Homemade birthday cakes are always special. Here you'll find 20 ideas from my list of favorites from towering layers to easy 13x9 inch sheets served right in the baking pan.
Be sure to scroll to the bottom for some great tips and how-tos!
Chocolate mayonnaise cake
Best idea ever? This 3 layer confection covered in a mocha buttercream frosting. It's the perfect homemade birthday cake for chocolate lovers!
Chantilly with strawberries
Chantilly cake was always called Italian cream cake at my house. It's three layers of vanilla with a cream cheese buttercream and ripe strawberries in between each layer.
Roasted cherry black forest
Black forest cake is one of my favorites. This 4 layer recipe include rum roasted cherries and a whipped cream frosting.
Coconut layers with raspberry jam
Coconut cake is probably one of the most popular southern dessert recipes ever made. This one is filled with raspberry jam and covered in a whipped white chocolate frosting. It would be a delicious homemade birthday treat for any coconut lover on your list.
White layer cake
White 3 layer birthday cake with chocolate frosting is something everyone loves. This one is flavored with almond and vanilla for that classic bakery flavor. Add 1 cup of sprinkles for a fun-fetti look.
Cherry almond cake
Two almond layers with a pink cherry layer in between make up this pretty cherry almond cake. It's the perfect idea for a little girl's birthday.
Dark chocolate with Irish cream frosting
I like to serve this extra dark chocolate cake with Irish cream frosting to my family with March birthdays! It's a luscious combination.
Old fashioned banana layer cake has a gooey nut filling and a rich cream cheese frosting.
Spiced devils food
This spiced devil's food is a vintage recipe from one of my old cookbooks. It's a mashup of chocolate and spice - makes a very unique birthday cake!
Single layers, left right in the baking pan, are the best birthday cakes for transporting to the birthday boy or girl!! This tangy lemon cream flavor is deliciously topped with a whipped lemon frosting.
Burnt sugar fudge cake
Burnt sugar fudge cake is another vintage recipe that is perfect for any celebration! This one is three layers and filled with peanut butter mousse then topped with a chocolate ganache glaze.
Spice cake tastes like home. This version is full of warm spices and filled and topped with a maple cream cheese frosting.
Holy cow cake
Holy Cow Cake is a simple recipe but you'll need to make it a day ahead of time. A single chocolate layer is soaked in caramel and sweetened condensed milk, then covered with crushed Butterfingers and whipped cream.
Classic yellow birthday cake
Another classic, yellow layer birthday cake is delicately flavored and filled and frosted with bittersweet chocolate frosting. Old fashioned and yummy! This is also a great recipe for making into funfetti.
Pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting has just 3 ingredients and is stupid easy and quick to make! Perfect for the pumpkin spice lovers on your list as well as fall birthday parties.
Southern caramel cake
This vintage caramel cake recipe has a gooey pecan filling and Jack Daniels caramel frosting.
Sweet and citrusy- this from scratch orange layer cake is three layers of tangy goodness filled with a delicious orange buttercream.
Chocolate with cookies and cream filling
Thick, rich cookies and cream filling is spread between three layers of chocolate birthday cake. It's perfect for cookies and cream lovers!
Lemon layer cake
Delicate lemon layer cake is filled and frosted with a whipped white chocolate frosting that is absolutely the best!
🎂 How to make a birthday cake
These are just the basic outline of what you'll need to do. Each recipe will have slightly different instructions.
- Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven.
- Grease and flour pans.
- Mix the ingredients in the order given in your recipe.
- Fill the pans half full.
- Put on middle rack of oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs sticking to it.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pans.
- Gently run a knife around the edge of the pans to loosen.
- Turn out to a cooling rack and cool completely.
- Make your frosting as directed.
- Fill and stack the layers. If it's more than 2 layers use 4 thin skewers or plastic straws placed through the layers to hold them in place. Put skewers 1 inch from the edge, evenly spaced around the cake.
- Thin about ½ cup of frosting with a tablespoon or two of milk to make it very easy to spread thinly.
- Use this to coat the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting.
- Chill for 30 minutes.
- Add the remaining frosting.
Unfrosted layers can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored for 3 days at room temperature or frozen for 3 months.
Once frosted it will be fine at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerated for 5 days. Be careful about refrigerating, however. It can take on off flavors or become dry.
💭 Tips for success
Expert tip: Get clean slices by using a serrated knife and dipping it in hot water between slices.
- Preheat the oven at least 10 minutes. Start preheating before you begin the recipe so the batter doesn't sit and wait.
- Don't fill your pans more than half full.
- Most recipes can be made funfetti style by adding a half cup to one cup of sprinkles. Just mix them with about a tablespoon of flour before adding them to the batter to help them hold their color and keep from sinking to the bottom.
- Trim the layers so the tops are completely flat.
- Be sure that your layers are completely cool before frosting or trimming.
- Take the time to put a thin layer (a crumb coating) of frosting on your cake and chilling it until firm, before adding the remaining frosting. This will keep crumbs from getting all over the place and ruining the look of your creating.
- Not into decorating? Use sprinkles, chopped nuts, coconut, or even cookie crumbs on top or up the sides.
👩🏻🍳 Frequently asked questions
You can. An iced cake will be fine for a day or two. If you need to make it further ahead of time make the cake layers, wrap and freeze unfrosted for up to 3 months, then thaw and frost as close to your event as possible.
Nope. If you let your batter sit for even a few minutes too long the leaveners (baking powder or baking soda) will start to weaken and your batter won't rise as high... if at all.
Your oven temperature was too high.