Don’t wait for your birthday to roll around to make this homemade funfetti cake! It’s moist, fluffy, and topped with Swiss meringue buttercream and plenty of sprinkles.
There’s something so special about a funfetti cake, isn’t there? I know it’s essentially a vanilla cake with a few extra ingredients mixed in, but the rainbow sprinkles in the batter take it to the next level somehow! I also add almond extract to my cake to make it taste more like a classic birthday cake.
This cake is so easy to make. Plus, it’s light, fluffy, and moist thanks to the combination of buttermilk, oil, and cake flour in the batter.
I used this recipe to make a funfetti layer cake, but I’ve also given instructions on how the batter can be used to make a 9×13-inch cake or cupcakes.
What You’ll Need for This Recipe
Before we go over the ingredients you’ll need to make this funfetti cake recipe, it’s important to note that they should all be at room temperature, including the buttermilk. Here’s an overview of what goes into the cake:
- Cake flour: Has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour, which results in a lighter, springier cake.
- Baking powder & baking soda: Work together to help the cake rise in the oven.
- Salt: Balances out the sweetness of the batter and enhances the vanilla flavor.
- Buttermilk: Makes for a moist and tender cake. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a substitute (although real buttermilk is preferred).
- Oil: Canola oil or vegetable oil will work in this recipe.
- Vanilla extract & almond extract: The almond extract gives it that classic funfetti birthday cake flavor.
- Unsalted butter: You’ll need two sticks of butter for the cake layers, and they must be softened to room temperature first.
- Granulated sugar: Sweetens the cake without adding flavor.
- Eggs: Also need to be at room temperature before starting the recipe. You can place the eggs in a bowl of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes, if needed.
- Sprinkles: Be sure to use the longer sprinkles, also known as jimmies. Round sprinkles tend to bleed their color into the batter and don’t work as well.
- Frosting: I used my Swiss meringue buttercream recipe, but you can use a vanilla buttercream frosting if you prefer.
How to Make a Funfetti Cake
For a funfetti layer cake, you’ll first need to whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on low speed until smooth. Slowly add the sugar to the butter, then mix on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy. This step helps to incorporate more air into your cake batter, which results in a softer cake.
To the butter mixture, add the eggs one at a time. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl after each egg to ensure everything is evenly incorporated.
Finally, you can add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three stages, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. This helps to ensure that you don’t over mix the flour, which can over develop the gluten and result in a denser cake.
Divide the cake batter between three 8-inch cake pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray and lined with parchment paper. Bake the cake layers until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, then let them cool completely before frosting.
I used my Swiss meringue buttercream to frost this cake. However, you can use my vanilla buttercream frosting if you prefer an easier option. If you do use the vanilla buttercream, I recommend doubling it so you have enough to frost the cake.
Once the cake layers have cooled and you’ve whipped up the frosting, all that’s left to do is assemble and frost the cake! I topped my funfetti cake with additional sprinkles, because those are the best part.
How to Adjust the Pan Size
I used this recipe to make a three-layer cake, but you can make any size cake or cupcakes you’d like.
For a two layer cake: Divide the batter between two 9-inch round cake pans. Adjust the baking time to 28 to 33 minutes.
For a 9×13-inch cake: Grease a 9×13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray, pour the batter into the pan, and spread it out into one even layer. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
For cupcakes: This recipe will make 32 cupcakes. Only fill each liner about 2/3 of the way full and bake for 16 to 20 minutes.
- I used cake flour in this recipe because it makes for a lighter, fluffier cake. If you don’t have cake flour on hand, you can make your own at home.
- I recommend using long sprinkles (jimmies) for this recipe. Smaller round sprinkles tend to bleed into the cake batter.
- Do not attempt to frost the cake layers while they’re still warm. Make sure to let them cool completely first.
More Layer Cake Recipes to Make!
For the funfetti cake:
- 3 cups (345 grams) cake flour (spooned & leveled)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk (room temperature)
- ¼ cup (60 ml) canola or vegetable oil
- 2 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 cup (2 sticks, or 230 grams) unsalted butter (softened)
- 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs (room temperature)
- ½ cup (100 grams) sprinkles
For the Swiss meringue buttercream:
- 6 large egg whites (198 grams)
- 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (4 sticks; 1 pound) unsalted butter (softened to a cool room temperature)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- To make the funfetti cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper, and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until well combined. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl or measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract together until well combined. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the butter on low speed until smooth, then slowly mix in the granulated sugar.
- Once all of the sugar is added, increase to medium speed and continue mixing for another 4 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Mix in the eggs, one at a time, making sure to stop and scrape around the bottom and sides of the bowl after each egg.
- Add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk mixture (begin and end with the dry ingredients) on low speed. Mix in each addition until just combined, making sure not to over mix the batter.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape around the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is well combined, then gently fold in the sprinkles.
- Evenly divide the batter between the three prepared cake pans and spread around into one even layer.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Slide a knife around the outside of the cakes, then carefully remove the cakes from the pans, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the Swiss meringue buttercream: Add the egg whites, granulated sugar, and salt to a large heat-proof bowl and whisk until well combined.
- Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk constantly until the mixture registers 160°F (71°C) on a digital thermometer (the amount of time will vary so I recommend using a thermometer here).
- Remove the bowl from the heat and transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until stiff glossy peaks form (about 10 to 15 minutes). If the outside of the bowl is still warm to the touch at this point, allow it to cool (or transfer to the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes) before proceeding with the next step.
- Switch from the whisk attachment to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-high speed, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure each tablespoon of butter is fully mixed in before adding the next tablespoon. Once all of the butter is added, continue mixing if needed until the mixture is thick, smooth, and creamy.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla extract, and continue mixing on medium speed until fully combined (about 20 to 30 seconds).
- Adjust the mixer to the lowest speed and continue mixing for 5 to 7 minutes to remove air bubbles. If needed, use a rubber spatula to beat out any remaining air bubbles.
- To assemble the cake: Level the tops of each cake with a knife or cake leveler. Place one of the cakes on a cake stand, top with ¾ cup - 1 cup of frosting, smooth it out into one even layer, repeat with the second layer and another ¾ cup - 1 cup of frosting, place the third layer on top, and use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.