Funfetti cake is a reminder to us all that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Slice into this fluffy white cake, and you’ll be greeted by a rainbow of color. Whether you call ’em sprinkles, jimmies or nonpareils, the confetti-like candy speckling the batter tells us one thing: It’s party time. That’s why this delightful dessert is great for any kind of celebration. Bring it to birthday parties or graduations-or bake it up on a weeknight to liven up a ho-hum day.
Maybe you’ve picked up the boxed stuff before, but it’s so simple (and much more delicious) to make it from scratch. Follow along as our Test Kitchen shows you how to make funfetti cake.
What You’ll Need:
For the Cake:
2-1/4 cups cake flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 large egg whites
3/4 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup rainbow jimmies
For the Buttercream Frosting:
4 large egg whites
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon yellow food coloring, optional
Step 1: Get Prepared
Start off by preheating your oven to 350°. Get out the shortening and grease two 9-in round baking pans, then line the pans with parchment paper and grease the paper, too. This will help the cakes release from the pans perfectly.
Step 2: Batter Up!
In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Slowly beat in the butter. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. (Hang onto the yolks to make a creamy homemade pudding, like this one.) Gradually beat in the milk and extracts.
Once combined, it’s time to make the magic happen. Grab the jimmies and gently stir them into the batter. Fold in those rainbow-colored delights just until they’re evenly dispersed, being careful not to overmix the batter. This step is a good time to get the kids involved.
Test Kitchen tip: Don’t have time to bake a cake from scratch? Simply add 1/3 cup rainbow jimmies to your favorite white or yellow cake mix from the box.
Step 3: Get Baking
Split the confetti-speckled batter evenly between the prepared pans. I like to gently tap the pans against a countertop to release any air bubbles. Tapping the pans also helps smooth out the surface, but if it still looks uneven, have at it with a rubber spatula. Stick the cakes in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Once they’re cooked, let the cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes or so, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Step 4: Make the Buttercream
While the cakes are cooling, make the topping. For this recipe, we’re making a rich, brown-sugary buttercream, but feel free to switch it up with classics like Creamy Fudge Frosting or easy Vanilla Frosting. In a heatproof bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together egg whites, brown sugar and salt until blended. If you don’t have a stand mixer, this recipe can double as a workout for the arms and shoulders! Place the bowl on a double boiler so it sits over simmering water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk the mixture constantly until a thermometer reads 160°. This will take 2-3 minutes.
Test Kitchen tip: To be a real multitasking hero, cube the butter and place it by the stove to soften as you work.
Remove the bowl from the heat. With the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about seven minutes. Gradually beat in the softened butter, a few tablespoons at a time, on medium speed until smooth. Finally, beat in the vanilla extract and, if desired, food coloring.
Test Kitchen tip: We use clear vanilla extract because the dark stuff alters the frosting’s hue.
Step 5: Let’s Decorate
Pull out your finest serving plate or just a cardboard cake circle, like pro bakeries do. Frosting a cake can get messy. To achieve a clean look, line the edges of the serving plate with strips of parchment paper, then lay a cake layer on top. Spread frosting liberally between the layers and over the top and sides of the cake.
To decorate as shown, grab a handful of sprinkles and lightly press them into the bottom edge of the cake. We like to press the sprinkles on before removing the parchment. Once you’re finished, remove each piece of parchment by gently tugging it from beneath the cake.
Test Kitchen tip: Don’t limit yourself to rainbow jimmies. Candy sprinkles come in tons of different shapes and colors. Try decorating your cake with hearts, stars, snowflakes or other seasonal sprinkles to suit the occasion.
Another Test Kitchen tip: If spare sprinkles land on the plate, carefully remove them using a pastry brush.
Step 6: Enjoy!
At last, your funfetti cake is finished. To keep it in tip-top shape, stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
Now that you’ve mastered funfetti cake from scratch, it’s easy to expand on this rainbow recipe. Here are a few ideas:
- Bake the cake batter in ice cream cones, like we do in our Cupcake Cones recipe.
- Make funfetti cupcakes or mini cupcakes.
- Use birthday cake-flavored ice cream between the cake layers. Check out our recipe for funfetti-style Ice Cream Birthday Cake to see how it’s done.