A Basic birthday cake. I add the recipe you add the imagination !

I have been asked a few times for a simple birthday recipe so here it is. Its for an eight inch -round or square tin. The idea is for me to give you the basics and you to do the rest. Its so simple these days to decorate a cake effectively, there are so many  sugar paste cutters on sale; just google “cake decorating cutters” and you will get a multitude of sites with a varied assortment of toys to play with and inspire  you .                                                                              

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A mixer with a beater ( or paddle as it is sometimes known)

A design Idea: i.e.  how you want to decorate it-make notes or rough sketch.

A spatula or scraper to scrape down your bowl during mixing, this is very important for an even consistency.

A kitchen clear of disturbances from family or friends: shut the door and leave a sign on it saying ” do not enter, master baker at work, and if you do, be prepared to be suprised by a novel use of a spatula upon your person”

Some rousing classical music playing in the background to conduct you through the process getting your creative juices flowing.

A bottle of white wine in the fridge, to reward your self when you have finished, standing back and admiring your creation, & giving yourself a well deserved toast !


250g unsalted butter, left out to reach room temperature.

250g caster sugar.

4 eggs.

2 Tablespoons of milk

2 tsp of vanilla essence, or scrape the seeds out of  half a vanilla pod.

250g plain flour sieved with 10g of baking powder added.


Pre-heat your oven to 160c for conventional oven, 155c for a fan assisted oven.

Line your tin with baking parchment.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add your eggs one at a time, beating for at least a minute between adding each egg.

Add your vanilla flavouring.

Fold in your sifted flour and baking powder, then mix in the milk.

Place in your tin, making the batter is level.

Bake in the middle shelf of your oven for about 40 minutes; If its a nice golden brown and firm but springy to the touch its ready. A good tip is to slide a small knife in the centre then pull out. If it comes out clean, its ready, if it has a trace of batter its not. If that is the case bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Place on a cooling rack and leave to completely cool down

Grease and line your tin

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition

beat your butter & sugar together until light and fluffy


250g unsalted butter

200g icing sugar

4 tsp milk

20g cornflour

2 tsp vanilla essence or the seeds scraped out of half a vanilla pod.


Beat the butter and icing sugar together with the vanilla cornflour and milk, start of slow at first so the sugar doesn’t fly everywhere, then give it a burst on a fast speed for 2 mins.

It should have a light and almost white appearance.


you will need approximately 700g of roll on icing. You can get it at most supermarkets, normally under the name of regalice.

400g seedless raspberry jam.

Take 200g of the seedless raspberry jam and loosen by heating in pan- do not boil- place to one side.

Slice your cake base into three layers, spread a layer of the remaining jam , then spread a layer of buttercream: a good tip is to pipe the cream over the jam rather then spread it; this stops the cake crumbling under the pressure of a pallet knife or spatula. Do not go over half an inch thick with the cream, we all like a deep filling , but where butter cream is concerned it can make your cake too soft and to rich to eat.

Place the next layer of your sponge base on top and repeat the above process.

Next brush the warmed jam over the top and sides of your now layered sponge, completely covering it- this will enable your icing to stay on.

Place your cake on cake board

Knead your sugar paste until its easy to use: at this stage you can colour it if you wish or leave it white.

Roll out to at least twice the diameter of your base making sure your work surface and rolling pin are well dusted with icing sugar.

Now for the tricky bit, place your icing over the cake, making sure it covers the cake evenly, smooth down and trim off excess paste.

A good tip on how to transfer the sugar paste onto your cake is to dust your paste then roll up on your rolling pin, then unroll it over your cake.

You can tidy up where the icing meets the board by piping small balls butter cream around the cake.

Now its up to you, you can buy so many different products to decorate cakes, ready made flowers or if you are adventurous cut your own out of sugar paste. I use small cookie cutters which you can get from most cook shops for under £1. Stick sweets all over or even buy some edible food colour sprays, just play with textures and colours and be as abstract as you like.

spread a thin layer of jam over base.

Spread a layer of butter cream, place next layer on top.
TIP- before you slice cake, mark the side with a knife, so you can align layers when re-assembling.

roll out icing, making sure you dust all work surfaces with icing sugar to prevent sticking

when cake is layered cover with a  thin layer of jam, ready for coating with icing.

smooth icing over cake, trimming off excess. Get ready to decorate !

If you can get one of these food colour sprays, you should, you can get them online or at any cake decorating shop.

I love theses spray on food colours, get some if you can and try some “cake graffiti” 🙂

© The cake-shaker 2010


14 thoughts on “A Basic birthday cake. I add the recipe you add the imagination !

  1. The cake recipe says “then mix in the milk”. What milk?
    Please reply ASAP as I am making my son’s birthday cake in an hour or two and had hoped to use this recipe!

    • Hi Erica…well done for spotting that…my proof reader didn’t spot that and neither did i :/ I have rectified it but i fear to late, but I hope you had a go, it would have worked fine without the milk, it just makes the mixture smoother. For some reason I didn’t get an e-mail alert about your comment so sorry for late reply


  2. Pingback: spooky Halloween ( giant cupcake) Toadstool cake ! or Toad-ghoul if you like ;) « THE CAKE- SHAKER

    • Hello Bryanie
      I always find a good strong wooden spoon works well by hand. If you have a cake ring spare, rest the bowl in this on top of a tea towel to give you a bit of stability.
      Use the butter at room temperature rather then straight from the fridge, and add the eggs in only one at a time and completely mix in before adding another.
      Don’t worry if you get a bit of curdling, you can always add a teaspoon of flour to bring it back.
      Another way to help if mixing by hand is to split the recipe in half and mix the two batches together at the end, can save on a lot wrist discomfort 🙂
      Let me know how you get on.

    • Hi Caz
      Thanks for thumbs up for recipe, glad you like it.
      Sorry about late reply, have just got back from my annual leave.
      Yes this recipe can easily be adapted to a lemon cake by adding the zest of 1.5 lemons (Fine) & by using lemon curd as a filling. you can add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to icing + 100g more icing sugar.
      Also you can make a lemon syrup 200ml lemon juice, 150g caster sugar, and drizzle or brush over cake to add a real lemony tang.
      hope this is helpful.
      Mark 🙂

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