Every year I make a cake for my husband’s birthday. Back when we first started dating, my cooking and baking skills were not exactly where they are today (to put it nicely). I was still scared to stray from boxed cake mixes and canned frosting. So for each of those early years I made him a funfetti cake from the box mix with a can of rainbow chip icing. He loved that cake and since I made it a few times he refers to it as “birthday cake.”
So this year I decided I wanted to make “birthday cake” from scratch. I started with a moist vanilla cake recipe (with lots of sprinkles in the batter, of course), but decided to change it up with the frosting (no rainbow chip icing here). Since my husband loves anything with vanilla beans (and let’s not lie, I do too), I settled on a whipped vanilla bean frosting. With a lot more sprinkles for decoration.
We really enjoyed this cake. It brought back lots of memories, as I also remember eating funfetti cake as a kid. And of course this from scratch version is way better than those mixes. Also, can I just say that this frosting tastes a little bit like vanilla bean ice cream? It’s really good…
- 1 cup whole milk – divided, room temperature
- 6 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 ¾ cups cake flour, sifted
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature and cut in cubes
- heaping ½ cup rainbow sprinkles
- 26 tablespoons (3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened and cut in cubes
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1 vanilla bean
- rainbow sprinkles, for garnish (optional)
- To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using non-stick cooking spray or butter, grease the sides of the cake pans (8-inch) and then sprinkle with flour. Gently shake out the excess. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large measuring cup, combine ¼ cup milk, the egg whites, vanilla extract and almond extract. Mix well and then set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix the dry ingredients on low speed for about 30 seconds. With the mixer on low, slowly add the chunks of butter. Once all are in, mix for another 20 to 30 seconds. Add in the remaining ¾ cup of milk and mix on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and mix for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Next add in the milk/egg white mixture in three separate batches. After each addition, mix on medium speed for about 20 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the sprinkles.
- Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans. Spread the batter evenly in the pans using a rubber spatula.
- Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake, so keep an eye on them while in the oven. Once done, remove the pans from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. When they are cool enough to hold, gently run a spatula or butter knife around the edges of the cake to loosen. Carefully invert the cakes onto the wire racks to cool completely before frosting. *At this point, once cooled, I wrapped the cakes carefully with plastic wrap and left at room temperature overnight. I frosted and assembled the following day.
- To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter. Mix on medium speed for 8 minutes, until pale and creamy.
- Add in the confectioners’ sugar, milk, vanilla extract and salt. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the bowl. Mix on low speed for 1 minute, then increase the speed to medium and continue to beat for about 6 more minutes. The frosting should be light and fluffy.
- To assemble the cake: Place the bottom layer of the cake on your platter. Add about 1 cup of the frosting to the top and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Carefully place the second layer of cake on top of the frosting. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. Put the cake in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes (so it sets). Remove from the refrigerator and repeat, spreading another layer over the entire cake. Garnish with additional frosting (I piped on the decorations) and/or with additional sprinkles.