October 18th, 2013

Classic yellow birthday cake, plus a gluten- and dairy-free version

OneHungryMama classic yellow birthday cake recipe

The hungry baby just turned 4. Not 4 months. 4 years. And, yes, I still call him the baby.

For his 4th birthday, my little guy made one request: cake and cupcakes. I kept asking if he wanted a theme. “You know, do you want your birthday to be about fun monsters or trucks? Race cars or super heroes?” Each time he’d proudly reply that, yes, he would like his birthday to be about something: cake and cupcakes.

Got it.

Like any good recipe developer, I found it impossible to make a cake and cupcakes without testing variations, so I served birthday cake two ways. The cupcakes were a classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting, and the cake was the same recipe adapted to be gluten- and milk dairy-free.*

Because the hungry older brother is the only one who needs to skip dairy and is also frosting avoidant (I don’t know what to tell you), I used a buttery chocolate frosting on both the cake and cupcakes. If you’re serving the gluten- and dairy-free version to someone on strict diet, look for a different frosting recipe for sure.

OneHungryMama classic vanilla birthday cake recipe

The birthday boy and his brother loved both the cake and cupcakes. I started with the allergy-friendly cake and was pretty damn psyched. This recipe is a keeper for whenever I need to bake a gluten- and dairy-free cake.

But I cannot tell a lie. It was all over once I bit into the cupcakes made with the classic recipe. The taste and texture were gorgeous birthday party perfection. I call this a classic recipe with good reason: it at once tastes of nostalgia for birthday parties past and anticipation of ones to come.

OneHungryMama yellow birthday cake cupcakes recipe

If you’re looking for a yellow birthday cake recipe, this is the one. If you’re looking for a yellow birthday cake recipe and need to avoid gluten, this is the one. If you’re looking for a yellow birthday cake recipe and need to avoid milk dairy—you guessed it—this is the one.

This is the cake for all. Because they should all eat cake.

(Happy birthday my little boy. I love you to the moon and back, forever and ever. XO)

* The gluten- and milk dairy-free version contains eggs.

Classic Yellow Birthday Cake
(can be shared with kids 12+ mos)*
Makes 1 9-inch layer cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of two 9″ round baking pans and line bottoms with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together all purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2. Add butter and sugar to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Using either an electric mixer or a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and then egg yolk, one at a time, mixing well between each. Beat in vanilla.

3. Add flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until batter is just well combined. Divide batter evenly between both prepped pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes before inverting the cakes onto the rack. Remove pan and peel off the parchment. Carefully flip cakes and allow them to finish cooling, top side up.

Note: This amount of batter will yield about 2 dozen cupcakes that will bake for 20-25 minutes.

*Note: While there is nothing in this that is unsafe for younger children, I recommend it beginning at 12 months due to the high sugar content. If you plan on sharing this with a wee one, please be sure to serve an age-appropriate portion in age-appropriate bite sizes!

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Classic Yellow Birthday Cake
(can be shared with kids 12+ mos)*
Makes 1 9-inch layer cake

Cooking spray (optional)
3 cups favorite gluten-free flour blend
2 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/4 cup original rice milk (no flavor added)
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil, plus more for greasing if not using cooking spray
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking spray or a thin layer of oil to grease the bottom and sides of two 9″ round baking pans and line bottoms with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolk, milk, oil, and vanilla until well combined.

3. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet, mixing to combine well. Divide batter evenly between both prepped pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes before inverting the cakes onto the rack. Remove pan and peel off the parchment. Carefully flip cakes and allow them to finish cooling, top side up.

Note: This amount of batter will yield about 2 dozen cupcakes that will bake for about 20-25 minutes.

*Note: While there is nothing in this that is unsafe for younger children, I recommend it beginning at 12 months due to the high sugar content. If you plan on sharing this with a wee one, please be sure to serve an age-appropriate portion in age-appropriate bite sizes!

9 Responses

  1. Carolina says:

    I love your site and use it all the time, but I never comment. But my heart is so grateful for your dairy free posts because my baby can’t tolerate dairy at all. I’m sure this is as good as everything I’ve ever made from your site…and it’s a lot. Thanks again!

  2. I’m so happy that you commented, @Carolina! Even though we aren’t hardcore dairy-free, I’ve had a taste of how hard it can be. I love helping making food easier and more fun for families, those who have to adhere to specific diets, included. I hope you’ll comment more, though knowing that you’re cooking is good enough for me!

  3. Mary says:

    Does the flour mixture need xanthan gum?

  4. One Hungry Mama says:

    If you’re using a pre-made gluten free flour, you shouldn’t have to add anything. If you are planning on making your own GF flour mix, you may need xanthan gum – it depends. I’ve never made my own GF flour mix, but two sources I trust for GF recipes are Silvana’s Kitchen (she has a GF mix that’s easy to make and store) and Gluten Free Girl. If you stick with a store-bought GF flour mix, I like Cup 4 Cup best, but it’s very expensive. Bob’s Red Mill is nice and I’ve also used King Arthur Flour’s GF flour with pretty good results. Again, if you use one of these, no need to add anything more.

  5. Kate says:

    How did you make the icing? Im looking to do gluten dairy soy free.

  6. One Hungry Mama says:

    HI, Kate. I mention in the post that I used a traditional buttercream on this (you can read why above). I don’t have experience making a gluten dairy soy free frosting, but have read that vegan margarine or shortening can work great. Check out this one from my pal Silvana (who is a dairy and gluten free cookbook author and mag editor): http://www.silvanaskitchen.com/gluten-free-chiaras-vanilla-birthday-cake-with-strawberry-frosting/

  7. Stephanie says:

    This looks perfect!!! I was wondering about the extra egg yolk. Does that make it richer? I was thinking of adapting other recipes with that addition….

  8. One Hungry Mama says:

    Adding more egg yolks adds color, a richness of flavor and can also increase the density (give a finer crumb, too). Think about it as moving in the opposite direction as an angel food or chiffon cake, which adds more egg whites. I like it for classic birthday cake b/c you want that rich yellow color and firm cake to hold up to classic buttercream icing. Let me know if you try adding the yolk in other recipes. Curious to know what recipes you choose and how it changes things!

  9. Monique says:

    I wanted to comment on the dairy free icing. You can make a typical buttercream icing with coconut oil and it tastes amazing! Just thought I would share!!!

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