Recipe: Birthday Bundt Cake

Recipe: Birthday Bundt Cake

Patty Catalano
Jan 25, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Sometimes celebrations do not fall conveniently on Saturdays or Sundays. When faced with baking a cake in the middle of a hectic week, resist the temptation to turn to a boxed mix or spend extra money on a mediocre bakery cake. With a few smart ingredient choices and just one bowl, you can serve a rich milk chocolate Bundt cake with a vanilla glaze with hardly any effort. This Bundt cake hits all the right notes for a festive celebration, but is easy enough for a Tuesday night — just don't forget the sprinkles.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

For Weeknight Cakes, Use the Muffin Method

When faced with weeknight baking, I know I do not have time to wait for butter to soften or to bring milk and eggs to room temperature. Instead, swapping a neutral oil like canola oil for the butter means that you can mix it right into the rest of the ingredients without creaming (mixing the butter and sugar together until fluffy). You also get a moister cake out of the swap, because oil is 100% fat, whereas butter is a mixture of fat, water, and milk solids. It's similar to the method you'd use to make muffins.

To get a rich, dark chocolate flavor, use Dutch processed cocoa. Dutched cocoa means it is processed with an alkaline solution, essentially neutralizing the acid naturally present in cocoa powder, and for that reason you can leave the baking soda in the pantry, instead pulling only the baking powder.

While you are in the pantry, grab the bar of milk chocolate you stashed behind the oatmeal canister. Break that bar into pieces and zap it in the microwave until melted and smooth before adding it to the cake batter. Bake in a Bundt pan for a festive look, freeing you from the effort of splitting cake layers.

Whisk powdered sugar, milk, salt, and vanilla extract until smooth before pouring over the cake. This final, festive touch of thick vanilla glaze hugs the Bundt cake's shape and only needs a generous shower of colorful sprinkles before slicing. Simple and sweet, nobody will miss a buttercream coating. Be sure to pour a tall glass of milk, because you'll need it to wash down this rich, chocolatey cake.

Birthday Bundt Cake

Serves 12 to 16

  • For the cake:
  • Cooking spray

  • 1 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder, divided

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 cups

    packed light brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon


  • 3

    large eggs

  • 2

    large egg yolks

  • 1 cup

    canola oil

  • 1 cup


  • 3 1/2 ounces

    milk chocolate, melted and cooled

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon

    espresso powder

  • For the vanilla glaze and decorating:
  • 1 1/2 cups

    powdered sugar

  • 2 tablespoons


  • 1/2 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • Pinch salt

  • Sprinkles (optional)

Bake the cake: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Generously coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. Dust with the pan 2 tablespoons of the cocoa powder and tap out any excess; set aside.

Whisk the remaining 1 cup of cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the eggs, egg yolks, oil, half-and-half, melted chocolate, vanilla, and espresso powder. Mix with an electric hand mixer (alternatively, use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment) on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until the cake springs back when gently pressed with a finger and a cake tester comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and cool completely.

Make the glaze: Whisk the powdered sugar, half-and-half, vanilla, and salt together in a small bowl until thick, smooth, and pourable.

Pour the glaze over the cake, making sure the glaze drips down the sides and clings to the cake. Decorate with sprinkles if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Tightly wrap leftovers in plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.

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