How to Make a Classic Birthday Cake!

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Our classic birthday cake recipe is made with fluffy, moist yellow cake and the best homemade chocolate icing. It’s the perfect cake for a birthday celebration! If you’re hosting a birthday party for an adult or a last-minute birthday party for a friend, this dessert will be a hit!

Birthday cake on a platter with chocolate frosting, flowers and sprinkles.

There is nothing sweeter than a homemade birthday cake to celebrate someone special. A classic birthday cake is a yellow cake with chocolate icing and we’re sharing the best recipe for that below.

Before we get started here’s a little history behind the celebration and the dessert!

Chocolate birthday cake with candles, sprinkles and flowers.

History of Birthday Cakes

Celebrating your birthday is nothing new. The first birthday cake dates back to Roman times. They would celebrate special occasions with cake. In the 15th century, the bakeries in Germany began making one-layer cakes for weddings and birthday celebrations.

As time went on, the form of cake changed and layers were added as well as icing and decorations. These cakes didn’t even become available to the lower class until the industrial revolution.

Today, we have some of the same rituals We celebrate every year of our life. And on your birthday, most of us get a gift, and of course — a birthday cake!

But why do we eat birthday cake? What is the best birthday cake recipe and how do you decorate a birthday cake? Continue reading to answer these questions and more!

Birthday cake recipe with star piping details and sprinkles.

When Did Birthday Cake Become a Tradition?

Is stuffing your face with sweet birthday cake your favorite part of your day? You can thank the Germans for this tradition! The first birthday cake was made in Germany during the Middle Ages.

During this time, Kinderfest was a major celebration in Germany. This was a celebration for kids’ birthdays and would always include a cake.

However, the cake wasn’t the irresistible and frosting-topped cake we know today. The original birthday cake was a coarse cake, almost like bread. Eventually, kids started eating Geburtstagorten, a sweet cake closer to the birthday cake we consume today.

This tradition grew globally and in the 17th century, the birthday cake was adorned with icing and even more details.

Slice of yellow birthday cake with chocolate icing.

How do you make a birthday cake from scratch?

Eggs, sour cream, butter and flour on a marble table.

Ingredients

Gather all of your ingredients, measure them, and get them ready for baking.

  • All-purpose Flour
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Eggs
  • Sour Cream
  • Buttermilk
  • Salt
  • Baking powder and Baking Soda
  • Cornstarch
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Butter, eggs and flour on a marble table.

    Quick Tips

    Butter and eggs are best at room temperature.

    Add the baking powder, soda, salt, and cornstarch in a bowl with the flour. Always check the dates on these items because they can go bad quickly.

    Use good quality vanilla extract and butter as well as full-fat buttermilk.

    Our preferred choice for flour is King Arthur Organic All-Purpose Flour.

    Grease two 8 inch round cake pans. To make sure the came comes out easily, cut a round piece of parchment paper and grease it to the bottom of the cake pan.

    In an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until whipped. Add in the eggs one at a time and continue to beat on medium.

    Turn the mixer to low and add in sour cream and vanilla extract.

    Alternate the flour mixture with the buttermilk while the mixer is on low.

    Using a spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the mixer to incorporate all of the ingredients.

    Cake batter in a round cake pan.

    Divide and pour the batter into both pans evenly.

    Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

    Let the cakes cool and then remove them from the pan.

    Round cake with the top cut off.

    Cut off the top part of the cake that has risen in the center to give yourself a flat surface to stack them.

    Chocolate frosting whipped in a mixing bowl.

    While the cakes are cooling, whip up a batch of our chocolate buttercream frosting. It’s the BEST!

    Dollop of chocolate frosting on a yellow cake.

    How to Frost a Birthday Cake

    Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or marble platter and add a giant dollop of buttercream over the top.

    Spread it out evenly and then add the second layer of cake over the top.

    Chocolate buttercream on a yellow birthday cake.

    Add another dollop of chocolate frosting over the top and spread out evenly.

    Chocolate cake with a bag filled chocolate frosting and a star tip.

    Save about 1/4 cup frosting to do the star pattern around the edge.

    Start frosting the sides of the cake until it’s all covered.

    Birthday cake with chocolate frosting and a star tip.

    Wipe the bottom of the cake stand to remove any chocolate frosting around the edges.

    Using a star tip and a piping bag, fill the bag with chocolate frosting and then pipe around the edge of the cake.

    Chocolate cake with sprinkles on the top.

    Add rainbow sprinkles over the cake!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Is the Best Cake for a Birthday?

    There are many amazing birthday cake flavors, but a yellow cake with chocolate icing is the best birthday cake flavor. This cake has everything: it’s moist and sweet, perfect for chocolate lovers, and is actually very easy to make.

    Yellow cake slice with chocolate frosting.

    What is a yellow cake? Yellow cake batter is made with whole eggs and real butter, which gives the yellow cake its iconic color. Unlike vanilla cake, it has more of a custard flavor. It’s the best cake because it’s light and fluffy — and pairs perfectly with chocolate frosting!

    Birthday cake with candles and chocolate frosting with gold candles.

    How to Tell If Your Cake Is Done

    Now that you’re baking your cake, how do you know when it’s done and ready to eat? Look for these signs:

    • The cake pulls away at the sides of the pan
    • It smells fragrant (yum!)
    • The top turns golden brown
    • The toothpick or knife test (stick a toothpick or knife in the cake and if there are still crumbs, it needs to bake for longer)
    • Press on the cake and see if it springs back

    Don’t forget to let your cake sit and cool down before frosting it!

    Birthday cake with candles and sprinkles.

    How to Decorate a Birthday Cake

    There are unlimited cake decorating opportunities for a birthday cake.

    If you’re looking for something simple, choose a sweet “happy birthday” message with a swirl design. Sprinkles and candy are always perfect toppings and our favorite way to decorate a birthday cake.

    How Do You Store a Birthday Cake?

    You would expect guests to gobble up all of the cake! But what if you have leftovers? You’ll want to store your birthday cake properly to eat the next day.

    As long as the cake is covered, you can store the cake at room temperature for up to five days. To prevent moisture loss, add more frosting to the sliced areas of the cake!

    Sprinkles!

    We believe a birthday cake REQUIRES sprinkles! Adding sprinkles to a cake creates color, texture and turns it into an instant birthday cake! Here are a few options.

    More Birthday Cake Recipes You’ll Love!

    Chocolate Zucchini Cake

    Ice Cream Sundae Cake 

    Brown Sugar Cake with Creme Fraiche 

    Devil’s Food Cake 

    Neapolitan Sheet Cake

    Lemon Elderflower Cake 

    Momofuku Milk Bar Cake

    More Birthday Party Ideas

    DIY photo party hats

    DIY party fans

    How to Arrange Roses

    How to Put Together an Epic Cheese Platter

    Easy Ranch Water Cocktail Recipe

    How to Make Money Balloons

    Ham and Cheese Sliders – These make such a wonderful birthday appetizer!

     Our favorite vodka drinks, the best-mixed drinkstequila cocktails and cheap drinks to make at home!

    Let us know if you make this recipe by leaving a comment and review below!

    You can also FOLLOW US on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, and PINTEREST to see more delicious recipes, cocktails, desserts, and parties!

    Birthday Cake Recipe

    A classic fluffy, yellow birthday cake with creamy chocolate icing that's perfect for any birthday celebration!
    4.86 from 7 votes
    Print Pin Rate
    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: American
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 minutes
    30 minutes
    Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
    Servings: 1 8″ Birthday Cake
    Calories: 5048kcal
    Author: Eden

    Ingredients

    • 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temp
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 2 tbsp cornstarch
    • 1 cup buttermilk, full fat

    Instructions

    • Grease two 8 inch round cake pans. To make sure the came comes out easily, cut a round piece of parchment paper and grease it to the bottom of the cake pan.
    • In an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until whipped. Add in the eggs one at a time and continue to beat on medium.
    • Turn the mixer to low and add in sour cream and vanilla extract.
    • Alternate the flour mixture with the buttermilk while the mixer is on low. 
    • Using a spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the mixer to incorporate all of the ingredients.
    • Divide and pour the batter into both pans evenly. 
    • Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes. 
    • Let the cakes cool and then remove them from the pan. 
    • Cut off the top part of the cake that has risen in the center to give yourself a flat surface to stack them
    • While the cakes are cooling, whip up a batch of our chocolate buttercream frosting.
    • Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or marble platter and add a giant dollop of buttercream over the top. 
    • Spread it out evenly and then add the second layer of cake over the top. 
    • Add another dollop of chocolate frosting over the top and spread out evenly.
    • Save about 1/4 cup frosting to do the star pattern around the edge.
    • Start frosting the sides of the cake until it’s all covered. 
    • Wipe the bottom of the cake stand to remove any chocolate frosting around the edges. 
    • Using a star tip and a piping bag, fill the bag with chocolate frosting and then pipe around the edge of the cake. 
    • Add rainbow sprinkles over the cake! 

    Notes

    Butter and eggs are the best room temperature.
    Add the baking powder, soda, salt, and cornstarch in a bowl with the flour. Always check the dates on these items because they can go bad quickly.
    Use good quality vanilla extract and butter as well as full-fat buttermilk.
    Our preferred choice for flour is King Arthur Organic All-Purpose Flour.
    You can also make this a sheet cake to make it easier! 

    Nutrition

    Calories: 5048kcal | Carbohydrates: 675g | Protein: 66g | Fat: 237g | Saturated Fat: 141g | Cholesterol: 1327mg | Sodium: 4413mg | Potassium: 1890mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 417g | Vitamin A: 7850IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 958mg | Iron: 19mg
    Tried this Recipe? Tag me Today!Mention @sugarandcharm or tag us #sugarandcharm!

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