Dose your wedding cake in sprinkles!
Rainbow sprinkles never fail to invoke feelings of nostalgia and childhood, and what better day to reflect on adolescence than the day where you are about to be fully propelled into adult life? Sprinkle wedding cakes are bombarding the wedding scene with their bright and youthful charm, and this trend does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
This trend is great because it is both versatile and customizable. Douse your cake in rainbow colors or simply dust it with touches of sweet multicolored magic. Many custom wedding cake bakeries have caught onto this trend luckily these cakes are not too difficult to create, and companies such as Palermo’s Custom Cakes and CMNY Cakes in New York City have mastered the trend.
Your guests will adore this ravishing treat, and it will immediately set a happy and joyful tone, and who doesn’t want that at their wedding? Consider straying away from average on your big day, and have a wedding to remember with a flecked masterpiece. For more wedding cake inspiration check out our slideshow!
Funfetti Cake Recipe
How have I never shared my funfetti cake recipe. It&rsquos mind blowing, especially considering it&rsquos my very favorite cake flavor.
In fact, my husband and I love it so much it&rsquos going to be the largest tier of our wedding cake!
And that&rsquos saying a lot, I&rsquove made a ton of different cake flavors over the years. When I think about why I love it so much, it&rsquos hard to say why.
I grew up on funfetti boxed cake mix, and I think I&rsquove always had a soft spot in my heart for it. Or maybe it&rsquos just all the sprinkles!!
Technically I&rsquove included it in past recipes, like in my funfetti cookie dough cake. But most of you aren&rsquot trying to make a cake that over the top (there&rsquos a cookie dough filling, chocolate drip, sprinkle coating&hellipetc.).
You want a moist, easy to make, and absolutely delicious funfetti cake recipe that you can make from scratch.
I took things a bit further and colored both the cake batter and buttercream with gel food coloring, but this is totally optional 🙂 I just couldn&rsquot resist!!
Angel Food Cake with Macerated Strawberries and Poached Rhubarb
In Summerland: Recipes for Celebrating with Southern Hospitality, chef, author and Atlanta restaurateur Anne Stiles Quatrano shares this gorgeous recipe for a light cake where the focus is on the fruit. "My grandmother cooled the cake by inverting the pan on a bourbon bottle," she says. "This trick keeps the airy cake from falling or becoming dense. I cannot think of anything I would rather eat with just-picked strawberries and their juice."
- 2 cups cake flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 16 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- Macerated strawberries (recipe follows)
- Poached rhubarb (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Sift together the flour, salt and ¾ cup of the sugar onto a piece of parchment paper. Sift again and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low until frothy, then add 2 tablespoons water, the lemon juice, cream of tartar and vanilla. Gradually increase the mixer speed until the whites begin to mound. In 1/4 –cup increments, add the remaining ¾ cup sugar, ensuring that the sugar has been fully incorporated before adding more. Beat the whites until they are glossy and form soft peaks be careful not to over mix. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Fold in the lemon zest.
Sprinkle one-third of the flour-sugar mixture over the egg whites and gently fold with a rubber spatula to incorporate. Repeat two times, making sure the flour-sugar mixture is evenly distributed.
Carefully transfer the batter to an ungreased, very clean 10-inch angel food or tube pan. Use a spatula or a knife to draw through the batter to remove any large air pockets (this method is preferable to banging the pan on the counter to remove air pockets).
Bake for about 45 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springs back when touched. Allow the cake to cool in the pan, upside down on the neck of an empty wine bottle onto your cake stand. (The cake will keep, covered, at room temperature, for a day or two but it is always best the day it is made.) Serve slices of the cake topped with the strawberries and rhubarb.
Mexican Wedding Cakes Recipe
“What’s in a name? A cookie, by any other name, would taste just as sweet.”
–with apologies to William Shakespeare
Are you familiar with these cookies? They have a crumbly, sandy texture, a rich cinnamon-pecan flavor, and a snowy white coating of powdered sugar. Describing them is easy…but deciding on a name is not. I grew up calling them Mexican Wedding Cakes or Mexican Wedding Cookies. Some people call them Russian Tea Cakes. Others know them as Butterballs, Snowdrops, Swedish Tea Cakes, Snowballs, or Italian Butter Nuts.
So what’s the real story? Are they cakes or cookies? Do they hail from Mexico, Russia, or Italy? Should you enjoy them at a wedding, or during afternoon tea?
I can’t answer all of these questions, but I can tell you that they are most definitely cookies, not cakes. And in answer to the final query, you should enjoy them ALL the time! They’re delicious! They’re also a perfect way to showcase fresh, sweet pecans. So grab a bag of your favorite pecan halves, and let’s make cookies…or cakes…or whatever you want to call them!
Mexican Wedding Cakes
yield: about 40 cookies
- 8 oz (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar, divided use
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1-1/2 cup pecan halves
You may notice that there aren’t too many ingredients in these cookies, and most of them are your standard butter-flour-sugar variety. The mildness of the other ingredients means that the pecans really shine in this recipe, and are responsible for all of the flavor and the great crumbly texture of the cookies. So let’s make sure our pecans are really amazing.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecan halves on a baking sheet and bake them until they’re toasted and deep brown, about 10-15 minutes. Stir them every 3-4 minutes so they don’t burn, but don’t pull them out too early. They should be very fragrant and a deep mahogany color! A well-toasted pecan is a flavorful pecan, as my grandpappy always used to say.*
*Okay, he never actually said that. But he did own a grove of pecan trees. True story.
Let the pecans cool completely, then place them in a food processor (preferably) or a high-speed blender (not optimal, but you can make it work.) Pulse them in two-second bursts until the pecans are in tiny pieces. Don’t run the processor too long, or you run the risk of making pecan butter instead of chopped pecans.
Time to mix our cookies! Place the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Alternately, you can use a hand mixer and just mix everything in a large bowl. Beat the butter until it is smooth and light and creamy, for about 2 minutes.
Stop the mixer and add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar to the bowl. This is important! Most of your powdered sugar will be used to cover the cookies once they’re baked, so don’t go throwing it all in at once. Just 1/2 cup will do for now. Beat the butter and sugar together for another 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
After the sugar’s mixed in, add the vanilla and beat for another minute, until it’s well-incorporated.
Now stop the mixer and add the flour, the salt, and the cinnamon. Mix the dough on low just until the streaks of flour disappear.
Finally, for our finishing touch…the ground, toasted pecans. Add them to the dough and mix it again on low, until the pecans are well-distributed throughout. Scrape down the bottom and the sides and give it a few more good stirs to make sure everything’s well-mixed.
Divide the dough in half and wrap each half tightly in cling wrap. Refrigerate the dough until it’s cold, for about 45-60 minutes. It should be firm but not rock-hard, because you want to be able to shape and roll it.
After the chilling time, preheat your oven once again to 350 degrees. Use a cookie scoop or a tablespoon to roll the cookies into balls about 1-inch in diameter. You should get between 3-4 dozen cookies out of this batch. Place them on parchment-lined baking sheets, and since they don’t spread much, you can put them about an inch apart.
Bake the cookies at 350 for 16-18 minutes, until they feel set in the middle and are golden brown on the bottom. Depending on how cold your dough was when you baked them, they should keep their round shape fairly well. Let them rest on the baking sheet for just 5 minutes.
While the cookies are still quite warm, toss them in the remaining powdered sugar until they are coated. The warmth of the cookies will cause the powdered sugar to stick to the outside and form a smooth, sweet layer. If you’ve waited too long to roll them in sugar and they’re no longer warm, place the cookies back in the oven just for a minute or two, then roll the warmed cookies in the sugar.
Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack. Before you serve them, dust them with a little more powdered sugar to fill any holes and give them a snowy white appearance.
These delicate, sophisticated little cookies are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of afternoon tea, or a mug of after-dinner coffee. Mexican Wedding Cakes can be kept for up to a week at room temperature in an airtight container. If you’re storing them for a period of several days, sprinkle them with another dusting of powdered sugar to freshen them up before serving them.
All text and images (c) Elizabeth LaBau
Rainbow Sprinkle Cake
Oh how I love sprinkle cakes! These whimsical cakes are the ultimate treat for the ultimate sprinkle lover! And I’m pretty positive you’re smitten with them too. So I must warn you that today’s post might induce some squealing! Kate Wagner of The Greedy Baker is sharing a fabulous sprinkle cake tutorial! YES! Step by step instructions and photos to help you create your very own sprinkle cake. Kate’s method is super easy and most importantly nice and clean. Packed with great tips and tricks to save you time and heartache… and spilled sprinkle mayhem! The end result is one spectacular sprinkle cake! It’s a DIY Rainbow Sprinkle Cake Tutorial!!
SPRINKLE CAKE TUTORIAL
by Kate Wagner
STEP 1: Stack and fill cake layers, building your cake on one of the cardboard circles.
STEP 2: Frost the sides of the cake with a reasonably thick layer of icing. Bring the icing over the top edge into the center of the cake and remove excess. We are not looking to frost the top of the cake at this stage.
STEP 3: Using the cake lifter, lift the cake off the turntable and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
STEP 4: While waiting for the cake to chill, pour the rainbow sprinkles into a large shallow tray.
STEP 5: Remove the cake from the freezer and place the other cardboard circle on top of the cake.
STEP 6: Using the cake lifter, lift the cake and gently lay on its side in the tray sprinkles. Supporting the cake with your hands on either side, roll until you have an even layer of sprinkles adhered to the buttercream.
STEP 7: Place the cake back on the turntable.
STEP 8: Spoon a generous amount of buttercream on top of the cake.
STEP 9: Smooth evenly with the angled spatula, removing any excess. Chill in the freezer for 5 minutes.
STEP 10: Place a small bowl upside-down in the center of the sprinkle tray.
STEP 11: Remove cake from freezer and place on top of the bowl, being careful to balance the cake correctly.
STEP 12: Spoon a large amount of sprinkles on top of the cake and smooth around to edges using the angled spatula, pressing gently as you go to make sure they adhere to the buttercream.
STEP 13: Neaten up any missed areas around the edge using the spoon and spatula as shown.
STEP 14: Admire your finished cake! This fun cake is sure to brighten up any day.
What supplies do you need to make Wedding Cupcakes?
If you’re looking for the right supplies to make these cupcakes, here are my suggestions (these are affiliate links to Amazon):
- 12-cup muffin pan
- My suggestion for the cupcake liners is to visit a local baking supply shop where you live. They should carry a good, white liner that won’t have the cupcake turning out greasy.
- Edible sugar pearls
- large plastic disposable pastry bags for piping the frosting
- For icing the cupcakes, I recommend trying either the Wilton Open Star 1M tipor the Wilton Closed Star 2D. Both of these you can usually find at craft or baking supply stores. Or just order a whole decorator tip kitand try out different ones!
- These disposable cupcake boxes are great… because you can bake and decorate your cupcakes, then store them in the boxes and refrigerate them overnight!
This White Wedding Cake Cupcakes recipe has been featured in a post on The Recipe Girl blog, with more photographs and information on the decorator tips that were used and which icing recipe is best (Wedding Cupcake Buttercream) and How to Make Wedding Cupcakes.
Go there for all of the answers to your questions about details on what tips were used for the frosting etc.
I’m not usually one to use a boxed cake mix and doctor it up. I’m much more accustomed to using entirely homemade recipes.
But these turn out delicious, moist and fluffy cupcakes- perfect for holding buttercream frosting. It’s crazy, but it’s true!
DIY wedding cake-white almond buttercream with strawberries
Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to baking to make this DIY wedding cake-white almond buttercream with strawberries. It’s a super delicious white cake with almond buttercream frosting and layers upon layer with fresh strawberries. It can easily be decorated to make it a DIY rustic wedding cake (I’ll show you how I used fresh flowers to decorate the cake), or this cake can be made for any special occasion, because it is so good and all your guests will love it!
Let me tell you guys a little story.
My gorgeous older sister got married in 2012. It was in early June, and it was one of the hottest days on record. In fact, I’m pretty sure it broke heat records that day.
She had been really busy with work leading up to her big day, and had planned on a morning wedding at beautiful location. She hadn’t planned anything other than that. It would all be from 10am-11am.
The week of the wedding came, and family and friends were all asking “well, where’s the reception?”
She didn’t have anything planned, but she had a backyard and said “let’s just do a potluck reception in my yard, anyone who wants to come is welcome, and please bring a dish to share.”
I was her maid of honor – and her sister – so I helped bring chairs and tables that we borrowed from friends and family. It was going to be low key and special (it was).
The night before her wedding, at the rehearsal dinner, she turned to me and said “do you think you could make a cake for the reception?”
It was around midnight by the time I got home, and so I set to out baking her a cake. I had never made a layer cake. I had never made a tiered cake. I had never made frosting.
She also had asked for ‘wisps’ with the frosting (insert sisterly eye rolls), but I thought I’d give it a try!
So I spent until wee hours of the night making her a cake. It was seriously so incredibly delicious. People raved about it. It was gobbled up and I was proud to have helped.
Keep in mind, this was 2012. I was new at blogging, but kept getting asked for the cake recipe. I wanted to share with the world how good this cake was. But I also wanted to show how I was able to make a DIY wedding cake for her, so I shared a post on my newbie blog.
People have made the cake and, to this day, write me emails telling me how delicious it is and how it made their event special. Other people have shared their pictures on Pinterest.
Of course, of all my posts, the one with the horrible 3am photo of a cake, or the picture of the cake at the potluck (remember how I told you it was record-breaking-hot that year?) where the frosting is slightly melting is the one that gets shared. Those pictures have tens of thousands of re-pins. It blows my mind. Is it because it’s realistic and relatable? Who knows…
Want to giggle? Here is the 3am photo:
Photo of cake outside in the heat with the frosting melting:
Since 2012, a lot of things have improved- like my photography and recipe direction writing, etc. I re-did the pictures when I got my first ‘real’ camera, I created a new post for the sour cream cake with almond buttercream frosting, and….crickets. I even changed the first sentence of the post to read **UPDATE- I remade this exact same cake with better step by step photos** and linked to the post, and nothing…no one clicked over.
However, the 2012 post? It got some pretty strongly worded emotional comments. People felt the need to tell me how horrible the cake looked, that I should be embarrassed, that they would be ashamed, they even use profanities! This is a cake we’re talking about.
Seriously, a cake I made for my older sister, at midnight, for her backyard potluck reception. And that garnered hatred? Mind. Blown.
So, I put on my big girl pants, or apron if we’re being accurate, and re-made the cake, yet again, with even more updated pictures. I was able to re-publish this post as if it were brand spankin’ new, so I hope you enjoy!
This recipe can be made over the course of a few days because the cake layers can be made ahead of time, so that makes the whole thing a little less daunting!
The cake is still as delicious as ever, and after having made it multiple multiple times, I can definitely give you some tips and tricks to making a successful diy wedding cake:
Best Sprinkle Cake Bake Off
Ooh that Funfetti® cake mix, the taste of nearly universal childhood nostalgia. I was very excited about this bake off and clearly you were too, with the landslide of instagram poll votes that propelled “confetti” or “sprinkle” cake as the winning nomination over plain vanilla cake. (For those of you asking if confetti cake is simply vanilla with sprinkles…I think so.) However, with this bake off, I had a burning question in mind to be answered: is my go-to sprinkle cake recipe (Milk Bar’s birthday cake) actually the best from-scratch sprinkle cake recipe out there?
In other words, have I needlessly been pouring effort into this rather time-consuming cake all these years when there existed a very easy alternative? Let’s investigate.
All cakes were baked the day of all of the frostings were made the day before. Approximately 25 friends tasted and ranked the cakes to get the below scores. Each taster ranked each cake (ONLY) on a scale from 1-10 overall, each frosting (ONLY) overall, and then had to rearrange each cake (as a WHOLE) in order from favorite (1) to least favorite (9).
Ingredients: We used Gold Medal flour (because Stella Parks says she prefers it for cakes), Land O’ Lakes butter (because I felt like these butter-based cakes deserved a splurge and this is the brand that America’s Test Kitchen uses, as stated in their new cookbook!), McCormick artificial vanilla, McCormick real vanilla extract, Diamond kosher salt and Kroger sugar. I also invested in some Fat Daddio pans for optimal cake baking.
Sprinkles: For confetti cake, bakers will universally advise using jimmies (or the long rainbow sprinkles) versus nonpareils, or the little balls, which are much more prone to bleeding color. I had always used Kroger brand jimmies in the past, but I purchased brand-name Betty Crocker jimmies for this bake off. However, the Betty Crocker jimmies bled color as soon they came into contact with moisture, causing streaky, unappealing greenish/grayish batter–so I ended up running to Kroger in the middle of the bake off to get my trusty Kroger jimmies. Looking at the ingredients, the first 3 ingredients in Betty’s jimmies were sugar, palm kernel oil and corn syrup vs. sugar, cornstarch and palm oil in Kroger jimmies. My theory is that the cornstarch helps the Kroger jimmies keep their shape better while the higher ratio of oil and syrup in Betty’s jimmies cause them to melt and bleed faster. Kroger jimmies are the only brand I’ve tried and can recommend, but Sally recommends these and Deb of Smitten Kitchen recommends these!
Recipe selection: As always, it was very difficult to pick eight recipes (we added a boxed mix at the last minute!). The more I read about cake techniques, the harder it was to pick just eight–in the end, I narrowed down the options by only selecting recipes that had been specifically written in the style of a Funfetti® cake (e.g. not just a well-reviewed white cake that I would have to doctor with sprinkles). I tried to select a mix of classic internet-famous recipes as well as recipes that represented different permutations of butter/oil/shortening/eggs/egg whites and mixing methods.
Here’s a list of all the recipes with their fat + egg combinations and mixing methods for reference:
- America’s Test Kitchen (Butter + egg whites, reverse creaming)
- Baked (Butter + shortening + oil + egg + egg whites, regular creaming)
- I Am Baker ( Butter + shortening + eggs, regular creaming)
- Momofuku (Butter, oil, shortening, eggs, regular creaming)
- Molly Yeh (Butter, oil, egg whites, regular creaming)
- Sally’s Baking Addiction ( Butter + egg + egg whites, regular creaming)
- Sweetapolita (Butter + egg + egg whites, reverse creaming)
- The Kitchn (Butter + shortening + egg whites, reverse creaming)
And just FYI in case you aren’t familiar with the concept of reverse creaming:
- Traditional vs. reverse creaming: Traditional creaming beats butter and sugar together to incorporate air into the batter before adding eggs, then flour (at which point the protein in the flour will begin to activate once in contact with moisture). Reverse creaming generally begins by mixing together the dry ingredients, then beating in the butter so that the flour gets coated in butterfat before liquid (eggs) are added, slowing gluten formation. Here is a fascinating read (with great pics!) on reverse creaming: (I read her entire series on baking cake before the bake off)
- Speaking of eggs, during this bake off, I learned the answer to a benign question that I had never thought to ask: what is the difference between vanilla cake and white cake? According to Google, vanilla cakes can encompass both yellow cakes (generally made with whole eggs or just egg yolks) and white cakes (generally made with only egg whites).
So, I have never had such differing personal opinions from the final results. I think one factor that may have thrown off the rankings (in my opinion, which I will elaborate more on at the end, is that the frostings varied WILDLY and it was difficult for most tasters to separate the frosting from the cake when ranking both the cake-only and overall ratings. Thus, even if there was a really strong cake, a divisive frosting could cause it to tank in the overall score.
Throwing in a strong reminder that I am not a professional baker and these bake offs are done purely for fun. So take these results with a grain of salt! (Thanks Skyler for the data vizes!)
And now, for the extended cake analysis in order from #1 to #9:
Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Funfetti Layer Cake (cake 6.48/frosting 7.44): Sally’s all-butter cake yielded a thick, plush cake with a fairly heavy crumb with a great distribution of sprinkles and a flavor that was sort of reminiscent of a moist pound cake. It avoids being too heavy with a light and fluffy buttercream in which you can just barely detect the granules of sugar, a characteristic that I love in frosting. I’ve made a bunch of unsatisfying buttercreams in the past, but I think the key to Sally’s fantastic frosting is the use of heavy cream and an ideal ratio of 2 cups of powdered sugar to 1 stick of butter. Although some complained the frosting was too sweet, this will probably be my go-to buttercream in the future. “A top contender. The cake is a little too buttery for me but the icing is stellar,” agreed one taster. “Great cake, great frosting, classic taste” sums up the general feeling on this cake. For the most part, this cake is straightforward to make–except that it requires egg whites to be whipped separately and folded into the batter. This extra step will, in all honesty, probably keep me from making the cake my go-to in the future. This wasn’t my ideal cake (the cake was just a bit too thick and heavy), but it is objectively a delicious cake.
Make this if: You want a buttery, thick and fool-proof cake with a sweet, killer frosting.
Pillsbury’s Funfetti® Cake (cake 6.88/frosting 6.32): We added a Pillsbury boxed mix cake at the last minute as a control–and both surprisingly and unsurprisingly, it vied for top marks. Upon tasting it blind, I could immediately detect the distinctly boxed mix flavor, but even my bias couldn’t deny the dirty satisfaction of that pillowy, light-as-a-cloud boxed mix texture. Boxed Funfetti® is what most people know and love, and I think nostalgia played a key role in the cake’s high rating. “Definitely stands out as a classic confetti,” said one taster. “I think this is the box one but I don’t care I love it. It’s got a unique tang or saltiness that just feels right,” said another taster, which pinpoints 50% of my feels about this cake. Even though the frosting tasted distinctly processed in comparison to all the others, it was still irresistible on some level. On the other hand, one taster pronounced it “processed garbage,” which is also true on another level. Bottom line: if you decide to skip the from-scratch cake, most people will be pretty happy with this shortcut. (But note the lack of color in the cake. The poor sprinkle distribution was so disappointing!)
Make this if: You’re short on time. Everyone will still love it.
Baked’s Ultimate Birthday Cake (cake 5.96/frosting 5.68): This combination butter and shortening batter baked up into a picture-perfect cake dense with sprinkles. The slightly shaggy crumb also made for a dense, almost melt in your mouth cake with great frosting. Like Sally’s cake, this cake called for whipping egg whites separately that get folded into the batter. Overall, this was a slightly more finicky cake to make, so it won’t be my go-to in the future, but it did bake up beautifully tall with an excellent distribution of sprinkles. When baked into the full, 3-layer recipe and all done up with a coating of sprinkles, this cake is a true showstopper. Like Sally’s cake, this cake was just a tad dense for my taste, but nonetheless a very solid cake.
Make this if: You want a picture-perfect, towering sprinkle cake for a crowd.
Sweetapolita’s Funfetti Layer Cake (cake 5.64/frosting 5.48): Rosie of Sweetapolita uses a recipe that’s adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s white velvet cake and Baking Bites’ classic white cake recipe, which uses the reverse creaming technique. Accordingly, the resulting texture was drastically different from the conventional creaming methods–a super light, very close crumb. Rosie advises to watch the baking time very closely and I can see why–the texture was a tiny bit dry and with any overbaking, it could have been far drier. Most found the overall cake flavor a bit bland, though it was saved by the sweet buttercream. “Buttery icing added a nice sugary balance to an otherwise slightly bland cake,” commented one taster (note that this frosting ratio was closer to a 1:1 ratio of powdered sugar to butter compared to Sally’s 2:1 ratio, and I personally far preferred Sally’s frosting). With the help of a stand mixer, this cake was actually a breeze to make, so I’m keeping it on my short list for when I want a very light, bakery-style cake.
Make this if: You like very tight-crumbed cakes that would be a dream to stack, layer-cake style.
Molly Yeh’s Funfetti Cake (cake 5.04/frosting 5.56): Compared to the other cake recipes, Molly’s was a breeze to make! The recipe was straightforward and easy to follow, resulting in a thick, slightly bready round of cake with a light and sweet icing. Unfortunately, most tasters found the cake a bit unmemorable, and some noted an artificial taste (probably due to the use of clear imitation vanilla). Some enjoyed the dense texture while others found the taste a bit floury. Some didn’t enjoy the buttercream (essentially a 1:1 sugar to butter ratio), noting that it was too sweet and buttery. One taster summed up the general consensus with this comment: “Nice cake I wouldn’t say no to it but not very memorable.”
Make this if: You love a slightly breadier (think muffin-like) cake texture and you want a fast and approachable recipe.
America’s Test Kitchen (cake 4.64/frosting 4.84): This recipe actually won this white cake bake off, so I had high expectations. In the description of ATK’s newest cake book, The Perfect Cake, the success factors are described as reverse creaming, which helps give a close, tight crumb while maintaining moisture. Unfortunately, the first layer I baked came out with a dual layers: a dense 2-inch eggy base that was topped with a 1/2-inch layer of light and perfect cake. So I re-baked the layer (but accidentally creamed the butter and sugar for a bit too long), which led to a buttery, spongy cake that was probably denser than it should have been and a bit flavorless in some taster’s opinion. In both instances, all of the sprinkles fell to the bottom of the cake instead of being evenly distributed (probably some baker’s error on my part). “The cake was not sweet, but the frosting compensated,” noted one taster. While the cake didn’t receive the highest of ranks, most loved the lightness of the whipped vanilla frosting, which was super smooth with a very buttery flavor (and very similar to Sally’s frosting, with just slightly less than a 2:1 sugar to butter ratio). Overall, because this cake uses egg whites only (and I hate wasting/using up leftover egg yolks), this probably will not be my go-to cake either, though I am looking forward to trying it again until I get a result like the picture perfect one in their book!!
Make this cake if: You have egg whites to use up and you want a pure white, tight-crumbed cake.
I am Baker’s Funfetti Cake (cake 5.56/frosting 4.20): Here was a prime example of a cake being demoted due to an unpopular frosting–although this cake ranked fifth place, the frosting was ranked second to last, which dropped it to an overall 7th place finish. I am Baker’s whipped vanilla buttercream calls for a whopping 4:1 sugar to butter ratio–far more sugar than any of the other buttercreams, resulting in a VERY thick, very sweet frosting that nearly resembled cement once it dried out the next day. The cake was actually a standout for me, even though baking it made me very nervous–you pour what seems like an impossibly large amount of batter into an 8-inch cake pan and bake it until a thick brown crust develops. I was petrified I had overbaked it, but we ended up with a nicely sweet, very colorful cake (did I mention the cake uses 1.5 cups of sprinkles?) with a gorgeously crunchy crust. Many wondered if this cake contained almond extract or even the King Arthur Flour princess flavoring–however, I think this flavor actually came from the all the sprinkles in batter. While one complained almost plasticky, one noted it tasted like a sugar cookie–I would agree more with the latter. “Tastes like Greek wedding cookies (almond oil??)” wrote one taster. While one noted that the frosting tasted a bit like marzipan, most others thought it was just too sweet, dense and heavy. Texture-wise, I thought this cake was very similar to Baked, but with a more pronounced crust and better flavor. Overall, this cake was very easy to make (and uses whole eggs!). If using part shortening is not your thing, this cake is also very similar to Love and Olive Oil’s cake, which uses all butter.
Make this if: You love a crunchy crust and tons of sprinkles! I think this is one of the best cakes for the least effort.
The Kitchn’s Funfetti Birthday Cake (cake 4.80/frosting 4.32): Virtually no one could get past the bright yellow, margarine-hued frosting on this cake that gave off the appearance of straight butter. In fact, the color came from the egg yolks that formed the base of this cooked mousseline buttercream. A hot sugar syrup is whisked into the egg yolks before adding a boatload of softened butter. “Looks like butter, tastes like butter,” said one taster, and I had to agree. I was not a fan of this frosting at all, and unfortunately the cake didn’t fare much better. Like Sweetapolita, this cake was adapted from Rose Levy Berenbaum’s white velvet cake recipe, but with shortening added to ensure a very white and tender cake. The resulting cake was indeed white and almost cottony close crumb was a bit dry and vaguely pound cake like, but with a very neutral flavor. “I actually don’t mind the egg yolk icing…but I don’t like the combo,” said one taster. I preferred Sweetapolita’s cake over this one, but overall most were not too impressed.
Unfortunately, I would not make this again.
Momofuku Milk Bar’s Birthday Cake (cake 4.12/frosting 2.88): I’ve made Milk Bar’s birthday cake probably just shy of 10 times, but this was the only time I’ve followed the recipe exactly to the letter (grapeseed oil, citric acid, glucose and all)–and somehow, everyone HATED it! “This icing was salty or sour, it tastes like old yogurt or Greek yogurt, “frosting overwhelmed cake, why is it so salty,” and “frosting tasted like nail polish” were just a few of the comments we got on the frosting. The frosting did indeed taste tangy and almost a bit lemony, which makes me think I may have overdone the “pinch” of citric acid. People remarked that the cake was perfectly moist but the frosting was simply too salty, which ruined the cake. I used Diamond Crystal kosher salt next time, I will either use my larger-grained kosher salt or cut this amount in half. I still think this cake crumb and flavor was the best overall (I really don’t know why the cake rating was so low)–it was definitely the closest to Pillsbury’s soft and moist crumb out of all the cakes. Of course, it’s still kind of a pain in the butt to make, but I think it’s worth it. Idk. Make this and tell me if I’m crazy!
Make this if: do you really need a reason?
Even though it goes completely against the spirit of these bake offs, my honest favorite was still the Momofuku cake! I think had people separated the cake from the frosting, the cake would have been scored much higher. Getting to taste all the cakes side by side made me realize that Christina Tosi has indeed done something special with her strange, high-fat combo of butter, oil and shortening, resulting in a cake crumb that was distinctly unique from all the rest–not as finely crumbed as the reverse-creamed cake, but not as bready and heavy as some of the regular creamed cakes. So, my ultimate confetti cake based on the ones we tried would be the Momofuku cake paired with Sally’s Baking Addiction’s frosting. My close second place cake would be I am Baker’s cake with Sally’s frosting.
In closing, I would like to thank Serious Eats/Stella Parks and Baking Sense for some seriously helpful cake tips that helped me avoid a ton of cake mistakes that I probably would have made. Highly recommend checking out their tips!
The tldr Awards:
Most universally crowd-pleasing cake: Sally’s Baking Addiction
Best cake for the least effort: I am Baker
Fastest cake to make: Molly Yeh (okay UGH fine, Pillsbury if we’re being technical)
Most effort for best payoff: Momofuku (but don’t bother with the finicky frosting if you don’t want to)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup ice-cold water
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
- 1 cup sprinkles (assorted colors)
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream for Sprinkle Cake
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups sprinkles, for decorating
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour and knock out the excess flour.
Whisk together both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of bowl, add egg, and beat until just combined.
In a small bowl, whisk together ice-cold water, milk, and buttermilk.
With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with water mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Scrape down sides of bowl. With mixer on medium speed, beat for a few seconds to incorporate. Remove bowl from stand mixer, scatter sprinkles across the top of the batter, and fold them in with a rubber spatula.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar just until soft peaks form do not overbeat. Gently fold egg whites into the batter with a rubber spatula.
Divide batter evenly among the prepared pans and smooth tops. Bake, rotating pans halfway through baking time, until a toothpick inserted in center of each cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes Transfer cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack, remove from pans, and let cool completely. Remove parchment.
Place one cooled cake layer on a cake turntable (or a serving platter). Using a serrated knife, trim top of cake to create a flat surface, and evenly spread about 1 cup of buttercream over top. Add next layer, trim it, and frost it as before, then add third layer (trim the final layer for a completely flat top, or feel free to leave it domed for an old-school appearance).
Place turntable on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Frost sides and top with remaining buttercream. Grab a fistful of sprinkles and turn the turntable with your free hand while tossing the sprinkles at sides of cake. Using the sprinkles that are on the parchment (sprinkles that didn't stick), continue turning and throwing until cake (including the top) is covered in sprinkles. Chill the cake for about 5 minutes to set before serving.
not the possibility of my wedding dress being too tight after eating too many cheesy toasts, not the unidentified dot on my face that i'm pretty sure is housing a 100-foot ingrown hair, not the upcoming beet harvest that will have eggboy working 27 hours a day. no. the thing that has kept me up at night these past two months has been: a homemade version of funfetti® cake.
it's just sprinkles in white cake.
it's just sprinkles in white cake.
it's not just sprinkles in white cake.
attempt number one:
i began with the number one rule of anything funfetti®-inspired desserts, which i picked up from marian, who learned it from a momofuku milk bar class: use clear imitation vanilla. that is the flavor that will launch you right back into a babysitters' club slumber party world, complete with scrunchies and friendship bracelets.
i combined this knowledge with my go-to vanilla cake, which is based on these gorgeous cupcakes. it draws its moisture from butter and oil, and gets a slight zing from yogurt. i folded in a heavy dose of sprinkles, thinking my job was pretty much done.
and the end product was fine, just fine. i would have been happy to serve it to my mother and we would have enjoyed it a bunch.
it could have been sprinklier, the colors could have popped more, the sprinkles could have been scattered more evenly, and the texture could have been closer to the original (lighter). all of these things kept me from saying yes.
i also wanted to know what other colorful objects might work.
here are sample cakes with all of the sprinkles i own, as well as chopped colored marzipan and a series of found objects, including fresh mint leaves, petals of bachelor button flowers, black sesame seeds, chopped dried cranberries, and chopped dried mango. it's clear which sprinkles held onto their colors throughout the baking process. and one more thing is clear: it's very important to fold those suckers in thoroughly (see: the clumps in the artificial sprinkle samples), as in, it's probably best to fold them in before you pour the batter into the pan so you can have more room in the bowl to make sure you do a thorough job. the cake with the found objects, which i was really excited about, didn't look too terrible up close, it just tasted weird with all of that fresh mint. sadly, none of the natural sprinkles worked very well (i really didn't want to believe that the 2.9 pounds of naturally dyed sprinkles i just bought wouldn't work, but despite numerous attempts, they wouldn't), and the sanding sugar dissolved. so i narrowed my favorites down to four choices and then baked full layers with them, adding more sprinkles than the first test, and being careful to fold them in thoroughly:
top: artificially dyed homemade sprinkles on the left, artificially dyed store-bought sprinkles on the right bottom: artificially dyed marzipan on the left, artificially dyed nonpareils on the right.
and here they are all stacked up for attempt number two-ish:
the layers are, from bottom to top: store-bought sprinkles, marzipan, nonpareils, and homemade sprinkles. many of the sprinkles fell right to the bottom and still the colors didn't pop too well. also, eggboy thought that decorating the cake with sprinkles on the outside took away from the sprinkles on the inside. three points, eggboy!
ok so what did i learn from this step?
the sprinkles need to be suspended in thicker batter and the batter needs to be whiter. how do we make a batter whiter? eliminate egg yolks. how do we make a batter thicker? with the help of john the baker from the town bakery, i learned three ways: use a higher protein flour (cake flour has a low protein percentage, so perhaps sub some of it for all-purpose flour), use less liquid ingredients and more solid ingredients (butter instead of oil, for example), whip the egg whites to peaks before folding them in with the rest of the ingredients.
my next cake used 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1 1/2 cups of cake flour, as well as more butter, less oil, and no yogurt. eliminating the acidic ingredient yogurt eliminated the need for baking soda. i also sprinkled some sprinkles on top of the batter after pouring it into my cake pans, to make sure there were sprinkles towards the top of the layers (i picked this up from reading momofuku milk bar's birthday cake recipe).
attempt number three (part ap flour + part cake flour), in the style of pacman:
it worked splendidly. the sprinkles were evenly distributed and the cake was flavorful and moist. it had a dense crumb, which i really like, however, boxed cakes are usually much lighter than that, so i wanted to test my luck and try the more-butter option with an all-cake flour mix. (i was trying my best to avoid having to whip the egg whites to peaks because i h8 h8 h8 dirtying up bowls when not necessary.)
light, flavorful, evenly distributed with sprinkles that pop, reminiscent of all of my single digit birthday parties. success.
final cake, with marzipan bunting:
an update (two years later!): i've updated a few things in this recipe! the original recipe is posted over at food52, and the updated recipe below is what went in molly on the range. a few minor changes: i now prefer to bake this cake in three shorter laters than two tall layers, allowing for a more even frosting distribution which helps more moisture circulate throughout the cake. also with these shorter layers, you now longer need to sprinkle more sprinkles on top of the batter. i've also tweaked the flour situation just a bit to eliminate the need for cake flour. a combination of all-purpose flour and cornstarch gives a most delightful fluffy crumb! (stay tuned for more updates after a million more test runs in what will probably be two more years. )
makes one 3-layer 8" cake or 24 cupcakes
1 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tb clear imitation vanilla (I prefer McCormick brand)
1/2 c rainbow sprinkles (artificially colored cynlinders, not nonpareils, sanding sugar, or anything naturally colored)
1 3/4 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp clear imitation vanilla
preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease and line the bottoms of three 8-inch cake pans or line 24 cups of two muffin tins.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the egg whites, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the oil and the extracts.
With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry mixture and the milk in two or three alternating batches and mix until just barely combined, Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the sprinkles until they're evenly distributed. Distribute the batter among the cake pans or muffin cups, spreading it out evenly if using cake pans.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes for cakes and 20 minutes for cupcakes.
let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and gradually beat in the powdered sugar. add the salt, extracts, and milk and beat to combine.