birthday

s’mores layer cake

You guys. I did it again.

s'mores layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

I baked my own birthday cake.

s'mores layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know that some people gasp in horror or baulk at the very idea of such a thing. On one’s birthday, one is supposed to just sit back and enjoy the day without having to lift a finger.
But, you know what, one thing that I enjoy even more than eating cakes, is baking cakes! Especially if doing so means that I get to share them with people I love.
And guess what else. I could never find a cake in a bakery that would be as good as a cake that I could bake myself, and even if I found one, I couldn’t afford it!
So, tradition be damned, I bake my own birthday cakes.
And I like it!

s'mores layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

As my birthday was approaching, the weather finally started to warm up here in New York after what felt like an endless grey & chilly spring. To celebrate both the arrival of warm weather and my advanced age, we decided to invite a bunch of friends and have a big festive bbq in our suddenly green backyard.

s'mores layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

I plotted and planned out my menu, scouring the internet for recipes for sides, salads, mains, and options for vegetarians. Russell even asked his family from San Diego to ship us a box of avocados from their own avocado tree, so that we could offer our guests a big ol’ bowl of the freshest guacamole in Brooklyn.
Of course, I knew that I wanted my birthday cake to be the pièce de résistance. It’s been so long since I’ve done a big festive layer cake that I also wanted to come up with something that I hadn’t really ever done before.

s'mores layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Nothing says Summer quite like s’mores.
Amirite?

Especially for a bbq or a backyard party, there’s clearly nothing better to round out an evening. I still love them to this day (duh), but it’s almost impossible not to think of childhood when eating them. Even though these days I’m usually making them over the leftover embers from my charcoal grill, they instantly transport me to campfires in the woods of upstate New York, with multiple marshmallows skewered on gnarled sticks found on the ground or ripped from a low-hanging branch.

s'mores layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Of course, like any good fat kid, when I was young I was super impatient to heat up those marshmallows as quickly as possible so I could get those s’mores into my face on the double. I learned pretty early on though, that the chalky texture and acrid flavor of that burnt sugar shell isn’t actually all that pleasant, even when sandwiched between melty chocolate and crisp graham crackers.

So, at a younger age than most kids (or adults for that matter), I figured out that slow and steady wins the race when it comes to building s’mores. A slow roast, with a steady rotation far from the flames, produces a vastly superior marshmallow with a soft, gooey center and a delicate toasty caramelized crust. The last time I went camping with my sister and her kids, my nephews actually poked fun at me for how long I take to toast my marshmallows. What can I say, I’m a perfectionist. Or neurotic. Potato, Potahto.

s'mores layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

I suppose that slow and steady toasting is sort of a metaphor for building this cake. I’m not going to sugar coat things (lol) and tell you that this is an “easy” or “quick” recipe for novice bakers. It takes time and effort and has multiple steps and components. It’s basically four recipes in one, with 3 layers of cake, a flavored icing, a multi-step filling, a ganache drizzle, decorations on top, and long set of assembly instructions.

If you’re patient and determined though, and have a fair understanding of layer cake construction, all the effort definitely pays off in the end. I promise you that this cake is seriously incredible.

s'mores layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Unfortunately my birthday bbq never actually happened. Just as my excitement about the party was reaching it’s peak, the weather forecast started showing rain in the future. I tried not to panic and just kept telling myself that the weather changes so quickly in New York that by the weekend the forecast could be completely different.

I went ahead with planning and recipe testing my cake, but once I was sure that the recipe was solid and all the elements really worked together, I was also sure that it was time to start cancelling on our guests. A few nights before the big day I was home alone and actually started to pout and feel sorry for myself. I’d put all this work in for nothing and I had no clue what I’d end up doing on my birthday. After a few minutes though, I snapped out of it and decided that bbq or no bbq, I was going to have a good time.

I already had an amazing cake recipe, and after all that work to perfect it, I needed to show it off. I invited a small group of close friends to brunch not far from our place, and told everyone that afterward we’d be heading back to our apartment for cake and Cards Against Humanity. And guacamole!

s'mores layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Multiple people took one bite and their faces lit up and told me that it actually tasted like real s’mores, almost as if they weren’t expecting something that looks so pretty to also actually taste great too. They clearly underestimated me!
Russell even told me, repeatedly, that it’s one of the best desserts I’ve ever made, and kept going back into the bowl to steal stray spoonfuls of the marshmallow filling while I was stacking the layers. Actually my mom did the same exact thing when I was trying out the filling recipe for the first time!

The layers of cake are moist, tender, and richly chocolatey thanks to double dutch cocoa, strong coffee, and real butter. The toasted marshmallow filling is made from actual marshmallows rather than marshmallow spread, so it genuinely has the rich flavor and gooey texture of a warm marshmallow right off the stick. Once the layers are stacked, everything gets enrobed in a velvety swiss meringue buttercream loaded with graham cracker crumbs and just a hint of cinnamon. As if all that weren’t enough, rich dark chocolate ganache is the… umm… icing on the cake. In addition to the cocoa flavor from the devil’s food layers, the ganache adds that melty chocolate flavor you know and expect from s’mores. The only thing missing here is the camp fire and the sticks!

I promise you that this show-stopping cake really does taste as good as it looks. Better even!
If you’re up for the challenge, it’s definitely worth the effort.

s'mores layer cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

S'mores Layer Cake

  • Servings: 16 to 24-ish
  • Print
Devil’s Food Cake
makes three 8-inch layers

butter and flour (or baking spray) for pans
1 1/2 cups unsweetened natural cocoa powder (I used Double Dutch Process)
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee (or hot water if preferred)
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cups peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter three 8 inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment paper, butter paper, and dust pans with flour.
Whisk together cocoa powder and coffee (or hot water) until smooth and set aside.
Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
Beat melted butter, oil, and sugars together on medium-low speed until combined.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Beat in vanilla and cocoa mixture. Reduce speed to low.
Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk and beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined.
Divide batter evenly between the three pans, and bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.

Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack, peel off parchment, and let cool completely.
To achieve a perfectly flat, professional looking cake, you’ll want to slice the very tops of the cakes off to make each layer completely flat and level. You can do this using a very sharp bread knife, or a cake leveler.

If you’re not assembling cakes right away, individually wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap to prevent drying. Layers can be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two, or frozen (wrapped in plastic wrap first, then aluminum foil) for up to two weeks.

Graham Cracker Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing:
Adapted from “Layered” by Tessa Huff
3/4 cup egg whites (I used pasteurized egg whites from a carton)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (cut into 1 tablespoon slices)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Place the egg whites and sugar in a very clean bowl of a stand mixer and whisk them together by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with an inch or two of water and bring to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl over the saucepan to create a double boiler. Be sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t directly touch the water, and that the water doesn’t reach a full boil.
Heat the egg whites until they register 160F on a candy thermometer, whisking regularly to avoid cooking the whites. As soon as they’re at the correct temperature, carefully attach the mixer bowl to the stand mixer and add the whisk attachment.
Beat the egg whites on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes until they hold stiff peaks and the outside of the bowl is cooled to room temperature. Stop the mixer and swap the whisk attachment for the paddle.
On low speed, add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, waiting for it to incorporate before adding more. Once all the butter is mixed in, add the vanilla extract and mix in to incorporate. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is smooth and silky, about 3 to 5 minutes.
If the mixture starts to look curdled, just keep beating. It’ll come together.
If the whites were still too warm when the butter was added and the buttercream is too thin and soupy, refrigerate the bowl in 10 minute bursts until it’s cool (but not cold) and beat again until smooth.
Once smooth, add the graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon and beat in to incorporate.

Toasted Marshmallow Filling:
10 oz mini marshmallows
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spray the paper with cooking spray or rub with butter. Reserve 1/2 cup of mini marshmallows, and spread the rest on the tray in a single layer.
Toast the marshmallows under the broiler in your oven, rotating the pan if necessary to promote even browning. Keep a close eye on the pan, as this should only take a few minutes but the exact time will depend on the strength of your broiler and how close the pan is to it. The marshmallows should mostly be a dark toasty brown, but not burned. Watch them like a hawk through the oven door.
Let the marshmallows cool to room temperature before proceeding, and they should peel off the greased parchment in one single sticky layer.

Place the toasted marshmallows in a medium saucepan along with the unsalted butter. Heat over medium to medium-high heat, stirring regularly, until the marshmallows are all melted and completely combined with the butter.

Transfer the marshmallow mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat in heavy cream and powdered sugar. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and let cool completely, then beat again to loosen the mixture up a little. The mixture will be a bit stiff and sticky, but should be soft enough to spread.

Glossy Ganache Drizzle:
4 oz good quality dark chocolate (60% works well)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
pinch salt

Chop chocolate into small, easily melted pieces and place in a heat proof bowl.
Heat heavy cream, honey, & salt in a small saucepan (or microwave save bowl) just until it comes to a light boil, and immediately pour directly over chocolate. Wait 2 to 3 minutes before stirring until completely smooth and melted and free of lumps. If the mixture seems very hot still it may melt the icing as you pour it so wait a few minutes for it to cool slightly. Do not let it get too cool or it will not drizzle nicely and may look messy.

*Do not make the ganache until the cake is completely iced and ready to decorate.

Decorations: (optional)
Remaining 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
Broken pieces of graham crackers

Toast the remaining mini marshmallow on a sprayed or buttered parchment lined baking sheet in the same way they were toasted for the marshmallow filling. Try to space them out on the pan so they don’t all touch, and toast them to a lighter brown than you did for the filling. It’ll be easier to decorate with individual marshmallows, and they’ll melt less if they’re only lightly toasted.
You probably won’t use the whole 1/2 cup, but it’s nice to have more than you’ll need so you can choose the nicest looking ones.

Assemble cake: 
Place the first cake layer on an 8″ cardboard cake round, serving plate, or cake stand. Using a cake round will make it easier to ice and decorate, especially if you have a revolving turntable for decorating (I use a lazy suzan, but you can also just spin your plate or cake stand while you work).

Fit a piping bag with a large round or star tip and fill with a cup or two of the graham cracker buttercream. Pipe a thick dam of icing around the outside of the cake to contain the marshmallow filling. This will ensure that the filling stays in place and doesn’t squish out when the layers are stacked.

Place half of the toasted marshmallow filling in the center of the cake and spread it smooth and even using an icing spatula. Add the next layer of cake, looking from directly over the top and from eye level at the cake to make sure each layer is directly one above the other, rotating the cake to be certain. Repeat the same procedure with the buttercream dam and the other half of the marshmallow filling, then add the third and final layer of cake and check for straightness again. Using about half of the remaining icing, crumb coat your cake (If you have any icing left in the piping bag, empty it out and use that too). Starting with the top of the cake, spread the icing thin and work some of it down the sides of the cake to completely cover the whole thing in a thin, smooth, even coat of icing. This first layer of icing seals the cake and keeps crumbs from being visible in the outer layer of icing. It may seem like unnecessary trouble, but it really is worth it to get a smooth professional finish on the icing.

Place the cake in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to an hour to help set the icing and firm up the cake.
Spread the remaining buttercream over the whole cake the same way you did the crumb coat. Start by smoothing the top and slowly working the icing down the sides to cover the cake completely. Try to get the icing as completely smooth as possible with straight sides and a flat, level top. I use a long offset icing spatula. Refrigerate the cake again for at least another 30 minutes (or up to a day).

Make your ganache just before you’re ready to remove the cake from the fridge.

It’s not necessary, but I find it easier to get an even, professional looking drizzle with a squeeze bottle. Slowly add the ganache just around the outer edge of the top of the cake so that it drips in some places. Slowly rotate the cake to do the entire outside edge. Once you’re happy with the amount of drizzle coming down the sides, fill in the center of the top of the cake with ganache, smoothing it flat with a clean icing spatula before the ganache sets.

If you’d like to add decorations to the top of the cake, be sure to add them before the ganache sets.

This cake will keep well in a cake saver at room temperature for a day or two if the weather is not too hot or humid. Otherwise, cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If refrigerating, bring cake to room temperature at least two hours before serving.

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funfetti birthday cake

So, I guess May is cake month here at Brooklyn Homemaker.

funfetti birthday cake | cake construction tips | Brooklyn Homemaker

Sunday was my birthday. We had a cookout in the yarden with a bunch of friends and copious amounts of food and booze. Russell offered to buy me a cake, but I insisted on making my own. I know that you’re, like, “not supposed to” make your own birthday cake, but I love to bake, and I’m pretty good at it. Any cake he could find locally wouldn’t be half as good as what I could make myself, and anything he ordered from a fancy specialty bakery would cost a small fortune. So I won. I made my own birthday cake, and I went all out and did a super colorful funfetti cake with rainbow sprinkles inside and out.

funfetti birthday cake | cake construction tips | Brooklyn Homemaker

The only weird part of making my own cake was that I wanted to share it with you here, so after candles and singing I rushed the cake back into the house to cut and photograph it before reemerging 20 minutes later to ask for help carrying the sliced cake back outside. It’s a funny thing to have to stop and remove yourself from a party to stage and photograph a cake, especially when it’s your party (and you’ve had a few cocktails).

I’m committed though. What can I say? You’re welcome.

funfetti birthday cake | cake construction tips | Brooklyn Homemaker

A few friends and fans have been asking me lately about tips on constructing layer cakes, so I’m going to share some today. I’m really not a professional baker (more like a talented amateur), so I’m sure there might be easier or better ways of doing things, but these techniques have worked well for me over the years, and I think they’ll really help you up your cake baking game. If you really want even more in-depth training from a real professional, I’d suggest checking out this great “Modern Buttercream” class from Craftsy. It’s really helpful and informative, and free!

Anyway, one of my favorite things to do when baking a layer cake is to turn off the damned TV and put on some great music. I’m partial to Dolly Parton’s All I Can Do album, just in case you were wondering.

funfetti birthday cake | cake construction tips | Brooklyn Homemaker

The first step in making a layer cake is choosing the size. If you visit the site regularly, you’ve probably already noticed that I’m very partial to three layer cakes. Two layer cakes already require more effort than bundt or sheet cakes, so I think adding that third layer makes a cake much more impressive without adding much more work. I think a three layer cake looks, I don’t know, fancier, because of its impressive height and multiple layers of cake and filling when sliced.

I also tend to lean toward 8 inch cakes rather than 9 inch because, again, I think they look fancier. The same amount of batter poured into a 9 inch pan will spread thinner, where an 8 inch layer will be thicker. If your goal is height, obviously the 8 inch pan will get you closer, but there’s also an optical illusion at work that makes a skinnier cake look taller.  Obviously the difference is slight, and a 9 inch cake will still be pretty damned impressive and just as delicious, so if that’s all you have, go for it.

This may sound like a no brainer, but when you bake your layers, make sure you’re using 3 cake pans at once, not baking each layer individually. Cake batter has leavening agents in it that will weaken if they’re left sitting around too long, so if you want a 3 layer cake, you need 3 pans. If you only have 2 pans, another option would be to bake two layers and slice them in half to give you four layers. Extra fancy! Obviously baking times will need to be adjusted if you go this route.

funfetti birthday cake | cake construction tips | Brooklyn Homemaker

To make sure my cakes release easily, I always butter my pans before baking, then add a pre-cut parchment round to the bottom of the pan. Then I butter that and dust the whole pan with flour. After baking I usually place my cake pans on wire racks to cool for 20 or 30 minutes, or until I can see that the sides of the cake are pulling away from the pan. A super hot cake will fall apart if you mess with it too early.

To get the layers out once they cool a bit, you can use an offset icing spatula to loosen them, but I have this weird little trick I use. I try to gently bounce the pan on one side, almost like the motion of tossing food in a sauté pan, to see if I can feel the layer lift off the bottom. Then I rotate the pan and do it a few times until I’m sure it’s going to release easily. To remove it I firmly but gently press one hand on the top of the cake, and flip the pan upside down with my other hand. Another way of doing this would be to press your cooling rack against the top of the pan and flip the cake directly onto the rack.

Once you have your layers out of the pan, it’s important that they’re completely cool, if not cold, before moving forward. Even barely warm cake layers will begin to melt and thin out your icing, and the filling can get slippery making the layers slide around when you’re trying to put on your crumb coat. It’s annoying and unnecessary and can make it difficult to get your icing smooth and professional looking. Don’t be impatient because you’ll just end up frustrated later.

For this cake I actually baked the layers at night the day before my party, let them cool most of the way, and then wrapped them tightly in Saran wrap and refrigerated them overnight before icing the next morning.

funfetti birthday cake | cake construction tips | Brooklyn Homemaker

Another important step in building a beautiful and professional looking cake is making sure that your cake layers are flat and level. If your cake layers are each domed, and you stack three of them up, you’re going to have a big weird hump on the finished cake. I use this special cake leveling wire, which is also great for cutting layers in half for filling. If you’re careful about keeping your cuts level though, a sharp bread knife will do the trick just as well.

It’s also really helpful to use a turn table or lazy Susan to help get your cakes picture perfect. They have specialized cake decorating ones like this, but you can use any small lazy Susan if you have one. I actually have a marble lazy Susan for cheese serving that I received as a gift a while back, and it sees way more action for cake decorating than it ever has for cheese.

Before you start building your cake, you might also want to put down a cake board. This is especially helpful if you want to transport the cake or if you want to be able to pick the cake up for decorating.

funfetti birthday cake | cake construction tips | Brooklyn Homemaker

When choosing what filling to use between your cake layers, your options are limitless. The easiest option would be to fill with the same icing you’re using on the outside of your cake. For an 8 or 9 inch round cake I usually use about 3/4 of a cup to 1 cup of icing between each layer. You could also fill with another flavor of icing or a ganache, just be careful to seal it in with your crumb coat so it doesn’t show through on the outside. Another great option would be a softer filling like jam, pudding or fruit curd, but for this you’ll need to pipe a thick border or dam of icing around the outside edge of each layer to hold the filling in the center. This way it won’t smoosh out the sides when you add the next layer.

When you stack each layer of cake, try to look at if from a few different angles, just to be sure everything is level and evenly lined up before moving on. Once you have all the layers stacked up and everything looks good and level, you’ll want to spread a thin even layer of icing over the cake to seal in the crumbs or any filling that squishes out from the layers. This is referred to as the crumb coat. When I first started baking I thought this step was unnecessary and silly, but I make enough cakes now to realize it actually does make a big difference in getting a smooth professional icing job. I like to start at the top, pile up some icing and push it toward the outside edge, and pull the icing down the sides with an icing spatula, rotating the cake as I go. It doesn’t need to be a thick layer, and it’s fine if the cake shows through a little. I try to just make sure everything is coated, and then go back around and smooth it out.

funfetti birthday cake | cake construction tips | Brooklyn Homemaker

Once the crumb coat is smooth and even, you’ll want to refrigerate your cake for at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour, to firm up the icing and filling so the cake layers don’t slide and the crumb coat doesn’t mix with the next layer of icing. When you ice the cake, you basically just do the same thing you did with the crumb coat, just thicker. Then once your icing is smooth, you get to move on to the fun part.

I usually like to keep things simple and do a small border of sprinkles or nuts around the edge of the top of the cake. You could also do a piped border around the top edge and base of the cake, but you’ll obviously need to reserve some icing for that. The icing recipe below left me just enough for a piped border, but I decided to skip it and keep it simple. To do a swirled design like I did here, start in the center of the top of your cake, and slowly turn your turntable as you pull the spatula out trying to keep the swirl as evenly spaced as possible. If it doesn’t come out as pretty as you want, you can always smooth it out and try again.

funfetti birthday cake | cake construction tips | Brooklyn Homemaker

For this cake I completely covered the sides with rainbow nonpareils. Fair warning, this is a challenging technique for beginners. It’s best to use a cake board for this so you can pick the cake up, but the cake gets heavy in your hand after a while. Basically you pick the cake up with one hand and try your best to hold it over a plate and not make a mess (look closely, I still made a mess), while you gently press the decoration into the icing with the other hand. Just slowly work your way around the cake, rotating as you go, until you’re finished.  It can be done without picking the cake up if you can’t get (or don’t have) a cake board, but it’s even messier.

funfetti birthday cake | cake construction tips | Brooklyn Homemaker

You could also do this with cake crumbs as I did with the Brooklyn Blackout cake, which is actually a great way to use up any cut cake you have leftover from leveling the layers. That is, if you didn’t already eat it all.

funfetti birthday cake | cake construction tips | Brooklyn Homemaker

Look how pretty it came out though! It definitely was worth the extra effort, even if I am still finding those little nonpareils hiding behind my butter dish.

funfetti birthday cake | cake construction tips | Brooklyn Homemaker

Happy birthday to me!

funfetti birthday cake | cake construction tips | Brooklyn Homemaker

I hope you learned something new and you’re feeling brave enough to try a layer cake for yourself! You should definitely give this one a shot the next time you want to do something special for someone’s birthday. The funfetti cake is super moist and delicious, with tons of bright vibrant color, and the classic american buttercream is the perfect sweet and creamy compliment to a fun and festive birthday cake.

funfetti birthday cake | cake construction tips | Brooklyn Homemaker

funfetti birthday cake

makes one 3 layer 8 inch cake
adapted from Sweetapolita

For the Cake:

3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 whole eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup peanut (or vegetable) oil
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
3/4 cups rainbow sprinkles (or jimmies)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment round, butter the rounds and dust with flour.
Sift together flour, baking powder, & salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together at high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in eggs until incorporated, one at a time, scraping sides of bowl between each addition. Add vanilla and oil and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
Add 1/3 of flour, and beat on low speed until just combined. Scrape bowl, mix in 1/2 of buttermilk, and scrape again. Repeat until all flour and buttermilk is mixed in. Gently stir in sprinkles until just combined. Do not over mix.

Divide batter evenly among the 3 prepared pan (I like to use a kitchen scale to ensure even layers). Bake for 28-32 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes clean and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out onto wire racks, peel of the paper liners, and let cool completely.

Classic American Buttercream:
adapted from Savory Sweet Life

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
6-8 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3-6 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
rainbow non-pareils, or any sprinkles you like for decorating

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 5 minutes on medium speed. Butter will become very pale & creamy. Add 6 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 3 tablespoons of milk and beat for 5-7 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add more sugar 1/2 cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.

To assemble cake, make sure cake layers are cool or cold. If necessary, remove the domed tops of the layers with a cake leveler or sharp bread knife. Place one layer on a cake plate, serving plate, or cake board. Evenly spread about 3/4 cups of icing over the first layer. Top with another cake layer and another 3/4 cups of icing. Spread evenly and top with your final layer.

With an icing spatula, spread a thin layer of icing over top and sides of cake, Be sure to fill in any gaps between layers and make the sides and top smooth and flat as possible. This thin layer of icing is referred to as the “crumb coat” and is meant to seal in any crumbs so they’re not seen in your final layer of icing. Refrigerate cake for 30 minutes. Spread most (or all) of remaining icing evenly over top and sides of cake, trying to get as smooth a surface as possible. If desired, reserve some for piped decoration, otherwise, slather it all on. Decorate as desired.

This cake is at it’s best the day it’s baked, but can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. If refrigerated, it will need to come up to room temperature before serving.