Grown-Up Birthday Cake

Recipe by Midge. Recipe appears in The Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2 (William Morrow Cookbooks, 2012), by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs. Reprinted with permission from the authors. Photo credit: Sarah Shatz for Food52 


For The Cake

  • Butter for the pans
  • 2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup raspberry jam (preferably homemade, of course, but I use Bonne Maman)

For The Chocolate Buttercream Icing

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1⁄4 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 


To make the cake

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter and lightly flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda into a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and eggs on medium-high speed for a minute. On low speed, mix in the vanilla, wine, and oil. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients into the batter just until smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks.


To make the icing

  1. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the cocoa powder, then gradually add the milk, beating until it looks like icing. Mix in the vanilla.


To assemble the cake
Spread a layer of jam over the top of one of the layers, then top with the other layer. Frost the top with the icing.

Time Level Yield
60+ Minutes Moderate 16-20 Servings