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Birthday Explosion Cake

This cake is inspired by The Flour Shop in New York City. The recipe takes a bit of time and effort, but the finished product is truly a showstopper! Celebrate a special occasion with this bright, colorful and delicious cake.

Tasty Team
90% would make again
Birthday Explosion Cake


for 1 cake

Rainbow Cake

  • 3 cups all purpose flour (375 g)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400 g)
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups milk (360 mL), room temperature
  • red food coloring
  • orange food coloring
  • yellow food coloring
  • green food coloring
  • blue food coloring
  • purple food coloring
  • nonstick cooking spray, for greasing

Vanilla Simple Syrup

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar (50 g)
  • ¼ cup water (60 mL)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 blocks cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 32 oz powdered sugar (905 g)
  • milk, as needed


  • 2 cups assorted sprinkles (240 g)
  • 1 cup nonpareil sprinkles (120 g)

Special Equipment

  • 1 round cake pan, 6 in (15 cm)
  • 1 cardboard cake round, 6 in (15 cm)


  1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and granulated sugar with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until soft, light, and creamy, 5–6 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed until well incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate.
  3. Alternate adding the milk and dry ingredients a little at a time, starting and ending with the flour. Beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Do not overmix.
  4. Evenly divide the batter between 6 small bowls, about 1 cup each. Dye each bowl with one color of food coloring.
  5. Grease 6 6-inch round cake pans, or as many as you have, with nonstick spray. Add each color cake batter to a prepared baking pan (working in batches if needed) and tap the pans on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then flip onto a wire rack and let cool for another 15 minutes.
  6. While the cakes bake, make the vanilla simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and vanilla and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and transfer the syrup to a heatproof container. Let cool completely.
  7. Make the cheesecake buttercream: Add the cream cheese and butter to a large bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer on low speed until light and fluffy, 2–3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate.Gradually sift in the powdered sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated. If the frosting seems too thick, add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Transfer about 2 cups of frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Set the remaining frosting aside in the bowl.
  8. Assemble the cake: Brush the cakes with the vanilla simple syrup.
  9. Use a 2-inch round cookie cutter to remove the centers from each cake layer, except the red cake.
  10. Set the 6-inch cardboard cake round on a turntable and pipe a dab of frosting onto the round. Place the purple cake on top of the board. Pipe buttercream around the top and top with the blue cake. Repeat with the green, yellow, and orange cakes. Fill the center of the cake with the assorted sprinkles, then top with the red cake.
  11. Use an offset spatula to lightly frost the entire cake with the reserved buttercream to create a crumb coat. Transfer to the freezer to firm up, about 15 minutes.
  12. Remove the cake from the freezer and evenly frost the entire cake with a thick layer of buttercream.
  13. Carefully hold the cake over a container or baking dish (to catch any fallen sprinkles) and coat the entire cake with the nonpareil sprinkles. (If you’re having trouble getting the sprinkles to stick, brush the frosting with a bit of the simple syrup and try again.)
  14. Slice the cake and watch the sprinkles rush out.
  15. Enjoy!
  16. Don't just wing it -- plan it! Use our meal planner tool in the Tasty app. Download here.
Birthday Explosion Cake