5 Birthday Cake Recipes From Scratch!

Bake That Birthday Cake Yourself!

By Cynthia Van Hazinga
April 25, 2021
Chocolate Birthday Cake
RoJo Images/Shutterstock

What makes birthday cakes so magical—both for the young and young at heart? Dedicated and sung over, with icing and candles and secret wishes, birthday cakes have actually been around since ancient times. Here are five birthday cake recipes—each worth a chorus of ooohs and aaahs.

Birthday cakes have been a requisite part of birthday celebrations at least since Roman times, when the emperors offered cake all around on their birthdays. Ritual feasting is an expression of solidarity. By the Middle Ages, the rite-of-passage honey cake was surrounded by burning candles in a protective fire circle, lit to attract good spirits and bless the event. Lighting the birthday candles is still a hushed moment—and don’t forget that birthday wish, invoking powers beyond.

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man,
Bake me a cake as fast as you can!

Here are five easy cakes to bake from scratch which is not that much more difficult than store-bought, but so much better-tasting as well as special to the recipient—even if it’s a little lopsided and not “perfect.”

1. Basic Chocolate Sheet Cake

The chocolate sheet cake is an easy classic. Readers says this cake is sufficiently “chocolatey” to please everyone in the household!

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2. Moist Yellow Birthday Cake

This yellow birthday cake is moist, tender, and vanilla-based. Most folks seem to pair the vanilla flavor with chocolate frosting but add white frosting if you’re not a chocolate fan!

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Credit: Steve Cukrov/Shutterstock

3. Cupcake Tower

At a party, cupcakes are always fun for the young—or young at heart! It allows everyone to enjoy their own mini-cake. This vanilla cupcake recipe comes with a chocolate butter cream frosting but frost (and decorate) however you wish. 

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4. Coffee-Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Frosting

For more an adult flavor profile, try this Coffee-Chocolate Cake. Coffee seems to bring out the flavor of chocolate. Enjoy!

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5. White Birthday Cake With Lemon-Coconut Filling

This delicate, silvery white layer cake has added flavor with a subtle coconut-lemon filling—and topped wiht fluffy white frosting. Unlike many freshly baked cakes, this one tastes even better the second day.

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Credit: nui7711/shutterstock

5 Cake Baking Tips

  1. Make sure ALL ingredients are at room temperature to incorporate air for rising. This gives your cake that lighter texture. If you add cold milk or cold eggs, the creamed sugar will partially solidify.
  2. Prepare cake pans with butter and flour. Fresh-baked cakes are delicate and must fall neatly out of the pan for cooling. And don’t keep the batter waiting; prepare the pans first.
  3. Sift those dry ingredients. It’s not just a matter of mixing; sifted flour makes it lighter and easier to incorporate into other ingredients. It’s OK to cut a corner by fork-sifting or using a wire whisk, however, the confectioners’ sugar must be sifted. The results are worth the trouble.
  4. Cream butter and sugar for more than usual. We’re talking a few minutes until the mixture is creamy and the butter lightens in color.
  5. Know your oven. Take your oven’s temperature with a thermometer to make sure it corresponds with the dial. If your oven has hot spots, gently turn halfway through baking. Bake cakes in the lower third of the oven.

Cake Decorating Ideas

  • Fresh flowers lend an easy, natural elegance—especially edible flowers, like nasturium, pansies, and marigolds. Or, use sweet-ripe berries or chopped nuts.
  • For instant glitz, pile on store-bought candles and cookies—particularly for children’s cakes.
  • Use a candy bar and vegetable peeler to easily create chocolate shavings—either dark or white.

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Reader Comments

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B-Day cakes

My favorite is pineapple upside-down cake. Yum!