This confetti cake is the epitome of a celebration in cake form. Made with a buttermilk base and speckled with vibrant rainbow sprinkles throughout, it’s a light, fluffy, and festive choice for any birthday or joyous occasion. The cake is complemented by a smooth and creamy vanilla frosting, making each bite a perfect balance of sweetness and celebration.

Confetti cake on a stand and a slice next to it

The Chemistry of Confetti Cake

The magic of this cake lies in its texture and the distribution of sprinkles. The creaming of butter, sugar, and vegetable oil introduces air into the batter, ensuring the cake’s lightness. The buttermilk acts as a tenderizer, breaking down gluten strands for a tender crumb. Meanwhile, the sprinkles hold their color during baking, thanks to their sugar coating, dispersing tiny burst of joy throughout the cake.

How do you ensure the sprinkles don’t sink to the bottom?

To prevent the sprinkles from sinking, fold them gently into the batter just before pouring it into the cake pans. Using rainbow sprinkles designed for baking can also help as they’re less likely to bleed color. I stay away from nonpareils sprinkles, they are way more likely to bleed color.

Can this cake be made ahead of time?

Absolutely! The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and then wrapped in plastic wrap to be frozen for up to 3 month. Frost and thaw on the day of serving for a fresh and delicious cake.

a slice of confetti cake

Is there a substitute for buttermilk?

If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a quick substitute by adding 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of milk and letting it sit for 5 minuter before using.

How can I achieve a smooth frosting finish?

For a smooth frosting finish, apply a thin crumb coat first and chill the cake to set the frosting. Then, apply a second, thicker layer of frosting, using an offset spatula or bench scraper to smooth it out.

a full confetti cake on a stand

How to cream your butter & sugar

First, combine your butter & sugar in a standing mixer. Then, turn the mixer on high for 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl every 30 seconds. When the mixture is creamed it will be lighter in color and texture. Here is a visual example of how the ingredients look when just combined vs. creamed:

Butter and sugar just combined
Butter and sugar creamed

What is in Confetti Cake?

Unsalted Butter

It is always important to use unsalted butter when baking. If you use salted butter, you have no way of knowing how much salt you are adding to your dough or batter and it will result in an overly salted treat.

Butter adds fats to your dough or batter which helps with moistness, flavor and texture. Butter melts at body temperature, which creates a ‘melt in your mouth’ sensation.

When baking with butter the temperature is important. If the butter is too warm your treat will melt down too fast and overspread in the oven, leaving you with a greasy, flat mess. If your butter is too cold it will have the opposite problem and not melt down enough, leaving your treat too thick.

Granulated Sugar

Adds sweetness, provides a caramelized flavor and crisp texture. Sugar assists with rising when creamed with butter. It helps add moisture to your treat and helps it evenly spread as it melts into a liquid in the heat of the oven. Sugar also helps with naturally preserving your baked treat.

Vegetable Oil

100% fat, contains no water and has a higher melting point. This means it will not melt down in your oven, resulting in thicker cookies or brownies. It doesn’t help leaven your treat like butter can, so it can make your treat flatter and greasier.

Eggs

Adds both a protein (egg whites) and fat (egg yolks). The egg whites help with rising because, when foamed, little air pockets get trapped inside the egg white mixture. The water content in egg whites encourages steam while baking, which helps with gluten formation, resulting in nice and thick treats. Egg yolks have emulsifying properties that bring batters and doughs together and help them from collapsing. Unless otherwise specified, always use large eggs.

Egg Whites

Are protein and water and provide structure to the cake. They also help leaven the cake because when they are whipped they trap in tiny air bubbles that expand when heated.

Cake Flour

Has a lower amount of protein and is very fine. It gives your treat a specific flavor and makes them very white or light in color. It’s made of soft wheat so it should not be used in place of all-purpose or bread flour. Only use when your recipe specifically calls for it.

Baking Powder

Puffs up your batter or dough instead of spreading it out. Baking powder contains a little bit of baking soda, an acid & cornstarch. Because of this, it only needs a liquid to react. It also consists of two different acids, so it’s double reacting. It reacts as soon as it’s mixed with a moisture and then again when it’s heated up.

Fine Sea Salt

Enhances flavor, adds balance, masks any bitter flavors. Salt is the most powerful and oldest preservative. Always make sure to use fine sea salt so it melts down at the right speed in the heat of the oven. If you use larger granule salt, it will not melt down fully when baked and will leave salt crystals throughout your treat, making it crunch like you dropped it into sand.

Buttermilk

Adds moisture and a slight tang, enhancing the cake’s flavor.

Rainbow Sprinkles

Adds a festive, colorful touch to the cake.

Unsalted butter

Often the main ingredient of frosting, it adds structure to your buttercream. It also adds a smooth and velvety texture. Butter melts at body temperature, so it will make your frosting have a melt-in-your-mouth sensation.

Powdered Sugar

Is just finely ground granulated sugar. It will absorb moisture in your batter or dough. It dissolves easily, ensuring a smooth texture without grittiness. Because it is so fine, it can melt quickly in the oven and spread cookies out more. Powdered sugar also stabilizes and thickens the frosting, thanks to the small amount of cornstarch it contains.

Heavy Whipping Cream

Makes a softer, more spreadable frosting. When melted with chocolate it adds more fat and moisture to the mixture, resulting in a silkier blend.

Vanilla Extract

When using pure vanilla extract, as opposed to imitation flavoring, it will add the deep rich flavor that everybody wants in a treat.

a slice of confetti cake

Storage Tips

Store the frosted cake in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days. For best flavor and texture, let it come to room temperature before serving.

Freezing Options

The unfrosted cake layers can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 3 months. This makes it convenient to bake the cake in advance and frost it fresh on the day of your event.

Making Ahead

Prepare the cake layers ahead of time and freeze them for easy assembly on the day of serving. The frosting can also be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Allow the frosting to come back up to room temperature and then whip it again before use to restore the fluffy texture.

a confetti cake on a stand with a slice next to it

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Why make confetti cake?

In essence, the confetti cake is a delightful expression of festivity and flavor, perfect for making special occasions or simply brining a touch of whimsy to your day.

Recipes You May Love

a full confetti cake

Confetti Cake

Author: Madison Reid
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Assemble: 30 minutes
Servings: 20
Delicious buttermilk confetti cake. The most perfect birthday cake!

Ingredients 

Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  • In a standing mixer combine butter, sugar and vegetable oil. Whip on medium high for about a minute until light in color and texture.
  • Add the eggs and egg whites to the mixture, stir until combined.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder & salt
  • Turn the standing mixer on low and slowly pour the the dry ingredients in.
  • Quickly add the buttermilk into the mixture, being careful to not over mix the gluten.
  • Add the vanilla extract and whip up the cake batter until smooth.
  • Fold the rainbow sprinkles into the batter.
  • Pour the cake evenly into three 9-inch cake pans that have been greased and lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 25 minutes. Remove and allow the cakes to cool before removing from the pan.
  • Once cool, remove and wrap each cake in plastic wrap. Place the cakes in the freezer for at least 15 minutes before frosting.

Frosting

  • In a standing mixer add the butter and whip until smooth
  • Add the powdered sugar and mix until combined. It will be dry and clumpy now.
  • Turn the mixer on low and pour in the cream and extract. Mix until combined.
  • Whip on high for 1-2 minutes until the frosting is lighter in color and texture.

Assemble

  • Place one cake layer on a cake board or platter, frost the top with a thick layer of frosting.
  • Add the second layer of cake on top of the frosted cake and repeat, frosting the top of the second cake layer.
  • Add the third layer of cake on top of the frosted cake. Frost the sides and top of the cake with a crumb coat.
  • Place the frosted cake in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  • Remove and frost a second coat on top of the entire cake.

Nutrition

Calories: 631kcal Carbohydrates: 79g Protein: 5g Fat: 34g Saturated Fat: 19g Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g Monounsaturated Fat: 9g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 101mg Sodium: 221mg Potassium: 78mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 60g Vitamin A: 939IU Vitamin C: 0.01mg Calcium: 74mg Iron: 0.5mg

Have you tried this recipe?

I’d love to see it! Follow @_mrs.madi_ on Instagram and tag your photos with #mrsmadi.

confetti cake titled