Sisters are like sprinkles. Sweet and vibrant and (yes) a little bit crunchy. And life isn’t nearly as fun without them.
Needless to say, when your sister comes to town and adamantly requests that you make a funfetti cake together, you don’t waste any time seeking out the most fabulous sprinkles you can find for your equally fabulous sis. Not settling for ordinary rainbow, I found these charming lollipop quins with a bright retro color scheme that I knew would be perfect for her cake. With matching turquoise frosting, this cake is as colorful as my sister’s vocabulary during an Avalanche game.
The sprinkles transform an ordinary yellow cake into a kaleidoscope of color, like a miniature paintball gun took aim at the batter, spattering the layers with pockets of vibrant color.
There’s no denying that this cake is downright charming, and yes, I am implying that you won’t be able to stop smiling.
Behind all the color is a basic yellow cake base, with a tender, buttery crumb and fragrant vanilla flavor. It’s almost identical to the base I used for this Lemon Cake with Fudge Frosting, with no lemon juice (obviously) and buttermilk instead of milk to account for the resulting loss of acidity.
Much like the Funfetti Blondies, the confetti or quin-type sprinkles are your best bet. When baked in the yellow cake batter, they melt into perfect pockets of pure color. Even the white sprinkles left their mark.
Engineers (like my sister) are serious about leveling, even when it comes to cake. I kept waiting for her to break out her protractor and calculator, but, luckily, she wanted to eat the cake as much as I did and we continued with the frosting despite our almost-but-not-quite-level trim work.
Sisters. Sprinkles. And cake. I can’t think of a better combination.
Funfetti Layer Cake
- 3 cups cake flour
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
- 1 1/4 cup whole buttermilk, divided
- 5 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup confetti quin sprinkles
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream, more or less as needed
- 1 vanilla bean, seeded
- food coloring (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper; butter parchment.
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix to combine. Add butter and 1 cup of buttermilk. Mix on low speed until flour is evenly moistened, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- In a small bowl, beat remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk with eggs and vanilla. Add to the batter mixture one-third at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in sprinkles. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans.
- Bake for 35 to 45 minutes (about 25 to 30 minutes for 6? pans), rotating pans halfway through baking, until tops are lightly golden on the edges and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Transfer pans to a wire cooling rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. Run a knife or thin spatula around the edge of the pan, then invert the cake onto wire rack. It should come out easily and cleanly. Remove parchment from the bottom. At this point the cakes can be wrapped tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap and frozen until ready to use (in fact, I recommend you freeze the cakes overnight, as the frozen cakes will be easier to level and frost later.)
- To prepare frosting, in a large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. As frosting thickens, add a few tablespoons of cream as needed. Depending on the temperature and consistency of your frosting, continue alternating additions of cream and powdered sugar, until frosting is light and fluffy. Add vanilla bean seeds and food coloring and beat until evenly incorporated.
- To assemble, level each cake layer by cutting of the domed top with a long serrated knife. Place one layer, flat side down, on a cake stand or serving platter. Spread on about 1/2 cup of frosting onto cake using an offset spatula. Position second layer on top and press to adhere. Repeat with another 1/2 cup of frosting, and then position final cake layer, flat side up.
- Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting. This “crumb coat” will keep the stray crumbs in place and make frosting the cake easier. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to allow this crumb coat to set, then spread with remaining frosting, reserving some frosting for piping decorative details and borders if desired.
Did you make this recipe?
Let us know what you think!
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Hi, I love the ease of this recipe but I had some problems. The batter looks like it split but I baked it anyway. Turned out really oily. I did use different sprinkles which melted a little more than the confetti quin ones (which is ok I can use different ones next time). Was my butter too soft or did I grease the pans too much?
A split or curdled looking batter is usually a temperature issue. All the liquid ingredients should be the same temperature, ideally around 70 degrees or so. If you had softened butter with cold buttermilk, or vice versa, that could definitely cause splitting.
If I want just a plain vanilla cake without sprinkles, can I just leave them out? I noticed this recipe is a bit different than the vanilla cake with tiramisu… just curious on the differences and which you recommend for a plain vanilla cake! Thank you!
Does it matter what brand of sprinkles you use?
I recommend using confetti quin/sequin sprinkles (any brand) as they hold their color and don’t bleed as much as jimmies or nonpareils.
I love this cake. I’ve made it every year for my sons bday. Everyone gasps.
Question!! This year I need to plan ahead even more than usual (my son is an xmas baby so it’s a juggling act!).
Could I freeze the cake for 3 weeks? Then get it out to frost the morning of his bday? (I’d seal it TOIGHT in multiple layers of Saran Wrap). If not 3 weeks, how long would it last?
Again: LOVE THIS CAKE! I’ve made it as per recipe as well as in a space cake form and as a curious George cake. This year I’m doing an explosion cake…squee!!!)
You are definitely ok freezing this for 3 weeks, just be sure you wrap it really well (even wrapped in cling wrap and sealed in a ziptop bag) to prevent freezer burn. :) So glad you love this recipe as much as I do!!
This looks so pretty, I’m looking forward to trying it. My question is about your phone app, what app do you use to check the level? It looks like it would come in handy.
It’s just the native Apple ‘measure’ app, I believe!
So, I made the cake a third time today — and for some crazy reason, my sprinkles sunk as well! The only thing I can think of after reading the comments is that my batter was too thin. The buttermilk was thinner than last time. I’m pretty sure I did the right measurements of flour. I have no idea what happened. It still looks and tastes awesome. It’s obviously user error because 2 out of 3 tries came out great. Now I want to try again and see what I did differently!
I’ve made this cake numerous times and can’t seem to pinpoint the cause sprinkle sinkage. I’m guessing the consistency of the buttermilk could definitely play a role though. Luckily it tastes good regardless. :)
Tried to post a picture and it didn’t work.
I’ve made this cake twice now — once three years ago for my daughter’s second birthday and again yesterday for my son’s birthday — this time with my daughter’s help in the kitchen. This cake recipe is AMAZING! I get so many compliments. I shared some with our neighbors and they thought it was from a bakery!!! Love this recipe so much. My daughter said we need to do it again for her next birthday.
So glad you love this cake as much as I do!! :) Thanks for sharing!
Love the recipe the cake taste amazing. Unfortunately, my oven did not cooperate the tops were completely (not slightly) golden within 15 min of being in the oven so I’ll need to adjust oven temp next time :)
Super excited to try this cake! How should i adjust the bake time for 6″ layers instead of 9″? Thanks!
If you halve the recipe and use three 6” pans, the layers should be about the same thickness. I’d check it after maybe 25-30 but it may still need a few more.
Can you please give a weight for the cake flour? It varies so much by measuring method.
I made the cake just as written, and the sprinkles totally plummeted; there wasn’t one that wasn’t touching the bottom. It was an okay white cake but very disappointing for funfetti.
I do not have an exact weight for the flour I used here, but you’re not the only one to have this issue so I think it’s high time for a second look at this recipe. I’ve made a few times and never had issues with the sprinkles sinking, so I’m really stumped as to why that might happen.
What kind of sprinkles did you use? What about buttermilk, lowfat or whole?
I made this cake for my sons 10 birthday. It looked just like your photo. It’s an extremely easy recipe, thanks for that, as I have 4 beautiful children, and I love baking for them, but I’m quite busy, so I’m always looking for quick recipes. Followed the recipe exactly, from the ingredients, to the cake pans. I was a little confused because my cakes didn’t come out fluffy, and the confetti settled to the bottom of the 3 cakes. It was a dense heavy cake. It did have lots of flavor, which was very nice, but we couldn’t even eat a normal slice. I’m not really sure what happened. I used all the stated ingredients and baking method. I noticed that the you use cake flour, and that’s what I used as well, but you didn’t state all purpose or self raising. From my understanding, I assumed that you meant all purpose, but I’m wondering if self raising flour would have been a better choice. Thank you for your recipe anyway. If I make it again, I will use a self raising flour and see if it makes any difference.
Sorry this didn’t work for you! I used regular cake flour (Swan’s Down brand), NOT self-rising (the baking powder in the recipe is sufficient for leavening… did you perhaps leave that out? Or maybe it’s old/expired?) In my experience, a dense cake usually means you over mixed the batter, or maybe your ingredients weren’t the right temperature (the butter has to be very soft, eggs and buttermilk should be at room temp, etc.)
Thoughts on replacing a bit of the butter with cream cheese? I am looking for a vanilla frosting with a very slight tang, but most cream cheese frostings are too cream cheesy for me. I’ve made your vanilla frosting before and it’s perfect – I am debating replacing maybe a 1/4 cup of the butter for cream cheese but scared I will create a disaster.
I took a chance and replaced 1/2 cup of the butter with cream cheese and was pleased with the results
Thanks for the update and glad to hear this worked for you! I’m personally not a fan of cream cheese frostings so I haven’t played around with this at all, but good to note for future reference. :) Happy new year!
Am I able to substitute the butter milk for condensed milk instead?
They are not the same thing, sorry! The closest substitute to buttermilk is regular milk mixed with a little lemon juice or vinegar.
I have pastry flour can I sub that, do you know? Thanks!
How many 8in pans would I have to use for the recipe as written?
Thank you :)
If you used 3 you’d either end up with 3 thicker layers (adjust cooking time accordingly) or you will want to not use all of the batter (leftover can be used for cupcakes if you don’t want to waste it).
I find this chart helpful for converting cake pan sizes:
Thank you so much for such a quick reply!
My 4 yo daughter has surgery tomorrow so i wanted to make her something special to make her smile afterwards.
Hi! What size cakes are in these photos?
6 inch. :)
If I do not want to use vanilla beans in the frosting, how much vanilla extract do you reccomend, going to make this tonight!
1 vanilla bean = about 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste.
Idk what I did wrong but the edges of my cake came out kind of crispy like sugar cookies. That problem aside, this cake was WAY too sweet. My guests couldn’t even finish a whole slice. Cake fail.
Did you use a dark finish cake pan? Dark pans will brown things more than a light colored pan will, also more quickly so you might want to reduce the baking time a bit as well. If the dark edges bother you, they can always be trimmed off as well!
Also, if you prefer less sweet frosting, try a Swiss meringue buttercream next time! It’s trickier to make, but is not nearly as sweet as the American-style buttercream I used.
I made this cake recently for a 50th birthday and once I read the instructions I was hesitant. Not creaming the sugar and butter…? But omg! Wow! This cake was so delicious. I couldn’t believe it. If calories weren’t a thing I would have eaten 2,3,4 or 5 slices. My new go to funfetti cake recipe, and I make funfetti cake all the time. Great recipe!
Yes! The ‘dry’ cake method is my preferred method – I find it easier to get a smooth consistency. So glad you enjoyed!!
My brother asked me to make this cake for his birthday. It was a wonderful success. Thankyou for sending out the recipe.
So bummed. I tried making this today. I used all the same ingredients, even bought the same sprinkles you used. They all settled to the bottom. And then the bottom part of the layers became hard. So weird. I was so disappointed! The frosting did come out well though.
I am really having a hard time with the consistency of the frosting. I halved the cake recipe so I subsequently halved the frosting recipe as well. Was I not supposed to do that?
I feel like it tastes great, but just seems way too liquid and not stiff enough. I have tried to add more powdered sugar…and I’m still not getting the consistency that I am looking for. What could be going wrong?
Is it still pretty warm where you are? I have a lot of trouble with buttercream in the summer. Ideally you want ‘cool room temperature’ butter, about 65 degrees. Any warmer than that and it might be too soft. You’ll likely also need less to no cream and more sugar. I also sometimes like to swap out some of the butter for vegetable shortening in warmer months which helps it be more stable.
What size cake pan did you use that is in the photo of you leveling the cake?
The cake in the photos is a 6″ cake. The recipe is written for 9″ since that is more standard, just halve the recipe for 6″ :)
This cake is absolutely delicious! It has the lightness and moistness of an oil cake, but with the delicious, rich butter flavor. I was hesitant to try because I have never made a cake using this technique (not creaming butter and sugar) but it works perfectly. My quin sprinkles unfortunately sunk to the bottom. I tried a little less buttermilk and more flour and still most of them sunk to the bottom. I finally tried tossing them in a little bit of flour and it seemed to keep more suspended. I love the recipe regardless. Next time I’ll try with jimmy sprinkles. Maybe these are just bad sprinkles. Thank you for the delicious recipe. So many vanilla cakes just taste like a corn muffin. Not this one!
Hi, Lindsay, I have a question, would Rainbow Jimmies work as a substitute? I’m planning on making a two Tier cake for a birthday party, and my last recipe failed, and I’m hoping yours is a winner. Would Rainbow Jimmies work? And keep them from going to the bottom, and dying my cake?
Beautiful cake! I’m going to try making this for my nieces 3rd birthday party this weekend. if I freeze the cakes, how long do I need to let them thaw before cutting? And how long would it take before they could be eaten after freezing? Thanks so much <3
I already made this cake and it came out wonderful. My question is how do I change this to a white cake instead of yellow. Egg white and more butter?
I wouldn’t try to convert it. Rather, use your favorite white cake recipe and add sprinkles to it.
Lindsay, I’m obsessed with this cake. It is SO beautiful! I think it’s the color that’s got me “hooked” along with the cute sprinkles. I have made it three times now, using two different brands of quins and then jimmies on the third try. They are still sinking to the bottom of each layer. However, the cake is delicious, so I’m going to give up on the sprinkles inside the cake and just use them on the finished cake. Do I need to make any adjustments to the ingredients if I leave out the sprinkles? Would I need more sugar? Thank you so much!
You can certainly make the cake without sprinkles, no adjustments necessary!
Thank you for the fab recipe! It was a big hit at our easter brunch/ son’s sixth birthday celebration. The cake was dense and moist. The buttercream wasn’t overly sweet. I do recommend refrigeration to set the cake after frosting. Also, found the quin sprinkles (extra large ones!) in the bulk section at a higher end grocery store!
Cake got rave reviews! Thank you! I also had the issue of the sprinkles going to the bottom!
Measured everything carefully and used whole buttermilk. Any suggestions for next time?
I can’t figure out why some people’s sprinkles sink and others don’t! If you make it again, try adding a bit more flour and see if that helps thicken the batter any. :) Glad you enjoyed it nonetheless!
I love this recipe!! The cake is delicious. Do you have any tips for me on how to prevent the cake from sticking so much when I try to get it out of the pan. I kept most of it together but it seemed to turn a golden color that was crispy on the edge as well. Did you shave all that off of yours and that is why it is so white?? Thank you for this recipe!
Are you using a dark colored cake pan? A dark pan will definitely make darker edges. I use light aluminum pans, and then I generously butter the sides and line the bottom with parchment to keep it from sticking. You can also trim off the darkened edges if you want it even colored throughout. :)
This looks absolutely stunning and sounds DELICIOUS!
My little one is turning One this Thursday and we’re throwing a party for her.
I’m making a small cupcake sized, 3 layer cake just for her to smash and all that messy stuff with but I’m also making a regular sized cake for our guests.
Should I increase the recipes for both the cake batter and cake frosting to be sure there is enough or would you say there is enough with this recipe to get by?
The regular cake will be 9″ but will only be baked in two pans and later, sliced/layered into a 4 layer cake.
Looking forward to future beautiful recipes!
If you baked 2 9-inch layers instead of 3, I think you’d have enough for a baby layer cake. I might suggest making 1.5 times the frosting recipe though, just in case (because you can never have too much frosting, but I’d hate to run out!)
How much vanilla extract would you suggest using if I use that instead of vanilla bean in the frosting?
Use 1 teaspoon extract in place of 1 vanilla bean. You can also find vanilla bean paste, which still gives the frosting the speckled appearance. Use 1 teaspoon of that per bean as well. :)
Hi, will the chocolate beans work as I cant find the sprinklers
I tried to make this cake but my sequin sprinkles settled at the bottom of each cake pan and didn’t spread throughout. Any tips or advice on getting them to spread throughout the cake? Was hoping to make again for my son’s 1st birthday party next weekend. Thanks so much!
Did you use the same quin sprinkles that I did? If so, the batter should be thick enough to suspend them. If your batter was too thin, that would cause the sprinkles to sink. Did you substitute whole milk or low-fat buttermilk in place of the full-fat buttermilk, or perhaps mis-measure the amount of flour?
Thanks for the quick reply. Yes I used the correct buttermilk and I’m pretty sure I measured correctly. I used similar looking sequin sprinkles found at Hobby Lobby. I just emailed the owner of the place that sells the ones you used to see if I might could get them delivered in time to make his cake for his party Saturday. Keeping my fingers crossed… :) Thanks!
What was the consistency of the batter? You can kind of see it is on the thick side in the images above. If it is looser, more like a pancake batter, you could try adding a bit more flour and see if that helps! Definitely let me know how it turns out!
Do you have any tips on how to get that color of frosting?? :)
I used Americolor gel color in Teal or Turquoise (can’t remember which!)
What food coloring did you use?
I used Americolor gel color in Teal or Turquoise (can’t remember which!)
How many people will this feed?
Depends how big you like your slices. I’d say a 6-inch cake is maybe 8-10 servings, and a 9-inch cake is 12-16?
Can I make the same recipe using a square cake tin?
You can, but you’ll want to check the volume equivalents and adjust accordingly. An 8-inch square pan will hold more batter than an 8-inch round pan.
I just removed my funfetti cakes from the oven and it smells heavenly! I actually used the full recipe and filled four 6-inch pans (2 cups batter each) because I want to make a tall cake. Then, I had just enough left for a dozen mini cupcakes. I ate 6 of those right away… OOPS.
Only thing I did differently was adding 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract. I just like the way vanilla cake tastes with it.
As for the sprinkles, only thing I found were star sprinkles from Stop&Shop because I didn’t have time to shop online. I was surprised even Michael’s didn’t have this kind.
Anyway… I highly recommend this recipe!
Cupcake leftovers = a brilliant move. :)
Thanks for sharing, hope you enjoy!!
Thanks for this great comment. Today I actually did the same thing. 4 6″ rounds (I like tall cakes too). I made 4 regular size cupcakes with the extra. Did the same with the vanilla and almond. Waiting on the cupcakes to bake and cool so I can taste..then I will really know what I think. :-)
what a beauty! which tip(s) did you use for the borders?
This cake looks amazing! I plan on making it on Sunday for a birthday dessert! I was wondering though how long this cake can last sitting out at room temperature for? Thanks!
At cool room temperature your probably good for a decent chunk of time, but I’d refrigerate it any longer than a day. If it’s warm and humid though, probably best to not let it sit out more than a few hours.
Man, this is the 2nd recipe of yours that I’ve tried that has been an absolute disaster. Brown/starting to burn on the edges, raw in the middle. What a waste of nice ingredients. And it was supposed to be my birthday cake. So disappointed. I watched it closely, have an oven thermometer to make sure the temp is right, etc. etc. So upset and frustrated.
Sorry this didn’t turn out for you, I’ve definitely had nothing but success with this recipe and others have as well.
My first thought based on what you describe is maybe your choice of cake pans affected the baking. Were they dark colored pans? Because that would definitely cause the outside to brown quicker than the inside could cook. If that’s the case I’d recommend lowering the oven temp by 25º which should help immensely.
I just made this cake for my 1yr old’s smash cake pictures, and it was so delicious, that I had to make another for his birthday party, so we could all have some! LOVE this recipe. So thankful I somehow found it in my google search, as I love your site now as well!
I was wondering if you happened to weigh your ingredients. I use metric measurements to weigh ingredients. Thanks!
hello there. My niece requested this for her birthday. I made it yesterday and will be frosting it today. How do you keep your confetti sprinkles from sinking to the bottom of the pan while baking? I want to try again.
My batter was thick enough that this wasn’t a problem for me, you can see the consistency in the mixer photo above. My only thought is maybe your flour measurement was off, or you used low-fat buttermilk instead of whole (which is much thinner). If that’s the case, try using 1 cup instead of 1 1/4 cup. Did you use the same kind of confetti quin sprinkles? Other types might behave differently.
I had the same problem too. Mine settled to the bottom as well. I used the correct buttermilk as well. Not sure how to fix. More flour possibly? Thanks!
Does someone have these measurements in grams or ounces? Thank you for posting recipe!
My daughter requested this cake for her 16th BD. Thanks for the wonderful instructions. I wasn’t sure when I saw the ratio of sugar to flour, but it really is a wonderful cake, not too sweet, perfect crumb and rise, even with all that beating and baking soda! (And it did amazing in our high mountain altitude of 5,800 ft.! I didn’t change the temperature or time – 40 min.) I put pearlized candy beads on it and confetti inside. She said she felt beautiful!
(Sorry, it’s not letting me post a photo.)
Hi!!! This cake looks beautiful!!! After taking it out of the freezer, do I let it thaw before frosting it?
I don’t. By the time it’s leveled and layered and crumb-coated it’ll be mostly thawed. Frozen cakes are much easier to work with too. :)
I have made this cake several times. It is super moist. I use this cake recipe as my base cake recipe. Such an awesome cake. Thank you so very much for the post and recipe…Yumm!!
Hi Lindsay… Will it stay moist if I assemble the cake the day before and keep it refrigerated or would I need to put simple syrup on the layers? Thanks!
It’s a pretty moist cake so it should be fine after a day. If you have an airtight cake carrier that would be the best!
Thanks Lindsay! :)