Fluffy Confetti Birthday Cake

Using a blend of butter and oil for this cake makes it light but moist. With its tall layers and fluffy frosting, this colorful cake is perfect for any birthday party.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 50 min (includes cooling time)
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Inactive: 40 min
  • Cook: 40 min
  • Yield: 12 servings

Do you want to make a homemade cake that’s just as colorful and exciting as the one that comes from boxed cake mix? Look no further than this confetti cake! It’s made with both butter and oil so it tastes great — and produces a light and airy birthday cake that is perfectly moist. Rainbow sprinkles (or your favorite combination of colors) will give it the festive touch you’re looking for! Here are a few tips for success: Make sure your butter is at room temperature when you’re mixing up the cake batter. The easiest way to achieve this is to simply let you butter sit out for a few hours (or overnight). If you forget (or don’t have time to wait) and your sticks are still cold don’t rely on the microwave — your butter will most likely melt. Instead, cut the butter into very thin slices, so that it can warm it to room temperature more quickly. Your eggs should be room temperature when baking, as well. And, there's a hack for that, too: place them in a cooking pot and cover them with water. Then, heat just until the water is warm — that will take away the chill without cooking the eggs. When it comes to measuring the flour, be sure to pour it into the measuring cup and then level off the top. Scooping flour directly from the bag packs it into the cup and gives you too much, which could make your batter very thick and your cake dry. Be sure to let the butter and sugar cream together until the mixture is a pale-yellow color and looks light and fluffy. This helps incorporate air into the batter (and air keeps the cake light and fluffy). And don’t forget to butter and flour your cake pans before you pour the batter in. If you skip this step your finished cakes will stick to the inside of the pan! This recipe makes a great kid's birthday cake (what kid doesn’t love confetti?) but can easily be tweaked for any taste. Here are some more birthday cake ideas: Chocolate Chip: stir in mini chocolate chips instead of sprinkles, Lemon: add fresh lemon zest for a grown-up twist, Pumpkin Pie Spice: a sprinkle of this spice blend will give the cake an autumnal flavor, Tropical Coconut and Lime: add fresh lime zest to the batter and fold toasted coconut into the filling, Ginger: stir finely chopped crystallized ginger into the batter, Toasted Almond: use almond extract in the batter and decorate the cake with sliced and toasted almonds, Raspberry: swirl dollops of seedless raspberry preserves into the batter or Candy Bar: cut your favorite candy bars into chunks and fold into the batter. With so many great ways to customize this confetti cake the only question that remains is, “which birthday cake idea will you try first?”

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Ingredients

Cake: 

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans (See Cook's Note)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon fine salt

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

5 large eggs, at room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup milk

3 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles or jimmies, plus more for decorating

Frosting:

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Pinch fine salt

3 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup milk

Directions

  1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans; dust with flour, then tap out the excess.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Beat the butter, granulated sugar and oil in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, then beat in the vanilla until combined.
  4. Alternate folding the flour mixture and milk into the batter with a spatula, adding the flour in 3 additions and the milk in 2, starting and ending with the flour, until just smooth. Add the sprinkles and fold 3 or 4 times until just blended to prevent the colors from bleeding too much. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
  5. Bake the cakes on the same oven rack, rotating the pans about halfway if they seem to be browning unevenly, until golden on top and the centers spring back to the touch, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pans about 10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks and let cool completely.
  6. For the frosting: While the cakes cool, beat the butter and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar. Once it's all been added, increase the speed to medium-high, and beat until white and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla until blended. Add 2 tablespoons of the milk, and beat to incorporate. Beat in the remaining milk, 1 tablespoon at a time (the frosting will be spreadable but not runny).
  7. To assemble: Place 1 cake layer right-side up on a cake plate or stand, and spread with 1 cup of the frosting. Top with the second cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Decorate the top with additional sprinkles.
  8. The cake layers can be made a day ahead; wrap the cooled layers in plastic and aluminum foil and store at room temperature overnight. You can also assemble and frost the cake the day before serving; let it stand at room temperature overnight, covered by a large bowl or cake dome (if your kitchen is very hot, chill the cake and let it stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving).

Cook’s Note

When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)