PARTY TIME! I promise you will never buy another store bought cake again after baking this ridiculously easy, beautiful, and delicious birthday cake. People will swoon. Not a crumb will be left.

Since many genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) are found in most store-bought confectionery items, I have found that baking a cake for your child’s birthday is the perfect opportunity to try your hand at baking (or to perfect your already awesome baking skills). Here are some of the icky ingredients you will find in store-bought cakes and pastries: partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (transfats), corn syrup (GMO), corn starch (GMO), probably non-organic dairy products like milk and butter (or buttermilk), eggs, artificial coloring, and other chemical food additives. So, now you get to take control and make a “healthy” cake filled with carefully chosen ingredients (and by “healthy,” I am referring to the quality of the ingredients – organic and non-GMO – but this recipe still includes white sugar  and white flour). Not to mention, there is a lot of pride associated with baking your own cake. You can let your little one decorate it…now THAT is fun.

This yellow layer cake is divine. It’s moist, flavorful, and I’ve yet to screw it up (having made it 5+ times already this year).


BEST YELLOW CAKE RECIPE (please try to use all organic ingredients):

A Smitten Kitchen Recipe

Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers, and, in theory, 22 to 24 cupcakes, two 8-inch squares or a 9×13 single-layer cake

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (480 grams) cake flour (not self-rising). I use the unbleached cake flour blend from Whole Foods.
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (1 cup, 1/2 pound or 225 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk (475 ml), well-shaken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up.)

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.

Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. (I like to drop mine a few times from two inches up, making a great big noisy fuss.) Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Instant Fudge Frosting

A Smitten Kitchen Recipe

Now, this is, to be honest, a fancy name for a quick buttercream but it’s got two things going for it that are worth mentioning: One, the frosting isn’t flavored with cocoa (too mild) or even good semisweet chocolate, but unsweetened chocolate. Brilliant, I tell you. I find most quick buttercreams way too sweet, and although this one still is quite sugary, the super-bitter chocolate goes a long way to mitigating it. The second thing worth mentioning is this: Did you know you can make quick buttercreams in the food processor? I had no idea, I hadn’t even considered it before. But there I was whirling everything together in ten seconds flat and I will make it no other way from now on.

Makes about 5 cups

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons half-and-half or whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate, then process until the frosting is smooth.

Frosting tip: If your kitchen is as hot and sticky as mine is in the summer, you’ll want to watch a frosting like this carefully to make sure it doesn’t get too melty and soft. If it does, periodically put the bowl of frosting and your partially frosting cake back in the fridge to let it firm up and cool down again, then resume where you left off.

Planning to write on your cake? Whirl all of the frosting ingredients except the melted chocolate in the food processor until smooth. Set aside a half-cup of the white frosting for tinting and writing, then add the chocolate to finish making the frosting.

Additional toddler party tips:
* Try using wooden forks instead of plastic utensils. They are non-toxic and so very festive. $10 from Sucre Shop.
* Get a piñata and stuff it with HEALTHY and fun goodies. Try organic gummy bears, stickers, stamps, non-toxic Wiki Stix, mini organic raisin boxes (something about everyone having their OWN mini box is really fun). After already serving a giant cake, I think parents will appreciate the “less sugar” alternatives. Try to resist stuffing your piñata with Tootsie Rolls and other conventional candy filled with GMOs. Get some paper bags (you can add a cute sticker – thank you for coming to my 3rd birthday party! – and the piñata goodies become their “goodie bag.”
* Offer fruit and vegetables at your party; other parents will thank you later. It also balances out pizza well.
* We love organic Honest Aid juice boxes for parties. You can buy a beverage bin and pile them in. Alternatively, you can make your own lemonade and serve in a lovely glass beverage container.  I also like filling this container with water and sliced lemons for the adults.
* Try using mason jar sippy cups for the kids. Glass is better than plastic and they are so darling! Mason jars are pretty durable.

For more information on GMOs, you can read some of our recent articles:

GMO’s and You

On The Fence About GMOs?

Ted Talk by Robyn O’Brien

Nontoxic Diet Guide


Recipe Source: Smitten Kitchen
Image Credits: Smitten Kitchen and LGM