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Birthday Cake

by Jemma Wilson from Crumbs & Doilies

Covered in a vanilla butter cream and topped with rainbow meringues, this is the ultimate celebration bake for kids or adults who are young at heart!

From the book

Jemma Wilson


When I think of birthday cake, I never really think about any flavour other than vanilla. It must be a light, moist sponge, intensely vanilla-y, filled and decorated with vanilla buttercream, not fondant, and it 100% has to have raspberry jam in the middle. The only way you could make that kind of cake better, in my opinion, is to add colourful sprinkles to the sponge and rainbow meringue poops to the top. This cake is the epitome of birthday cuteness!

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For the vanilla buttercream:
285g unsalted butter, softened
¼ tsp sea salt
450g icing sugar, sifted
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1½ tbsp whole milk
For the rainbow poops/French meringues (poops):
70g egg whites (if you get any yolk in it, chuck it and start again as this will kill your meringue)
⅛ tsp cream of tartar
140g caster sugar
a pinch of sea salt
⅛ tsp vanilla extract (optional)
food colouring paste in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple
For the vanilla funfetti sponge:
500g caster sugar
135g vegetable oil
330g unsalted butter, softened
8 eggs
500g self-raising flour
80g rainbow sprinkles
6 tbsp milk
1½ tsp vanilla extract
To finish:
½ jar of raspberry or strawberry jam
rainbow sprinkles

Essential kit

You will need: a stand mixer, four 20cm/8in round sandwich tins, a piping bag, and a palette knife.


For the Vanilla Buttercream (make 2 batches):

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a medium mixing bowl, beat the butter and salt together on a high speed for at least 5 minutes until the butter has turned a very pale yellow and the texture is smooth and whippy.

Add half of the icing sugar and bring together on a slow speed to avoid plumes of sugar jumping out of the bowl, then beat vigorously for a few minutes before repeating with the remaining icing sugar. Beat until you have a pale, almost white, fluffy mixture.

Beat in the vanilla, then the milk, a little at a time. Depending on the softness of your butter and the temperature of your kitchen, you might not need to add all of the milk, or you may even need a bit more. You’re looking for a smooth, whippy buttercream that has a spreadable consistency and holds its shape.

For the confetti sponge:

Preheat your oven to 190°C (170°C fan) and grease four 20cm/8in round sandwich tins.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, vegetable oil and butter on a medium–high speed for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, two at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition to make sure they’re well incorporated. Sift the flour directly into the bowl, then add the colourful sprinkles. Fold through on the lowest speed of the mixer, or by hand with a large metal spoon or rubber spatula. When almost all of the flour has been incorporated, add the milk and vanilla, and fold gently until completely combined.

Distribute the batter among the prepared tins and level the tops with a palette knife.

Bake for 22–24 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of each sponge comes out clean. Leave to cool for 15–20 minutes before removing from the tins and allowing to cool completely.

For the rainbow poops:

Reduce the oven to 120°C (100°C fan) and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

Prepare a French meringue mixture:

Firstly, make sure all of your equipment is clean and free from grease by rubbing it all with a little vinegar or lemon juice. Grease is the killer of fluffy, voluminous meringues.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment or a mixing bowl. Get it mixingon a low–medium speed. Once big bubbles start to form, you can add the cream of tartar and turn the mixer up to a medium–high speed.

Within a couple of minutes, the bubbles should be a lot smaller and tighter and if you were to pull the whisk out, the peaks would be soft and a bit floppy. Keep the mixer going on the same speed and begin to add the sugar a tablespoon at a time.

When all of the sugar has been added, keep whisking until you can no longer feel grains of sugar when you rub some of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger. This can take 10–15 minutes, sometimes more if you’re making a big batch. Towards the end, add the salt and vanilla and whisk to combine.

Meanwhile, prepare a large piping bag fitted with a big round nozzle. Dab a pea-sized blob of each colour paste onto a plate leaving some space between each. Have a glass of clean water nearby. Loosen the paste with a tiny amount of water. This will make it easier to paint on and make the colour less concentrated. Using a clean brush for each colour, paint up the inside of the piping bag, being careful not to overlap colours or allow them to touch each other inside. We like to get more coverage by doing two rounds of each colour in the bag, but if you want a bit more of the white meringue to show, one stripe of each will be fine.

Empty all of the meringue into the piping bag and squeeze out the first bit to make sure the colours are coming through (you can use these first blobs to stick the greaseproof paper to the baking sheet!). Pipe neat, colourful blobs onto the greaseproof paper.

Bake for 1 hour, then turn the oven off and allow the poops to cool slowly inside.

To finish:

Level and trim your sponges (see QR code on page 210 of Crumbs and Doilies for tips) and stick the first layer onto a cake board or a large, flat plate using a little bit of vanilla buttercream.

Using an offset palette knife, spread a generous, even layer of vanilla buttercream all over the sponge. With the palette knife set about 2.5cm/1in in from the outside edge, scrape off some of the buttercream to create a shallow divot (it should look like a side plate). Fill the hollow with a thin layer of jam and level it out with a palette knife.

Repeat the above step for the next two sponge layers. Finish with the final layer of sponge upside-down for a neat top.

Crumb-coat the top and sides of the cake with vanilla buttercream (see QR code on page 210 of Crumbs and Doilies), then chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Once the icing is firm to the touch, remove from the fridge and give it a generous top coat of the buttercream, removing the excess as you smooth out the sides and top with a cake scraper or palette knife. Chill for another 10 minutes.

Take a small amount of the buttercream and colour it pink (or another colour if pink isn’t your vibe). Using a small offset palette knife, apply a band of pink buttercream around the bottom half of the cake, smoothing it out with a cake scraper so that it sits a little proud of the rest of the cake.

Finish the top half of the cake with colourful sprinkles and blobs of white vanilla buttercream topped with the rainbow poops.


Don’t put too much jam into the middle layers. Too much will make the layers slide about, making it very difficult to decorate and achieve nice straight sides.

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From the book: Crumbs & Doilies

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