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12 Birthday Cake Tips That'll Make You Look Like A Pro Chef

Tips, tricks, and actual recipes for making a beautiful birthday cake from scratch.

Charlotte Gomez/BuzzFeed

Looking to make the ultimate birthday cake for that special someone? We've got you covered.

We rounded up 12 helpful tips for pulling it off as well as 12 of our favorite recipes to get you started. So pick out your favorite recipe, keep these tips in mind, and bake a stunning birthday cake. You got this!

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CAKE TIP #1: When making funfetti cake, toss your sprinkles in flour before adding them to the batter.

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If you're planning to make your own funfetti cake, make sure to toss the sprinkles in a bit of flour before adding them to the batter. This will help them float in the batter (rather than sink to the bottom) and make sure they are evenly distributed. Also, when it comes to sprinkles, stick to the artificially colored varieties — the fancy natural kinds don't work as well.

See more: Get a 14-ounce container of rainbow sprinkles (that are perfect for making funfetti cake) on Amazon for $7.72.

Put the tip to use: Funfetti Cake

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Funfetti is the ultimate celebration cake, and opting for a homemade version instead of the boxed variety takes it from good to great. Get the recipe.

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CAKE TIP #2: Make sure you completely cool your cakes before frosting and cutting them.

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Frosting a warm cake with cold frosting in a recipe for disaster. Even a cake that's just slightly warm can cause the frosting to melt, so make sure you give it plenty of time to reach room temperature. Additionally, don't cut your cake layers before they cool off. Cutting a warm cake layer will cause it to dry out, so just be patient and factor in some cooling time.

See more: How to cool a cake quickly.

Put the tip to use: One-Bowl Chocolate Cake

rosebakes.com

Just about everyone loves chocolate cake, and this version (made entirely in one bowl) is as easy as it gets. The whole thing can be pulled off in under an hour, and because it's so simple to make, you can jazz it up with whatever decorations you want — from sprinkles to fancy frosting flowers. Get the recipe.

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CAKE TIP #3: If frosting a cake intimidates you, opt for using ganache or caramel icing instead of buttercream.

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Using ganache or caramel icing is much more forgiving than using a standard buttercream frosting. They're looser, which means they hide imperfections well and don't need to be perfectly applied. For people just starting out with cake decorating, this is a great way to make professional-looking cakes without the hassle of applying buttercream.

See more: How to make chocolate ganache and caramel icing.

Put the tip to use: Real Deal Southern Caramel Cake

grandbaby-cakes.com

This cake, coated in rich caramel icing instead of frosting, is moist, tender, and the perfect unexpected birthday cake. Get the recipe.

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CAKE TIP #4: If you're using buttercream frosting, make sure to apply a crumb coat before adding the final frosting layer.

cococakeland.com

A crumb coat is just a fancy term for a thin layer of frosting applied underneath the final layer. Chilling the crumb coat in the fridge locks in cake crumbs and makes your final layer of frosting look more professional.

See more: How to frost (and crumb coat) a cake.

Put the tip to use: Perfect Vanilla Cake

bakingamoment.com

If you're looking for a super simple birthday cake recipe, this is it. It's the perfect blank canvas for you to add an array of decorations or flavors — from a dash of lemon extract to festive sprinkles. Get the recipe.

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CAKE TIP #5: To make your cakes look more professional, trim your layers so the tops are completely flat before assembling.

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If your cakes come out of the oven with a domed top, use a serrated knife to trim it so it lays flat. If you were to keep the domed tops, your cake would be uneven and start to lean. (You can always use the scraps to make cake pops or simply eat them.)

See more: Learn how to perfectly trim a cake.

Put the tip to use: Milk and Cookies Layer Cake

lifeloveandsugar.com

If you're looking for a birthday cake that screams celebration and are down to tackle a baking project, this is the cake for you. It tastes just like milk and cookies, and people will think that you're a cake expert after eating it. Get the recipe.

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CAKE TIP #6: Make sure to prep your pans with both butter and parchment paper.

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There's no use in spending a ton of time preparing a cake if you're not going to properly prep your cake tins. Using both butter and a layer of parchment paper in your cake tins will prevent your cake from sticking, so take the extra time and do it right.

See more: Learn how to prep a cake pan.

Put the tip to use: Strawberry Cake

platedcravings.com

This strawberry cake is the perfect way to celebrate a summer birthday. It's a bit of a project — just because you have to make a homemade strawberry buttercream and filling — but it's not difficult. Get the recipe.

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CAKE TIP #7: Use the toothpick test to determine when your cake is done baking.

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Nothing is worse than a dry cake, and the only way to prevent that is by baking it for the right amount of time. Baking times stated in recipes are a great place to start, but your oven could be running hot or cold, thus making the baking time inaccurate. Instead, use the toothpick test about 10 minutes before it's supposed to be done. If it comes out clean, your cake is ready.

See more: Learn how to test cake doneness.

Put the tip to use: Marble Pound Cake

hummingbirdhigh.com

Achieving that perfect marbled look is much easier than you'd expect. You simply pour two different batters into the same cake tin (in this case, chocolate and vanilla) and use a toothpick to swirl them together. The end result is stunning and will make you look like a pro baker. Get the recipe.

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CAKE TIP #8: Use add-ins like graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, or crushed pretzels to add texture and excitement to your cake layers.

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If you're using a boxed cake mix (or simply want to jazz up a homemade cake) feel free to add things like nuts, chocolate chips, or graham crackers to your batter. It'll give your cakes a pop of texture and added flavor without changing the texture. (Just make sure you stick to items that are dry, as adding something like fresh fruit might make your cake batter too wet.)

Put the tip to use: S'mores Cake

livforcake.com

Homemade marshmallow fluff makes this s'mores cake look and taste like the real thing, while crushed graham crackers add flavor and texture to the batter. (And don't attempt to use store-bought marshmallow fluff. It's too thin and will slide right off the cake.) Get the recipe.

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CAKE TIP #9: Keep things simple and elegant and go for a naked layer technique instead of frosting the entire cake.

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Naked layer cakes (aka cakes that are only partially frosted on the sides) look super elegant but are surprisingly simple to pull off. It's essentially just a crumb coat (the first layer of frosting) that's thin enough to let the cake layers shine through. It's an easy technique that'll make you look like a pro pastry chef.

See more: See how to ice a naked layer cake.

Put the tip to use: Lemon Layer Cake With Mascarpone Buttercream

thelittleepicurean.com

This bright lemon cake is covered in a mascarpone frosting to keep it light and flavorful. It's the perfect cake for spring birthdays, or for anyone who isn't a fan of chocolate or vanilla. Get the recipe.

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CAKE TIP #10: If you're using coconut oil to bake a vegan cake, make sure it's refined so the flavor isn't too strong.

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Many vegan cake recipes use coconut oil in place of butter. If a recipe calls for it, make sure you're using refined coconut oil instead of virgin varieties. The flavor is pretty mild, so you won't end up with a cake that tastes like coconut. (But if you do want the flavor to come through, virgin or unrefined varieties would work well.)

See more: Learn more about the differences between refined and unrefined coconut oil.

Put the tip to use: Vegan Chocolate Cake

itdoesnttastelikechicken.com

Because everyone deserves a great cake on their birthday — vegans included! This version uses non-dairy milk and vegan butter to make it completely dairy-free without sacrificing flavor, but you could use your favorite refined coconut oil in place of the vegan butter without any problems. Get the recipe.

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CAKE TIP #11: Serve your cakes at room temperature instead of cold.

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Before serving your cake, make sure to bring it back to room temperature if it's been in the fridge. Cold cake can taste dry, and cold frosting gets hard —nobody wants that. Just schedule time to temper your cake and you'll be OK.

Put the tip to use: Banana Cake With Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

sallysbakingaddiction.com

Anyone who loves banana bread will love this cake. It's made with ripe bananas and coated in a layer of rich cream cheese frosting. It's moist, flavorful, and the perfect cake for a birthday celebration. Get the recipe.

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CAKE TIP #12: If you're baking a gluten-free birthday cake, make sure your flour blend contains xanthan gum.

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Xanthan gum is a food additive that helps make gluten-free batter sticky. Because there is no gluten in GF cake batter, xanthan gum helps mimic the elasticity you would normally get from flour. Just a small amount of it can help make sure your cakes come out with a nice texture, so if your gluten-free flour blend doesn't contain it, you might want to add it. King Arthur Flour suggests adding 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of flour, but this ratio is just a starting point.

See more: Learn more about the importance of xanthan gum for gluten-free baking.

Put the tip to use: Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake

glutenfreeonashoestring.com

This simple cake is the perfect gluten-free recipe to serve as is, or dress up with whatever decorations you want. Get the recipe.

Looking for more baking inspiration? Check out these posts:

These Are The Most Popular Tasty Desserts Of All Time

17 Delicious Baked Goods You Should Make This Weekend

19 Tasty Desserts You Can Bake In Less Than 10 Minutes

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