This funfetti layer cake is baked from scratch and includes a surprise chocolate layer inside! Topped with cream cheese frosting and scattered sprinkles, this homemade funfetti cake is perfect for celebrating a special birthday. The recipe includes instructions for baking the cake in 6 inch, 8 inch, or 9 inch pans.
I celebrated a big birthday earlier this month: the big 3-0. I wasn't at all sad to turn 30; in fact, I was excited to celebrate this milestone birthday. As someone who's always been a homebody and would prefer to spend Saturday night on the couch with a good movie rather than out at a bar, it feels like my age and lifestyle preferences are finally in line, ha!
Despite feeling ready to kick off my thirties, I knew that I wanted to say goodbye to my twenties with a fun, youthful birthday cake. A funfetti cake seemed like a no-brainer. But since chocolate is always a good idea, I decided to add a layer of chocolate cake and frosting in the center to really take this cake up a notch! This funfetti layer cake - with a surprise chocolate layer and cream cheese frosting, all made from scratch - was the perfect birthday cake for a special celebration.
6 Inch (or 8 Inch or 9 Inch) Funfetti Layer Cake
I love the look of tall cakes (cakes that are taller than they are wide) that I've been seeing all over the Internet recently, and I knew that I wanted this cake to be tall, too. But I also didn't want a massive amount of leftover cake, so I knew that a multi-layer, 9 inch cake was more cake than I needed. Instead of baking this cake in my go-to 9 inch round cake pans, I opted for 6 inch round cake pans. The smaller diameter of the cake layers makes the cake appear taller, and I didn't end up with excessive amounts of leftover cake. Win, win!
It is, however, very easy to adapt this recipe for larger cake pans if that's your preference! While I designed the recipe for 6 inch pans, it can be easily scaled up to work with 8 inch or 9 inch pans. For 8 inch pans, increase the ingredient measurements by 50% (multiply the amounts by 1.5). For 9 inch pans, double the recipe (there's a button on the recipe card that will do this calculation for you!). In both cases, the thickness of the cake layers will remain the same (only the diameter will increase), so the bake times don't change. It's still a good idea to keep an eye on your cakes as they bake though, in case they need a little bit less or more baking time than the recipe states.
What Sprinkles are Best for Funfetti Cake?
I'm so glad you asked, because this is important! There are lots of different types of sprinkles, and you want to be careful not to use sprinkles that will bleed color into your cake and frosting. I recommend using quins (confetti-like sprinkles), and I used these for this cake. You can also use jimmies (rod-like sprinkles). Do not (I repeat, DO NOT) use nonpareils. These tiny, round sprinkles will bleed color all over your cake and frosting and make you sad.Print
This funfetti layer cake is baked from scratch and includes a surprise chocolate layer inside! Topped with cream cheese frosting and scattered sprinkles, this homemade funfetti cake is perfect for celebrating a special birthday. The recipe is designed for 6 inch cake pans, but see my recipe note at the bottom of the recipe for how to easily adapt this recipe for 8 inch or 9 inch cake pans.
for the chocolate cake layer:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 egg, room temperature**
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup boiling water
for the funfetti cake layers:
- 1 1/4 cup sifted cake flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 6 T unsalted butter, room temperature
- 7/8 cup granulated sugar
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sprinkles*
for the cream cheese frosting:
- 12 oz. full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
- 12 T (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 5 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 1/2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
- sprinkles, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare three 6 inch cake pans by buttering and flouring the pans. (Coat the interior of each pan with a thin layer of butter, making sure to coat the entire bottom, into the edge, and up the sides. Sprinkle some flour (or cocoa powder, for the chocolate cake layer) into the pans and shake them over the sink so that all of the butter is covered by a dusting of flour. Dump out any excess flour.)
- Make the chocolate cake layers. In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Add milk, applesauce, egg, and vanilla to flour mixture and gently whisk well combined. Carefully add boiling water to the cake batter, whisking gently and carefully until well combined. After you’ve added the water, the cake batter will be thinner than typical cake batter; this is expected.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (To save yourself time, move on to step 5 while the cake is baking.) Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan by inverting the pan over a wire rack and let the cake cool completely on the wire rack.
- While the chocolate cake is in the oven, make the funfetti cake layers. In a small bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or use a large bowl and a handheld electric mixer) and beat the butter on high speed for about one minute, until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until creamed together, about two minutes. Add the egg whites and beat on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and beat just until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed while mixing.
- With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low speed, slowly add the milk and stir just until combined. Be careful not to over mix the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before removing the cake by inverting the pan over a wire rack.
- Once the cakes are completely cool, make the cream cheese frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer), beat cream cheese and butter on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and salt and beat to combine. With the mixer running on low speed, add confectioners' sugar one cup at a time until all the sugar is added. Then beat on high speed until the mixture is well combined and creamy.
- Transfer the frosting to another bowl or container. Measure out one cup of the frosting and return that frosting to the mixing bowl. Add cocoa powder and beat until completely combined.
- Assemble the cake. Use a long serrated knife to slice off the domed top on each of the cake layers, if necessary. Place one of the funfetti cake layers on a cake board or serving plate. Use an offset spatula to spread a little less than half of the chocolate cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. Top with the chocolate cake layer, and spread it with more chocolate cream cheese frosting, reserving some of the frosting for piping on top. Top this layer with the second funfetti cake layer.
- Using a large offset spatula, spread a thin layer cream cheese frosting over the cake, covering the top and sides. Place the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill this outer layer of frosting. This crumb coat will trap any loose cake crumbs so that they do not end up mixed in to your decorative frosting.
- Remove the cake from the fridge, and again use the offset spatula to spread frosting over the top and sides of the cake, this time in a thicker coat. Do your best to smooth the frosting, but know that it doesn't have to be perfect!
- To pipe decorative frosting designs onto your cake, fit a piping bag with the piping tip of your choice, fill the bag with frosting, and pipe designs around the top of the cake and/or along the cake's bottom edge. (I used Wilton piping tips 1M and 32 for decorating this cake.) Lastly, sprinkle some additional sprinkles over the top and along the bottom edge of the cake.
- Marvel at your masterpiece and enjoy a slice!
This recipe was designed for 6 inch cake pans, but it can be easily adapted for baking in 8 inch or 9 inch round cake pans. For 8 inch pans, increase the ingredient measurements by 50% (multiply by 1.5). For 9 inch pans, double the recipe. In either case, the bake times will remain the same, since the thickness of the layer remains the same and only the diameter of each cake layer changes. (Important Note: Since there can always be variations in bake times when using different ovens, cake pans, etc., it's a good idea to begin checking on your cakes a few minutes before the recommended bake time to ensure that they do not over bake. This is always true, not just when working with different pan sizes, but it's especially worth mentioning here.)
Storage: Store the cake at room temperature on a cake stand or plate with a domed lid. Cake will be best eaten within 4 days.
*Be sure to use sprinkles that won't bleed color into your cake batter or frosting. I recommend using quins (confetti-like sprinkles), and I used these for this cake. You can also use jimmies. Do not use nonpareils (the tiny, round sprinkles), which will almost certainly bleed color all over your cake.
**To use just half an egg in the chocolate cake layer, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk the yolk and white together using a fork or a small whisk. Add half of the blended egg to your batter, and reserve the remaining half for another use or discard.
Depending on how you decide to decorate your cake you may end up with a bit of extra frosting. This recipe is designed to create enough frosting to frost the cake and to pipe some decorative edges, as seen in the photos within this post.
Keywords: layer cake, funfetti cake, chocolate cake, cream cheese frosting, birthday cake, celebration cake
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