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The Best Birthday Cake: Pink Swirl Cake


Today is my friend Leigh’s birthday and she came over this weekend to celebrate. I made her this cake and it was divine! With pink layers and frosting, it is the perfect girly cake. The layers of cake are darkening shades of pink as is the frosting. I used a basic vanilla cake recipe for the cake, and trust me when I say this may be the best vanilla cake you will ever taste. Fluffy and light, the cake is not too sweet, perfect for offsetting the sweet, bakery style frosting. Just as delicious as it was beautiful, this cake is definitely worth a try! Happy Birthday, Leigh!

The Perfect Vanilla Cake Recipe

*I doubled the recipe to make 5 thin layers for the 9 inch cake.


  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup oil (vegetable, canola or extra light olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. In a medium bowl, add cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir together with whisk, and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add eggs and beat 10-20 seconds.  Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed about 30 seconds.  Add vanilla and oil, beat.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture.  Add half of the milk, then the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk.  Beat until just combined.  Scrap down the side of the bowl.
  5. The batter will be thin.   Pour batter into prepared cake tins with lined with parchment paper and sprayed with cooking spray. *Don’t skimp on the lining of the tins, for your cake will not come out perfectly. Trust me, I would know.
  6. Bake cake in pre-heated oven for 12-14 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
American Buttercream
*Again, I doubled this recipe for the cake.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter (salted, or unsalted)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (best quality available)
  • 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream, half and half or milk.
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter (on medium speed) until completely smooth (30 seconds to a minute). (If you are adding cream cheese, add it now, then beat until smooth)
  2. Add salt (if needed).
  3. One cup at time, add 2 cups of powdered sugar, beating after each addition.
  4. Add vanilla, or other flavorings and beat to combine.
  5. Add about 1 tablespoon of cream, and continue beating.
  6. Add the remaining 2 cups powdered sugar, one at a time.
  7. Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons cream until desired consistency is reached.
Directions for Assembling the Cake
I divided the batter as evenly as possible between 5 bowls, coloring the darkest layer first, and working from that color as a guide.  I used neon food coloring (found at my local grocery store) in pink and a little bit of purple for the darkest layer.  Add the batter to prepared cake pans and bake.
 I divided the frosting between four bowls, one bowl with a bit more than the others (the one that will be the lightest color, because it’s used for the top as well as one row of swirls).  I colored the frosting again with the food coloring using pink and purple. Also, reserve a small amount of frosting in the mixing bowl, to use between the layers, and to very thinly frost the outside.

Layer the cakes, darkest on the bottom, frost with a very thin layer of icing between each layer.  Because I didn’t want too much frosting between the layers (to detract from the colors of the cake). After you  have done this, place the entire cake in the freezer about 10 minutes for the icing to set, and the whole cake will firm up (making it much easier to decorate).

Prepare a piping bag with a moderate sized open star tip.  Fill a piping bag with the darkest color icing.  Remove cake from freezer, and start along the bottom of the cake, creating rows of swirls.  For each swirl, start in the outside of the “rose” shape and pipe in a spiral around to the center, about 1 1/2 rotations.  You can make the swirls as big or as small as you would like, for I did mine pretty small. Continue along the bottom of the cake, creating rose-like swirls.  Repeat with remaining colors of icing.  You may find that there will be some areas in each row that don’t get fully covered, to fill in the little empty spaces just squeeze in some icing, in a curved shape (like a “C”) to mimic the rest of the swirls a bit.


4 thoughts on “The Best Birthday Cake: Pink Swirl Cake

  1. That is one seriously beautiful cake!

  2. This is gorgeous! Reminds me of rainbow cake but much more girly.


  3. OMG that is gorgeous!

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