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Birthday cake suggestions

Thought this would be the best place to turn for advice :)

My birthday's coming up this week, and I'd like to make a cake for it (going out to dinner with friends, and I've arranged with the restaurant that I will bring a cake). But I'm stuck on what to make now.

I recently made a triple chocolate mousse cake for a friend's wedding, so I was thinking of that. But I'm not convinced yet. It's also incredibly rich, so perhaps too much following dinner.

I am looking for something that tastes fantastic. And that is not your everyday cake. But also shouldn't be over-complicated, as I won't have too much time to spare and don't want to spend my birthday washing dishes.

TIA :)

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  1. I saw this recipe on a blog and thought it sounded and looked delicious - Lemon Basil Layer Cake w/ Lemon Cream Frosting. I LOVE herbs and lemons in sweet things.


    Whatever you decide upon, I hope you have a happy birthday and a delicious cake. :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: lynnlato

      Thank you :)

      That does look interesting. Keeping it in mind. Thanks.

    2. My four favorite birthday cakes (OK, I like birthday cakes, alright) are:

      Chocolate doberge cake (a New Orleans specialty that takes way too much time)

      Crazy cake with 7minute icing (rich cocoa taste)

      Viennese Torte (My mom's looked like this one http://www.jollytomato.com/2011/11/13... She used store-bought pound cake.It is quite different from Sacher Torte


      Black Forest Cake

      You might also consider high end cupcakes. Then you can bring one per person and not have any leftovers to take home.

      4 Replies
      1. re: travelerjjm

        I do like birthday cakes too :D

        I did think of cupcakes, but since I made cupcakes for this group last week, I wanted to go with a cake this time.

        I googled doberge cakes, and this came up: http://0.tqn.com/d/easteuropeanfood/1.... That does look good. Do you have a go-to recipe for the chocolate one?

        1. re: haiku.

          I posted recently about a Dobos torte (also known as a doberge cake). I've made it a few times now, each time with much success. You can scale up or down depending on how many people you're trying to serve.

          Here's a link to my post:

          Happy to answer any questions.

          1. re: TerriL

            Thanks! May take you up on that offer soon. I have to choose by this afternoon (my time).

          2. re: haiku.

            The Doberge torte is a New Orleans version of the Dobos and a bit different. The chocolate Doberge cake recipe I have is very close to this (I am lazy about typing it in right now....) You can make more layers as the recipe notes. http://www.gumbopages.com/food/desser...

            For the crazy cake I use something close to http://allrecipes.com/recipe/crazy-cake/ because I can't seem to find my recipe card. I make it round and two layered.

        2. Tres leches because you can make it the night before and it tastes better that way.

          1 Reply
          1. Maybe a pineapple upside down cake, or some variation of such with seasonal fruit (peaches may still be in season where you are. Also maybe a banana cake with nutella frosting? You could always theme it to your dinner too, what type of restaurant are you eating at?

            3 Replies
            1. re: gmk1322

              Trying to avoid fruit except as decoration. If I were to go that route, I'd make the French Apple Cake, but I've made it quite a few times for friends so it's not really birthday-worthy anymore.

              The restaurant is classic French (or classic French with a sense of humour).

              1. re: haiku.

                Classic French calls for crepes!!! Maybe put a whimsical, humorous take on a crepe cake (like make the crepes in a square griddle pan to avoid the traditional round crepe shape, or assemble and before frosting trim it into a shape? I'd maybe go with a lemon flavor in some vein since I always find lemon refreshing after a meal.


                1. re: gmk1322

                  Love the idea. But I can see myself getting very irritated making all of those crepes. It looks like I will have to spend a lot of tonight working in order to take the day off tomorrow, so I won't be able to man the stove for a long time.

                  But I do like the idea, so may come back to this one...

            2. Just posted my family's traditional plum cake recipe to another thread. This is an easy one to make, really a flat plum tart, and is not too terribly rich. Goes very well with tea and coffee. It's seasonal this time of year, and could be made with any other stone fruit if you wish. Or a combination- perhaps slices of plum and apricot, arranged in a nice purple and orange spiral?


              As an alternate suggestion, you might consider the retro whipped cream / chocolate wafer log. Not your everyday cake, no baking, make-ahead, tastes great (I like to flavor the whipped cream with almond extract instead of vanilla, but you could just as easily lace it with a little Amaretto, Frangelico, Cointreau or Chambord), and eye-catching too- especially if you press chopped maraschinos into the outside and cut it on the bias for those dramatic black & white stripes. Admittedly it's rich, but not too overly substantial. And it's super easy.


              1. Ah, didn't realize you were avoiding fruit... And the refrigerator cake, while fun & tasty, is far from sophisticated. Perhaps a hazelnut torte?

                1 Reply
                1. re: eclecticsynergy

                  The last birthday cake I made (for someone else) was a nutella cake with a lot of hazelnuts. I did see the torte in the Gallery link, but since I made it so recently, thought it was best to consider something else.

                2. Chocolate cake with cannoli cream filling. MMMMM

                    1. re: chowser

                      I have. None of them jumped out at me, although I did like the chocolate cage on the second one. I was tempted briefly by the malted chocolate cake.

                    2. I'd go coconut, with a lemon curd filling, maybe. This recipe from Saveur has been calling my name for ages! http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes...

                      Different and beautiful without the need for fussing decorating.

                      11 Replies
                        1. re: haiku.

                          If you want lemon, this one takes time but not the day of. It's an amazing cake. Someone who owns a restaurant told me he'd pay me to make them regularly for him if i wanted. It does take time but it's all done in stages.


                          I've done it in key lime, too, which is better imo because it's unexpected. The hardest part for me is not eating all the lemon curd mascarpone frosting.

                          1. re: chowser

                            Oh WOW. That looks amazing and is going in my recipe box immediately. I can just imagine the deliciousness of that mascarpone frosting...

                            1. re: biondanonima

                              It's lemony goodness. Ha, love when I sound like a commercial. Every component of the cake is great and all together amazing. People have stopped in the middle of talking when they take a bite. It's my go-to cake when I'm baking for people who love baked goods.

                              1. re: biondanonima

                                Wow, this looks delicious, and my birthday is coming up, too! Think Meyer lemons would work okay?

                                1. re: pine time

                                  Meyer lemons work really well w/ it, too. I think I might give orange a try some time.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    I was thinking grapefruit might be fabulous as well. Now I just need an occasion...

                                    1. re: biondanonima

                                      Or blood orange! I think I just found my next project! Thanks Chowser!

                              2. re: chowser

                                That does look fantastic!
                                I only have 1 pan in each size, though. Will I have to make half the recipe, bake it, cool the pan, make the other half and bake that? Or I should just go shopping for another pan...

                                1. re: haiku.

                                  If you bake often, I'd pick up another pan because it's needed for layer cakes. If not, I'd consider, which I do for large cakes where I only have one pan, a tiered cake where the top is smaller.

                              3. re: haiku.

                                Whoops, I hadn't read those reviews...still, I stand by coconut as an idea, but perhaps a different recipe! :)

                              1. If you and yours are not averse to the use of alcohol, I would suggest a good rum cake. Here is a link to Emerill's recipe:


                                1. I have always lusted after this cake but never made it. It has lots of good reviews and sounds like it might fit your criteria.


                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                    Mind-reader! I did look at that one yesterday as well. Not convinced I want it for my birthday yet, as it seems like one I would want to experiment with before making for other people.

                                  2. I love Rehrucken. I do a version based upon Flo Braker's recipe. i generally don't garnish it with almonds, but that's just me.

                                    since souffle wouldn't be an option going out, my next choice would probably be cheesecake... but that's not really cake... as you speak of it.

                                    if you're willing to venture out from cake, i'd highly recommend a crostata with the fall fruits you have available...

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Emme

                                      We're in Spring here, so no fall fruits available :)

                                      I love cheesecake. I've just made it a lot before, so I wanted to go with something different.

                                      No Rehrucken pan, I'm afraid.

                                      1. re: haiku.

                                        ah! well just an FYI re the rehrucken pan, i usually just use a loaf pan. it's all the same, just no pre made markings. happy birthday!

                                    2. Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Curd and Mascarpone it is! Thank you chowser for the suggestion.
                                      I'll make the cake and lemon curd tonight, and do the assembly tomorrow morning for dinner tomorrow night.

                                      Since you've made it before, any suggestions/tips?

                                      Can I bake it one after the other in the same pan, with the same batter? Or will the whites deflate by then?

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: haiku.

                                        I wouldn't hold the batter while one baked. If anything, pick up an aluminum pan but watch carefully because there's a good chance both won't finish baking at the same time. The mascarpone frosting holds up well to decorating, too. For a very simple birthday cake, I do the top as they recommend, run a cake comb around the outside and then tie a ribbon around it w/ a pretty bow.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          I have a 9-inch and an 8-inch, and a silicone pan which is an 8-inch (I think). Probably a good idea to pick up a second.

                                          If I cannot get a chance to get there before stores close today, I'll go with your suggestion of a tiered cake with the smaller top.

                                          1. re: haiku.

                                            If you have two 8" pans, I'd consider using those, although it would be a tall cake. It makes a thin 9" cake and you have to cut that in half which can be hard. You'd get a better cake/frosting ratio, although this frosting, unlike others, is not supersweet.

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              Another idea, if the cake isn't for many people and you don't want a very tall cake is to use the 8", cut the layers in half and use only three--that gives you an extra layer for fun.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                I bought an 8" pan thinking that it would be better to use those. Got home and measured, and neither of the other pans is actually an 8"! I'm guessing the one is a 7", and the other seems to be a 10".

                                                I used the 8" and the 7", thinking to either go the slightly tiered route you mentioned, or to just use 3 layers (with one slightly larger). I was thinking of getting strawberries for the 'shelf'. Or going with your suggestion of a ribbon at the bottom of the top tier. Or doing a ring of thin lemon slices. I'll figure it out when I decorate.

                                                The cakes are in the fridge right now. The lemon curd is done and thickened already. Going to try to assemble before I head to bed (and I promised myself I would go to bed by 1am, so that doesn't leave much time!) and decorate tomorrow when I have a moment.

                                                Thanks so much for all your help! I'll be sure to post a pic once it's done :)

                                      2. My go-to fall birthdays cake is a spice cake, with a layer of pumpkin filling (pudding made with pureed pumpkin and then fold in whipped cream). Iced with honey cream cheese frosting (or chocolate ganache if I am feeling lazy). I love to present this on a platter with faux fall leaves around it.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: olyolyy

                                          Will you please post the specifics for your pumpkin filling? I still have 10 cans of pumpkin left from last fall's hoarding! While you're at it, would also appreciate that honey cream cream frosting. geez, it all sounds delicious together!

                                          1. re: pine time

                                            Sure! Basically make an (I used instant) vanilla pudding with half the amount of milk and use pureed pumpkin for the other half of the milk amount. Make whipped cream (unsweetened with just vanilla) and fold into the cooled pumpkin pudding to make it less thick. I have also added pumpkin pie spice to this as a pie filling but with the spice cake it's too much IMO.

                                            The cream cheese frosting is my go to: one stick softened butter, one package brick cream cheese, whip in honey until sweet enough for your taste.

                                          2. re: olyolyy

                                            That does sound good. I'm in the southern hemisphere, but this sounds like something that would be really good when it's colder. Please do post the recipe :)

                                            1. re: haiku.

                                              this may be richer than you are looking for, but this is now my favorite chocolate cake (Zucchini sour cream Chocolate Bundt Cake). I added a bit of instant coffee and used 2 large bars of Lindt 80% dark broken up instead of chocolate chips and glazed with a chocolate ganache. Serve with cream or creme fraiche.