Layers, Icing, and Sprinkles: 14 Birthday Cakes

2009_02_27-BirthdayCake.jpg2009_02_27-CakeThumbs.jpgWhen it comes to birthday cake, we don't mess around. In our health-conscious times, there aren't many opportunities to whip out a five-layer old-fashioned cake, but we really feel that birthdays should be one of them. The more layers the better! Here are a dozen inspiring birthday cake recipes that we think would light up any birthday table - whether the honoree is 9 or 90.

I am actually baking a birthday cake for a young friend this weekend, and it's going to be a surprise - it won't look anything like these lovely cakes. (If all goes well I'll post it here next week.) But if he hadn't made a special request, one of these towering cakes would be on the table.

I'll leave cupcakes for some other time. For now, here are birthday cakes to make someone's day special.

1 Ruffle Tower Cake - Such a pretty cake. This technique is a great one for people just learning how to use a decorator bag, too; just cover the cake in one sort of ruffles. You can adapt it to any number of recipes, too.

2 Sponge Cake with Chocolate Frosting - This happens to be my personal favorite cake combo. I haven't tried this recipe, though; I use our Yellow Cake and Whipped Chocolate Frosting recipes.

3 Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Cream Frosting - I love lemon, so a sweet, tangy cake like this seems a perfect birthday gift -- especially now, as spring approaches.

4 Dorie's Perfect Party Cake - A gorgeous cake from Rebecca at Ezra Pound Cake, decorated with little candied shapes and coconut. It has more lemon inside, snuggled up next to raspberry preserves.

5 Oreo Cake - An over-the-top treat. Basic chocolate cake, white buttercream, and crushed sandwich cookies.

6 Bee's Dot Cake - This sweet dot cake was made by Brooke, a former art director at Martha Stewart. This cake is extremely easy to copy, though; she gives instructions on making the dots out of icing.

7 Deep Dark Chocolate Cake - With raspberry filling and chocolate frosting. For chocolate and fruit lovers, this very rich and grownup cake will satisfy a big crowd. A little goes a long way.

8 Harvest Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting - A little healthier, but still very special. Carrot, beets, walnuts, raisins, and a creamy, sweet topping.

9 Ultimate Coconut Cake - Those who love coconut cake will really love this towering cake from South Carolina, brushed with simple syrup and layered with coconut cream.

10 Martha's Birthday Cake - I've been waiting for a chance to try this cake, an amaretto and almond cake smothered in peaks of toasted meringue frosting.

11 Mile-High White Chocolate Hummingbird Cake - This recipe calls for a box mix; we suggest skipping that and starting from a plain white cake recipe instead. The results, regardless, are spectacular!

12 Toffee Crunch Cake - Um, caramel crème fraîche? With chocolate cake? Yes please!

13 Orange-Carrot Cake with Classic Cream Cheese Frosting - Carrot cake is very sturdy, and it stacks well, especially with the classic cream cheese frosting. Try piling it six layers high!

14 Dolley Madison Layer Cake - And finally, an even simpler layer cake: Just layers and a glaze. Simple, slightly more grownup, and still a special treat.

What is your favorite kind of birthday cake? Do you have any pictures of some spectacular examples?

More Birthday Cakes:
Birthday Baking: Chessboard Cake with Chocolate Chess Pieces
Survey: What Was the Most Spectacular Birthday Cake You Ever Made or Received?
Good Question: Easy, Transportable Birthday Cake?
Summer Birthday Gear: Giant 12" Birthday Candle

(Images: Front page of post: Faith Durand. Gallery images: Martha Stewart; Charles Schiller for Country Living; Anna Williams for Gourmet; Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake; Faith Durand; Brooke of Inchmark; Con Poulos for Country Living; Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan; Martha Stewart; Martha Stewart; Oxmoor House; James Carrier; Charles E. Walton IV; Martha Stewart)

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Baking, Cake, Sweets

Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.