Simple Layered Birthday Cake (no special equipment needed)

Super simple layered birthday cake that requires no special equipment (or talent)

I always see those beautiful layered cakes and want to make them, but shy away from it because I don’t want to buy all the special equipment- certain sized cake pans, the spinning thing they put the cake on to frost it, those fancy spatulas, whatever you need to cut the tops off the cake to make it flat, etc. Obviously there are a TON of things that go into making those lovely cakes, and if you’re making it professionally, then it’s probably all necessary. If you’re like me, though, and just want to make a nice cake for a birthday or some kind of event where it doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect, this recipe is for you. It uses boxed cake mix and a super simple frosting, and the only additional pieces of equipment you need are a bowl and a knife.

August is a big birthday month for me- I have lots of family members and friends that were born in August. So much to celebrate, so let’s get started with this wonderfully festive cake! Keep in mind, this cake can be made with tons of variations – just use different flavored cake mix, and you can switch up the frosting too!

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Look how cute! It’s incredible how easy this is!

First let’s make the cake. You need 2 boxes of funfetti cake mix plus whatever ingredients it calls for (times 2). Remember, whenever I make boxed cake mix, I use milk instead of water, butter instead of oil, and add an extra egg. You can do that, or just follow the instructions on the box. Prepare the cake batter of the 2 boxes and divide evenly between 2 prepared 9×13 pans (make sure you spray your pans generously with nonstick spray, or prepare with butter). Bake according to directions. Let cool completely. While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting.
I use the same cream cheese frosting for this cake as I did for my mini churro cupcakes. (Basically beat cream cheese, butter, salt, vanilla and powdered sugar together, and end up with amazing goodness).  

Once the cakes are cool, place a bowl upside down on the cake- I used a normal soup bowl and was able to fit 2 bowls per pan, ending up with a total of 4 rounds of cake. Cut the cake by tracing the outline of the bowl with a paring knife. Make sure you cut all the way to the bottom, ensuring that your knife reaches the pan. Repeat until you have 4 circular layers. Flip the cake pans over onto a large working surface to remove the cake from the pan. Remove excess cake and save for later (see note at the end regarding the extra cake).

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Just trace the bowl with a knife
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End up with 4 round layers of cake

Now you have 4 similar sized cake layers. In order to stack them, we need them to be relatively flat. I used a serrated knife to carefully cut the tops off the 4 layers to make them flat. Try to make them as straight and flat as you can, but you don’t have to bust out your leveler- the frosting can make up for some of the unevenness.

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See how the top is a little rounded? Use your knife to cut the top off
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Here’s the flat top- easy to stack

All we have to do now is layer the cake and frosting. Before starting, prepare your platter by placing 3 pieces of wax paper or parchment paper on it – see photo. This is so that when you’re done frosting the cake, you can easily remove the paper and the dish is clean. Place your first cake layer on the platter, then a dollop of frosting (about 1/4 of it). Spread the frosting evenly on the cake, and repeat with all layers. Once you’re done, you’ll have some frosting oozing out the sides. Just take the flat end of a butter knife or a spatula to smooth out the frosting. Decorate with sprinkles.

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Layer some parchment paper or wax paper on your dish for easy clean up after frosting your cake
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Stack your cake layers with some frosting in between!
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All stacked up
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Sliced and ready to be served!

You can call it quits at this point, and you’ll have a beautiful layered cake that was super easy to make and will surely impress all the party guests. OOORRR you can put some rainbow balloons on the cake to make everything just a little more festive! Blow up a couple of water balloons and tie them. Grab a couple skewers (the ones you use to grill kabobs and such) and poke the pointy end through the knot of the balloon. Arrange your skewered balloons on the cake, and that’s it!


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Rainbow balloons: a festive way to decorate your cake!

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Grab some skewers
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Just stick the pointy part of the skewer in the balloon knot
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Arrange your balloons!

NOTE ABOUT THE EXTRA CAKE
Now, you may be thinking, “wow this cake is really easy to make and looks great, BUUUUT I don’t want to make it because you waste so much cake!” Well that’s where you’re wrong. All that extra cake can be put to good use. First and foremost, you can just eat it (I ate mine for breakfast the next morning), but I’ll show you a mind blowingly delicious dessert to make with it. Stay tuned! (:

Simple Layered Birthday Cake
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2 boxes funfetti cake mix + ingredients to make the cake*
  2. 8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
  3. 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  7. Rainbow sprinkles
Cake Layers
  1. Prepare the 2 boxes of cake according to the directions on the box* in 2 9x13 cake pans
Cream cheese frosting
  1. Beat cream cheese and butter until combined.
  2. Mix in vanilla extract and salt.
  3. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time and beat. Add until desired consistency is reached
Assemble
  1. Cut circles out of the sheets of cakes using a bowl. Pick a soup bowl that is the size of the cake you want. Make sure you can fit 2 bowls on one sheet, so you can end up with 4 total. Flip your bowl upside down and trace around the border with a sharp paring knife, cutting all the way to the bottom. Repeat three more times to end up with 4 total circles (see picture above).
  2. For each circle that you've cut out, cut the rounded top off using a serrated knife to end up with a flat disc.
  3. Place 3 strips of parchment paper or wax paper on serving platter and arrange in a way that allows for easy removal after frosting (again, see pictures above for a visual).
  4. Place your first cake layer on your wax paper, and put about 1/4 of the frosting on the cake. Spread evenly. Stack your second cake layer and another 1/4 of the frosting. Spread evenly. Repeat with all cake layers.
  5. With a butter knife (or offset spatula) smooth the frosting on the walls of the cake (this part doesn't have to be perfect).
  6. Decorate with rainbow sprinkles however you'd like.
Notes
  1. *I usually use milk instead of water, butter instead of oil, and add one extra egg.
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