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)