Mini Vanilla & Red Velvet Layer Cake

My daughter and I are obsessed with mini cakes. My mom gave me 6-inch cake pans for Christmas and we have been waiting for the perfect occasion to use them. Yay for Valentine’s Day! 🙂 ❤ I will admit that I’m not sure if a 3-layer cake is truly “mini”…. but it was really cute.

Some math is involved in order to adapt a recipe to make a mini cake. In this case, the vanilla cake recipe, originally for an 8-inch layer cake, was reduced to 57%. I made the red velvet cake, originally for 12 cupcakes, in its entirety in order to make additional cupcakes. The icing recipe makes enough to generously frost the layer cake as well as the cupcakes.

The vanilla cake recipe was adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics by Sarah Kieffer. The red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting recipes were adapted from Martha Stewart Living.

For the Vanilla Cake Layers:

Yield: Two 6-inch cakes

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 5 1/2 T sour cream
  • scant 2 T buttermilk
  • 162 g all-purpose flour
  • 169 g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp plus generous 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp plus generous 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp plus generous 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 9 T (129 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the Red Velvet Cake Layer:

Yield: One 6-inch cake and 5 standard cupcakes (Alternatively, 57% of the recipe can be made to just make a single cake layer, if desired.)

  • 148 g (1 1/4 cups) cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (can put in a bowl of warm water to quickly change the temperature)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red gel-paste food color
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

To Make the Vanilla Cake Layers:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter two 6-inch cake pans and then line them with parchment paper. Butter the parchment and then flour the pans. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, sour cream, and buttermilk.
  4. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low until combined.
  5. With the mixer running on low, add the butter one piece at a time, beating until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
  6. With the mixer still running on low, slowly add half the wet ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  7. With the mixer running on low, add the rest of the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  8. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 20 seconds. (The batter may still look a little bumpy.)
  9. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and use a spatula to mix the batter a few more times.
  10. Divide the batter between the cake pans. Each well should be about halfway full. (I weigh them to make sure that the batter is evenly distributed. Each pan had about 360 g of batter.)
  11. Using an offset spatula, smooth the tops. Tap the pan gently on the counter 2 times to help get rid of any bubbles.
  12. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  13. Let cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Then, remove from pan, remove the parchment paper, and let cool completely before frosting.

To Make the Red Velvet Cake Layer & Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Place 5 cupcake liners in a standard muffin pan. Butter one 6-inch cake pan and then line it with parchment paper. Butter the parchment and then flour the pan. Set aside.
  2. Sift together cake flour, and cocoa; add salt and whisk to combine.
  3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined.
  4. Add the egg, beating until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  5. Mix in food color and vanilla.
  6. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each.
  7. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter; mix on medium speed 10 seconds.
  8. Place 350 g to 360 g batter in the prepared cake pan, about halfway full. Divide the remaining batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about three-quarters full.
  9. Bake the cake pan, rotating halfway through, about 23 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean. Transfer to wire racks to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely.
  10. Bake the cupcakes in the center of the oven for about 17 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

Yield: 4 cups, enough to frost 1 6-inch cake and 5 cupcakes

  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • gel food coloring, if desired
  • decorative sprinkles, if desired
  1. Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low.
  2. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and then vanilla; mix until smooth. (I sifted 1 cup of sugar at a time prior to adding it to the butter-cream cheese mixture.)
  3. Tint the frosting with food coloring, if desired.
  4. Fill between the cake layers and the frost the top and sides of the cake. Using a pastry bag with a large fluted tip, pipe onto cupcakes in a circular motion, starting on the outer rim.
  5. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.
  6. Refrigerate the cake (and cupcakes) prior to serving.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Brown Butter Buttercream

Sarah Kieffer is an absolute GENIUS. Incorporating brown butter in buttercream!?!? I’m upset that I have never thought of trying it.

These were quite possibly the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. The cake portion was delicious- moist and tender, but the icing really put the cupcakes over the top. It was incredibly light and flavorful. I may have to make them again for Valentine’s Day. ❤

The recipe was adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics by Sarah Kieffer. I halved the recipe and made 12 cupcakes. (I now regret not making 24!) I also used fine sea salt. Amazing.

Yield: 12 frosted cupcakes (with about 2 cups buttercream)

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 large eggs (I used a scale to measure 1/2 an egg)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 6 T sour cream
  • 2 T buttermilk
  • 1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (149g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick, 114g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

Note: If doubling the recipe for 24 cupcakes or 2 8-inch round cakes, use 297g sugar and 227g butter.

For the Brown Butter Buttercream:

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick, 114g) unsalted butter for browning
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick, 114g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 oz (27g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 T heavy cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 cups (226g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To Make the Cupcakes:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Line a standard cupcake/muffin pan with 12 liners. Set aside. (If making a round cake, butter and flour the pans and then line them with parchment paper.)
  3. In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, sour cream, and buttermilk.
  4. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low until combined.
  5. With the mixer running on low, add the butter one piece at a time, beating until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
  6. With the mixer still running on low, slowly add half the wet ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  7. With the mixer running on low, add the rest of the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  8. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 20 seconds. (The batter may still look a little bumpy.)
  9. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and use a spatula to mix the batter a few more times.
  10. Using a large cookie scoop (mine is 3T), divide the batter between the cupcake wells. Each well should be a little more than halfway full.
  11. Using an offset spatula, smooth the tops. Tap the pan gently on the counter 2 times to help get rid of any bubbles.
  12. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (I baked mine for 17 minutes on convection.) (If baking cake in an 8-inch pan, bake for 17 to 22 minutes.)
  13. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. (If using a round cake pan, let cake cool in the pan set on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Then, remove to let cool completely.)

To Make the Brown Butter Buttercream:

  1. Have a small, heatproof, freezer-safe bowl set next to the range.
  2. Melt one stick of butter in a light-colored, heavy bottomed skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Swirl the butter around with a rubber spatula as it melts and starts to bubble.
  3. When it starts bubbling, increase the heat to medium and keep stirring the butter until it boils and begins to foam, about 3 minutes. It will smell nutty and you’ll start to see little brown bits on the bottom of the pan. *Keep stirring, making sure to genly scrape the bottom of the pan with the spatula as you do so. At this point, the butter will begin to quickly change from light brown to dark to burned, so keep a close eye on the pan.*
  4. Once the butter and browned bits are golden brown, remove from the heat, and immediately pour the brown butter and the toasted bits and flecks from the bottom of the pan into the reserved heatproof, freezer-safe bowl.
  5. Let the brown butter cool in the bowl for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature. Then, place the bowl in the freezer and let chill until solid, about 30 minutes.
  6. When the butter is solid (but not frozen!), transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle.
  7. Add the remaining 1/4 pound (1 stick) of room temperature butter to the brown butter in the mixer bowl and beat on medium until smooth.
  8. Add the cream cheese and beat on medium until smooth and creamy.
  9. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt and mix on low to combine.
  10. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until combined. (I turn the mixer off in between additions of sugar.)
  11. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary, 6 to 8 minutes.
  12. Using a cookie scoop (I used a 3 T scoop), place a heaping dollop of buttercream on top of each cupcake. (Alternatively, use an offset spatula to ration the icing.) Spread the buttercream over the top decoratively, as desired.

Note: Frosted cupcakes should be refrigerated if not serving right away. Bring to room temperature prior to serving.

Maple Layer Cake with Maple-Vanilla Buttercream

This maple variation of the “All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake” from the famed Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum may quite possibly be the best cake I’ve ever made. My son chose it to celebrate his 16th birthday. 🙂 His favorite flavor profile usually incorporates vanilla and/or cream soda so this maple cake was a definitely a good choice.

I adapted the recipe to bake the cake in 8-inch cake pans. I also used fine sea salt and substituted vanilla extract for maple extract. It was very moist and rich. Fabulous.

I served this cake after an indulgent meal made to order for my birthday boy. He requested penne alla vodka, chicken parmesan, garlic bread, and Caesar salad. No one argued- all family favorites. 🙂

Yield: One 8-inch layer cake, about 12 to 14 servings

For the Cake: (all ingredients at room temperature)

  • 6 large egg yolks (3.5 fl oz/4 oz/112 g)
  • 1 liquid cup (8.5 oz/242 g) milk (I used 2% milk)
  • 2 1/4 tsp (9 g) pure vanilla extract (can substitute 3/4 tsp vanilla extract + 1 tsp maple extract)
  • 300 g (3 cups/10.5 oz) cake flour, sifted
  • 300 g (2 cups/10.5 oz) maple sugar, sifted (from Whole Foods)
  • 19.5 g (1 T + 1 tsp) baking powder
  • 5 g (3/4 tsp) fine sea salt
  • 12 T (6 oz/170 g) unsalted butter, softened

  1. Butter two 8-inch (2-in deep) cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the paper. Dust bottom and sides with flour, tap out excess. Set aside. (The layers can alternatively be baked in 9-inch cake pans that are 1 1/2-in deep.)
  2. Position an oven rack in the center position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  3. In a medium bowl, lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup of the milk, and vanilla. (I used a 2 cup measuring cup.)
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed for 30 seconds to blend.
  5. Add the butter and remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low-speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides.
  6. Gradually add the egg-milk mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides.
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pans. (I weigh them to distribute the batter evenly.) The pans should be about 1/2 full.
  8. Bake 25 to 35 minutes, or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. (I baked mine for 27 minutes.) *The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
  9. Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes.
  10. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up. Let cool completely before frosting or storing.

Note: The unfrosted layers can be wrapped tightly and stored for 2 days at room temperature, 5 days refrigerated, and 2 months frozen. The frosted cake should be stored in the refrigerator.

For the Neoclassic Maple-Vanilla Buttercream: (all ingredients at room temperature)

Yield: 4 cups, enough to fill and frost two 8-inch layers

  • 6 large egg yolks (3.5 fl oz/4 oz/112 g)
  • 150 g (3/4 cup/5.25 oz) granulated sugar
  • 164 g (1/2 liquid cup/5.75 oz) pure maple syrup
  • 1 pound (4 sticks/2 cups/454 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoons
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract or maple extract
  1. Grease a 1-cup heatproof measuring cup. Set aside.
  2. Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. (I used a stainless steel bowl.) Using a hand mixer, beat the egg yolks until light in color.
  3. Combine the sugar and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a full rolling boil. (The entire surface will be covered with large bubbles- see note.) Immediately transfer the syrup to the prepared glass measuring cup to stop the cooking.
  4. Using a hand mixer, beat the syrup into the egg yolks in a steady stream. Don’t allow the syrup to fall on the beaters. Use a rubber scraper to remove any syrup remaining in the measuring cup.
  5. Continue beating until the mixture is completely cool.
  6. Gradually beat in the butter. (I incorporated 1 stick at a time.)
  7. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  8. Use immediately, or store in an airtight bowl in the refrigerator. (If stored, bring to room temperature before using.)

Note: The syrup must come to a rolling boil or the finished buttercream will be too thin.

Wave Birthday Cake (Yellow Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting & Vanilla Oreo Filling)

One of the few things that my daughter loves as much as her birthday is the beach. That being said, she naturally chose a “wave” theme for her celebratory 14th birthday cake this year. 🙂

The cake recipe was adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads by Kathleen King. The vanilla cream cheese frosting recipe was adapted from various sources. It was incredibly moist and absolutely delicious.

Similar to my husband, my daughter requests a similar birthday dinner annually, calzones. 🙂 This year we started the day with pumpkin doughnut muffins instead of crumb cake though! Her traditional birthday number cookies were orange inspired by monarch butterflies- another love.

For the Yellow Cake:

Yield: Makes one 9-inch 2-layer cake

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (245g/8.6 oz) sour cream
  • vanilla cream cheese frosting, recipe below
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper and grease the parchment. Dust with flour and shake out the excess.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In another large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  5. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Beat in vanilla.
  7. Add dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, ending with the dry ingredients.
  8. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.
  9. Fold egg whites into cake batter, and pour into the prepared pans. (I weigh the pans to evenly distribute the batter.)
  10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Remove pans to a wire rack. Cool 10 minutes before removing cake from pans; finish cooling on a rack (parchment paper side down).

For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting and Oreo Filling:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 7 vanilla Oreos, crushed in a food processor, plus more for the decorative “sand”
  • blue gel food coloring
  1. Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low-speed to combine.
  4. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.
  5. Meanwhile, place one of the cake layers on a serving platter or cake stand.
  6. Remove 1 1/4 cup of frosting for the Oreo filling and place in separate bowl.
  7. Incorporate the crushed Oreos in the reserved 1 1/4 cups of filling icing. Spread over the top of the first layer of cake.
  8. Place the second layer, inverted, on top.
  9. Tint the remaining frosting pale blue with food coloring, mixing well.
  10. Cover cake with a crumb coat and chill briefly, if necessary before continuing.
  11. Using an offset spatula, ice the sides of the cake with the pale blue frosting. (I used a relatively thin coat.) Reserve 1/4 cup of the pale blue frosting if needed for touchups.
  12. Tint the remaining frosting deeper “ocean blue.” Place in a pastry bag fitted with an open star piping tip.
  13. Then, starting at the bottom of the cake, pipe “waves” of varying sizes. Fill in beneath the upper border.
  14. Pipe “waves” of varying sizes on the top of the cake. Fill in beneath the upper border.
  15. Crush additional vanilla Oreos in a food processor. Sprinkle in the center of the cake and around the outer edge of the serving platter for the decorative “sand.”
  16. Chill prior to serving and store any leftover cake in the refrigerator.

Sunflower Birthday Cake (Yellow Layer Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting & Oreo Filling)

My baby celebrated her 13th birthday last week. I officially have two teenagers in my house!

She requested a yellow-themed celebration. Yellow is indeed her favorite color, but I think that it was also an excuse to have vanilla Oreos and goldfish crackers around to nibble on. 😉 Our decor included yellow mums, yellow balloons, yellow streamers, yellow tablecloths and place settings, and “yellowish” birthday cake popcorn. We also had a yellow cake with yellow (sunflower-themed) cream cheese frosting and pale yellow number cookies, our family birthday tradition. It was a solid theme!

The recipe for the yellow layer cake was adapted from The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. I used the vanilla cream cheese frosting with Oreo filling from her 12th birthday cake. There was enough frosting for the layer cake and 12 cupcakes- perfect.

Yield: One 9-inch layer cake, generously frosted

For the Cake:

  • 7 oz (1 3/4 cups) plain cake flour, sifted, plus more for dusting pans
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 1/2 oz (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 16 T (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 16 pieces
  • vanilla cream cheese frosting, recipe below
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans and cover the pan bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Grease the parchment rounds and dust the cake pans with flour, tapping out the excess.
  3. Beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla with a fork in a 2-cup measuring cup with a spout. Measure out 1 cup of this mixture and set aside.
  4. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat at the lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds.
  5. With the mixture still running at the lowest speed, add the butter, one piece at a time; mix until the butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and pebbly, with pieces about the size of peas, about 30 to 40 seconds after all the butter is added.
  6. Add the reserved 1 cup egg mixture and mix at the lowest speed until incorporated, about 5 to 10 seconds.
  7. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the remaining egg mixture (about 1/2 cup) in a slow, steady stream, taking about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
  9. Beat at medium-high speed until thoroughly combined and the batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds.
  10. Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans. (about 1 lb plus 2.5 oz per pan) Spread to the sides of the pans and smooth with an offset or rubber spatula.
  11. Bake until the cake tops are light gold and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 27 minutes. The cakes will mound slightly but will level when cooled.
  12. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  13. Run a knife around the pan perimeter to loosen. Invert one cake onto a large plate and reinvert onto another wire rack. Repeat for the other layer. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting and Oreo Filling & Sunflower Design:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 15 mini-Oreos, crushed in a food processor, plus more for the center of the cake sunflower
  • yellow and green gel food coloring
  1. Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low-speed to combine.
  4. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.
  5. Reserve 1/4 cup icing for the green leaves, set aside.
  6. Tint the remaining icing pale yellow with food coloring, mixing well.
  7. Remove 1 1/4 cup of icing for the Oreo filling and place in separate bowl.
  8. Incorporate the crushed Oreos in the reserved 1 1/4 cups of filling icing. Spread on one of the layers.
  9. Place the second layer on top.
  10. Cover cake with a crumb coat and chill briefly, if necessary before continuing.
  11. Using an offset spatula, ice the sides of the cake with the pale yellow icing.
  12. Tint the remaining icing deeper “sunflower yellow.” Place in a pastry bag fitted with a leaf tip.
  13. Tint the leaf icing deep green. Place in a pastry bag fitted with a leaf tip and pipe onto 3 areas of the outside of the cake, or as desired.
  14. Then, starting at the outer edge of the cake, begin piping the dark yellow flower petals. Work in circles moving toward the center of the cake.
  15. When about 3 rows are complete, place a dollop of the dark yellow icing in the center and form the center of the flower with mini-Oreos. (It seemed easier to start by placing the first Oreo in the center.)
  16. Fill the gap between the last piped row of petals and the center by piping an additional row of petals.
  17. Chill prior to serving and store any leftover cake in the refrigerator.

BTW- If you thought that was enough… we had another celebration that required another dessert- this time yellow cupcakes with yellow (also sunflower) frosting. We do love our celebrations and yellow cake over here!

“Line Friends” Red Velvet Birthday Cake

My daughter absolutely loves the “Line Friends” store in Times Square. The store features adorable plush versions of the characters from a Japanese and Korean messaging app called Line. Most center around a bear named “Brown.” As a pig enthusiast, my daughter owns two “Piggy Brown” plush in her personal collection. She requested a red velvet version of “Piggy Brown” to celebrate her 12th birthday! She also requested an Oreo-cream cheese frosting filling. The results were super cute and delicious.

Both of my kids have winter birthdays. Because my son decided to celebrate his with a gold standard household favorite, a Rainbow Sprinkle Cake, I am combining their “birthday posts” by sharing their number cookie photos at the same time. For those of you who don’t know, my kids always have birthday sugar cookies to celebrate their age. 🙂 This year, my son celebrated his 14th birthday and my daughter celebrated her 12th. ❤

I thought that it was the perfect time to share this cake because a red velvet layer cake would also be a fabulous Valentine’s Day dessert. ❤ The cake recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living, the cream cheese frosting adapted from various sources. I used a single vanilla cupcake for the pig snout and bear nose, recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. The pig ears were made with reserved number cookie dough.

To Make the Red Velvet Layers:

  • unsalted butter, for cake pans
  • 2 1/2 cups (300 g) cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 tsp red gel food coloring plus 3 1/2 T water OR 1/4 cup red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Generously butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper; butter the paper. Sprinkle with flour, and tap out the excess; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk cake flour, salt, and sifted cocoa; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and oil, and beat on medium speed until well combined.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  6. Add food coloring and vanilla, and beat until well combined.
  7. Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  8. In a small bowl, mix baking soda and vinegar until combined. Add to batter, and beat for 10 seconds.
  9. Evenly divide batter between the prepared pans. (I use a kitchen scale to make sure that the batter is evenly distributed.)
  10. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.
  11. Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Remove from the pans, and return to the rack to cool completely before frosting/decorating.

For the Vanilla Cupcake Pig Snout & Bear Nose:

  • 1 egg white
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 2 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 T milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Coat 2 wells of a muffin pan with cooking spray or line with 2 liners.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg white and sugar until combined.
  4. Stir in the vanilla, melted butter, and milk.
  5. Add flour and baking powder and mix everything together well.
  6. Divide the batter between two muffin pan wells and bake for 10-14 minutes.
  7. Let cool completely before frosting/decorating as desired.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting and to Decorate the Cake:

Yield: enough to generously frost one 9-inch layer cake (plus 1 cupcake)

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 Oreos, crushed in a food processor
  • pink gel food coloring
  • cocoa
  • brown m&m’s and pink tic tac’s for eyes and noses
  • 1-2 T semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  1. Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low-speed to combine.
  4. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.
  5. Remove and place in separate bowls: 3/4 to 1 cup of icing for the bear face, 2-3 T icing for the top of the pig snout, 2-3 T icing for the bear nose, and 1 1/4 cup of icing for the Oreo filling.
  6. Tint the remaining icing light pink with food coloring, mixing well.
  7. Incorporate the crushed Oreos in the reserved 1 1/4 cups of filling icing. Spread on one of the layers.
  8. Place the second layer on top.
  9. Insert the cookie pig ears in between the cake layers until securely in place.
  10. Tint the 3/4 to 1 cup of reserved bear face icing with 1 T sifted cocoa, or until desired color is achieved.
  11. Tint the reserved 2-3 T of bear nose icing with pinches of sifted cocoa until desired color is achieved.
  12. Tint the reserved 2-3 T of pig snout icing with pink food coloring until desired color is achieved.
  13. Make a paper or parchment template to outline the edge of the bear face on top of the cake. Place on top of the second cake layer.
  14. Spread and swirl the light pink frosting around the sides and top of the cake, outside of the bear face template.
  15. Spread and swirl the reserved chocolate-brown frosting circle to form the bear face.
  16. Remove the domed top of the vanilla cupcake and trim to form the bear nose. Coat with reserved light brown icing and place on the bear face.
  17. Invert the cupcake bottom and coat the sides with light pink icing. Spread dark pink icing over the top. Place the snout in place on top of the cake.
  18. Use the m&m’s and tic tacs to form the noses and eyes.
  19. Place melted chocolate chips in a small ziplock bag. (I melted the chocolate in the microwave.) Cut the corner of the bag and pipe the bear’s mouth onto the cake.
  20. The cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours. (I stored it overnight.) Bring to room temperature before serving.

I’m bringing my red velvet Piggy Brown to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #262, co-hosted by Angie and Jhuls @The Not so Creative Cook. Enjoy! 🙂

Fiesta Friday Badge Button I was featured

11th Birthday Rainbow Sprinkle “Fluffy” the Unicorn Cake

We try to be as fair as possible in our house…

So, while I’m sharing birthday treats, I am going to have to share my daughter’s 11th birthday cake too. Her birthday was in November! (I’m very behind on my posts…)

The bright side of having my daughter turn 11-years old was that she was mature enough to choose going to a Broadway show over having a birthday party. 🙂 We saw Aladdin!

The down side of having my daughter turn 11-years old was that she was mature enough to browse Pinterest for birthday cake ideas. 😉

Her Pinterest search resulted in another Universal Studios inspired birthday dessert. (We actually celebrated her birthday before having my son’s Harry Potter World Butterbeer Cupcakes, so maybe she actually inspired his dessert choice!) It was a very unicorn-themed day, complete with unicorn pajamas, unicorn slippers, and many horn “accessories” for other animals. 🙂

I used the Rainbow Sprinkle Cake recipe that we enjoyed last year on her birthday to create a “Fluffy” the Unicorn cake. It just makes sense that a unicorn cake involve rainbows in some way. For those of you who don’t know, this unicorn is from the Despicable Me and Minions movies. I doubled the recipe to make 2 1-pound loaves of cake for the head and body. I also made 4 cupcakes for the legs using the same batter.

The eyes, ears, and tongue were made using dough from my batch of unicorn and “11” Number Cookies. The horn was made with molded rice krispie treats. I also used rice krispie treats to support the position of the head. Rainbow candy was used for the mane and tail- this was a subtle but fun deviation from the actual unicorn from the movies. Pretty cute! 🙂

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup/220 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), slightly softened, more for pans
  • 3 cups/380 grams all-purpose flour, more for pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/3 cups/316 ml whole milk
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups/400 grams sugar
  • 2 whole eggs plus 4 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup rainbow sprinkles (not pastel, or naturally colored)

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 24 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 1 1/2 cups/330 grams unsalted butter (3 sticks), slightly softened
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
  • 9 cups/900 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted, more to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Decorations:

  • sugar cookie eyes, ears, and tongue
  • rice krispie treats (store-bought or homemade)
  • gold sprinkles
  • “air head” rainbow candy
  • red gel food coloring
  • chocolate chips

  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection, and place a rack in the center.
  2. Butter and line the bottoms of two 1-pound loaf pans with parchment paper. Butter the parchment. Flour the pans, coating the bottom and sides, then tap out any excess flour. Coat 4 muffin pan wells with cooking oil spray.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together milk and vanilla.
  5. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, slowly add egg and whites and beat until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl.
  7. Add half the flour mixture, then the milk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture, beating to blend after each addition.
  8. Scrape down bowl and blend once more.
  9. Remove bowl and use a spatula or spoon to fold in sprinkles by hand.
  10. Fill the 4 prepared muffin pan wells about 2/3 full. Bake until the a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 16 minutes.
  11. Divide remaining batter evenly between the pans (approximately 1190 g per pan), and bake until the tops are just dry to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through baking.
  12. Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 2 to 4 hours, before turning out.
  13. Make the frosting: In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, butter and salt together at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes.
  14. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, slowly add sugar and beat until smooth.
  15. Beat in vanilla just until incorporated.
  16. Taste frosting; you should be able to taste the cream cheese and a little bit of saltiness, as well as the sweetness. If desired, add more salt or sugar. Keep refrigerated.
  17. Turn cooled cakes out of pans.
  18. Slice loaves in half and spread icing between the layers.
  19. Place cakes on a platter positioned as a head and body. (I made a support ramp with rice krispie treats.)
  20. Using an offset spatula, frost the top surface as a crumb coat.
  21. Form the horn with one rice krispie treat, ice and cover with gold sprinkles. (I microwaved the rice krispie treat for 10 seconds to make it easier to mold. I also coated my hands with cooking spray!)
  22. Refrigerate until firm.
  23. Using a pastry bag and a star tip, place remaining frosting all over the cake.
  24. Color remaining frosting pink and ice the cupcake legs/feet. Top the cupcakes with sugar cookie and place on the cake.
  25. Decorate with cookie eyes, ears, and tongue.
  26. Pipe the pink decorative stripe on the snout.
  27. Using melted chocolate, pipe the nostrils.
  28. Using a star pastry tip, fill in the “fluffy” fur with the frosting over the head and body.
  29. Use either remaining pink frosting or rainbow candy, form the mane and tail.
  30. Refrigerate cake 30 minutes or longer to set. Serve cool.

One Year Ago: Rainbow Sprinkle Cake & a Festive “Candy Shop” Themed Birthday Party

Two Years Ago: Pig Party!

Three Years Ago: Birthday Red Velvet “Owl” Cupcakes

Four Years Ago: The Best Birthday Cupcakes  &  Apple Layer Cake with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

Five Years Ago: Birthday Cake Gallery

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