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Grandma’s Vanilla Birthday Cake with Chocolate Frosting
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5 from 5 votes

Grandma’s Vanilla Birthday Cake with Chocolate Frosting

If you're looking for that special birthday cake that Grandma use to put a whole lot of love and skill into, then this Vanilla Birthday Cake with Chocolate Frosting is the right thing to bake! The secret: A little peanut butter in the frosting.
Course Dessert
Keyword baked, birthday, birthday cake, cake, chocolate, dessert, easy, family-friendly, holidays, kid-friendly, sprinkles, vanila
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea



  • 4 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 cup salted butter, softened at room temp. (You can also use unsalted butter; Just add 1 tsp salt when using)
  • 3 large organic eggs, room temp.
  • 2 egg yolks, room temp.
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups "Buttermilk" (I use Almond milk + 1 Tbsp lemon juice; Feel free to use whole milk, if desired)


  • 5 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup salted butter, softened at room temp.
  • 1/4 cup organic cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 Tbsp organic peanut butter, optional
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Almond milk (You can use your fave plant-based milk or whole milk, if desired)


  • Rainbow sprinkles



  • Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease (with butter) AND line with parchment paper the bottoms of TWO 9-inch or 8-inch cake pans (for thicker layers) or THREE 6-inch cake pans.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the milk and lemon juice and set aside for 5-10 minutes until everything "activates" to create the dairy-free "buttermilk".
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder until combined.
  • In a bowl, add the butter and sugar, beating them together using a hand-mixer (on high-speed), until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs (one at a time) followed by the egg yolks and vanilla, mixing until combined. On low-speed, add in the dry ingredients followed by the buttermilk and continue to mix until combined and the batter is smooth, about 3-4 minutes. NOTE: The batter should be thick, yet slowly run off the whisk once lifted.
  • Divide the batter evenly into each of the cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick or butter knife comes out clean when tested in the centers.
  • Remove cakes from the oven and let them rest in the pan for 10 minutes or so before removing the cakes and placing them onto a cooling rack to fully cool. NOTE: Let them cool for at least 1-2 hours in a cool place.


  • Simply beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand-mixer) on medium-high speed, until smooth and pale. Add in the peanut butter and cocoa powder and beat until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk, continuing to mix on medium-speed until you reach the desired consistency----smooth and fluffy. NOTE: Add more milk (1 Tbsp at a time if too thick) or powdered sugar (for more thickness).


  • Place the first cake layer on your cake stand and evenly cover the top with buttercream and a handful of rainbow sprinkles. Now, top with 2nd layer and add more buttercream atop that layer, spreading it over the tops and sides of cake, evenly and thinly. NOTE: If making a 3-layer, be sure to repeat step 1 of assembly once again before getting to the final layer.
  • Once fully frosted, add small little designs of the buttercream using a piping bag + tip around the sides and top of cake. Feel free to add handfuls of rainbow sprinkles to the tops and side of cake, if desired. Chill for 5 minutes to ensure that buttercream sets.
  • When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator. Slice and enjoy!
  • Bon Appetit!


  • STORAGE: Keep cake leftovers stored for up to 4-5 days in the fridge. Keep it in an airtight container to keep the cake from drying out. You can also freeze the cake tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost the cake on the counter.
  • FLOUR: You can also use cake flour in place of all-purpose flour for a fluffier texture. 
  • VANILLA CUPCAKES + CHOCOLATE FROSTING: This recipe yields about 30 cupcakes. Simply bake for 18-20 minutes instead, until centers come out clean.
  • DAIRY BUTTERMILK: Add 1 cup of organic heavy cream + 1 Tbsp lemon juice and let sit for 10 minutes, until it thickens.
  • VEGAN OPTION: To make this cake entirely dairy-free + vegan, simply omit the salted or unsalted butter and eggs and use vegan butter instead and add 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar to milk instead of lemon juice. Ensure that all ingredients are vegan-friendly, including cocoa powder and rainbow sprinkles.