Birthday Boy + Cake

My youngest son turned 5 this week. My heart is so full of pride, joy, and love that I can hardly think straight. I adore his little snuggles and floppy hair. I love how he holds my hand walking down the street and his little bunny snuggles at night. He’s my little buddy and I already miss him when he is in kindergarten. Ok. Stop. No more talk of kindergarten!

IMG_1435Let’s talk about cake instead. Birthdays to me are such an important celebration.


For Kai’s birthday we wanted the day to reflect all things Kai. For breakfast I made his favorite waffles (topped with butter and a side of strawberries) and for dinner it was his favorite mac and cheese. But for me, it’s all about the cake.  Kai wanted a white cake with chocolate frosting decorated with Angry Birds. I went to Cook’s Illustrated and made the Classic White Layer Cake with Raspberry-Almond Filling. I substituted the vanilla buttercream frosting for chocolate and left out the almonds in the filling. The cake was very well balanced and I loved the almond/raspberry/chocolate flavors together. Next time around I would have gone a little thicker on frosting the cake and not left any in the bowl for later.

Cook’s Illustrated Classic White Layer Cake


  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2  1/4 cup cake flour, store bought or home made
  • 1 3/4 granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened. I like to put mine out the night before so that I can start baking whenever I decide I’m ready

Instructions for Cake:

  1. Grease 2 9 inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease parchment, and flour pans. Whisk milk, egg whites, almond extract, and vanilla together in a small bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only pea sized pieces remain, about 1 minute.
  2. Add half of the milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Decrease speed to low and add the rest of the milk and beat until incorporated.
  3. Divide batter between the 2 pans and and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 23 minutes. After slightly cooling in the pans, remove the cakes from the pans and discard parchment and let cool on a cooling rack until completely cool. Once cool, wrap in saran wrap a couple times and then in foil and pop in the freezer. A frozen cake is much easier to assemble and tastes just as amazing! I made the cake the week before the birthday party and then the night before the party, I assembled and decorated the cake.


  • 1/3 cup raspberry jam
  • Chocolate Buttercream. I used this recipe and was able to frost 12 cupcakes, plus this cake, so feel free to make less if desired.

Instructions for Chocolate Buttercream

I use this recipe from and have always found it perfect. Make sure to sift the powdered sugar first and then measure 5 cups from what was sifted.

  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk to remove any lumps. Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, start out on low and cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  2. Add powdered sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup followed by about a tablespoon of milk. Remember to mix on low at first until combined. Then turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  3. Add vanilla extract and combine well.
  4. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to loose, add more powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the preferred consistency.

Cake Assembly:

This is my favorite part. I always end up eating too many cake scraps but who can blame me! Remove the cake layers from the freezer and put one layer on a cake stand (or set a plate on a large overturned bowl if you can’t find your cake stand!!). Spread raspberry jam on the first layer and then top with chocolate buttercream. Make sure to spread the filling all the way to the edge of the cake. Place second layer on top of the filling. Now take a serrated knife and even out the top and sides (eat scraps!). Now spread buttercream on top and sides and decorate as desired. Slice and enjoy!




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