Jun 17 , 2022


An easy, moist yellow cake and  an intense light chocolate buttercream make the perfect Classic Birthday Cake.



  • 6 large egg yolks (100 grams or 3 ½ ounces)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ¾ cups cake flour (340 grams or 12 ounces)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar (300 grams or 10 ½ ounces)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened between 72°F and 74°f (255 grams or 9 ounces or 2 ¼ sticks)


  • ⅓ cup water
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons amaretto


  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled (114 grams)
  • 1 ½ cups butter (340 grams, 12 ounces or 3 sticks)
  • 2 tablespoons crème de cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon +1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted* (780 grams or 27 ⅓ ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons cream


  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 12 ounces of semisweet chocolate (340 grams)


  1. Spray the center only of three 9” cake pans with a non-stick baking release.  Line the bottom of three cake pans with parchment and spray the center only.  Set aside. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Whisk the yolks, one fourth of the buttermilk and vanilla in a bowl.  Set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix briefly to blend.  
  5. Add the butter and the remaining buttermilk.  Mix on low until the ingredients are moistened, then raise to medium and beat for 2 minutes.   Scrape down.   
  6. Add the yolk mixture in thirds, beating about 30 seconds after each addition.  Scrape down between additions. 
  7. Divide the batter between the three pans (about 390 grams each or 13 ⅔ ounces each), Smooth the tops.  
  8. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.  or until a tester comes out clean or it springs back when the center is lightly touched.  The cake should not pull away from the sides of the pans.
  9. Cool in pans and release.  For easiest assembly, freeze the layers.


  1. Stir together.  Set aside.


  1. Measure or preferably weigh the powdered sugar first, then sift.
  2. Place the butter, crème de cocoa, vanilla, and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl.  Beat until very light and smooth.  
  3. Add the chocolate and beat again on medium to medium high.  Do not underbeat.  At this point, you are increasing the volume of the buttercream and lightening it.   If too stiff to use, add the cream a little at a time to obtain a smooth, spreadable buttercream.


  1. While I finished the cake with the Spirited Chocolate Buttercream and a chocolate ganache décor, you can opt out of the décor if you wish.  But if you do, be less generous when filling the cake layers or you won’t have buttercream left for decoration.  
  2. Place one layer of cake on a cake board. Brush it with ⅓ of the amaretto wash.  Fill with 1 ½ cups of buttercream.  Spread evenly.  
  3. Turn the two remaining layers over and brush each of the bottom layers with ⅓ of the amaretto wash.
  4. Place one of the washed layers on top of the buttercream, right side up.  Fill with another 1 ½ cups buttercream. 
  5. Place the remaining cake layer, right side up on top of the buttercream.  
  6. Not every cake needs to be undercoated.  However, if the sides are to be left clean and undecorated, I recommended undercoating them as I did for this cake. 
  7. I didn’t undercoat the Spirited Marble Cake.  So, the choice is yours. Just use the buttercream sparingly if you decide to undercoat.  It is only meant to contain the crumbs so they don’t show through when the cake is finished.  It is fine for the sides to be somewhat exposed.  Refrigerate to set the buttercream and then apply the top coat and finish the cake as desired.
  8. I used a number 5 Ateco pastry tip to make the lattice design on top of the cake.  Just pipe straight lines across the cake about an inch or so apart.  Turn the cake 90° and pipe straight lines again on the diagonal. 

  9. The edges are finished with a number 864B Ateco pastry tip. The top edge is finished with a running “e” pattern and the bottom a shell. 
  1. Place the cream in a pan large enough to hold the cream and the chocolate.  Heat the cream until steamy, around 170 degrees. 
  2. Remove it from the heat and submerge the chocolate, pushing it under the cream. Let it sit a few minutes, then gently whisk to combine. 
  3. Use immediately.  Alternately, pour the glaze into a rimmed baking tray – this is a ½ sheet tray.
  4. Cover the top with film and allow to come to room temperature to use.  It should be firm enough to hold its shape.  If it has been refrigerated, let it sit at room temperature to soften so it can be piped.
  5. You can literally see the tenderness of the cake in this photo.  I also cut it when it was really cold which accounts for the slight separation of the buttercream.  Allow the cake to come to room temperature if it has been frozen and thawed in the refrigerator or if it is cold.  


The cake will last for days covered at room temperature.

You can literally see the tenderness of the cake in this photo.  I also cut it when it was really cold which accounts for the slight separation of the buttercream.  Allow the cake to come to room temperature if it  if it is cold.