How to Make the Perfect Birthday Cake
When it comes to birthday celebrations, the cake is often the highlight of the event. Carried out on a stand with glowing candles to the birthday girl or boy as a chorus of friends and family sing in the background, the cake takes center stage. One of the best gifts to give on a friend or family member's big day is that of a homemade cake, one crafted from scratch by hand. The good news is you don't have to be a master baker to make the perfect cake. With the right tools and a few tips, you can bake a picture-perfect tower of moist, frosting-covered goodness.
The next time you want to celebrate a birthday with a homemade cake, follow these tips for the perfect one:
1. Select the Flavors
Before you can begin gathering your ingredients, you'll need to decide on a theme for your cake. Choose a traditional yellow cake with rich chocolate frosting or a more elaborate multi-colored cake with rainbow frosting. For those who are really feeling adventurous in the kitchen, cakes with multiple layers and tiers or ones shaped like animals or objects can be fun. Whichever you choose, keep in mind that making your own frosting will give your cake an added touch. You'll want to consider any additional toppings you will need as well.
2. Gather Your Supplies
Once you've decided on the kind of cake you'll be making, gather your ingredients. You'll also need to bring out the right cake pans, whether round or square. A good rule of thumb for cake-baking and pan type is to go with pans that are shiny. These reflect heat and will help your cake stay light and tender, rather than becoming overly browned in a dark pan.
Then you'll need to get all of your mixing tools out. But rather than pulling out all of your spoons and bowls, make your life simpler by opting for a stand mixer. Blending your cake batter requires the perfect source of power and precision and with the Sunbeam® Mixmaster® Stand Mixer, you get that and more. Helping you and your loved ones to create sweet moments, the Sunbeam® Mixmaster® Stand Mixer makes mixing easy with its 350-watt motor and 12 speeds to choose from. For those stubborn clumps of cake mix that just won't blend, enact the help of its Burst of Power® button, which can be used at any speed.
3. Make Your Cake
Once you've done all of the preparation, it's time to make the cake batter and bake it in the oven until it is the perfect golden brown. Whether it's your first time baking or you're an old pro, this recipe for a vanilla bean birthday cake with buttercream frosting can't be beat.
Vanilla Bean Cake
Simple yet delicious, this sweet and fluffy cake pairs perfectly with the homemade buttercream frosting. Add colorful sprinkles and decorations to make it come alive.
- 1 cup milk, room temperature
- 6 egg whites, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for preparing cake pans
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- Nonpareil sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare two round 8-inch-by-2-inch cake pans.
- Combine milk, egg whites, vanilla and vanilla bean in a large bowl until well combined.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, use a flat beater attachment to combine cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until combined.
- Slice butter and add to mixer, beating slowly for 2 minutes on low speed.
- Cake mixture should look like coarse crumbs.
- Add milk and egg mixture to dry cake mix and beat for 2 minutes on medium.
- Scrape down sides of bowl and beat for several more seconds.
- Divide batter and pour between two cake pans.
- Bake on center rack for 30 to 35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow cakes to cool in pans for 5 minutes.
- Invert cakes and transfer to cooling rack to let cool for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
While you're cake is cooling, clean the bowl of your Sunbeam® Mixmaster® Stand Mixer so that it can be used to create this melt-in-your-mouth-good frosting.
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 to 4 tablespoons milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 pinch salt
- Beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time on high speed.
- Add milk, vanilla and salt.
- Beat until combined.
- Frosting should be smooth and spreadable.
- Use a serrated knife to trim tops of cakes to create a flat surface.
- Place one cake, cut-side up, on a cake stand or plate.
- Use an offset spatula to frost top of one cake. Place the second cake on top, cut-side down.
- Frost sides and top of cakes.
- Decorate as desired.
5. Get Creative
As mentioned above, homemade cakes are great because they allow you to really get creative with the decorating. Think outside the box and consider incorporating some of the birthday person's favorite things, colors or activities into the frosting and toppings. If it's a little ones birthday, consider going with a zoo or underwater theme using animal crackers and gummy candies. Sports-inspired cakes can easily be crafted with some toy figurines, toothpicks and candies. Consider colorful kid's cereals, edible flowers and fruit as toppings.