Soft and tender vanilla cake brimming with rainbow sprinkles, filled with rainbow chip cheesecake mousse and frosted in creamy vanilla buttercream! A childhood favorite made from scratch!
Happy Birthday to MEEEEEEE!!!!
Yes, today is my actual birthday. I won’t go into how old/young I am, however, I will say that my first ever CD was Spice Girls.
Nothing screams “Happy Birthday!” quite like a big and fluffy vanilla cake LOADED with rainbow sprinkles! Really, what more could a girl ask for? (Other than a lock of John Stamos’s hair.)
So as a little birthday gift to myself, I decided to take a walk down memory lane by revamping an old childhood favorite. Not only would it be made from scratch, but it would be towering and sprinklelicious!
If a clown were a cake, this is exactly what it would look like.
Ever since I was livin’ it up as a 90’s kid, I’ve been obsessed with Funfetti. I mean, how could you NOT be totally fascinated by a cake brimming with colorful sprinkles and slathered in the best vanilla frosting in the world–rainbow chip. Yes, that undeniably luscious vanilla frosting loaded with itty bitty rainbow chips! I could eat that stuff by the ladleful.
This cake turned out just as heavenly as I remember it. With its luminously white hue speckled with those captivating flecks of rainbow, it’s impossible not to fall back into childhood.
If you’re wondering how I got this cake so blindingly white, I did a few things. First off, I used only whites–no yolks. Yolks play a big part in giving vanilla cakes that yellow tinge. Secondly, I used half butter and half shortening. (Warning: baking nerd alert!) Not only does shortening lend to the whiteness of this cake, but when creamed with sugar, air molecules are trapped, which not only gives the cake more lift, but also creates a more tender, light, and airy texture. Speaking of light and tender, I also used cake flour instead of all-purpose. Why? Cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour, which means less gluten, AKA toughness.
Another ingredient that aids in white cakes is clear imitation vanilla. While “imitation” might be considered a dirty word in the baking world, hear me out on this one. As opposed to pure vanilla, clear vanilla does not affect the color of anything you add it to. Obviously. Furthermore, it’s one of the secrets to creating that nostalgic cake batter/birthday cake sweetness reminiscent of Funfetti cake mix. And with the addition of a little almond extract, you’ve got the best-tasting vanilla cake in the entire universe!
In order to Funfetti-tize this cake, sprinkles are absolutely mandatory. Rainbow jimmies are the sprinkle of choice since their color doesn’t bleed into the cake batter like the little tiny nonpareil (balls) do. Also, their larger size creates those alluringly vibrant pockets of color throughout the cake.
As an homage to my favorite rainbow chip frosting, I decided to incorporate it into this cake. Enter: rainbow chip cheesecake mousse.
I repeat, RAINBOW. CHIP. CHEESECAKE. MOUSSE.
This stuff is basically everything good wrapped up into one amazingly fluffy, lusciously addictive filling. First you take a tub of rainbow chip frosting, whip it up with a box of cream cheese, then fold in some whipped topping. That’s it! It’s so simple, yet so divine. I couldn’t think of a more perfect filling to go between each fluffy funfetti layer.
Finally, a Funfetti cake wouldn’t be TRUELY Funfetti without its white vanilla buttercream exterior. This frosting is a basic American buttercream, but with more heavy cream. As opposed to ordinary milk, I’ve found that heavy cream creates a smoother, silkier, whipped feel. It also lightens the frosting, adding more volume and making it easier to spread. Clear imitation vanilla along with almond extract make another appearance in this frosting for that lovely cake batter-like flavor that I mentioned earlier.
And being that this IS a birthday cake, bright colors and sprinkles were an absolute must. So, to add some color, I divided the remaining buttercream among four bowls and dyed each separately. I used green, blue, red, and purple. To swirl them together, all I did was use a spatula to spoon the frostings into separate sections of a piping bag.
Then I piped some stars around the top border of the cake using a Wiltons #2D tip.
Last, but not least, we have the SPRINKLES!!!
If you’ve been a loyal follower of mine long enough, you’ll know that I have a bit of a sprinkle obsession. I’m still unsure if I belong on “My Strange Addiction” or “Hoarders”. Yes, it’s that bad. I suppose there could be worse addictions though…
Sprinkle medleys seem to be all the rage these days, and since I have such a vast array of sprinkles, I decided to make my own little “birthday” medley with a mix of stars, colorful spheres, and nonpareils.
So there you have it! The secrets/tips to making the perfect Homemade Funfetti Cake!
No matter how old you get, you can NEVER be too old for Funfetti.
Homemade Funfetti Cake
3 and 1/3 cup cake flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 Tablespoon clear imitation vanilla
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon almond extract*
1 and 1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup rainbow jimmy sprinkles
Rainbow Chip Cheesecake Mousse:
1 (8 oz) box cream cheese, softened
1 (16 oz) tub Rainbow Chip frosting
1 (8 oz) tub whipped topping
1 and 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt
5 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons clear imitation vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Sprinkles, for decorating
Icing colors (I used red, blue, green, and purple)
Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line four** 8-inch round baking pans with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Reduce speed and add egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extract. Mix in half of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the milk, followed by the remaining dry ingredients, and finally the remaining milk. Try not to overmix. Gently fold in the sprinkles.
Divide the remaining buttercream among 3 or 4 bowls and dye each separately with desired colors. Using a spoon or spatula, spoon buttercream into sections in a pastry bag that’s fitted with a large star tip. (See photo above.) You might need to do a few practice swirls on parchment paper before you get all 3 or 4 colors to come out. Pipe stars around the top border of the cake. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve.
*I added 1/2 teaspoon, which was very flavorful, but if you don’t care as much for almond extract, you might want to add just 1/4 teaspoon.
**If you have deep enough pans (4-inch depth), you could bake the batter in just two 8-inch pans, and split the layers with a knife. However, the baking time will be longer. You could also split the batter among two or three 9-inch pans.