Zoes First Birthday Cake
Zoes First Birthday Cake is here, and honestly, it’s soft, creamy and simple to make! This is a soft sponge cake sandwiched between layers of chocolate and vanilla pastry cream, covered in whipped cream and covered in classic funfetti sprinkles and maraschino cherries. This classic vanilla cake is simple, impressive and can be made for anyone’s birthday!
My favorite little hack though is using Nutella to write the birthday message on top. It’s surprisingly easy to pipe your birthday message! Watch this video to see me do it in real time!
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The first 12 months of being Zoes dad have been a pure joy!
When Anthony and I first announced that we were going to be dads, I wrote a little about what that meant to me on the blog. You can read it here. I don’t want to re-hash what I wrote there, but we’ve found ourselves at times saying that even though we both wanted to be dads, Anthony much longer than I, and despite the obstacles and challenges we would face as two gay men toward achieving that goal, this happened at the right time in our lives for us.
And what I mean by that is that many queer people experience a kind of delayed adulthood in society. Often, we’re forced to stay closeted for various reasons. For me, it was a religious upbringing. And so, you don’t date when your friends begin dating, you don’t do a lot of things socially and personally in your life that a lot of other people have the freedom to do, openly, without any fear or judgment. Those things get delayed.
In more ways than not, it’s horrible having to wait until you’re older to be able to live your life authentically, but for me personally, specifically as a dad, the silver lining was that it gave me the time to work on myself, grow and find out who I was before becoming a dad. And for that reason, this year has been an absolute joy.
I made the conscious decision to try to become a dad. I researched what that meant, I made sure I was as ready for it as I could be. When Zoe arrived, I was ready to learn how to be patient, to appreciate her and to enjoy being her dad. That’s not to say people who have children in their 20’s can’t do that, everyone is different. But I’m grateful that I worked on myself so that I could be as whole for Zoe as she needed me to be.
And so, that means that we’ve been able to raise a happy little human, who has brought us so much joy, a new meaning to our lives and tapped into a part of us that we never got to experience. She’s cheeky, she loves to have fun, she’s funny, she tells us off when she wants to, she’s got spunk, she’s kind, thoughtful (even at 12 months!), gentle, determined and makes us so happy.
If one day Zoe reads this, I hope we have made her as happy and given her as much love as she has given us.
Let’s get onto Zoes First Birthday Cake!
I thought about what I wanted Zoe’s 1st Birthday cake to be like even before she was born. In fact many of you asked me about it and pointed out how excited you were to see it! And in the spirit of making recipes with a focus on ease and flavor instead of pure spectacle, I present, the wonderful things about Zoe’s Birthday Cake.
This sponge is soft and easy to make! Like most sponge cakes with a heavy reliance on eggs and little on fat, it can dry out easily. So there’s some things you need to consider when making this sponge.
- Make it fresh and serve it fresh.
- If you want to make this ahead of time, you may want to consider drizzling it with a simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar, boiled and cooled).
- Don’t let it sit in the fridge for too long
I used my vanilla pastry cream and chocolate pastry cream recipes as fillings in this cake. It’s smooth, delicious, and thick enough to hold the weight of the cake easily. The great thing about this filling is that you can make it ahead of time! Up to three days ahead of time, and just store it in an airtight container until you’re ready to use it.
Mock cream, also known as ‘stabilized cream’ is whipped cream with gelatin in it which helps make it easier to use without it melting quickly. And it does this. It’s sweetened and creamy.
With sprinkles (of course) and topped with maraschino cherries!
I just think, all round, this cake is fun, simple and delicious and really, what more could you ask for in a birthday cake!
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
Ingredients You Need To Make Zoes First Birthday Cake
Cake Flour – Cake flour is a low protein flour that is used to make desserts light and moist. You can use store bought which has a much finer flour consistency, or simply make your own with my simple recipe. Click here to get the recipe and learn all the tips and tricks.
Salt – I used fine salt.
Eggs – I used large eggs. Make sure they’re at room temperature.
Caster sugar – also known as superfine sugar can be made at home using a food processor. Simply pulse until it looks finer in consistency but not as fine as powdered sugar.
Butter – I used unsalted butter for this recipe. If using salted butter, leave out the salt. Make sure your butter has cooled once melted otherwise it will deflate your batter.
Rainbow sprinkles – I used the Hoosier Hills Farm brand sprinkles. Good sprinkles are so hard to find in Australia. Add them to the cake batter right before it goes in the oven otherwise the colors will bleed into the batter and make it go grey.
Heavy cream – this is the type of cream you use for whipping. It has at least 30% fat content.
Powdered sugar – otherwise known as icing sugar.
Powdered gelatin – For this recipe, you want to use powdered gelatin. You can’t use gelatin leaves.
Mascarpone cheese – this is an Italian cheese similar to sour cream but when added to whipped cream, helps thicken it without it overwhipping. Also adds great flavor!
Maraschino cherries – for purists, this isn’t real maraschino cherries, but the ones I used are often still called maraschino cherries. You can find them sold in jars at Italian delis. At a pinch, you can use glace cherries found in the nut section of your supermarket.
Nutella – I used Nutella to write Zoe’s birthday message on top. Make sure it’s at room temperature before using so it’s soft enough to pipe.
How to make Zoes First Birthday Cake!
Funfetti Sponge Cake
- Whip sugar and eggs together until pale and fluffy.
- Add dry ingredients and fold through.
- Add butter and fold through.
- Add to cake tins and sprinkle with sprinkles. Bake.
- Trim cakes in half. Set aside.
Mock Cream Recipe
- Combine gelatin and water.
- Microwave to melt.
- Whip cream, sugar and vanilla to soft peaks.
- Add cooled gelatin and mascarpone. Whip to stiff peaks.
Let’s put it together!
- Prepare your cake ring with acetate
- Layer your cake with pastry cream
- Alternating between the two.
- Chill 2 hrs.
- Cover in whipped cream.
- Add sprinkles.
- Pipe more cream along the bottom
- And the top
- Finish with maraschino cherries
- And a Nutella message!
Tips and Tricks For Recipe Success!
- Bake your cakes in the middle rack of your oven.
- Spray only the bottom of your cake tins, not the sides. We want the cake to stick to the sides so they keep their round shape.
- Make sure your butter is not hot when added to the batter. Melt it and let it come to room temperature without setting to make sure it doesn’t deflate your batter.
- When folding through the butter and flour in the batter, take care to fold gently as to not deflate the eggs and make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl where the butter and flour mixture will sink down to.
- Using a cake turn table to decorate the cake makes this much easier.
- Place a baking tray under the cake when adding the sprinkles to catch the sprinkles and avoid making a sprinkle mess!
- When piping your birthday message on top of the cake, take your time! Alternatively you can use fondant letters.
Frequently Asked Questions about Zoes First Birthday Cake
How far in advance can I make this?
You can make the sponge up to one day in advance. Make the pastry cream fillings up to three days in advance and put the cake together fresh on the day or the night before serving. No more than 6 hours before serving otherwise your cake will be dry.
Can I add simple syrup to the cake to make it more moist?
Yep! To make simple syrup combine equal parts water and sugar. Let it come to a boil and then let it cool completely. You can add a tbsp of rum to it if you like. Then sprinkle or brush on each cake layer as you put the cake together. Don’t over do it though otherwise you’ll make your cake soggy.
How do I store this?
Store it in an airtight container, in the fridge.
Gave this a go? Don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! Hungry for more? Join me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and TikTok for more great recipes!
Other birthday dessert options!
Zoes First Birthday Cake
Funfetti Sponge Cake
- 2 cups (300 g) cake flour (see notes)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cups (280 g) caster sugar superfine sugar
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter melted and cooled to room temperature.
- 3 tbsp rainbow sprinkles
Mock Cream Recipe
- 2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
- 1/2 cup (80 g) powdered sugar
- 3 tsp powdered gelatine
- 4 tbsp cold water
- 1 cup (250 g) mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup (100 g) rainbow sprinkles
- 8 maraschino cherries or glacé cherries
- 1/4 cup (50 g) Nutella room temperature
Learn How To Make it! [VIDEO]
Funfetti Sponge Cake
- Preheat a fan forced oven to 150C / 300F. Spray the bottom of three 8-inch (20cm) cake tins with oil (only the bottom, not the sides) and line with baking paper. Set aside.
- Add the cake flour and salt to a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- To a separate large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and whip using an electric hand mixer (or stand mixer with whisk attachment) on high speed until thick and glossy, about 8 minutes.
- Run the dry ingredients through a sieve into the sugar egg mixture. Use a spatula to gently fold through until no dry ingredients are showing.
- Add the butter around the sides of the bowl and fold through, making sure you scrape from the bottom.
- Distribute the batter evenly amongst the cake tins and sprinkle with about 1 tbsp of sprinkles. Very gently use the end of a knife to mix into the batter taking care not to deflate it. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
- Once baked and cooled, use a cake leveller or serrated knife to trim the cakes in half. If making this cake ahead of time (no more than 1 day ahead of time otherwise it will dry out) wrap tightly in plastic and trim on the day you put the cake together.
Mock Cream Recipe
- Add gelatine and water to a small bowl and stir using a fork. Place in the microwave and microwave for 10 second burst or until the gelatine has melted completely. Allow to cool at room temperature until barely warm. Do not allow it to set.
- Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla extract using an electric hand mixer until you reach soft peaks. Add the gelatine mixture to the cream while whipping on high speed. Once it’s in there, stop the mixer and add the mascarpone cheese and continue whipping until you reach stiff peaks. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
Let’s put it together!
- Place the springform pan or adjustable cake ring on a serving plate. Place the acetate (3 inches (7.5cm) high and 25 inches (63.4cm) wide.
- Place the first layer of cake in the prepared tin. Tighten the tin around the cake and tape the two ends of the acetate together.
- Add 6 tbsp of vanilla or chocolate pastry cream. Spread around evenly. Add the next layer of cake and repeat, alternating between the pastry cream flavours until you’ve used up the cake.
- Place in the fridge to set for 2 hours, up to 6 hours. Once chilled, release the cake from the tin and carefully peel away the acetate.
- Cover the cake in the mock cream and use an offset spatula to smoothen out the sides and top. Using a cake turn table to decorate the cake makes this much easier.
- Cover the sides of the cake with sprinkles. I did this by throwing the sprinkles to the sides of the cake. Place a baking tray under the cake when adding the sprinkles to catch the sprinkles and avoid making a sprinkle mess!
- Pipe some more cream around the bottom of the cake and top. Use a piping bag filled with room temperature nutella, fitted with a small round or star tip to pipe a birthday message (take your time doing this). Add maraschino cherries right before serving.
- Acetate - this can be purchased from cake supply stores or on amazon and is used to keep your cake together as it chills and sets.
- An 8-inch (20cm) springform pan (without the bottom) or an adjustable cake ring. Either one will work.