I know January marks the start (rather, restart) of all of our best habits. Luckily, one of my best habits is CAKE. Around here, January has me daydreaming about all the birthday cakes I’d like to make for friends, family, and my very own birthday. There is nothing better than birthday cake – it’s a human right and I’m fully invested in your cake celebrations. We’ve made more than a few birthday cakes around here over the last decade, but here is a collection of my very best birthday cake recipes! Cakes that will get you celebrating together with candles and sprinkles and streamers (oh and maybe a pinata too!).
We’re covering everything from classic birthday cake to no-bake cakes and crepe cakes. There’s the classic and the cooky and a few in between.
I hope you find a few cakes to celebrate with as a year of birthdays unfolds. Here’s how:
• Let’s start with the classics: my best yellow cake recipe. Everybody’s Vanilla Birthday Cake is a simple, moist and stacked classic birthday cake made in two round cake pans or a 9×13-inch sheet pan. It’s a sweet, velvety cake batter with a cute crumb, fluffy texture and plenty of vanilla extract. My favorite birthday cakes are topped with the best chocolate buttercream frosting and this vanilla cake is the perfect base.
• Where there is vanilla, let there be chocolate!! The chocolate version of Everybody’s Chocolate Birthday Cake is so moist and decadent it’s a chocolate lovers DREAM! The chocolate frosting also has a healthy scoop of peanut butter (which you can totally skip if you prefer) that cuts the sweetness and adds a nice depth of flavor to the already bonkers cake. Is it even a birthday party without this chocolate cake? Maybe but barely.
• Sure did put together a full layer cake without so much as pre-heating the oven! This No-Bake Neapolitan Birthday Cake is made with three different layers of sweet and stretchy Rice Krispie Treats. A chocolate layer, a vanilla layer, a strawberry layer all stack together to create a tall layer cake. Top with dots of buttercream and chocolate shavings and it’s a very happy summer birthday. Top of the list of my best birthday cake recipes!
• Grab a stovetop pan and a whisk to make this easy One-Pot Neapolitan Sheet Cake! No stand mixer required! This tender chocolate cake is topped with three different flavors of fluffy whipped cream: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. The berry whip is my favorite. I basically turned my favorite childhood ice cream into a cake. Make this cake from scratch with the recipe linked above OR you can make this cake as an easy cake mix from my line with Williams Sonoma.
• One of my biggest flexes as a baker is turning one stick of butter into TWELVE FROSTED CUPCAKES.
Of course I’ve done it two ways for your preference: Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes and Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes. The chocolate cupcakes have a secret ingredient: beets! Basically these cupcakes are salad. That’s how that works.
Sprinkles and candles also required.
• Here’s the only Carrot Cake recipe you’ll ever need. It’s packed with fresh carrots and pineapple and filled with plenty of cream cheese frosting. My parent’s had a Carrot Cake wedding cake but I love mine with a birthday candle and song!
• On the list of the many great things New Orleans has taught me is the Doberge Cake – a tall, six layer cake filled with two flavors of pudding and topped with two flavors of buttercream or cream cheese frosting. Lemon and chocolate is traditional for a classic Doberge but, seeing as I can’t leave well enough alone, I made Dede’s Strawberry Pistachio Doberge Cake to refine the concept to my ideal flavor pairing. Talk about an impressive birthday cake! And – don’t stress about baking six perfect cake layers. We just bake three layers and slice each in half. And the pudding is zhooshed up store-bought pudding. We take ease when we can get it.
• You’ll find a Texas Sheet Cake at the dessert table of literally every Wilson family function for obvious reasons – that thin layer of cake fudge created when warm chocolate icing meets warm chocolate cake. This is the sort of cake leftovers we half-heartedly cover with foil, knowing full well we’re only five minutes away from sneaking back into the pan for a sliver. Also very important, and I cannot stress this enough: the knife stays in the cake pan. Modest but decadent, this is one of my favorite birthday cake recipes.
• Two grain and gluten-free birthday options that are decadent and dreamy:
Sweet Laurel’s Grain-Free Chocolate Raspberry Cake is made with almond flour and maple syrup. I especially love the fresh raspberry puree layer but you could certainly substitute any fruit puree or jam you prefer. Passion fruit? YES.
Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Decadent Chocolate Cake is made with a GF flour blend and full-fat coconut milk to create a smooth and rich chocolate ganache. Top with cocoa nibs an extra crunch.
• Ok so… you want a layer cake but you also want a stack of pancakes. Roasted Plum Crepe Cake is the answer! Layers of buttery crepes meet a lightly sweetened roasted plum whipped cream. Sure this cake requires some quality time with a nonstick pan at the stovetop but there’s no oven baking time and this cake is a blast to assemble. I especially like the soft center and crispy edges of this cake. It’s just a delight. Feel free to sub any berry or stone fruit for the plums!
• Birthday cookies? Absolutely yes! Use an electric mixer to combine a toasty browned butter mixture with dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt) into a soft cookie dough. Add chocolate of course. This Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake is dotted with colorful buttercream frosting and finished with rainbow sprinkles. Pro Tip: line the bottom of the baking pan with parchment paper to ensure the cakes come out of the pan easily after baking.
Happy Birthday to you and everyone you bake birthday cakes for! It’s going to be a sweet year. xo