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  • Writer's pictureLindsay


Updated: Feb 26, 2019

Growing up, every birthday in my family was celebrated with a homemade cake baked and frosted in front of my very own eyes. There were no day-glow pink flowers or fluorescent blue polka dots, no princess figurines or mermaid tails. It was a no-frills, moist yellow cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and it was perfection. No other birthday cake could ever stand up to it, which meant I was that kid at every birthday party refusing cake because it was slightly too dry and the frosting tasted like artificial food coloring. I was a total cake snob.

Now in my own family, my kids have their own tastes, and the tradition in our house is that everyone gets to choose their own birthday dessert, and *sob* I'm the only one who really LOVES birthday cake. My oldest loves peach cobbler, my middle asks for strawberry shortcake, my husband wants blondies - we'll see what my toddler chooses this year but I predict it will involve unicorns. This means that when it's MY birthday, I finally get to bake myself my most favorite cake, and every time, everyone revels in the deliciousness of it. "Then why don't you choose it for your own birthday??" I ask! But I suppose everyone has that one dessert that brings them back to a moment in time, with a specialness nothing else can replace. For me, this cake is it.

The best part about this cake? It's basic and simple. There's no special cake flour required, no separating of the eggs, no alternating the addition of milk and flour - none of that fancy stuff. You just add the ingredients, mix it with a hand mixer, and dump it in the pan. If I can't mess up this cake, you can't either, and if you've been searching for your very own go-to family cake recipe, this is it.

K I D D U T I E S : (kids can do any or all)

Baking is great for kids - they can do any or all of the measuring and combining of ingredients, and can use the stand mixer with assistance and supervision, but adults should probably use the hand mixer.

C A K E I N G R E D I E N T S :

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups milk

vegetable oil

1 stick butter, softened

1 tbsp vanilla

3 large eggs

C A K E I N S T R U C T I O N S :

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk well to combine. Measure 1 1/4 cup milk in a measuring cup and then add enough oil to get it up to 1 1/3 cup (about 1 tbsp). Add milk mixture, butter and vanilla to the flour mixture and beat it with a hand mixer for 2 minutes. Add eggs and continue beating another 2 minutes. Pour into two 9" round cake pans (buttered and floured) and bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake is slightly browned on top. Let cool about 15 minutes in pan before flipping out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cake must be completely cooled before frosting.


1 cup butter, softened

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt (reduce to 1/4 tsp or omit salt if using salted butter)

2 tsp vanilla

up to 4 tbsp milk


Cream butter in stand mixer for a few minutes with paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn off and sift in sugar and cocoa. Turn on lowest speed until it comes together, then increase speed to medium and add vanilla, salt and 1 tbsp milk and beat another 2-3 minutes. Add powered sugar or milk 1tbsp at a time to thicken or thin as desired.

We want to see it! Share your photos of your family making this recipe on our facebook page or instagram, tagging us with #familycookingclub. We'll pick our favorites each week!

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