Food

8 Wonderful Birthday Cakes

Strawberry cake by Smitten Kitchen

What kind of birthday cake do you like? We celebrated Anton’s fifth birthday party this weekend. (His actual birthday isn’t until July 5th, but we’ll be visiting my grandmother next week.) Here’s the cake we made at home, plus seven other cool ones…

Strawberry cake by Smitten Kitchen

We made this strawberry cake for our family celebration at home. It’s totally delicious — both sweet and tart — and as Smitten Kitchen writes, “Your apartment will smell like a strawberry patch.”

Dirt cake recipe

My mom made a dirt cake once when we were growing up, and my kids now ask me to tell that story every third night at bedtime.

Classic chocolate birthday cake with sprinkles

The classic.

key lime pie

Love the idea of decorating a cake (or, in this case, key lime pie) with flowers…

bear cake

or topping a cake with a favorite toy.

secret agent cake

Here’s a mystery cake (WHAT ON EARTH DOES IT SAY?!!???!!!) for a Secret Agent Party.

rose cake by molly yeh

This rose cake couldn’t be more beautiful, if you’re up for a challenge.

pumpkin pie pudding

As a child, I used to request pumpkin pie for my birthday, so here’s a pumpkin pudding, if you’re a little nuts, too.

strawberry cake

And, finally, we did this strawberry “cake” back on Anton’s second birthday, since he loves the fruit and (miraculously) didn’t miss the rest of it!

anton

anton

alex williams and anton goddard williams

anton

Love this sweet little bunny! Anton, you have brought so much joy into our lives.

What kind of cake do you like? Here are some beautiful birthday candles, and these made me laugh. (I need them for my next one:)

P.S. Birthday cheese, and Toby and Anton in conversation.

  1. Hi,
    That’s a delicious cake for kids birthday . I would love to try it soon.

  2. All cake ideas are different and creative but the one with worms I like the most

  3. Oh my god, these pies are beautiful! My birthday was in the middle of summer holidays, so for the last day of school my mom would make an apple pie the night before and then wake up early in the morning and put them in the oven. It was just heaven on a plate! Because I grew up in Belgium it’s not a typical American Apple Pie, and every time I’ve made in here in the States, everyone loves it! It’s such an easy recipe and the ingredients are very simple, so it’s really nice :)

  4. Daniela says...

    Thanks for the inspiration! I made pancakes today with lots of fresh strawberries (and some Meyer lemon) and my boyfriend said it was the best pancakes he’s ever had! Whaaaat. Definitely made my day, and they sure were delicious :)

  5. Tara says...

    Our immediate family gets each other a DQ ice cream cake for birthdays every year. It’s our tradition and we love it!

  6. I requested pumpkin pie for my birthday (in July!) too! Man I do love that pie. But now all I can think of is that strawberry pie. I think I have to make it this weekend! xoxo

  7. Hannah says...

    Ooooh it’s his golden birthday!!! Happy birthday Anton!

  8. Vanessa says...

    July 5 is Anton’s champagne birthday. You should get him something bubbly like sparkling apple juice!

  9. amanda says...

    I have a lot of siblings, and one of the special things we got to do for our birthdays was to make and decorate our OWN cake (to share, of course). We just did a box cake but got to pick out the flavors (usually vanilla so we could use food coloring to make it wacky), then out came the big box of sprinkles, toppers, etc… it’s such a fun memory in a childhood full of sharing EVERYTHING :)

    • sasha says...

      I love this tradition Amanda!

  10. Ann Williams says...

    I made that strawberry cake for Father’s Day. It was reeeely good!

  11. We’ve started a birthday cake for breakfast tradition in our house with our two little girls, and that SK cake is basically our base. I sub in apricots or blueberries (or use all of them!) sometimes in the summer if we’re over strawberries, and apples and pears with cinnamon in the autumn. It feels celebratory without needing to be doused with icing, which is good when having it at 8am on a Tuesday before sending everyone off to school…

  12. Tracy says...

    My sister-in-law makes BEAUTIFUL (and delicious!) cakes for many of our family celebrations (weddings, birthdays, holidays) and they’re always unique and memorable. For my 2-year-old, she recently made a chocolate Chai IPA cake with frosting that looked like the ocean (we live on the coast of Florida) and a shark fin on top. It was one of the more memorable cakes of my lifetime. (And she owns a bakeshop in your neighborhood!) instagram.com/monsoonsweets

  13. I can’t believe he’s going to be 5 already! Your kids ages let me know how long I’ve been reading!

    • Lorie says...

      I was thinking the same thing! Happy Birthday Anton!

  14. alison says...

    that strawberry cake for his second birthday is so sweet! my daughter is going to be one soon and due to some food allergies / intolerances she cant have cake (among many other things!) but she can have strawberries! I am totally going to do this for her :) thank you for the idea! I was wondering what the heck I was going to do!

    • TD says...

      Alison – if she can have quinoa I’d highly suggest making a quinoa chocolate cake (there are multiple recipes on Pinterest).

  15. Growing up in Russia, my mom made my twin sister and me smetannik for our birthday: a super moist ( oh how I wish there was an alternative to this word) cake with sour cream and shaved chocolate on top. SO good.

  16. Lisa says...

    My mom had this recipe book when I was growing up http://www.missmoss.co.za/tag/australian-womens-weekly-childrens-birthday-cake-book/ (as it seems many South African moms did) and I was DYING for her to make one of the cakes, but alas she doesn’t really like baking so would stick to her one bowl ring cake recipe, where you just dump the ingredients in a bowl, mix and bake. Though one year she did make me a barbie princess cake that was pretty cool.
    I now use the same recipe for my children’s birthday cakes – I love baking but I work full time and have two small children so need something simple. Also because I’m a millennial mom, I’ve made it healthier (or pretended to) by adding berries into the mixture. It takes it to a new level, and for my son’s most recent birthday (when I was also dealing with a new born and a snowstorm so bad amazon prime stopped delivering ARMAGEDDON), as we had eaten some of the cake, that space was filled in with blueberries, which his two friends went nuts over. Win win!

  17. For our son’s 2nd birthday, we made him a fire engine cake. It was late at night by the time we got to work. First we learned that you can’t get frosting red. We had two types of red food coloring (yuck) and we added and added until we couldn’t cope with the idea of adding more. Fire engines can be a redish pink, right? Then we had the tactical issue of how to adhere the little silver balls to the frosting to make the trim. We tried pressing them in place (wiping our hands of frosting each time). We tried blowing them on with straws. We were laughing so hysterically with exhaustion and at our situation, we were at risk of breathing them into our lungs through the straws. We settled for the illusion of trim. The cake was loved and we have the best memories ever. Love our boy and our memories of that cake. (Next year, I’ll tell you about the Hogwarts cake.)

    • Taylor says...

      🤣🤣🤣 I feel ya! I did the late night ‘pink’ fire engine cake last year for my son. Thanks for making me recall the memory and have a good laugh!!!

    • sasha says...

      You get a bottle of Wilton no taste red, and use the whole bottle.
      Elmo cake survivor here 😉

  18. Rose says...

    This comment section is making me so happy. I love hearing everyone’s birthday cake memories and favorites. I should come back here when the world starts to feel too dark. Also, I definitely thought the birthday cake was in Russian and didn’t try to decipher it! Hahaha

  19. dippythediplodocus says...

    The summer strawberry cake is a favourite in our household and can be made with all sorts of fruit – frozen berries, apples, pears! Just add a bit of cinnamon.

    I’ve been experimenting with Deb’s funfetti cake for my kiddo’s first birthday (cut the sugar significantly as I found it a bit sickly sweet) and realized throwing chocolate chips in might be more fun.

  20. emma says...

    so weird how americans celebrate birthdays early. it seems so strange to me, nobody would do this in Germany ever. Ever! It’s bad luck, but even without feeling superstitious it just feels wrong for us to celebrate something before it happened (that’s what it feels like). No saying happy birthday early, no gifts early (or at least not open them early), and definitely not celebrating early. If the date is not perfect you celebrate late even if that means weeks (or even months) after the birthday.

  21. All these cakes are just perfect for the birthday celebration. Thanks for sharing these with us.

  22. Sarah says...

    For awhile I loved getting the chocolate ganache torte from Trader Joe’s frozen section for any celebration. Birthday, work party, anniversary, etc. So good and so cheap. A dark chocolate lover’s dream. I would put sprinkles or decorations on it and it was good to go! They discontinued it (they have had other variations but it’s not the same) and I miss it so!

  23. Kathleen says...

    So this might need to be filed under “things moms did in the early 90s that are unacceptable now” BUT my mom would wash a handful of change – pennies and nickles and dimes – in soap and water and then slide them into each layer of a baked cake. After the candles were blown out, cutting into it was beyond thrilling because you’d end up with a few coins that made you feel like a millionaire! And it was a special occasion indeed if you snagged the elusive quarter!

    • Keri says...

      My mother-in-law still does this!! She wraps the coins in aluminum foil. We call it a money cake.

    • same! she claimed it was her magic baking powder.

  24. Emily says...

    You posted about that strawberry cake a little over a week ago, and I have made it THREE times since:). I love it so much. Thank you!

  25. Meche says...

    That is such a beautiful and so emotional celebration of life.
    Great work, Mom!

  26. Thuy says...

    For my daughter’s second birthday recently I was stressing about the cake then I remembered an old CoJ post about getting a simple plain cake and decorating with toys. We got Wegmans’ “ultimate white cake” (best grocery store cake ever with vanilla bean specks!), added some colored sprinkles and topped it with a a set of plastic Sesame Street toy/figurines I found on Amazon. She loved it and it was so easy and fun!

  27. For my eighth birthday, my Mom made me a Barbie cake. A new Barbie in the center, and a rounded cake makes her dress. The icing in my favourite colour green. It was 150 years ago and I’ll never forget it.

    • Ana says...

      oh my god I think every girl in the 90’s had those. we should totally bring that back, it would be a hit!

  28. Too funny: I made that exact same strawberry cake last week, too!

    • Melissa says...

      I also just made that cake! It’s delicious, so buttery and with that crispy top. I was reading all of the fruit variations people were trying in the comments section and now I’m eager to make it a bunch of different ways (cherry, peach, blueberry, etc). Definitely recommend!

  29. Eloise says...

    Growing up in Australia, I was obsessed with the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book – an institution in many households. I’d read it year round, making a shortlist of what cake I wanted my parents to make me for my birthday. I’m now 31 and in recent years we’ve dusted off the book again. Mum and Dad now surprise my husband and me with their choice every year, which typically involves a hilarious reveal ala Nailed It.

    • Bec says...

      Yes! I keep meaning to liberate ours from my Dad next time I visit! The best, I have had that many wombat shaped birthday cakes I’ve lost count.

    • B says...

      Eloise, me too!! And now my girls pull it out and browse over it, dreaming of what cake they might have for the next birthdays (like months in advance)! So fun!

    • Vicki says...

      Haha this is awesome and also now I want that book!

    • Lorna says...

      OMG YESSSS! Fellow Aussie here – the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book is an *institution*. I remember I always really wanted the duck (I think it had chips for the beak) but my mum would always try and bring me around to the ‘pool’ or ‘soccer field’ aka anything rectangle and easy haha! I totally want to go dust mine off now!

    • Andrea says...

      I grew up in Canada, and I’m not sure where it came from but we also had this book! My mom wrote in the book which cake we had every year, so fun to look back. Now my kids are obsessed with picking their cakes out of it too!

    • Karen says...

      I’m from Belgium and my mom got that book from the library every year! I remember a castle and a treasure box and some sort of car. I started a search for it now that I have kids of my own, but it’s nowhere to be found here. So nostalgic to read about it here!

  30. Rachel Elise Simmons says...

    homemade cake is one of my favorite things of all time! My Mom made me homemade chocolate chip cake with chocolate frosting, most birthdays! y.u.m. a Mom i knew back in highschool, made her daugther the same cake every year for her birthday… melted me. Bright yellow and lemony, I have always thought this was the sweetest mommma gesture.

  31. Sharon says...

    oh, I love your family posts! The way you write about each of your boys, celebrating their unique qualities and openly sharing what you love about them…

  32. Sarah says...

    It will be Anton’s golden birthday, turning 5 on the 5th! I hope you do something special to celebrate day-of. Five seems like a magical age for a golden birthday… so much more fun than my 21st when we had other, boozier, priorities!

  33. Jime says...

    Whenever I see beautiful cakes decorated with flowers I remember my 10th birthday, when my mom baked me a cake that turned out extremly uneven and we had to run last minute to the florist to get lots of “gypsophila” to put on top and level it! It turned out to be the most memorable cake!

  34. I have a summer birthday, so growing up I always had my birthday party at the pool and my mom *always* made this amazing beach cake, complete with teddy grahams for people and little strips of gum for beach towels. https://frazicake.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/beach-cake-close-up.jpg
    And this year – my 24th birthday, this past weekend – I was home with family in Georgia for the first time in a few years, so I asked my mom to make a peach cobbler instead of a birthday cake. Because where else could I get that? It was perfect :)

    • Sarah says...

      Wow that’s an impressive cake! I have a Summer birthday too and always go to the beach on my birthday. I always ask for peach pie these days because it’s peach season during my birthday. My favorite cake growing up was this watermelon ice cream cake from Friendly’s: https://www.friendlys.com/ice-cream-item/wattamelon-roll/

  35. Marlena says...

    That succulent and flower cake just floored me! I, of course, will not be attempting that as it would become a monstrosity but I just saved it to my computer desktop and will be looking at it every day. This is why I love COJ. Ha!

    Also, for our son’s recent 4th birthday party, we just piled a load of donuts on a cake plate (literally, we called it “the birthday pile”), popped in some candles, and voila! No need for plates or forks. Just grab and go. It was wonderful and we received a ton of compliments on “the pile”. :)

  36. I make Deb’s strawberry cake all summer, and have given the recipe to so many friends who do the same. It is the all time best.

  37. Ae says...

    My mouth literally dropped open when I read “anton’s Fifth birthday”. Already?!?? I’m a long time reader and can not believe it’s been that long already, that he’s such a sweet big-kid so soon! Gah. Happy birthday, antoni! This blog is so good, Joanna, that I feel personally invested in your little guys!

  38. Lindsay says...

    I made a swedish princess torte for my daughter and she loved it! So did I, so delicious. A lot of work tho. I just made my 2 year old a berry cream cake since he is obsessed with berries. It was a great vanilla cake with a big layer of macerated berry sauce and thick vanilla bean whipping/ cream cheese frosting, then topped with more plus a variety of berries and edible flowers / it was awesome.

  39. Laurel says...

    It’s been such a joy to see your little dudes grow! I remember anxiously checking my phone for days when Anton was born in search of the welcome post. Happy birthday to him and well done you Mama!

  40. Tara says...

    Anton’s baby pics are giving me baby fever. Happy Birthday Anton! My oldest is also turning 5 in July. Time is going too fast…

  41. Dee says...

    In the UK in the late eighties there was a cake decorating diva called Jane Asher. My mum had her Celebration Cakes cookbook and every birthday we were allowed to pick a cake and my mum would make it. One of her cakes was a car crash cake and needless to say my 6yr old bro choose that one but mum didn’t think it suitable so she made the cake but without the crash. Still no idea what occasion that cake was designed for!

  42. Cynthia says...

    I love strawberries and Anton’s cake looks yummy! Wow! I can’t believe he’s five. Too bad his t-shirt doesn’t come in my size because it’s so cute. Children’s clothes come in a lot of cute prints I’d gladly wear.

  43. Kim G says...

    We just celebrated my son’s fourth birthday with a fun party and a fire truck cake. It was perfect.

    Side note, does anyone remember Tom Brady claiming he’d never even tried a strawberry? Good times.

  44. Julie says...

    I love cake, but my heart belongs to apple crisp—a bunch of apples sliced and covered in an oaty, buttery, crunchy topping. With vanilla ice cream. This recipe is from a local food pantry (the Lion House) and is sooOOOOooOOOOOoo good. Always make it for my birthday. https://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/perfect-apple-crisp/

  45. Tanith says...

    Aw! Happy birthday, Anton! Your taste in cakes and “cakes” is the sweetest!

  46. LB says...

    I’m a pumpkin pie lover and have made just the pie mix, sans crust, after the holidays when I found a random can of pumpkin in the pantry. I could eat the whole thing in one sitting it’s so good! (and you can usually reduce the sugar it calls for, most pies are too sweet).

    Smitten Kitchen’s old school bday cake recipes are probably my favorite cakes.

  47. Amy says...

    I also had a dirt cake as a kid, and I told my kids the other day while they were plotting out their own birthday cakes and they were fascinated! Neither ended up choosing a dirt cake for themselves, but they brought it up a few more times in the following month because they were so curious about it. Maybe I’ll have to make one just for fun :)

    Also – tiny Anton!! My son just turned five this spring as well and for some reason, he seems to be growing up more slowly than his big sister (it feels merciful). I think because his face hasn’t changed as drastically over time.

  48. Reem says...

    Anton and I have the same birthday!! Happy birthday, sweet boy : )

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      happy birthday, reem!

    • Lauren says...

      Me too! Happy birthday, Anton and Reem! :)

  49. Laura C. says...

    Oh you brought you and Anton’s strawberry cake! It seems delicious! I am a chocolate purist too but since my brother doesn’t fancy chocolate we have to shift the chocolate and go with cheesecake or yogurt cake when he is coming to celebrate with us. We are getting them at our neighbourhood bakery lately. It’s been years that I don’t bake my own cake!
    Anton is going to five, wow. My little house plant. I’m so proud. 😄

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “My little house plant. I’m so proud.” <3 <3 <3

  50. I’ve seen that strawberry cake EVERYWHERE and I can’t wait to make it! Thank you for sharing it here!

    I have to share this cake recipe that I found years ago. I had subscribed to Food and Wine and wanted to challenge myself to actually MAKE something from the magazine, instead of just drooling over the photos.

    It’s a delicious loaf cake and makes three very full loaves. Some whipped cream + berries of your choice, and you are set! They can also be made a day in advance:

    https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/orange-scented-buttermilk-cake-loaves

  51. Lindsey says...

    Your posts on the Smitten Kitchen strawberry cake have inspired me to make it this week—plans are to keep half for us and take half to a friend who just had her fourth (she admittedly deserves the whole thing.)

    My husband wakes up in the wee hours on my birthday each year and bakes me a homemade coffee cake for me to wake up to. It’s such a treat!

  52. My littlest always wants a chocolate cake so I just make a super simple round one, cover it in chocolate frosting and add some toys on top (Schleich animals are great for decorating with). My two older girls like to have something a little more creative but it’s still usually just a chocolate cake in a more interesting shape. A few years back my oldest wanted a chocolate chip cookie cake and it was such a hit with her party guests – and it was delicious! I modified the cookie recipe off the Ghirardelli chocolate chip packet and it was so good. You can see the cake (and the recipe) here: https://www.littlehiccups.net/2017/02/chocolate-chip-cookie-cake.html

  53. Sonja says...

    Happy golden birthday, Anton! Mine was my 10th and my grandma and Mom made it a day! Golden (paper) plates, cups, balloons, streamers, signs – you name it, it was gold. Gold coins all over the table, goldgoldgold. I loved it and nearly 20 years later I still vividly remember it. I felt so important and so loved.

  54. Suma Pandhi says...

    Love these!

  55. Meg says...

    Just a tiny note :) The chocolate cake picture is from Smitten Kitchen. I recognized the photo immediately (perfection on a plate burned in to my memory haha) but then was surprised when the link went to someone else’s site with an adaptation of the recipe. Anyhoo, they all look divine…. now I just need a reason to make some cake!!! And happy birthday to your amazing little dude.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, yes, changing now! thank you!

    • Erika says...

      I recognized it too! I have made that cake several times. It is simple and delicious!

  56. M says...

    I love a trifle on my birthday instead of a cake: layers of crumbled brownie, chocolate pudding, heath crunch, and cool whip. I’m not sure when I realized my birthday dessert didn’t have to be a cake, but it’s been so much more fun to look forward to a favorite than to settle for cake (I mean, I like cake, given my druthers would I choose it in a last meal scenario? Definitely not)

  57. Betsy says...

    Happy, Happy Birthday, Anton! Hope it’s your best year yet!

    My absolute favorite cake is from the Denver sheet cake from the Colorado Cache cookbook. Drool just thinking about it.

    • Kathleen says...

      Denver chocolate sheet cake!!! Now that’s a blast from the past although I got the biggest craving for it a few months ago and made it. Nothing like boiling that buttermilk for the tangy icing!

  58. Jess says...

    Happy birthday to sweet Anton!

  59. Lea says...

    The secret agent cake says Happy Birthday backwards but the name appears to be Hpobe? Maybe it was supposed to be Ebohp, which would be Phobe backward? Is that an alternative spelling of Phoebe? Curious minds want to know.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha you’re right! it’s supposed to be pheobe! the grocery store made it and must have misspelled :)

    • Alexan says...

      I came to the comments to make sure I wasn’t crazy… That doesn’t look like a word!

    • Jillian says...

      Thank you! This name is the reason I’m scrolling through every comment!

    • C says...

      Haha look at all of us secret agents! Came here for this comment too

    • Lindsay says...

      I had a backwards birthday party once, including a cake written backwards and they spelled my name wrong too! There were upside down sundaes to make up for it, though. :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      upside down sundaes is such a cute idea!

  60. Emily G says...

    My mom makes an amazing chocolate chip “pound” cake in a bundt pan and frosts it with homemade chocolate fudge icing. That’s usually my request, although when I was little I liked having an ice cream cake since my birthday is in August. My brother usually opts for chocolate cake with peanut butter icing, and my mom likes our family “black midnight” cake (chocolate with hot coffee in the batter) with cooked German white icing. I like that one too and it’s so easy to make!

    • Abby says...

      Hi Emily,
      as a German I am curious what “cooked German white icing” is? Icing in Germany usually is a mix of icing sugar and lemon juice, so I am super interested what is understood by “German icing” in your country :)
      Also: hot coffee in the batter sounds delicious!

  61. Sarah says...

    Glad to hear that you had success with Smitten Kitchen’s strawberry cake as I’m making it for a family get-together this week!
    A favorite birthday “cake” in my family is been Cherry Cheese Pie. The recipe is from the Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      the cake is sooooo delicious, i hope you guys love it!

  62. Hannah says...

    Love! I’m staying with my boyfriend’s Polish family right now and I’ve found cooking has helped with the language barrier so much! In Poland, they celebrate “Name Days” more than birthdays. Yesterday was his Babcia’s Name Day, (her name is Jenina, pronounced like Yeh-nina, but EVERYONE calls her Babcia) So I’m making a big pavlova tonight for a belated celebration. It strikes me as a great gluten-free option! Bonus: you don’t have to crank the oven up too high. Plus, what could go too wrong with loads of fresh strawberries and cream on top?! X

  63. Lauren says...

    So excited to make a dirt cake for my daughter (2yo), just for fun. She’s very excited about all things outdoors/gardening. Thanks for reminding me of this cake format! : )
    I always had an angel food cake for my birthday growing up (from a box!). Still one of my favorites.

  64. Lindsey says...

    My birthday is in autumn. As a kid, my mom made me a pumpkin pie every year. I’ve always loved that tradition!

  65. Kate says...

    I made that Strawberry Summer Cake over the weekend to take to meet my future MIL for the first time. It was so pretty and delicious! The meeting went so well, too! Yay!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so glad, kate!!!

  66. I’m part of a family of chocoholics. My Dad sometimes prefers Mom’s apple pie (which is pretty stellar, IMHO), but these days, everybody always chooses Mom’s rich chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Sometimes she does a caramel icing, which is SO rich and good, but mostly we have chocolate-chocolate, and it’s epic with some ice cream on the side.

    We often go out to restaurants for family birthday meals, and take the cake along, and some very lucky servers have shared it over the years. They always like that!

  67. Claire says...

    Fun post! My son, now 16, has become very interested in baking (extra inspired by the Great British Baking Show), and our birthday cakes seem to be getting more and more elaborate, and baking has taken on a competitive edge, as he and my chef husband try to out-do each other. I am actually just fine with getting a cake from a bakery, but they will have none of it. In other cake news, once I was able to get some space in the kitchen, I made this simple cake, and it was easy and excellent. It’s an Italian recipe that includes ricotta, grated apple, lemon, 2 eggs and an ample abundance of butter. Hard to miss with that combo. https://food52.com/recipes/10436-louisa-s-cake

  68. Emily says...

    My family growing up wasn’t really into “traditional” birthday cake so we got to pick whatever dessert we wanted for our birthdays in lieu of cake. My dad has always requested apple pie, my younger sister’s favorite was a “make you own” ice cream sundae bar, and my memorable dessert was having crème brûlée for my 18th birthday and feeling super grown up and ready to be an adult, haha!

  69. Kirsten says...

    Ok I am stealing that strawberry “cake” idea for my daughter’s one year birthday this summer! She LOVES strawberries.

    • L says...

      We made strawberry shortcake for my daughter’s first birthday party–strawberries, cake, and whipped cream, which each guest could serve separately to their own preferences/dietary needs. Well, we were rather strict parents who had thus far avoided exposing our daughter to cake–but she loved any kind of fruit she had ever met. She was not sure what this cake and whipped cream nonsense was, but the strawberries were very exciting–so she deliberately threw every piece of cake on the ground, and happily consumed the strawberries, much to the delight of the other guests.

  70. Happy birthday, Anton! We just used the “cake builder” section of Smitten Kitchen Everyday for my daughter’s 2nd birthday party yesterday, which I found really fun and helpful. I made mini-cupcakes with a swirl of frosting and a blueberry on top of each one: adorable and just the right size for toddlers.

  71. Caitlin says...

    I’m afraid to know what this says about me as a parent, but my 20 month-old would never let me get away with that strawberry “cake”! Where we live, fruit is so plentiful that they eat pounds of it every day, and he’s been to enough birthday parties with his older sister to know exactly what to expect. I let him eat things I never let my daughter eat when she was his age. I’ve totally created a sugar-toothed monster and if he doesn’t get a cupcake on his birthday, he will certainly voice his displeasure! I love the strawberry cake idea as a compromise.

    • Abesha1 says...

      Second child syndrome is REAL! haha!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “he will certainly voice his displeasure!” = haha so cute!

  72. Emily says...

    I had a dirt cake when I was in elementary school and it’s still my favorite cake ever! And that cakeless strawberry cake is exactly what I need for my daughter’s first birthday. Genius!

  73. Laura says...

    Anton is 5! Wow!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i know! he has grown into such a curious, kind little boy, a total pleasure to raise xoxoxoxo

  74. That rose cake is so beautiful! And your strawberry one looks delicious too…

    Growing up my Finnish mom always made a certain birthday cake: 2 basic sponge cakes with a middle layer that was crushed pineapple from a can. The topping was proper whipped cream with a little sugar laced in, and more pineapple chunks and maybe chocolate sprinkles. Simple, no artificial anything, and it tasted light and refreshing as opposed to a sugar overload. :) The best!

  75. Katie says...

    Happy Birthday to your sweet son! What a cutie. I must ask, where is the bicycle shirt from. My three year old would love it :)

  76. Katha says...

    On birthdays we have Pancake Cake (with whipped cream and cherry jam/jelly) like Patterson & Findus for breakfast.

    • Abby says...

      Coming from a fellow child that grew up with all the Swedish children’s books I absolutely love that! (It takes so much effort without a proper pancake pan though! Absolutely miss my Icelandic cast iron pancake pan – it was just too heavy to take on the plane when moving back ^^)

  77. My mom was a professional baker for many years, so the cakes she made for me and my two sisters growing up were ornate and amazing.

    When she married my stepdad, my mom baked her own wedding cake! It was three tiers and intricately decorated; I’m sure she could make that rose cake. While I’m a good baker, I can’t decorate to save my life, so my cakes never feature piped roses or perfect cursive, but they still taste great!

    BUT–maybe because she was such an amazing baker, she never wants cake for her birthday, which is in October; she always requests pumpkin pie. So, Joanna, you’re not alone!

    • Terri says...

      My husband’s birthday is in spring, and he has requested pumpkin pie before! He likes pie better than cake, so some years he asks for pie instead. This year he wanted an apple pie, so I made him one using the recipe my grandmother learned from her mother and passed down to me.

  78. Chef Christy says...

    Whenever I see real flowers on a cake I feel the need to point out that before anybody puts flowers on a cake they should ensure that they were grown for food. Flowers that are traditionally purchased from a florist or a store are treated and are not safe to touch food! Please special order your real flowers for a cake so make sure they are food safe!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you, christy!

  79. Hayley says...

    Mmmm…just had strawberry shortcake with custard and real cream for my birthday on the weekend. It’s my favourite!

  80. Anon says...

    That strawberry cake reminds me of Victoria Beckham’s watermelon birthday cake. Great taste in cakes huh 😄

  81. My birthday is in early May, so for as long as I can remember, my mom has made me a Kentucky Derby Pie (most importantly, with an Oreo crust) for my birthday every year. I’m 35 now and still think this is the best ‘birthday cake’ I can imagine. (For the uninitiated, Kentucky Derby Pie is like pecan pie but with chocolate!)

  82. Flannery says...

    I made this cake this weekend too, and it was a total hit and very easy! Adding it into my summer rotation for sure.

  83. I’m a cake purist – chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

    • Michelle says...

      Agreed! My mom made me the exact same devil’s food cake with homemade (extremely rich) chocolate frosting every year growing up. When my husband asked for a vanilla cake with buttercream for his birthday the first year we were married I was like… What??
      My mom was in town for my 31st birthday last week and made a cake without even asking and it was magic. :)

    • Ditto! Bring on the chocolate, with more chocolate.
      Always room for chocolate. ;)

  84. Sara says...

    We celebrated our daughter’s eighth on Friday with that exact Smitten Kitchen cake, recipe doubled to be stackable, and topped with a generous sprinkling of chocolate jimmies. It was delicious!
    My birthday is tomorrow, though, and all I want is a fancy ice cream sandwich. :)

  85. lesley says...

    how darling that you served strawberries for his 2nd. and you still made it special. at that age they don’t even know they’re ‘supposed’ to have a cake.

  86. Nora says...

    Every year growing up, my mom and I would get up early on my birthday and have exactly the same cake: Storebought yellow cake bottom, canned vanilla pudding spread over it, and topped with a ton of strawberries. My mom was a pastor and worked A TON, and looking back, I love that she scrambled together a quick cake in no time and instead spent precious time with me, celebrating. She passed away almost five years ago and I still get up early on my birthday and have storebought, quick strawberry cake.

    With my much younger sister, the tradition was to make a chocolate hedgehog cake (something like this: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/hedgehog-cake). She’s 20 now, and I still make it for her on her birthday!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, nora! and i love your note about your mom :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      and omg that hedgehog cake is amazing!!

    • This is a wonderful cake, thanks for sharing! Got it on my Pinterest for a rainy day. ;)

    • Janey says...

      Thank you Nora, I have bookmarked the hedgehog cake for my hedgehog loving little nieces birthday, it’s just what I’ve been looking for! And what a lovely memory of your mum.