Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

I’m having a birthday party and you are all invited!

The Pink Rose Bakery is one year old!

I can’t believe it has been a whole year already.

I wanted to make a birthday cake to celebrate the occasion and I wanted it to be something typical of a 1st birthday – colourful. There is plenty of time for sophistication over the coming years. Right now I want sprinkles. And lots of them.

Although . . . is there a course I can go on that tells you the secret of covering a whole cake with sprinkles? Is there a special tool you can buy? I’m imagining it would be something like a spray paint gun. Only for sprinkles.

Getting those pesky sprinkles to stick to the sides and top of the cake was, not to be too blunt, a bloody nightmare. I made a mess. A big mess. The work-top was bedecked with sprinkles. As was the floor around my feet. I think there may, at one point, been more sprinkles around the cake than there was on the cake.


I tried my best to sweep them all up but they kept disappearing between the floor tiles. I could have hoovered them up I suppose but knowing my luck the draft that the vacuum makes would have scattered them even further. As sod’s law would have it, guess who found the stray sprinkles, inhaled them and then had a choking fit? Yep, the dog. Bless him. There he was, minding his own business, snuffling his way around the kitchen floor as he does when in search of any extra morsels upon his return home and then he is rewarded with stray sprinkles up his nose. Oops. I’ll be surprised if I am allowed loose in the kitchen with sprinkles ever again. At least not without several sprinkle catching devices. Or a sprinkle spray gun.

As for the cake itself – we all need a plain cake every now and again. A cake that acts as a simple carrier for the icing, because let’s face it, when you are under the age of 3 all you are really interested in is the icing (some may still only be interested in the icing now that they are all grown up). Don’t believe me? Put a piece of heavily iced cake down in front of a toddler. Chances are the icing is the first thing to go and the cake itself gets left. I have witnessed it many times. And if the icing drops off and falls on the floor one of two things happens – a scrunched up face with a trembling bottom lip or a swift manoeuvre to retrieve the icing before an adult notices and tries to stop it being eaten off the floor. Personally I am a fan of the 5 second rule. As long as no one steps on it within those 5 seconds.


This is quite a dense vanilla cake, and I won’t lie to you, it does need the jam and the buttercream. You could pep it up with some lemon zest, but the main function of this cake is to carry the buttercream. And the sprinkles. If you can get them to stick. I apologise now for any future distress decorating a cake with sprinkles may cause you.

Is there a sprinkle distress support group anywhere I can join?

PS – I stuck a slice in the microwave for a quick 20 second blast on full. I can recommend it – everything softens slightly and is a little warm. It will disappear in half the time!

Should you have a go yourself, why not share your picture on the Bakery Facebook page?

Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

Print recipe here

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 30g vanilla sugar
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 260g gluten-free self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 200ml milk, at room temperature

Ingredients for the buttercream:

  • 110g butter, softened
  • 60ml milk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 500g icing (confectioner’s) sugar

Making up / Decorations:

  • Raspberry jam for the middle (or any other flavour of your choice)
  • Sprinkles (approximately 75g)
  • Small gluten-free jelly sweets (I used Jelly Tots)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 celsius / 140 fan / 320 fahrenheit. Grease and line two 8 inch / 20cm round cake tins.
  2. Beat the butter, vanilla extract and the sugars together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined in between each addition.
  3. Add half the flour and mix in, then add half the milk and stir until combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk, then add the ground almonds and stir until combined.
  4. Divide the batter between the two tins and bake for approximately 40 mins, until golden brown, coming away from the sides of the tin and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  5. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. While the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until pale and fluffy. It should have a spreadable consistency. If it is too firm, add a small amount of milk.
  7. To assemble – sandwich the cakes together with the jam. Crumb coat the sides and top of the cake with a very thin layer of the buttercream (this will prevent crumbs coming through on the surface of the cake). Apply the rest of the buttercream in a thick, even layer, reserving a small amount in order to pipe 10 rosettes on the top, using a star nozzle. Top each rosette with a jelly sweet.

Recipe adapted from this one.


26 thoughts on “Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercream”

  1. This is EXACTLY what my ten-year old (newly gluten-free) thinks a good special occasion cake should be, and I find it hard not to agree. Thank you for a wonderful looking recipe that is sure to make him smile when his birthday rolls around this spring!


  2. Trick to the sprinkles: Frost and freeze your cake until almost frozen. Spread an additional thin layer of frosting on, then roll through a sheet pan of sprinkles. Freezing it most of the way keeps things neat. I think that all birthday cakes deserve sprinkles and frivolity. Save sophistication for other nights.


    1. Thanks! Someone else mentioned rolling it in the sprinkles and I admit that I did consider that option but I was worried the cake would crack on me or fall apart. I didn’t think of freezing it first!


  3. Oooooh, buttercream! As for the sprinkle procedure, how about just icing the sides first and rolling the cake through a tray of sprinkles, and then icing the top and scattering sprinkles on that?


    1. I did think about picking it up and rolling it in the sprinkles but I was worried the cake may crack or the whole thing would fall apart. I have since been advised that freezing it first is the way to go. Maybe next time. If I can face covering another cake completely in sprinkles!


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