Sunday, September 10, 2017

Homemade Funfetti cake

Thank you for the birthday wishes for Miss GB! For her birthday, I tried my hand at a homemade layer cake. It was the first cake I'd ever made completely from scratch and I was nervous, but it turned out to be really fun! I even made buttercream frosting. The cake layers were a bit difficult for me, but I learned a lot and I think it worked out okay in the end. The recipe is a take on the Pillsbury cake-mix favorite, Funfetti Cake, which was very popular at birthday parties when I was a kid. You can still buy this cake mix, and the frosting to go with it, but these days, professional bakers are creating confetti, or Funfetti, cakes in the swankiest bakeries. In looking for interesting cake recipes, homemade Funfetti-style cakes show up everywhere. The GB helped with my search; once she set eyes on the Funfetti cakes, she had to have one.

What is a Funfetti cake? It's a basic white layer cake with rainbow-colored candy sprinkles in the batter, decorated with vanilla buttercream frosting and lots more sprinkles on the outside. I followed a recipe from Cook's Country (America's Test Kitchen's magazine), called Confetti Layer Cake. I enjoy baking cookies, quick breads and pies, but I'd always thought homemade cake seemed a bit intimidating. For my first attempt at a homemade layer cake, this was a really straightforward recipe. It was also my first time using cake flour, which took some getting used to. But, to my surprise, baking a homemade cake wasn't so hard at all. The cake was delicious and I would definitely make it again (possibly soon, for the LB's birthday, but I'm still waiting on word from him).

Confetti Layer Cake (adapted from Cook's Country, April/May 2014)

3/4 cup rainbow sprinkles
6 large egg whites, room temperature
2/3 cup whole milk, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups (12 ounces) cake flour
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened

For the frosting:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 32 pieces and softened
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups (1 pound) confectioners' sugar

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round baking pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottoms of pan with parchment and spray parchment. In the bowl of a food processor pulse 1/2 cup sprinkles until coarsely ground, 8 to 10 pulses; set aside. Whisk together egg whites, milk, and vanilla in bowl; set aside.

Using stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed, about 30 seconds. With stand mixer running, add butter, 1 piece at a time, until combined and mixture resembles moist crumbs. Add all but 1/2 cup egg mixture and mix until just combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Slowly add remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture. Scrape down bowl and beat on medium-high speed until well combined, about 15 seconds. Stir in ground sprinkles.

Pour into prepared pans and smooth tops with rubber spatula and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 21 to 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool cakes to room temperature, discarding parchment, about 2 hours. Once cool, use a long, serrated knife to level the cakes and cut off any dome or excess off your cake.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip butter, cream, vanilla, and salt on medium-low speed until combined.

Slowly add sugar and continue to mix until smooth, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and whip frosting until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups frosting on one cake layer. Top with second cake layer and spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Press remaining sprinkles around bottom edge of cake and outer edge of the top of the cake. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or up to 1 week in refrigerator. Always bring refrigerated cakes to room temperature before serving.

A little secret: my absolute favorite part of making this cake? Grinding up the sprinkles for the cake batter in my mini-chopper. I really enjoyed this and I'm not even sure why! But look at those pretty colors (I used Betty Crocker brand). They got a little dusty in the grinding but it didn't matter at all once they were in the batter.

I think the purpose of the sprinkle-grinding is to keep them confetti-like as the cakes bake. I'm not sure, but I suspect that full-size sprinkles would look splotchier. I used eggs from our hens, so I upped the egg whites from six to seven, since our hens' eggs are somewhat small. I did make a mistake with the cakes, and that was to open the oven to check on them as they baked. Both of my cakes were a bit sunken in the centers, and I think this was why. I was just so excited to see what happened. Next time, I will sit on my hands - or at least use the oven light and look at them through the window instead.

It was evening and quite dark in my kitchen by the time I made the frosting, put it on the cake and added decorative sprinkles, so my photos of that process aren't very good. But here's the cake the next day - Miss GB's birthday - just before I served it. Making the frosting was easy-peasy - just put everything in the stand mixer-bowl and whip. I used off-set spatulas in two sizes to spread the frosting on the cake. It's not perfect, but I think it looks okay. Decorating with sprinkles was fun; I used a small off-set spatula to press them into the sides of the cake at the bottom, and just sprinkled by hand along the top edge.

Ta-da! It's so pretty inside. Disappointingly, my cakes sank even more in the middle, from the weight of the frosting, I think. But I was happy with the cakes' texture and flavor. The frosting was really good too, sweet and rich but not cloying like prepared frosting can be. It all tasted better at room temperature, just like the recipe suggested; the vanilla flavoring really blossomed. Miss GB was very pleased with her birthday cake, which made me very happy. I loved doing this for her. I learned a lot in the process! I can use the basic cake and frosting recipes again and again, not just for Funfetti-style cakes. I'm so glad I tried baking a birthday cake from scratch. I feel like cake-baking is almost in my arsenal now! This cake is fun and festive, and you really can't go wrong with sprinkles.


  1. Hey Jennifer,
    What a fun cake! Now you've initiated yourself into the cake baking world, you'll never buy packet mix again!
    Leanne xx

  2. That looks great Jennifer. I've never seen a cake like it. Brilliant, glad Miss GB loved it x

  3. What a brilliant cake, fun indeed, I wasn't expecting the sprinkles inside. There's a birthday coming up here, so I shall add it to the cake options. In fact I've just remembered it will be mine as well, how could I forget?! I'm glad your GB loved it. CJ xx

  4. The cake looks amazing, Jennifer. I wouldn't worry too much about it sinking slightly in the middle - to me it's an ideal way to get more icing on there! You can never have too much icing on a cake! :oD

  5. I think you made a great job of it. I've never seen a cake with sprinkles in it like this before, a lovely surprise when it's cut into.

  6. It'a been many a year since I attempted a cake from scratch. You did really well, bet it tasted heavenly.

  7. how fun! I love baking cakes, have not in a while! I think the frosting and how smooth it looks ... really polished and fancy to me! :) well done! love the candles and sprinkle trim on top! great job!

  8. What a pretty cake, Jennifer. Funfetti is a new idea to me and perfect for a little girl. I have always baked cakes from scratch, and enjoy it. Most are quite easy, and now you have started, there is a whole world of recipes out there to try!

  9. What a fun cake, I love the idea of sprinkles inside. I have taken a not of the recipe for when the Grands visit next.

  10. I love the photo of the cut cake - it looks great! What a fun birthday cake! I look forward to seeing what you bake next. x

  11. a lovely cake. In New Zealand we call sprinkles "hundreds and thousands". Fairy bread at birthday parties for little children is popular here - white bread, lots of real butter and hundreds and thousands sprinkled all over. Adults have been known to hoe into them too!

  12. This is a really fun cake! I have never seen a funfetti cake and I am definitely going to show this post to my daughter, she is the baker in the family and makes amazing cakes. I bet she would love to make a funfetti cake. Have a lovely week. xx

  13. The cake looks beautiful! You can also make funfetti cookies too!

  14. Happy Belated Birthday to your little doll! Your cake turned out beautiful! I'm so impressed that you got a nice circle of sprinkles on the top by free-handing it. Mine always looks like a hot mess -- I usually make a smaller circle out of wax paper and gently lay it on the top -- then sprinkle and then remove the paper. Have you seen all the gourmet sprinkle mixes out there? They are SOOO darn cute (I think there are lots of places to get them -- the only one I can think of now is Sweetapolita). And now, it sounds like it's on to many homemade cakes for you! I love three layer cakes -- more frosting LOL!

  15. This cake looks amazing. I've never come across this before and I don't remember them being a trend when I was little, but it's so pretty! Happy belated birthday to Miss GB, it sounds like she had a lovely time. Xx


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