Easy Birthday Cake


I am firm believer that anyone can bake a cake. Yes, anyone.

I know many people don’t/can’t/won’t bake for some reason or other but on occasion it is healthy to try something that takes us out of our comfort zones. If you think about taking on just one single bake for the year, it should be a simple Birthday Cake.

‘Birthday Cake’ conjures up different ideas for different people yet it is universally acknowledged that cake is an integral part of any birthday celebration. Sugar crafted, showstopper cakes have their place but sometimes a homemade offering, particularly from someone who never normally bakes, carries so much more heart felt sentiment.


So instead of going to the local supermarket to buy your next birthday cake, why not try this easy cake. Not only will it taste much nicer, you can tailor-make the flavour, you will know exactly what it is in it and it will be easier on the pocket. Also, it is fairly quick to put together.

This version is a simple vanilla cake with a vanilla buttercream. Rather like a Victoria Sponge, it consists of basic cupboard staples. I have used vanilla to flavour it, but you could substitute that for lemon or orange zest, ginger, chocolate chips, or a little coconut. I have baked this in two round pans but there is no reason that you couldn’t bake this as a tray bake, if you prefer. If you make a layer cake, you can fill it with jam, curd and/or buttercream. Decorate if you choose, or keep it plain if you prefer. You get my drift, this basic recipe can be adapted to suit.


The somewhat imperfect nature of this simple vanilla cake adds to the charm, so don’t feel pressured how it looks – it is all in the flavour and the good intent of the bake. It will satisfy both young and old so is a nostalgic, crowd pleasing celebratory winner!


Tag-it, ‘Pin it’, whatever you do, be sure to include it in your culinary repertoire.

Sermon over.



Easy Birthday Cake

Serves 10-12


    For the Cake
  • 180g self raising flour
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 180g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (or zest of lemon or orange)
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • For the Buttercream
  • 425g icing sugar, sieved
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla paste (or zest of lemon or orange)
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • Filling
  • 5 tbsp. jam of your choice
  • Decoration
  • Sprinkles (optional)


  1. Grease and line two 20cm / 8 inch round pans. Pre heat the oven to 175 degrees C (fan)/180/Gas Mark 4.
  2. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a freestanding mixer, mix together all the ingredients for the cake until thoroughly combined and a consistent batter is formed. Divide the mixture equally into the two lined pans and spread with a knife so all the batter is evenly distributed. Tap the pans on a work surface to dispel any bubbles and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, rotating half way through the bake if need be.
  3. Remove from the oven when golden brown in colour and allow to cool slightly in the tin before turning out to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
  4. Make the buttercream by sieving the icing sugar into a large bowl, add the softened butter, flavouring and milk and mix with a fork before whisking until very smooth, creamy and lightened in colour. Add a pinch of salt, if desired, to take away a little of the sweetness of the frosting.
  5. Once cool, trim the cakes across the top with a serrated knife to level them off, if needed. Spoon a little of the butter cream onto one cake and spread evenly, Add the jam filling and again spread. Top with second sponge. Spread half of the remaining buttercream to the top and sides of the cake and then chill for 20 minutes. This forms a 'crumb coat'. Repeat with the remaining buttercream.
  6. Decorate with sprinkles, optional. Serve.

Source: The Contented Baker


  1. Hi Jo – I love this call to make cake! I feel totally inspired and you are right – it is do-able and all the more special if you make the effort when you don’t usually bake. Cake is a huge part of a birthday and I think a homemade one gives the baker as well as the recipient a very happy/special feeling. : ) We definitely associate a simple vanilla cake as the classic kind. Yours looks lovely; I love the sprinkles and I just love the idea here. I just want to go make a birthday cake right now. Maybe I will, soon! xo

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