This is a from-scratch version of the well-loved boxed Funfetti cake. The cake has a delicious sweet, buttery flavor and its tender crumb stays moist for days. Plus, you’ll still get the same nostalgic bursts of confetti sprinkles strewn throughout. I layer the cake with silky buttercream and top it with more sprinkles for good measure. It's instantly birthday party ready—just add candles—and it's also a truly marvelous treat that will make any day feel like a celebration.
Cake Batter Up!
Funfetti cake is cake with rainbow sprinkles folded into the batter that when baked looks like confetti. That's why it's sometimes called confetti cake. It is almost always flavored with vanilla as I do in this recipe, but some bakers, like Molly Yeh, add almond extract to mimic the boxed cake.
To ensure the sprinkles pop, the cake itself is typically white or yellow. Yellow cake uses whole eggs—the yolk gives it a yellow hue—while white cake, like in this recipe, relies only on the egg whites.
The downside of using only egg whites is that the cake becomes dry or tough as it sits. To prevent this, I have tricks:
- Oil in addition to butter ensures the cake stays moist.
- Buttermilk adds an extra bit of fat and the faintest tang to balance out the sweetness.
- Thanks to its low protein content, cake flour keeps the cake tender.
The Best Sprinkles for Funfetti Cake
I recommend using rainbow sprinkles called jimmies. They’re the ones you can find at ice cream shops, shaped like short, skinny strands or rods. Avoid nonpareils—the tiny balls—or any sprinkle that tends to bleed color quickly when in contact with liquid.
Feel free to swap the rainbow jimmies for another color palette! Just note that some colors, like white and yellow, won’t be as visible in the cake as say, green, pink, or blue.
Tips from a Cake Pro
- Start with room temperature egg whites, butter, and buttermilk. Room temperature butter is easier to beat into a light and airy cream, which creates a lighter, loftier cake. Room temperature egg whites and buttermilk will incorporate into the cake batter easily without seizing it.
- The same goes for the butter in the buttercream. Cold butter won’t aerate in the way that softened, butter will, resulting in a stiff, not fluffy frosting.
- After the flour mixture is added to the batter, mix until just combined. A few dry spots are okay! Those dry spots will get mixed in when you fold in the sprinkles.
- Make sure your cake layers are completely cool before frosting. Buttercream will melt and slide off a warm cake.
Make Ahead Funfetti Cake
When I make cakes, I break the process up over a couple of days. It’s more manageable that way. Here’s how:
- Bake the cake layers up to a day before you plan to assemble it. To store, cool them completely, tightly wrap each layer separately with plastic wrap, and store at room temperature.
- It’s best to make the buttercream the day of, but it can be prepped a day in advance. Refrigerate it in an airtight container or in the mixing bowl, tightly covered with plastic wrap. Several hours before using, take the buttercream out of the refrigerator and let it come back to room temperature. Once at room temperature, briefly beat it until light, fluffy, and spreadable.
- The cake can be assembled and decorated one day before you plan to serve it. Keep it covered overnight at room temperature, like in a cake carrier or cake stand with a cloche, or in the fridge.
More Beautiful Layered Cakes
Homemade Funfetti Cake
The cake turntable makes frosting the cake easier, but it’s not totally necessary. Decorate the cake on a platter or cake stand. Tuck strips of parchment around the bottom edges of the cake to catch any loose crumbs or frosting.
For the cake
Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups (382g) cake flour, plus more for the cake pans
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 sticks (226g) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups (367g) sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large (132g) egg whites, at room temperature
6 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature
2/3 cup rainbow sprinkles, plus more for decorating
For the buttercream
5 sticks (567g) unsalted butter, softened
3 3/4 cups (469g) powdered sugar, sifted
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
- 3 (8-inch) round cake pans
- 1 (10-inch) cardboard cake round
Bake the Cake Layers
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Set a rack in the center of the oven.
Lightly spray 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. Spray the pans once more, taking care to grease the parchment and sides. Dust the bottoms and sides with flour and tap out the excess over the sink to avoid making a mess.
Combine the dry ingredients:
Set a fine-mesh sifter over a medium bowl. Add the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and sift.
Cream the butter and sugar:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until lightened in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
Fun fact: Fat carries flavor, so beating the vanilla with the butter will help carry its flavor to each bite of cake!
Add the egg whites and oil:
Beat the egg whites into the butter mixture on medium speed, one at a time, waiting to add the next one until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds after each addition. Scrape the bowl as needed. The batter will look strange, as if separated. The next step will bring it together.
Add all the oil at once and beat on medium speed until combined. The batter will look creamy and smooth.
Add the flour mixture:
With the mixer running on low speed, add half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined, 15 to 20 seconds. Add the buttermilk and mix until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping the bowl once halfway through. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just combined, 15 to 20 seconds more. It’s okay if there are a few streaks of dry flour.
Add the sprinkles:
Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Add the sprinkles and use a rubber spatula to gently fold them into the batter until evenly distributed. Do not overmix the batter.
Bake the cake:
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Use a rubber spatula or small offset spatula to smooth the tops. Bake the cakes until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Right out of the oven, the edges will slowly spring back when gently poked with your finger, but the center will not. The center will slowly spring back when gently poked once it cools.
Cool the cakes:
Let the cakes cool in their pans set over a wire rack for 20 minutes. Then, run a small offset spatula or paring knife around each cake and turn them out onto the wire rack to fully cool.
Make the Buttercream
Make the buttercream
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
Sift the powdered sugar in and add the salt. Beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and beat until creamy and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl a couple of times.
Add the vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined. With the mixer running on medium-low speed, slowly drizzle in the heavy cream. Once all the heavy cream is added, increase the speed to medium and beat until the buttercream is light, fluffy, and spreadable, about 2 minutes.
Assemble the Cake
Trim the cake, if domed:
Place 1 cake on a cake turntable, if using. Hold a serrated knife parallel to the cake with your dominant hand. Use a short, gentle-yet-firm sawing motion to cut the dome off the top of the cake as your slowly rotate the turntable. Trim the remaining 2 cake layers. Cake scraps are the best snack!
You can do this without a cake turntable by simply sawing off the domed top.
Assemble the cake:
Set a 10-inch cardboard cake round on the cake turntable. Place a tiny dollop of buttercream on the center of the cake round and place a cake on it. This will prevent the from sliding around. Use an offset spatula to spread about 2/3 cup of buttercream evenly over the cake. Place the next cake on top. Spread another 2/3 cup of buttercream evenly over the second layer. Flip the last cake upside down and place it on top.
Add a crumb coat:
You’ll start with a crumb coat, a thin layer of frosting around the outside of the cake. The purpose of the crumb coat is to catch the cake crumbs, so your final frosting coat is smooth and crumb-free.
Use the offset spatula to spread a very thin layer of buttercream over the sides and top of the cake. Also, fill in any gaps between each layer. You should be able to see the cake through the crumb coat. Refrigerate the cake until the crumb coat is firm, about 30 minutes.
Frost the cake:
Reserve 1/3 cup buttercream for decorating the cake. Use an offset spatula to spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake.
Wipe the offset spatula clean. Hold the back of the offset spatula at a 30-to-45-degree angle against the top of the cake with the rounded end positioned in the center of the cake. Rotate the cake to smooth out the top and gently, but swiftly swipe the spatula away to create a smooth surface.
Hold the straight edge of a bench scraper (or another straight-edged tool like a ruler) against the side of the cake so that it’s just touching the buttercream. Rotate the cake, while holding the bench scraper steady, to scrape off a thin layer of frosting and smooth out the sides of the cake.
Buttercream will likely build up over the top edge. To create a sharp top edge, use the back of the offset spatula and gently swipe off the excess buttercream by swiping it towards the center. Continue doing this around the whole top of the cake, wiping the spatula between each swipe.
Decorate and Serve
Decorate the cake:
Fit a small pastry bag with a French star tip. I used an Ateco 864. Fill the pastry bag with the reserved 1/3 cup buttercream. Pipe kisses around the top edge of the cake.
Place the cake over a rimmed baking sheet or some other rimmed platter that can catch any rogue sprinkles. Gently press sprinkles onto the bottom edge of the cake and add some on top of the piped kisses.
Slice and enjoy. You deserve it!
Leftover cake is best stored covered and with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against the exposed layers to prevent it from drying out. The cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 day. I prefer to store my cakes in the refrigerator, for up to 1 week. If refrigerating, allow the cake to come up to room temperature before serving again.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 10 to 12|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 66g||85%|
|Saturated Fat 36g||178%|
|Total Carbohydrate 103g||38%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||2%|
|Total Sugars 76g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||2%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|