This Chocolate and Vanilla Layer Birthday Cake is a classic cake that will make anyone's special day even better! This classic moist and fluffy chocolate three layer cake is frosted with creamy vanilla buttercream frosting and topped with natural rainbow sprinkles.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
This simple and chic Chocolate and Vanilla Layer Birthday Cake is the quintessential birthday cake. At least for me, growing up, it was always chocolate cake and vanilla icing! I dress this up a little bit and make three layers for a stunning and simple birthday cake.
I use natural sprinkles on this simple birthday cake and give it a cute little writing. I baked this cake today because we're celebrating 10 years of my bake shop. This simple birthday layer cake is perfect for any celebration, birthday or not!
Ingredients for Chocolate and Vanilla Layer Birthday Cake
Tips for Chocolate and Vanilla Layer Birthday Cake
• Make sure your butter is soft. This is crucial for cakes! Cake is all about the texture and crumb, and if your butter isn't soft then that will affect both of those things as the batter will not be even if there are butter chunks. I like to leave butter out on the counter overnight, and let it soften naturally. In the warmer months this is a miracle trick as makes butter the perfect consistency, naturally. However, in the cooler months it may not work completely – so when you're softening butter in the microwave, please make sure to only do 10 seconds per stick at a time. Anymore and you can actually melt portions of the butter and that's not good. It should be all the same consistency, very soft, and also uniform. That is going to give you the best cake.
• This is also why having your dairy at room temperature is important too. You did all the work to use soft butter, and if you add cold dairy into warm butter, it can seize up causing clumps to form, which will just undo all your hard work! So, this is why having room temperature dairy is key.
• I use organic Dutch cocoa powder as it's my go to for the most true chocolate flavor. If you have natural cocoa, you may use as well but it won't taste as chocolatey. I buy organic Dutch cocoa powder that is 20/22 fat content. If you want to get nerdy about it, the numbers refer to the percentage of cocoa butter that remains in the cocoa. This fat content is considered high fat cocoa, versus a low fat cocoa would be about half that. And obviously, the higher fat stuff always tastes better! No, but seriously, back to science – fat does add flavor and richness to anything, cocoa included. The low fat versions can dry out desserts, and that is not ideal – especially for chocolate cake! So, stick to the high fat content cocoa.
• If you don't have ground vanilla bean, then you can. use vanilla extract instead. Vanilla bean is more potent than vanilla extract, so if you are going to substitute it, use 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
• This cake has a buttercream frosting – which is what we're known for at the bakery. And, buttercream – butter being the key word here – so butter really matters! My favorite brand is Organic Valley. So make sure you are buying an organic high quality butter for the best buttercream flavor.
• It wouldn't be a birthday cake without sprinkles. I use India Tree Nature's Color Carnival Mix for that pastel look. You can find them here.
• Make sure to store your cake in an airtight container after you cut into it. Cake is moist, therefore as soon as it's cut into, it will start to dry out. It will dry out faster depending on your climate, such as in Mammoth Lakes it dries out immediately! This is where a cake dome is super helpful. If you don't have one yet, then I highly recommend it! I've linked one of my favorites here.
• I used Ateco tip #4 to write on this cake. This is a great size for writing on any cake! Find the tip here. If you don't want to write on the cake, you can skip this step too.
Why use organic ingredients in this recipe? You all know I’m a huge organic advocate, and I bet you may be thinking sometimes, Why would I even bother to use organic ingredients in something that is so sweet and indulgent? But, that is the exact reason why you should use organic ingredients! Sweet things need to have flavor in order to be good, otherwise they are just sweet and they don’t taste like much else. Organic ingredients are more pure than conventional ones, therefore they actually have more flavor than the non organic options. Say it with me, organic means more flavor! And not just more flavor but a more true and pure flavor. And organic ingredients are much healthier for you to eat in general as they do not contain GMOs or anything artificial. Plus, you are being environmentally friendly when you choose organic ingredients!
So, I highly recommend that you buy the best organic ingredients for this recipe! You can also shop my Amazon Storefront for all my favorite organic ingredients here. Tip – hover over each ingredient to see the name. And if you want to learn more about organic foods and the difference, read my post here on Food Labels and What They Mean.
Chocolate and Vanilla Layer Birthday CakeDifficulty: Intermediate
This recipe for a chocolate and vanilla layer birthday cake can be made for any celebration, even beyond birthdays!
1/2 cup (113 grams) organic salted butter, softened
170 grams (3/4 cup) organic cane sugar
2 large organic eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup organic milk, room temperature
1/4 cup organic heavy whipping cream, room temperature
1/4 cup organic sour cream, room temperature
127 grams (3/4 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons) organic cake flour
43 grams (1/2 cup) organic Dutch cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon organic ground vanilla bean
454 grams (3 cups plus 3 tablespoons) organic powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup (226 grams) organic salted butter, softened
1 to 2 teaspoons organic milk
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line three 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
- To make the batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and cane sugar. Mix on low until combined and there are no chunks of butter.
- Add the eggs, milk, cream, and sour cream and mix on low to combine, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again to combine.
- In a separate bowl, add the cake flour, cocoa, baking powder, sea salt, and vanilla bean and whisk together. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the dry ingredients to combine completely and mix low until you have a smooth batter, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Divide evenly into the prepared cake pans, they should weigh about 226 grams each.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the cake pans.
- To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add the butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Mix on low until combined, then speed mixer up to high for 1 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- Place the first cake layer on a cake stand or spinner, crumb coat the cake. Then frost the rest of the cake smooth, and immediately add the rainbow sprinkles half way up the sides. You have to do this immediately because the sprinkles will stick to the frosting when it's fresh, but if you let the frosting dry they won't stick on. Add rainbow sprinkles to the top.
- With the remaining frosting, add a little cocoa and water to it to create the writing frosting. Transfer to. a piping bag with decorating tip #4. Write whatever you want!
- Gluten Free — Replace the cake flour with 170 grams (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) organic gluten free flour blend.
- High Altitude — Bake at 350°F for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- To learn how to crumb coat a cake, visit my tutorial How to Crumb Coat a Cake.
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Make sure to check out my Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake recipe, which I'm sure you'll love too! And, share it with someone who you think may also like it!