate birthdays came from? If not go ahead and scroll on but if you were wondering then you can read a short history here.
A little Birthday Cake History…
It sure goes back further than I thought. According to Wikipedia birthday cakes have been a part of European celebrations since the mid 19th century. But Germans appeared to have been selling cakes for weddings and birthdays since the 15th century. Imagine that! People have been scarfing down birthday cakes for a very long time!
Now now matter how that tradition began, I, for one, am as happy as a pig slopping around in mud that we keep celebrating with easy birthday cake recipes like the one you are about to learn today.
Now let’s make us an easy old fashioned birthday cake from scratch.
This is a no fuss recipe like Grandma would’ve had on her table and after sitting through all of that chatter from me, you could use a little somethin’ sweet.
Ingredients You Will Need for An Easy Birthday Cake Recipe From Scratch:
- All Purpose Flour
- Baking Powder
- Sprinkles if you’ve got a hankering for a rainbow flecked cake.
Note on the milk: I suggest whole but evaporated milk will work well also. Don’t let the “organic” part of my milk intimidate you. I only buy that kind because it lasts twice as long as the store brand and since we aren’t milk drinkers, that gives me more time to use it up before having to buy more, therefore saving me money even though it costs a little more than regular milk.
For the birthday cake icing recipe you’ll need these ingredients:
- Confectioner’s Sugar
- Vanilla flavoring
Please note: I am making a double recipe of icing so I can decorate a two layer cake. The recipe posted at the bottom is also double a normal recipe size. If you want less, you can easily half it. Half will also work fine for a 9×13 cake or for those who want to challenge themselves to use as little as possible when decorating a layer cake. I figure life is challenging enough so I do things to take the easy way out when possible, such as when I make cake icing.
- Place sugar and softened butter in a large mixing bowl.
- Cream together with an electric mixer until it is nice and fluffy looking like this.
- In a separate bowl, use a spoon to stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.
That is Come Home To Supper open on the table. One of the perks of having published cookbooks is that it is a whole lot easier for me to keep my recipes in one place.
- In another small bowl (the hardest part of this recipe is the dishes afterwards), stir together the vanilla, milk, and eggs until well combined.
- Now add a little of the wet mixture and a little of the dry mixture to the creamed butter and mix that well.
- Then add the rest of each and continue mixing until it is smooth and fully blended, about 2-3 minutes.
- Prepare two cake pans by either greasing and flouring them or by spraying the living mess out of them with cooking spray like I do.
I am using 9 inch cake pans but if you can find 8 inch you’ll have a taller cake (good luck with finding them though). You can also cut down on a whole lot of fuss by just baking this in a 9×13 pan and icing and serving it from the pan. That is my usual course of action but I went the extra mile for this birthday.
Note: If you have a pan with a reputation for sticking, then grease it with shortening and powder it with flour. If you have a pan like 90% of all other cake pans, a generous dousing of cooking spray will work just fine. A lot of people use a product like Baker’s Joy as well, which is shortening and flour in one spray. That works great but is a little more expensive so I just stick with my cooking spray that I buy in big old bulk cans at Sam’s. It takes ten forevers to use one of those up.
- This is our fully blended cake batter.
- Optional: Add in a handful of sprinkles. You can add a lot more if you want. I just grab a handful and go. I am using the tiny little ball rainbow sprinkles. You can try others and they will probably work well, too. I always have these on hand though (they are cheap).
- You want to gently fold these in because they will bleed their color pretty fast.
- Like this.
- Now divide it up between your two prepared cake pans.
- Bake these at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let cakes sit in pans for ten minutes.
- Then turn them out and allow them to cool completely.
- Now on to those icing ingredients…
One of my secret ingredients that I love to add to buttercream frosting is butter flavoring to my easy birthday cake icing. You can use it in addition to vanilla or in place of vanilla depending on your personal taste or mood on any given day. A lot of bakeries use this, too. This is completely optional though and vanilla does just fine on its own.
Back to icing…
- Place your room temp butter and a little bit of powdered sugar in a mixing bowl.
- Beat that until fluffy.
- Add flavoring and half of the milk and then the rest of your sugar.
Most recipes will call for you to gradually add in the remaining powdered sugar but in my world we have things to do so dump all that in there and set the mixer going again until it’s mixed up real good.
- Scrape down sides and add more milk during the mixing if needed.
- When you are done it the cake frosting will be all prettified, fluffy, and creamy.
- Place the first level of your cake, top side up, onto a cake pedestal. Add a big old wallop of icing.
- Spread that around a bit. Be careful not to let your knife or spreader touch the actual cake because that will pull up crumbs into your icing. Just keep it smoothing over the top of the icing itself.
- Place the other layer top side down on top of the first.
- Add another glob of icing on top of that and start spreading.
Eventually, you’ll spread it to the sides as well. I always add the globs to the top and spread to the sides from the top of the cake. That is just the easiest way for me to do it. You do it however is easiest for you. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to ice a cake written in any federal document that I am aware of.
Now I want you to do me a favor….
You Can Keep This Easy Birthday Cake Looking Homemade
You see those spready lines and swirls on that cake icing? Please don’t smooth them. I’m not sure at what point we started trying to make homemade things look store bought but I’ve been guilty of it more times than I can count. This is a beautiful homemade cake and it looks like a beautiful homemade cake. Trying to make it look like a store bought cake just doesn’t make sense. It is gorgeous. You are gorgeous. You made a cake. Be proud of that.
- If you want to add more sprinkles, do it as soon as you are done spreading the icing because soon the icing will set and the sprinkles won’t stick to it.
Here is your Easy Birthday Cake ready to dig into
This recipe is one of the many from scratch options featured in my latest book, Come Home To Supper.
- 2 +1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 + 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temp
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 +1/2 cups milk
- 3 eggs
Buttercream Icing (This is a double recipe for a layer cake)
- 2 sticks butter at room temp
- 4 teaspoons butter flavoring Can use clear vanilla instead
- 6 cups confectioner's sugar
- 4-8 tablespoons milk
- Preheat oven to 350 and spray two 9 inch cake pans liberally with cooking spray, or grease and flour. (Can also use 9x13 pan or line 24 muffin tins with paper liners for cupcakes).
- Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl and cream together with an electric mixer.
- In medium sized bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt with a spoon. In a separate bowl, stir together eggs, milk, and vanilla until well combined.
- Add half of the wet and dry mixtures to the creamed butter and mix until well combined. Add the remaining and continue mixing until fully blended and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.
- If you want to add sprinkles, gently stir them using a spoon in after batter is fully blended.
- Divide batter evenly among cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until lightly browned and center springs back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans for ten minutes before turning out to cool completely.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and about 1 cup of confectioner's sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the butter flavoring, half of the milk, and remaining sugar and beat again until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides and adding a little extra milk if needed.
- Ice cooled cake (see photos and instructions in this post if needed) and enjoy!
“Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering.”