old-fashioned white cake with buttercream frosting | movita beaucoup

I baked a cake for a Rutherford.

I know.

old-fashioned white cake with buttercream frosting | movita beaucoup

But it was for a child Rutherford. A child turning four. A child that likes pink.

And just because her parents are weirdos doesn’t mean she shouldn’t get a huge, pink, sugary cake on her 4th birthday. Heck, you might feel so bad for her that you craft little pink lollypops to stick on top of the four-layered heap of icing. Little pink lollypops with little pink bows. Because that four year old is a very special creature. And you hope that each and every year she celebrates on this planet is slathered in sweetness.

old-fashioned white cake with buttercream frosting | movita beaucoup

This is the same cake I made for the other Rutherford kid on his first birthday. Because The Rutherfords don’t bake cakes. They don’t even own an offset spatula. I know, because once Mrs. Rutherford asked me to put some Betty Crocker icing on a Betty Crocker carrot cake, and I basically had to use my hands to smear it on.

This is an old-fashioned white cake. It is moist. It has a lovely texture. It cuts like a dream. And to make it extra fun, I divided the batter evenly between four bowls and added a little bit of colour to the mix. Then I baked it all up in four 9-inch pans. And when we cut into the cake, people were all like: wow, it’s like a pink rainbow in there! And I thought: if you didn’t have kids, you’d all be reading more food blogs, and you wouldn’t be so surprised by the multi-coloured layers. Also? Your kid is licking a door knob. 

old-fashioned white cake with buttercream frosting | movita beaucoup

I used a lot of icing on this cake – because I needed some between each of the layers, and because of the floofy icing clouds on the sides. So I doubled the recipe. Also, this is a sweet icing. Because I think a kid’s birthday cake should be all about the sugar. No fondant, please. Bleck. Give a kid something she can dive into for pete’s sake.

The recipe below isn’t for a true buttercream. Because there’s no butter in there. It’s a decorator’s frosting. Who the hell takes a buttery icing to a freakin’ GYM THEMED BIRTHDAY PARTY? Yup. You read that right. Parents and kids running around barefoot on gym mats. It was the best advert for condoms I’ve seen in a long time. Anyhoo, a butter-based buttercream would have melted in ten seconds flat. Shortening, on the other hand, is much more forgiving. So, as we enter the sticky season (heat, humidity, bad hair), you might want to consider a crusting “butter”cream such as this. Not for your hair, doofus. For cakes ‘n stuff.

. . .

Mackenzie’s Cake {Old-Fashioned White Cake}

print and bake

Yields two 9-inch round baking pans. (Or, you could divide the batter between four pans as I did for Mackenzie’s cake, and shorten the bake time.)

  • 3 cups cake flour, divided into 1 cup measures
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round pans and line with parchment paper. (To line with parchment paper, trace the pans onto parchment paper, cut out and trim to fit in the bottom of the pan.)

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the flour, the salt and the baking powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Add the milk, hot water, 1 cup of flour and 1 egg, and mix on medium speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and around the bottom to make sure everything is combined. Then add 1 cup of flour and 1 egg, and again, mix on medium speed until well combined. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Finally, add the flour/salt/baking powder mixture and the one remaining egg, and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Add in the vanilla and almond extracts. Mix well to combine.

Divide the batter evenly between your two prepared baking pans. Rap the pans on the counter a few times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Notes: If you want to make a four-layer, multi-coloured cake, as I did for Mackenzie’s birthday, divide the batter between four bowls and dye appropriately. I use gel food colouring, just a little at a time, until I’ve got my desired colour. Then pour the batter into four greased, parchment paper lined pans. The bake time will be reduced, as the cakes are thinner. Keep an eye on them…

. . .

Buttercream Icing – adapted slightly from i am baker, who adapted it from Rick Mazzuca – print and frost

Yields enough to frost a 2 layer cake (2 x 9-inch round baking pans). If planning a lot of embellishing, I’d recommend making a double batch so you have enough to crumb coat, frost and add piped designs.

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 4 cups icing/confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons clear imitation vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream

In a stand mixer on medium speed, cream the shortening until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add 2 cups of icing sugar, mixing first on the stir setting (to avoid plumes of icing sugar blowing throughout your kitchen), and then increase speed to medium. Mix until well combined. Add the remaining two cups of icing sugar, and mix until well combined. If your mixer is struggling to combine the shortening and sugar, add a tablespoon of heavy cream (but be sure to add only 5 tablespoons in the next step).

Add the salt, vanilla and heavy cream, and blend until well combined. Then beat on medium speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Add additional cream or icing sugar to adjust to desired consistency. When adjusting consistency, add the cream or icing sugar in very small quantities – it is easy to over-correct.

Note: you can make this recipe substituting butter for the shortening and pure vanilla extract for the clear imitation, but the frosting will not be white – it will be cream/off-white coloured.


  1. thekalechronicles on June 4, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Oh. God: frosting with shortening in it — this is why I seldom make cakes with frosting. I don’t have a thing against shortening itself: I use it in pie crust without worrying about damaging my arteries, but I don’t want to eat raw shortening, even with plenty of sugar. We call this stuff “Crisco frosting.” Fortunately, MacKenzie will be too happy to care because of all of the pink glory and prettiness of this cake. And perhaps The Rutherfords deserve raw shortening — I don’t know. But if you ever make me a flippin’ cake, the frosting better be made of butter — or make seven-minute frosting with egg whites instead.

    • movita beaucoup on June 4, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      I hear ya – shortening isn’t generally my first choice. Mostly because this body runs on butter. But I have yet to find ANYTHING that holds up as well in heat and humidity. And it tasted SO GOOD. No lie.

      But, yes, lady. When I make you a cake one day it will be all about the butter!

    • janice ciravola on January 14, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      i use xxxx sugar butter vanilla milk for my frosiing,it,s great.

  2. chefconnie on June 4, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Beautiful cake.

  3. emmalina73 on June 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I would eat this cake even if it were made with pig lard, in fact especially if it were made with pig lard. I am actually wondering if you would aunt adopt me and make me a cake like this for my birthday; I have seven birthdays a year, for the record. That said when we move in with that lady in the cute house who does all the art stuff you’ll be baking one of these a week for us to eat while we sit around sipping tea and talking about art and ballet and…pigs. Yup, it’s going to be quite a life.

    • movita beaucoup on June 4, 2012 at 10:29 pm

      I. Can’t. Wait.

      (Also, now I’m picturing a cake SHAPED like a pig…)

      • emmalina73 on June 5, 2012 at 6:09 pm

        PIG SHAPED CAKE!!! PIG SHAPED CAKE!!! Oh yes indeed.

  4. emma on June 4, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    As you probably could have guessed, I love shortening. What might make your eye twitch a bit to read is that I also adore the thought of running around barefoot on a gym mat. With a bunch of snot-nosed kids. However, I’ll add on that it might also be fun to have one of those giant q-tips from American Gladiators with me.

    Knowing that the Rutherfords, those that don’t bake cakes or own regulation kitchenware items, would be there, I might however opt to stay at home. I’m just heeding movita’s teachings. I think.

    • movita beaucoup on June 4, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      Had there been giant q-tips, I might have actually joined in! Brilliant idea! Imagine bashing a kid in the face with one of those. OR A PARENT! Heck, MY parents were there. Now I’m imaging bludgeoning them with a soft, spongy mallet…

      And yes, you should avoid The Rutherfords at all cost. Mr. Rutherford just got his PhD. Total nightmare. Smart people are way annoying.

  5. cravesadventure on June 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    What a Pretty Cake – thanks for sharing:)

  6. juanitascocina on June 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I sort of wish I was 4 so someone would make me this cake. But, I don’t wanna lick doorknobs.

  7. inherchucks on June 4, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. Tanya (loveloulabel) on Twitter on June 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    ha! I love this cake. Not the shortening also. BUT I have kids, read food blogs AND I made my daughter an incredibly beautiful fully rainbow, rainbow cake for her 3rd birthday last year!! It was iced in melted white chocolate with a garden and when cut into it was a huge success! Now maybe I do eat the occasional fly as you might remember from the other week’s episode (pickled might just be the gem of decorating btw!) but seriously Ms B!! lol Love the cake. point me in the decoration of how to decorate with the cloud effect!! lovies xox

    • movita beaucoup on June 4, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      Oh, your cake sounds amazing! And I hear what your saying on the shortening front. However, gym+sunny day+humidity = cake disaster. So, shortening it was. I hope you’ll make me a cake topped with white chocolate soon… (Hold the flies.)

      The cloud effect is very easy! Just put a crumb coat of icing on the cake, and then fill a piping bag fitted with a large, round pastry tip with the buttercream. Pipe on dots of frosting (sets of three or more, top to bottom) and then use a small offset spatula to drag from the centre of the circle outward. Then overlap each tail with a new mound of icing and repeat! You can do a cake like this in no time at all! You could also vary the size of the mounds, or the pattern. I’ve seen it all over the interweb – it’s going to be as big as ruffle cakes!

      • Tanya (loveloulabel) on Twitter on June 5, 2012 at 12:32 am

        aha! Brilliant, the cloud effect sounds manageable(?) maybe, possibly! Brave you even thinking gym and cake combined! You rock awesome! xox

  9. musingmar on June 4, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Oh, such a pretty cake! I am just now learning how to decorate cakes and cupcakes, and I may be in learner mode for a long time. Actually, mostly because I don’t bake many cakes and cupcakes. But my first grandchild will be turning two in August and I’ve been dreaming of making a beautiful cake for her. One like yours, looking like a beautiful confection, so that everyone ooh’s and ash’s and the Birthday Miss gets all excited and loves Nana even more. And then of course she’ll drop it on the floor, smear it on the wall and generally mash it about her person. And isn’t that a big part of the fun?

    • movita beaucoup on June 8, 2012 at 11:44 am

      I am in leaner mode as well – thus, I chose very forgiving designs! I’m betting you’re gunna rock that wee grandchild’s world… and here’s to smearing icing all over the place!!

  10. frugalfeeding on June 4, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    What a damn lovely cake – no one ever made me incredibly decorated cake… then again, I was never a 4 year old girl… Hmm. It is exquisite, Movita. I’m always in awe of your ability to decorate.

  11. shannon on June 4, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    dear wee mackenzie rutherford: for your fourth birthday, a ballerina made you a pink ombre layered birthday cake with lollies and bows on it. and it’s on the internet, where things live on forever.

    i hope you realize how difficult this will make it for you when you’re a teenager and you stomp about, angst-ridden, saying no one has ever done anything for you. this will take away your credibility in one fell swoop. just saying.

    i’ll also say this: i shared the kale chronicles’ aversion to shortening until about two weeks ago, when i made my sister’s birthday cake. the one she requested contained shortening in both the frosting and the cake, and i thought “oh no…i can’t do this.”

    but i DID do it, and now i’ll put that frosting on just about anything. lesson = learned. i’ve turned the corner. i still understand the squeamishness some have, because i had it, but now i’m a convert.

    back to you, wee rutherford child: happy birthday to you, and I hope it was a wonderful one.

    • movita beaucoup on June 8, 2012 at 11:47 am

      I’m going to have to tell Mrs. Rutherford to bookmark this post for future use. Wee Mackenzie has fiery red hair, and I’m betting she’ll have the teen angst to match…

      Sending shortening covered hugs your way…


  12. Rock Salt on June 4, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Such a beautiful cake, outside and in. I love rainbow cakes so much, but I think I like it best when the rainbow is just one colour like this one. As if you were looking at a rainbow with some crazy colour-filter sunglasses on, and eating cake.

    • movita beaucoup on June 8, 2012 at 11:50 am

      I’ve seen some beautiful rainbow cakes done in shades of blue and teal – absolutely gorgeous. I must say, I lean toward the cakes of one graduated colour. I guess great minds think alike…

  13. Anonymous on June 4, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Movita 2.0’s niece would like to put in her order for the 17th of this month. She would like to have the same sort of cake but in marble with pink and purple icing. If you can so kindly put this together for her that would be wonderful..plus that could be your contribution to her birthday meal.

    • movita beaucoup on June 4, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! Really? Cuz I’ll get all up in purple’s face for 2.0’s niece!

  14. pencilkitchen on June 4, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    “It’s like a pink rainbow inside” 😀 lovely, movita! I bet the 4 year old adore you…

  15. Ann on June 4, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    a gym party! what an awesome way to get kids tumbling into furniture and knocking things over, hahaha! I’m sure this cake helped with that too. must have been a fuster cluck, lol

    • movita beaucoup on June 8, 2012 at 11:53 am

      I must say, putting all of those kids in a gym was pretty inspired. I’m betting they fell into their beds as soon as they got home. Here’s to mats and sugar!

  16. Amy on June 4, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    This cake is GORGEOUS! You did such a good job, Movita…I hope the 4 year old thought about all the hard work that went it to it when she shoveled all that pink frosting into her mouth 🙁

  17. Anonymous on June 4, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    You’ve really out-done yourself! This is really, really gorgeous!

  18. Susi K (@BocaFrau) on June 4, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Oh my gosh, I love this. I will totally steal, I mean, borrow this for my little girl’s fourth birthday coming up in September. She loves pink, any shade of pink and I shall do my best and duplicate this for her. Thank you for sharing!!!

  19. natashia@foodonpaper on June 5, 2012 at 1:16 am

    Hilarious post! And oh my.. I need a piece of this cake! It’s so pretty. I don’t think my mum ever made a cake this pretty. Good thing my birthday is coming up, an excuse to bake me a pretty cake!

  20. kale on June 5, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Whoa, nice layers!!

  21. Lynne knowlton on June 5, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    OMG OMG OMG you crack me up !!!! ‘ the best advert for condoms’ ! Not gonna lie. I totally pee’d my pants laughing.
    You d’best. Beaucoup Beaucoup bisous xx

  22. cravingsofalunatic on June 5, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    This is gorgeous Movita. I hope you took the opportunity to kick the older Rutherfords in the shins just for good measure. I’m sure they did something to deserve it.

    • movita beaucoup on June 8, 2012 at 11:54 am

      They do shin-kick-worthy stuff ALL OF THE TIME.

  23. Rosie Beaucoup on June 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Imagine being Movita’s mother and wanting to come up with as beautiful a cake for her on her birthday!
    How quickly she surpassed my skill level. I think I will start putting candles in a pie!

    • movita beaucoup on June 8, 2012 at 11:55 am

      Thanks, mummy! But your cooking will always top mine… xox

  24. texydeb on June 8, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Those colors are some of my favorite. I love this cake!

  25. Ashley - Baker by Nature on June 8, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I’m turning 25 next month… and I want a pink cake like this – so fab!! Good job, love bug!

  26. Just A Smidgen on June 9, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Oooohhh!! I’ve made a pink layered rainbow cake but with ruffles! I love your icing technique and can’t wait to give it a go! How did you get the little bits done on the sides?? xo Smidge

  27. Eggton on June 12, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    The next time one of my friends gets pregnant, I’m going to make her a doorknob cake. I’ll be a celebration and a word to the wise, rolled up into one delicious warning cake. Or maybe I’ll make her a cake in the shape of a germ. What shape are germs? Globular? I can do that.

  28. spree on June 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    There are few people on the planet who get what kids want better than Movita Beaucoup. Everybody should have an Auntie or Mrs. Neighbor Movita. The world should be so lucky…

  29. Bonny on August 5, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    I used this cake recipe (sans rainbow pink layers because I’m too lazy) for my own birthday this year. It is the PERFECT birthday cake!

    • movita beaucoup on August 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      Yay, Bonny! Happy belated… xox

  30. Eggton on December 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I am making this tonight to celebrate Scott’s dad’s birthday. I have to make a good impression because I was so stressed out by my family this morning when I left the house that I forgot to put on normal shoes. So I showed up in slippers. Not a good start.

    • movita beaucoup on December 23, 2012 at 11:15 pm

      Cake will fix EVERYTHING.

  31. Krysten S on March 12, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Which icing tip did you use to ice the sides of the cake?

    • movita beaucoup on March 13, 2013 at 8:57 am

      A huge pastry tip – a big round one. Way easy!

  32. Heidi Reed on June 17, 2013 at 9:26 am

    How did you do that design on the cake. I have been trying to figure it out forever now!

  33. Anonymous on September 8, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Substitute coconut oil (when it’s solid – you ma have to refrigerate for a bit if it’s liquified.) Or unsalted butter.

  34. Lynne Knowlton (@lynneknowlton) on October 25, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I am baking this cake TODAY. Today. Today. Today. Here’s the perfect part. My daughter’s name is Mackenzie !!!!

    Did I drink too much coffee? I seem very excited about this phenomenon 🙂

    • movita beaucoup on October 26, 2013 at 7:57 am

      Yay! Cake!! I hope all went well…

  35. Lisa on February 4, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    I have 2 questions regarding this beautiful cake:

    1) Can the batter be left for 45 minutes or so between batches if I opt for the 4 layer cake? (I have a small over and only 2 pans)

    2) What would be the converted temperature/time for a convection oven?

    • movita beaucoup on February 4, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      Unfortunately, Lisa, I only test the recipes on my blog as written, and don’t like to advise people based on theories or guesses. That said, generally, I wouldn’t suggest a 45 minute rest-time for the cake batter, as the baking powder is activated once it comes in touch with moisture, and should be panned/baked right away. Why not bake two layers, and cut each in half? Alternatively, you could take your chances with the wait time if you’re okay with taking the risk – I bet it would be just fine, but that’s a guess. Bear in mind that if baking in two batches, each batch would take less time to bake (as there’s not as much batter in the pans), so it shouldn’t be 45 minutes between bakes.

      I haven’t tested this recipe in a convection oven. Generally, you would need to drop the temp in a convection oven (by 25 degrees), and the bake time will be shorter. Again, I haven’t tested the recipe that way myself.

      Sorry I can’t be of more assistance – I hope all goes well!

  36. movita beaucoup on October 29, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Comments on this post are now closed as it was published in June 2012. Happy baking!