Smitten Kitchen’s Best Birthday Cake


The tall boots came off in exchange for flats. We shed a layer or two. The plane jerked around a bit until finally (finally!) the wheels hit the ground. Chicago was as far away as usual and we were back home.

We sat on our couch Sunday night, drinking tea, and relaxing and reminiscing before Monday crept up. It’s never easy to readjust to your routine after a long weekend away in a city so different from your own. The following 73-degree day felt so hot. I was beginning to get used to the snow and brisk air.

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I haven’t really unpacked just yet. But I did manage to bake. Danny turned 26 this weekend, and we needed to celebrate with a proper cake, even if it was a couple days late. Even if he says he doesn’t want to do anything for his birthday. I know he secretly does. Thank you for letting me put candles on the cake. Sorry for the second round of the happy birthday song. I can’t help it if the table next to us was in the singing mood. Maybe it’s the cake we gave them.



I chose Deb’s so-called best birthday cake, a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. And sprinkles, yes. Go here for the recipe, which I didn’t change at all.

It’s an easy recipe to follow. I used mostly bittersweet chocolate and just a few ounces of semi-sweet. My cakes were done baking just shy of 35 minutes. Buttered parchment paper helped them pop right out of the pans.

I shaved off the rounded top of one layer and placed that side on the bottom of the cake stand so that the true flat side faced up. The second layer was placed on top, with its rounded, puffed-up top facing upward. It looked grand and tall, and maybe the top layer was a bit bigger, but so what.

The chocolate frosting calls for quite a bit of sour cream, but it works. Note to self: Always put more frosting in between the layers than seems right. I always seem to have leftover frosting. Any tips?




I was in between recipes yesterday, trying to find the right one before I ran out of time to make something. Brown butter? Bourbon buttercream? Carrot cake? Red velvet? I needed a cake that was good and not too complicated. It needed to work because I only had one shot before we had to meet friends for trivia night.

I’m glad I trusted this one. It’s a perfect go-to birthday cake. And it goes well with beer.




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