Tag Archives: birthday

Anna Olson poses smiling with her hat box birthday cake

Here’s the Cake Anna Olson Bakes for Her Birthday – and Why You Should, Too!

Everybody loves birthday cake! And why not? A birthday cake means there is a celebration, and someone is being honoured, and best of all if that person is you!

My birthday is May 8th, falling very near or sometimes right on Mother’s Day, so there are now two reasons to bake a cake.  The question is: what type of cake to make?  You’ve seen me make every possible type of cake, but are you curious which are my favourites?  Here are a few things about me and my love of cake, and some guiding tips that I follow:

Related: Magical Birthday Cupcake Recipes

Cake vs. Cupcake

Cupcakes were always my choice growing up, and ballerinas were my “thing”. My Mom had a set of plastic ballerina figurines that she would top each cupcake with for years.

Remember regular layer cake batters don’t always adapt well to cupcakes.  Often wet batters will stick to the paper liners on cupcakes instead of peeling away easily.  If you want a cupcake, choose a cupcake recipe.

Related: Anna Olson’s Best Chocolate Recipes

A chocolate cupcake topped with swirled chocolate and vanilla icingGet the recipe: Chocolate Spice Cupcake with Chocolate “Swirl” Frosting

Tip: When baking cake layers, whether round or square, use cake pans with sides that are a straight 90° from the bottom.  Some cake pans have angled sides (for the only reason that they nest well for shipping) but when layers are assembled, the cake won’t have straight sides, and the angle is noticeable when the cake is sliced. I’ve designed my Anna Olson Kitchen cake pans specifically with this in mind.

Choosing Your Birthday Cake Flavour

I love the classically named cakes, with their defined flavour & filling combinations:

Black forest cake sliced open revealing delicious layers of chocolate cake and cherry filling
Black Forest Cake – chocolate cake, cherry filling and whipped cream frosting

Beautiful Dobos Tort decorated with caramelized sugar Dobos Torte – thin layers of nut sponge with chocolate buttercream and a caramelized sugar “fan” on top

Slices of opera tart cakeOpera Torte – sponge, ganache and mocha buttercream

I also like watching cake flavour and decor trends, including “naked” cakes, confetti cakes, and I am going through a serious waffle cake phase right now.

I don’t repeat birthday cakes – I change it up every year, and I rarely choose a chocolate cake.

See More: Anna Olson’s Healthier Dessert Recipes

When to Bake Your Birthday Cake

Because I’d like to be a guest at my own birthday party, I plan on baking the cake layers two days ahead (or baking and freezing further ahead) and making the fillings and frosting the day before, and assembling then.

Tip: Cake layers are less crumbly and easier to slice when baked a day before frosting them.

Anna Olson poses smiling with her hat box birthday cake

Tip: Unfrosted cake layers should not be refrigerated (it would dry the cake out. If baking a day ahead, wrap them well and leave them on the counter.  Once assembled, the frosting seals in the moisture, so it can be chilled and stay fresh.

Related: Anna Olson’s Guide for Working With Buttercream

How Long Will Your Cake Sit Out?

If the weather is nice (and you went to a deal of effort), you’ll want to show off the cake and let it sit out at room temperature (out of direct sunlight).

Tip: Frosting and fondants that have food colouring added fade when exposed to direct sunlight. Take care where the cake is placed for display, and adding a little glycerin (available where you buy cake decorating supplies) to your frosting or fondant will help preserve the colour.

So you need to choose fillings and frosting that suit:

Out for under 30 minutes: mousse fillings and whipped cream frostings are fine.

Out for 30-90 minutes: Curd fillings, fruit fillings, cream cheese frostings and chocolate ganache can handle sitting out for longer.

Out for 90+ minutes: Swiss buttercream cakes, fondant-covered cakes, and cupcakes can sit out longer.  Italian buttercream is the most stable frosting, which is why it is a favourite choice of pastry chefs for wedding cakes.

Anna’s Birthday Cake

So now that we’ve talked about all types of cakes, what is my choice for a birthday cake?  And the winner is:

Beautifully decorates lemon buttercream hatbox cake with buttercream bow
Get the recipe: Lemon Swiss Buttercream Hatbox Cake

Lemon cakes are ideal in spring, and I’m also thinking about Mother’s Day – I’ll be celebrating with my Mom then, and she loves a good lemon cake as well.  The silkiness of the Swiss buttercream is sweet, smooth and stable, but is not overly rich or cloying.  I’m not certain that I’ll replicate this hatbox style – I may go for piping spring flowers on top to suit the season.  Now that the Anna Olson Kitchen line carries a box of 100 reusable & recyclable disposable piping bags, and a piping tip set, there are no limits to my decor stylings.

Slice of Anna Olson's lemon swiss buttercream birthday cake

And if you are baking a birthday cake for yourself or someone else, remember that delicious memories are made in the kitchen – enjoy the time spent baking as much as the time spent eating!

The Anna Olson Kitchen collection of 48 items of bakeware, baking tools and décor tools are available exclusively at The Hudson’s Bay Company and  www.thebay.com

These One-Bowl Flowerpot Cupcakes Are the Cutest Thing We’ve Ever Seen

These flowerpot cupcakes are a wonderful celebration of the spring season — and they’re unbelievably easy to make! The terracotta pots give character, making them perfect for garden parties. The soft and moist chocolate cupcakes are topped with a luscious milk chocolate ganache and decorated with mint sprigs and edible flowers. Added bonus: with just one bowl, cleanup is easy peasy.

chocolate flowerpot cupcakes in terracotta planters

One-Bowl Chocolate Flowerpot Cupcakes

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Rest Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Servings: 6 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes
90 ml all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
½ cup sugar
½ tsp cornstarch
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ cup buttermilk
¼ cup brewed black coffee
2 ½ Tbsp oil or melted butter
1 large egg

Ganache
½ cup whipping cream
¾ cup milk chocolate

Assembly
¼ cup chocolate cookie crumbs
6 sprigs mint leaves
8-10 edible flowers
6 small terra cotta pots

chocolate flowerpot cupcake ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a muffin tin with paper cups.

2. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients listed for the cupcakes. Using an electric mixer or whisk, combine to form smooth mixture.

Related: Cute Tea Towels to Brighten up Your Kitchen for Spring

3. Using an ice-cream scoop or spoon, fill the cupcake pan with the batter. Bake for 25 minutes. Once baked, let the cupcakes cool at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

chocolate cupcakes baked in muffin tin

4. While the cupcakes are cooling, for the ganache: add the whipping cream and milk chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1-minute intervals, mixing after every minute until combined.

5. Refrigerate the ganache mixture for 30 minutes (or until it is cold and thick). Once cool, take it out of the refrigerator and using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, mix to a thick creamy consistency.

Related: Healthy Baking Recipes for When You’re Bored at Home

6. Using either a spoon or a spatula, spread the ganache onto the cupcakes and sprinkle the chocolate cookie crumbs. Then, add the mint sprigs and edible flowers. Finally, insert the prepared cupcakes into miniature terracotta pots.

chocolate flowerpot cupcakes ready for assembly next to terra cotta planters

key lime pie cupcakes on serving tray

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Home With These Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

These Baking Therapy key lime pie cupcakes are the perfect little treat to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! Sweet and tangy flavours of key lime pie topped with a fluffy cream cheese frosting. Did I mention they’re also stuffed with a luxurious lime curd? These cupcakes are guaranteed to satisfy any sweet tooth. OK, now let’s get baking!

key lime pie cupcakes on serving tray

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 30-40 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Lime Curd
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
Pinch salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
Green food gel colouring

Cupcakes
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 egg white
¼ cup sour cream
⅓ cup milk
¼ cup lime juice
2 tsp lime zest
1 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
5 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp lime juice
Gel food colouring (optional)

Equipment:

Muffin Pan, Amazon, $35.

Baking Cups, Amazon, $6.

key lime pie cupcake ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. First, you’ll make the lime curd. In a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, whisk together the sugar, eggs, egg yolk, lime juice and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. When the mixture starts to bubble, whisk in the butter, one Tbsp at a time. Bring the mixture to a boil again and let it bubble for 1 minute.

2. Remove from heat and strain the lemon curd. Mix in gel food colouring (if using) — it’ll make the curd brighter. Place plastic wrap directly on the curd and refrigerate until it sets, at least 2 hours.

Related: Anna Olson’s Very Best Cupcake Recipes

3. Now, for the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners, set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles wet sand, make sure not to over-mix. Add the egg, egg white, sour cream, milk, lime juice, zest and vanilla. Mix until the batter just comes together. Scrape down the sides and mix for another 10 seconds.

Related: Classic Irish Eats That’ll Bring the Emerald Isle to Your Kitchen

5. Divide the batter among the 12 cups, filling until ⅔ of the way full. Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes until the edges are just golden and a toothpick when inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

key lime pie curd next to baked cupcakes

6. Now for the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Gradually add the icing sugar and cream until smooth. Add the vanilla extract, lime juice and food colouring (if using), mix for 1 minute. Transfer to a piping bag.

7. Use a paring knife to scoop out the centres of the cooled cupcakes. Spoon about 1 Tbsp of the lime curd into the centre of each cupcake. Ice the cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting. Pipe on four-leaf clovers or add sprinkles to make it festive. Enjoy!

key lime pie cupcakes being filled with curd on wire rack

key lime pie cupcakes on wire rack

Like Sabrina’s key lime pie cupcakes? Try her no-bake key lime pie icebox cake or her easy gluten-free quinoa chocolate cake.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

quinoa chocolate cake icing

This Easy Gluten-Free Quinoa Chocolate Cake Recipe Requires Just 10 Ingredients

If you’re looking for a gluten-free dessert that’s rich, moist and chocolatey, look no further! This Baking Therapy quinoa chocolate cake checks all the boxes. It has the texture of a classic chocolate cake and it’s made without any special flours. It might seem strange to add quinoa in a cake, but it is so delicious and adds to the perfect tender cake. It’s the perfect birthday dessert. All you need is a food processor or blender and you are on your way to chocolate heaven.

quinoa chocolate cake with icing

Gluten-Free Quinoa Chocolate Cake

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Bake Time: 25-35 minutes
Rest Time: 2-4 hours
Total time: 3-5 hours
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

Cake
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Frosting
2 cups heavy cream, divided
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Equipment:

Food Processor, Amazon, $100.

quinoa chocolate cake ingredients

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line and grease two 9×9-inch round pans, set aside.

2. Cook the quinoa to package directions, set aside to cool. Melt the butter and chocolate chips either in a double boiler or in the microwave and set aside to cool slightly.

Related: Birthday Cake Recipes That Will Make You a Dessert Person

3. In a food processor, blend the quinoa, milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and chocolate-butter mixture until the quinoa has broken down and the mixture is smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

quinoa chocolate cake batter

4. In a large bowl, sift the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Create a well in the centre and pour in the wet ingredients. Whisk until fully combined. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth out the tops. Bake for 25-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, a few crumbs are OK.

5. Let cool in the pan for 20-30 minutes then invert and let cool completely on a wire rack.

quinoa chocolate cake in pan

6. For the frosting, heat 1 cup heavy cream on the stove until it just comes to a boil. Pour directly over the chocolate chips, let sit for 1 minute, then stir to combine. Mix in the remaining 1 cup heavy cream, cover and chill for 2-3 hours. Dividing the cream helps chill the mixture quicker. When ready to serve, whip the cream on high until stiff peaks form. Spread between cake layers and on top. Enjoy!

quinoa chocolate cake being iced

Like Sabrina’s quinoa chocolate cake? Try her matcha and raspberry mochi doughnuts or her 7-ingredient Basque cheesecake.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

confetti cake with pink icing

This Confetti Sheet Cake With Pastel Frosting is Straight-Up Magical

We’re not lying when we say this dessert is magical. The cake recipe is absurdly moist and tender. And the pastel frosting? It’s basically the silky smooth love child of Swiss meringue buttercream and whipped cream. Also, the icing is substantially less sweet than the traditional butter and icing sugar mixture, so you can eat more than one slice. Plus those rainbow sprinkles! So, yeah, it’s straight-up magical.

confetti cake with pink icing

 

Confetti Sheet Cake With Magic Pastel Frosting

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Cool Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 10 to 12

Ingredients:

Cake
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 eggs, room temperature
3 egg whites (here’s an idea on what to do with the extra 3 yolks!)
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup whole milk or 2% milk
½ cup unsalted butter, cubed
¼ cup vegetable oil
4 Tbsp rainbow sprinkles

Frosting
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole milk or 2% milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened
Gel food colouring
2 tsp rainbow sprinkles

confetti cake with pink icing ingredients

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper with slight overhang on the long sides.

2. In bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

3. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat eggs, egg whites, sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until thick and batter falls into a ribbon pattern, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in flour mixture until just combined.

Related: The Easiest Sheet Pan Dessert Recipes to Feed Your Family

4. Meanwhile, heat milk in small saucepan over medium-low heat until just hot. Remove from heat; stir in butter and oil until melted. Stir into flour mixture until just combined. Stir in sprinkles.

batter for confetti cake with pink icing

5. Scrape batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake until edges are lightly brown and a toothpick inserted into centre of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in pan 15 minutes. Transfer to rack right side up and let cool completely, 45 minutes.

6. In medium saucepan, whisk together flour and milk for the frosting, until smooth. Place over medium heat and whisk constantly until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in sugar and salt. Scrape into a wide shallow plate to cool (stir until slightly warm).

Related: The Price of a Slice: Breaking Down the Costs of Cake

7. Beat butter in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment on medium-low for about 5 minutes. Scrape the bottom; beat 1 minute. Gradually add cooled flour mixture, 2 spoonfuls at a time on medium-low until combined. Scrape bottom; beat until smooth.

confetti cake icing in mixing bowl

8. Switch to whisk attachment and whip on low just to combine. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until silky and light. Frosting should have an airy consistency. Add desired food colour, stirring until incorporated. Spread on cake immediately with offset spatula to create swoops and pipe shapes (if desired) using a piping bag fitted with a star or crown piping tip. Add rainbow sprinkles.

Tip: Don’t be alarmed if the frosting feels stiff or looks curdled, your flour mixture was likely too cold. To warm, set the mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water until the edges start to melt; then rewhip. If the frosting looks loose, it’s likely too warm. Refrigerate for 10 minutes, stir and then rewhip until silky.

confetti cake with pink icing

Tip: When using gel food colouring, use the end of a toothpick to dip into colour and then into frosting. Stir or whip until combined and repeat if needed for desired colour. A little goes a long way.

Want more fun, colourful baking recipes? Try these white chocolate funfetti cookies or these perfect lemon meringue cupcakes.

Anna Olson Dessert Station

Anna Olson’s Best Dessert Station Recipes for a Picture-Perfect Party

It’s time to party!  We as Canadians know how to appreciate every bit of sweetness that our summer season gives to us and that includes entertaining guests for birthdays, bridal and baby showers, graduations and family reunions, and even better if we can host outdoors. Maybe you’ve figured out the snacks and nibbles, and you know that the grill will be fired up to take care of the main part of the meal, but what to do about dessert?

Dessert stations are the hot ticket at professionally catered events, but you don’t have to be a caterer to create a beautiful, themed dessert bar.  Having such a set up is ideal for a large group because there are some guests who will make one visit to grab a sweet plate, some may take a pass altogether, and there are others who may sneak in multiple trips.

Anna Olson Party Desserts

A dessert station also allows you to use time before the party starts to set up the table nicely, leaving space for your bowls and platters that need to be refrigerated to be added last minute, and all of the work is done ahead of time — anything that allows you to be more of a guest at your own party gets a checkmark in my book.

Here are a few fun ideas for summery desserts that suit a party:

Waffle Dessert Station

Hosting a brunch party or shower? Waffles don’t have to be a part of the breakfast portion… make them dessert! If you have space and the inclination, you could set up an “action station” and let people make their own waffles, or you (or a “voluntold” family member) could make them.  As your guests take their waffles, have an assortment of sauces and toppings ready for dressing. There are two main types of waffles you can make:

1. Classic buttermilk waffles are made from a batter similar to pancakes, but have whipped egg whites folded in right before making.

2. Liege waffles are a yeast-raised waffle dough, that has crushed sugar cubes added before portioning.  This dough can be made ahead and chilled (which might be handy before a busy party day).

Cupcake Garden Dessert Station

Cupcakes are the perfect summer party dessert.  They are easy to pick up and eat with your fingers, the perfect single portion and as pretty as can be!  You may have thought that cupcakes were just a dessert “phase” we were going through, but they have stood the test of time and are still a popular choice at weddings, showers and other garden parties.

Of course, you can decorate your cupcakes as simple or as elaborate as you wish, but if hosting your party outside, why not make a flower garden of your cupcake display?

Anna-Olson-Cupcake-Garden

Get the recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes With Floral Frosting

All Things Sprinkles!

Anything with sprinkles is hot right now, so make a colourful dessert station out of just about any assortment of desserts, so long as sprinkles abound on top and/or within them! Tarts, cakes, cupcakes, ice cream, cookies, squares — just about any sweet treat takes on a playful tone when sprinkles are added.

Confetti-Frosted-Sugar-Cookie-Squares

Get the recipe for Confetti Frosted Sugar Cookie Squares

You can use bowls and jars of sprinkles as part of the table decor or just provide spoons so people can add sprinkles as they wish.

Party Table Tips

Now that you’ve picked your dessert table theme, here are a few tips for success as you plan and assemble:

1. Location

If setting up your dessert table outdoors, be sure that it is shaded, so that desserts don’t melt in direct sunlight. This also applies to indoors — avoid setting a dessert table near a window with direct sunlight, which can magnify the heat and melt the icing off a cake!

2. Labels 

Place tags next to each dessert item, so that if unattended, guests know what the desserts are. Include potential allergens, or note if items are “free” from gluten, eggs, dairy, etc.

3. Serving Tools 

Place serving tools on each platter or plate, but have a few spares on hand, just in case a spoon slips into the whipped cream bowl.

4. Use Battery Twinkle Lights 

Tea lights are pretty, but can be dangerous on a dessert table if an arm with a sleeve reaches over an open flame. Strings of battery-operated twinkle lights are easy to arrange and add the perfect sparkle.

5. Takeaway Boxes 

Want guests to take treats home with them? Bakery boxes or more decorative boxes can be purchased affordably at craft stores. I hope you are as excited as I am for the summer hosting season… I’ll see you on the back deck!

How to Make a Dreamy Mirror Glaze Cake

Ever wonder how to make a mirror glaze cake at home? This show-stopping masterpiece is made doable with some gelatin, chocolate and a range of contrasting colours, so you can cover nearly any cake in this gorgeous coating. The trendy technique may appear tricky to pull off at home, but carefully following these six steps and being mindful of key temperatures will lead you to a shimmering, galaxy-like cake glaze in no time! Just image this pretty pastel version at your Easter feast or springtime tea party.

How to Mirror Glaze Any Cake 

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Glaze Setting Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour (plus 2 hours for chilling baked cake)
Makes: Glaze for 1, 8- to 9-inch cake
Serves: 10 to 12

Ingredients:

1 filled and smoothly frosted 8- or 9-inch cake
3 envelopes powdered gelatine
1 cup water, divided
1½ cups granulated sugar
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
12 oz. white chocolate, chopped
Gel food colouring in 3 to 4 contrasting colours

Directions:

1. Place the smoothly frosted cake in the freezer until very cold and firm, at least 2 hours. Meanwhile, set up your glazing station by placing a wire rack over a rimmed sheet pan. Set aside.

2. Sprinkle the gelatine into a small bowl and stir in half of the water, ½ cup. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes for gelatin to bloom. Meanwhile, stir together the remaining ½ cup water, sugar and condensed milk in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once the mixture is hot, remove from the heat and whisk in the bloomed gelatine until it melts.

3. Place the chopped white chocolate in a large, heat-safe bowl. Pour the milk and gelatine mixture over the top of the chocolate. Gently stir until the chocolate melts. Use an immersion blender to make sure the mixture is completely smooth. Keep the device submerged in the glaze to prevent air bubbles. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan using a fine-mesh sieve to make sure the glaze is smooth and to remove any air bubbles.

4. Divide the mixture into 3 to 4 bowls. Add a few drops of different gel food colouring to each and gently stir until the desired colours are achieved. There is no need to divided the colours evenly – create a larger base colour with a few smaller portions of accent colours.

5. Add the base colour to a spouted cup or large measuring cup. Pour in the remaining colours and gently stir a little (stirring too much will muddle the colours together). Allow the mirror glaze to cool to 95°F when tested with a candy thermometre – pouring the glaze at the correct temperature is crucial to the cake’s success. If the glaze drops below 95°F, gently reheat in the microwave, 10 seconds at a time, and stir until the correct temperature.

6. As the glaze cools, place the chilled cake on the wire rack. Once the glaze hits 95°F, pour it over the top of the prepared cake. Starting in the centre, swirl the glaze around the cake. Make sure the glaze pours over each side of the cake as well. Immediately pop any obvious air bubbles with a toothpick. Allow the glaze to set for about 20 minutes before serving (the chilled cake with help the glaze set quickly). Cut the cake with a sharp knife and clean it between slices, and then serve.

Notes:

  • To prevent air bubbles, do not whisk or stir the glaze too vigorously.
  • Make sure to properly chill the cake ahead of time.
  • Frost the cake as smoothly as possible with buttercream or ganache.
  • Pour the glaze at a precise 95°F.

For more inspiration, get ready to drool over these delicious birthday cake recipe ideas.

anna-peach-cake

How to Make the Best Birthday Cake

Birthday cakes carry some of the fondest memories. Sweet, colourful frosting,  the warm glow of birthday candles and making a wish when you blow them out. What’s most important when baking a birthday cake from scratch is to feel the spirit of the occasion. You’re baking this cake for someone you care about, to celebrate them and mark their special day with a shared sweet treat. From choosing the perfect birthday cake recipe to icing tips and tricks, this guide will help you make a memorable and yummy birthday cake.

How to Select a Birthday Cake Recipe

Which Flavour of Cake to Make?

Chocolate and vanilla cake are the most common types of birthdays because they tend to be crowd pleasers. Birthday cakes are for sharing, after all! Lemon and carrot cake follow close behind these top two cake flavours. And if you happen to be baking a cake for my birthday, then consider this Luscious Lemon Coconut Cake, it’s my all-time favourite!

Here are my favourite recipes for the most popular birthday cake flavours.

Chocolate Cake:  Anna Olson’s Classic Devil’s Food Cake


Vanilla Cake: Anna Olson’s Classic Vanilla Birthday Cake With Caramel Pastry Cream

Lemon Cake: Anna Olson’s Lemon Swiss Buttercream Hatbox Cake

Carrot Cake: Anna Olson’s Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

How Big of a Cake to Make

While an 8-inch or 9-inch round cake might be typical, it’s popular right now to make cakes that are taller with a smaller diameter. You can take a recipe for a two-layer, 8 or 9-inch cake and spread the batter evenly in an 11-x-17-inch sheet pan. This will likely take less time to bake, so set the timer 10-15 minutes sooner, but check the doneness the same way. Then use a large round cutter or a template you can trace to cut smaller rounds and make a 4 or 5-layer cake that will sit wonderfully tall.

The Right Ingredients

Stick to the ingredients called for to make the cake. If the recipe calls for cake and pastry flour, it is because using it will result in a tender cake with a fine and delicate crumb structure, because the flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose. Dutch process cocoa powder has some acidity removed so it will react to the baking powder or soda differently than regular cocoa. Buttermilk really makes a cake moist and nicely balanced.

Make-Ahead Cake Tip

Cake layers can be baked well ahead of time and frozen and then thawed on the counter when ready to assemble. Do not refrigerate unfrosted cake or it will dry out.

Related: Birthday Cake Recipes That Will Make You a Dessert Person

Birthday Cake Frosting Tips

There are countless types of frostings to choose from, and my above recipes feature common types: chocolate, basic buttercream, Swiss buttercream and cream cheese. Here are a few quick tips that apply to all  frostings:

1. Work with frosting at room temperature. To be smooth and spreadable, frosting needs to be at room temperature. If it’s a warm day, your butter may be softer than room temperature, so pop the frosting in the fridge until it holds it’s shape when you spoon or spread it.

2. Food colouring gel works easily and smoothly into frostings. Just add a little at a time with a toothpick, mixing well before adding more. The colour will intensify the longer it sits, so favour less at first. Also, the colour will fade if exposed to sunlight, so keep that in mind when you display your cake.

Related: Expert Food Photography Tips to Show Off Your Baked Goods

3. Buttercream or cream cheese frosting benefits from whipping on high speed to build in structure and a fluffy texture. If you want a fudgy frosting for your chocolate cake, like Devil’s Food Cake, then avoid whipping the frosting.

Make-Ahead Frosting Tip

All of the above frostings can be made ahead and then chilled or frozen to be used later. Thaw the frostings on the counter (do not microwave) and then re-whip them to fluff them up before using.

How to Fill a Layer Cake

If adding a pastry cream or a fruit filling to your birthday cake, you need to prevent it from seeping out the sides.  To do this, spoon some of the frosting into a piping bag and pipe a “dam” around the outside edge of the cake, then spoon and spread the filling before topping with the next cake layer.

How to Mask a Cake

Covering the cake smoothly takes a little patience and practice. A fully masked cake has the frosting on the top and sides while a “naked” cake has the sides exposed (no frosting or just a sheer layer). A few hints on masking:

1. More is More! Dollop or spread generous amounts of frosting when first applying. It is easier to scrape away excess frosting than to add more (at the risks of pulling up crumbs).

2. Top, Then Sides: Spread a level layer of frosting onto the top of the filled cake, pushing it right over the edges. This makes it easier to frost the sides and have the edges meet easily and straight.

3. Smooth, Smooth, Smooth! Use an offset palette knife to keep smoothing the top and sides of the cake until it is smooth and seamless.

Birthday Cake Decorating Ideas

– Any sprinkles, cookies or candies should be applied before chilling the cake
– Ribbon can be used, but place a strip of parchment under the actual ribbon, so that grease marks from the buttercream do not appear.
– Practice any piping detail on a plate or sheet of parchment before starting on your cake, but …
– Remember that all piping mistakes are erasable.  Simply scrape off and start again.
– The same goes for writing “Happy Birthday” in chocolate. Practice on a plate first.
– Fresh fruits and flowers are a lovely way to finish a cake. Be sure that flowers are non-toxic and that fruits are washed and air-dried before applying.

Pinata Cake

Make Your Own Candy-Filled Piñata Cake

This unassuming party cake has a secret.  With its frilly buttercream finish and modest sprinkle topping, it looks like any other delicious cake.  However, the real party is inside!  One cut into the cake reveals its pastel rainbow layers, before an assortment of candies comes tumbling out.  Like a piñata, this cake is filled to the brim with chocolate, gummies, and sprinkles. As if the velvety buttermilk cake and buttercream icing wasn’t a treat on its own, this cake is packed full of sweets for the ultimate party dessert. What a fun, whimsical surprise!

This festive piñata cake is fairly simple to put together and is extremely adaptable for any celebration. Try using either pink or blue candies for a gender reveal cake at a baby shower, a variety of chocolates, all fruit candies, or just stick with the cake recipient’s favorites.  The combinations are truly endless.

Also check out our recipe for Piñata Cupcakes.

Pinata Cake

Active Time: 60 minutes
Bake Time: 24 minutes
Serves: 14-16

Ingredients:

Pastel Buttermilk Cake:
3-1/2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups buttermilk
Gel food coloring

Cake Batter Buttercream:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 Tbsp cream cheese, softened
5 to 5-1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 to 4 Tbsp cream or milk

Assembly:
3-inch round cutter
1 to 1 1/2 cups assorted candy
Sprinkles (optional)

Pinata Cake

Directions:

Pastel Buttermilk Cake:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour four 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the butter on medium until smooth. Add in the sugar and mix on medium-high until fluffy and pale in color (3 to 5 minutes). Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
4. With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla and eggs, 1 at a time. Mix until combined and smooth.
5. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and buttermilk in alternating batches, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until the batter is incorporated. Do not over-mix.
6. Evenly divide the batter into 4 bowls. Tint each with gel food coloring of your choice and mix to combine. Place each different color of batter into the prepared pans and bake for 20 to 24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack from 10 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

Pinata Cake

Cake Batter Buttercream:
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium until smooth. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the remaining ingredients. Once the sugar begins to incorporate, turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until light and fluffy (3 to 5 minutes). Adjust the sugar and cream quantities until desired consistency is achieved.
2. To decorate an 8-inch cake with the ruffle pattern (as photographed), the icing recipe will need to be multiplied by 1. For a smooth or rustic finish, use the recipe as is.

Pinata Cake

Assembly:
1. Carefully trim the tops of each cake layer until even. Discard the scraps or save for another use.
2. Using a round cookie cutter, biscuit cutter, or the rim of a drinking glass, cut out the centres of two of the cake layers. The openings should be about 3 inches in diameter. These two layers will become the middle layers of cake. Set aside.
3. Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake board or serving dish. 4. Spread on about 3/4 cup of buttercream with an offset spatula. Top with one of the centre layers of cake and repeat. Place the second middle layer of cake next, then frost the inside of the rings with buttercream.

Pinata Cake
4. Fill in the centre with a variety of candies and/or sprinkles. Top with the final layer of cake. Crumb coat then frost the cake with the remaining buttercream.
5. To create the ruffle design, frost the top of the cake as normal but leave only a thin layer of buttercream on the sides. Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium star tip with buttercream. Starting at the bottom of the cake, use a zigzag motion to pipe ruffles up the side of the cake. The zigzag pattern should be about 1-inch wide and as straight as possible. Continue to pipe vertical rows of ruffles until all of the sides are covered. Top with sprinkles, if desired.

Looking for more delicious recipe? Try our 25 Best Birthday Cakes.