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What are your favorite non-traditional birthday cake ideas?

flzhang Apr 18, 2011 06:13 PM

I want to make a cake for my friend, but I know he doesn't like the traditional floury cake + frosting. I also want to do something fancier/more interesting. Any suggestions/recipes?

  1. r
    Rick Apr 24, 2011 03:53 PM

    If I were to pick something else besides a cake for my birthday it would be a chocolate chip cheesecake or a tiramisu.

    1. Emme Apr 24, 2011 01:34 PM

      seconding the dacquoise up-thread ... An almond and/or hazelnut dacquoise with a buttercream filling (flavored depending upon what you/he likes... chocolate lemon, vanilla, berry, etc)

      on the ice cream tending side... Mud Pie or Baked Alaska

      or a little more abstract a Crumb Topped "Apple Cake" - peel and core apples. slice thinly horizontally, then carefully cook down in a large pan, in batches, using butter and a bit of brown sugar... let cool slightly then take how many ever cakes you plan to make - that number of apple slices- line a sheet pan and top them with a streusel (use flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, etc) and broil til streusel is golden. then make the cakes - use three slices per "cake" (two unstreuseled and one streuseled for top) and use a filling of your choice between, if even just a bit of creme anglaise or even creme fraiche (or even molded ice cream sliced rounds that are the same size as the apple slices)... apple as cake as apple...

      1. j
        jbsiegel Apr 24, 2011 12:37 PM

        My sister ALWAYS had Pecan Pie for her birthday "cake" growing up. (Can't stand Pecan Pie myself!)

        1. jacquelines Apr 24, 2011 11:11 AM

          Cannoli Cake!
          My parents got one for me when I got into Medical school; it is the only "birthday" cake I eat besides my favorite ice cream cake with the little chocolate crunchies in the center.

          1. j
            jamieeats Apr 24, 2011 10:05 AM

            for fourth of july, my mom makes a pound cake with whipped cream frosting, and decorates with strawberries and blueberries for an american flag. you could do something similar but incorporate different fruits for the season.

            1. buttertart Apr 21, 2011 11:00 AM

              Along the croquembouche line but maybe a bit easier to confect (less engineering) and utterly delicious, a gâteau St-Honoré? It's the usual French birthday cake.

              1. u
                uwsister Apr 21, 2011 10:14 AM

                As soon as I saw the OP, I thought croquembouche. Totally fits the profile - it's definitely interesting, looks very fancy, very different from a traditional cake plus frosting combo.

                Crepe cake is a good idea too. I adore those cakes!

                1. HillJ Apr 21, 2011 09:45 AM


                  From Chuck's Day Off this non traditional carrot cake with honey Greek yogurt frosting was really tasty. It's a small cake and not overly sweet. I loved it.

                  1. tcamp Apr 21, 2011 08:46 AM

                    I'd make a soda cracker "pie" using the following recipe:

                    3 egg whites, beaten stiff. Add 1 cup sugar (the amount can be reduced) and 1 tsp vanilla. Roll 16 double soda crackers fine but not too fine. Add 1/2 tsp baking powder. Fold in egg mixture. Add 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped. Butter a 9X9 pan and bake in 325 oven for 30 minutes. When cool serve with sweetened strawberries or peaches and top with a layer of whipped cream.

                    1. LoBrauHouseFrau Apr 21, 2011 04:14 AM

                      Crepe cakes are easy to tailor to the birthday boy's tastes. Crepes stacked with custard, or ganache, fruit, or a combination of all three.


                      1. GraceW Apr 20, 2011 07:03 PM

                        Tweed Angelfood Cake--it is tasteful.

                        1. blue room Apr 20, 2011 05:52 PM

                          A round (or rounds) of cheese, and fruit.

                          1. l
                            L987 Apr 20, 2011 05:39 PM

                            what about a mousse cake? i made a dark chocolate mousse cake with a thin pistachio cake as a base and a creme brulee in the middle for my dads bday a few months ago. everybody loved it!

                            1. c
                              Croissant Apr 20, 2011 05:35 PM

                              I'm also on the don't-like-foury-cake bandwagon. If your friend is a chocolate lover, then a flourless chocolate cake is always a big hit. You could serve with a raspberry sauce. I also recently discovered a new favorite cake recipe from Food & Wine, Vanilla Bean cake: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/va...

                              It's divine. Both the flourless choc cake and vanilla bean cake are simple, yet elegant. You could even serve one of each!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Croissant
                                mscoffee1 Apr 20, 2011 05:57 PM

                                The Vanilla Bean Recipe is really interesting. I have never seen anything like it. Bread flour in a cake and resting for 8 hours - I may have to make that. Thanks.

                                1. re: Croissant
                                  blue room Apr 21, 2011 08:43 AM

                                  Croissant, would you say the Vanilla Bean Cake has a texture like flourless chocolate cake?
                                  That sounds wonderful...

                                  1. re: blue room
                                    Croissant Apr 21, 2011 08:50 AM

                                    It IS wonderful! I'm usually a chocolate person, but I truly love this cake. It's not quite the texture of flourless chocolate cake, but it is definitely a dense, moist cake.

                                2. m
                                  mscoffee1 Apr 20, 2011 11:45 AM

                                  I think you should move this to Home Cooking?

                                  1. mcel215 Apr 20, 2011 02:30 AM

                                    This time of year, I make Ina Garten's Strawberry Country Cake and it's always a huge hite. So is Nigella's Chocolate Cloud Cake.

                                    I make a very simple Ice Cream Cake for my grandchildren at get togethers, and the adults love it as well. Grind up a couple of sleeves of oreo cookies, while holding about six aside. Put half the ground up oreo's on the bottom of a spring form pan. Place in the freezer. Buy a large container of good ice cream and place on counter for an hour. I like Mint Chocolate Chip. After the Ice Cream has softened, place 1/2 of it into the spring form pan and place the spring form pan back in the freezer. Chop up a package of andes mint candies. Take spring form pan out of freezer again. Add more crushed oreo cookies and 1/2 of the chopped andes candies on top of the ground oreos. Press a little into the ice cream and place the second half of the ice cream, oreos and candies on top. Freeze overnight. Take ice crream cake out and unmold carefully 1/2 hr. before serving.

                                    I've done this cake with lots of variations, so you can be creative with your flavors.

                                    1. n
                                      ninrn Apr 20, 2011 12:35 AM

                                      How about a trifle with fresh or frozen fruit? You could even put candles on it. Or, if he likes chocolate, you could make a box with tempered chocolate sides and a top and fill it with chocolate mousse and raspberries.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: ninrn
                                        uwsister Apr 21, 2011 10:15 AM

                                        Ooh, I also like this idea. You can never go wrong with trifles!

                                      2. u
                                        ultimatepotato Apr 20, 2011 12:32 AM

                                        I make cheesecake or tiramisu for my friends and usually have an ice-cream cake myself. For fancy, perhaps a croquembouche?

                                        This thread reminds me of the Friends episode when Monica makes birthday flan!

                                        1. m
                                          mscoffee1 Apr 20, 2011 12:22 AM

                                          There is a wonderful almond or hazelnut dacquoise (meringue and nut baked disks) with a praline buttercream in Mastering the Art of French Cooking (I can't remember if it is in vol 1 or 2). It is RICH. I have made individual small cakes as well if a large one is too much. There are other variations like filled with a mousse.

                                          Also in the same book are charlottes. I have made the one with ladyfingers dipped in orange liquor and filled with a chocolate mousse. I loved that too. The others look good as well.

                                          Finally Pavlova - just be careful that the topping isn't too sweet.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: mscoffee1
                                            ursy_ten Apr 20, 2011 03:58 AM

                                            Yes! Seconding the pavlova!

                                            1. re: ursy_ten
                                              Frosty Melon Apr 21, 2011 10:26 AM

                                              Third. Was the first thing that came to mind. A bigger "Wow" than a birthday cake, and lighter but just as indulgent (at least seemingly). Assuming you can get fresh berries, of course.

                                          2. Nicolette S Apr 19, 2011 08:43 PM

                                            Lemon tart served with sweetened whipped cream and some raspberries

                                            Angel food cake with whipped cream and fruit

                                            Strawberry shortcakes

                                            flourless chocolate cake (epicurious has a good recipe "la bete noire") for the chocolate lovers.

                                            We've also done birthday ice cream sundae bar and homemade cookies, no cake at all.

                                            1. goodhealthgourmet Apr 19, 2011 08:16 PM

                                              well, pie is the cake of the moment if you want to go in a totally different direction.

                                              i'm like your friend - not a fan of the standard frosted cake. i grew up eating ice cream cake for birthdays. you could do the kind that alternates layers of ice cream *and* flour-based cake, or skip the floury cake altogether and get creative by putting things like crushed cookies, pie crust, chocolate chips, sprinkles, caramel sauce, fudge sauce, etc between layers of ice cream. that would be my choice :)

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                srsone Apr 21, 2011 10:00 AM

                                                +1 for ice cream cake...we didnt get them all the time so they were a special treat...
                                                and almost always carvel...
                                                with the occasional B&R

                                                i would always dig it apart and go for the crunchy things (what r they called anyway) in the middle..

                                                1. re: srsone
                                                  goodhealthgourmet Apr 24, 2011 04:10 PM

                                                  ours were Carvel too. sadly it's now awful, awful stuff. and the crunchy things were called "crunchies" :) we always ordered extra with our cakes!

                                              2. j
                                                juliewong Apr 19, 2011 07:31 PM

                                                Growing up I never liked a sweet cake (still don't) so there might be birthday cake for guests there was always something else for me. Sometimes it was angle food cake with whipped cream, sometimes a jello cake with whipped cream and once I remember strawberry tarts. Now I prefer to have chinese cake (SO is chinese) and even had it as a wedding cake. It is light white almost sponge cake with fruit and whipped cream between the layers and on top. Very light and tasty.

                                                1. babette feasts Apr 19, 2011 06:38 PM


                                                  Does he like cheesecake?

                                                  1. t
                                                    TuteTibiImperes Apr 18, 2011 06:24 PM

                                                    My little sister requested a punch bowl cake for her last couple of birthdays (well, at least the last two I was able to attend). Punch bowl cakes aren't fancy, but they are tasty, and a nice spin on a traditional cake. I've always liked ones made with a devil's food type cake recipe, fresh whipped cream, cherries, and coconut.

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