the ultimate birthday cake

cake_ultimate_titleMy baby brother, the youngest of six kids in our family, turned 20 this summer.  That’s right, no more teenagers until our nephews reach that milestone in a couple of years.  To celebrate, I baked him an incredible – if I may say so myself – three-layer yellow confetti cake with chocolate cookie cream filling and chocolate buttercream.

I know.  Close your mouth and stop drooling, girlfriend.  It’s going to be OK.  I’ll tell you exactly how to make it, too!

cake_insideBefore we dive in, let me give you a few pointers, not to overwhelm you but to totally amp you up for this amazing thing that’s about to go down in your kitchen:

  • Plan ahead.  This process will be a lot less stressful if you can break up the steps into two days.
  • I used three six-inch round cake pans.  You can use two nine-inch ones, or even three nine-inch rounds for slightly thinner layers.  I was going for whimsical and tall.
  • Speaking of planning ahead, always butter and flour your cake pans first.  You don’t want to have to stop in the middle of your batter mixing groove to do this step for the sake of keeping your work space clean and organized.
  • Bake your layers first, and let them cool completely before you do any trimming. I let my cake cool on a rack for at least an hour, then wrapped each one individually with plastic wrap.
  • The next day, I trimmed each layer, then whipped up the filling and buttercream.
  • Fill, stack, and crumb-coat and then freeze for at least 30 minutes to allow your cake to set before covering with the final layer of buttercream.

Let’s do this!

cake_ultimateRecipes are first, followed by assembly instructions below.

Adapted from the kitchn

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8-1/4 cup sprinkles


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. Using a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat to incorporate.
  5. On low, stir in the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk/vanilla in two parts, scraping the bowl in between additions.
  6. Mix completely until you don’t see any dry ingredients.
  7. Using a spatula, fold in the sprinkles.
  8. Pour batter evenly into your prepared cake pans.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes.  Carefully rotate your pans and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.
    *Cake is ready when the top springs back a little when you gently press it.  It will be golden and the edges will begin to pull away from the pan.
  10. Allow the cakes in the pans to cool on wire racks for at least 15 minutes
  11. Gently remove cakes from each pan and let them cool completely.
  12. Wrap each layer individually with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature until you’re ready to assemble.

Adapted from this vanilla frosting recipe, which I highly recommend!

1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon Flour
1 cup Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 cup Butter, room temperature
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup crushed cream-filled chocolate cookies (I used Newman’s Own)


  1. Whisk the flour into the milk.  Heat over medium/low, stir constantly until it thickens.
  2. When the mixture is paste-like and resembles a very thick batter.
  3. Take off the heat and cool to room temperature.
  4. Add the vanilla and stir.
  5. Using the whisk attachment on your mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy.  This will take several minutes since you don’t want any graininess.
  6. Add the pasty milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat it on HIGH.
  7. Mix vigorously until there is no separation and it looks like whipped cream.
  8. Add crushed cookies and mix in just until combined and it looks like cookies ‘n cream ice cream ;)

You can use your favorite chocolate buttercream recipe.  I used Giada’s recipe and followed it exactly.  Well, I added a little more than 1/3 cup of Ghiradelli chocolate chips.  And I mixed in the powdered sugar completely before adding the milk and vanilla.

cake_assemblyCAKE ASSEMBLY

  1. Trim each layer so that both top and bottoms are flat/even.
  2. On the bottom layer, spread the cookies ‘n cream filling in the center, about half-an-inch thick.
  3. Place the second layer of cake on the filling, and repeat step 2.
  4. Add the third layer on the filling.
  5. Crumb-coat using an offset spatula, carefully spread a thin layer of chocolate buttercream over the entire cake.  You do not want excess here.  You’re basically filling in any flaws, creating a base layer for the soft buttercream to stick to later.
  6. Carefully cover with plastic wrap (or not!) and place it in your freezer for about 15-30 minutes.  You don’t want to freeze the cake, you only want it to set so that it’s sturdy for the final frost.
  7. Remove the cake from the freezer, and spread a thick layer of chocolate buttercream all over it.  Cover that baby!
  8. Top with rainbow sprinkles and leftover cookie crumble.

I laid off the piping bags and star-tips for this one, for a slightly nostalgic homemade look.  And it was good.

cake_hbdzacHappy birthday, homeslice.  

xo, mh

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