Rainbow Sprinkle Funfetti Cake

Tested & Perfected Recipes

This delicious funfetti cake comes from my friend Lisa Kolb Ruland. Lisa is a CIA-trained pastry chef who has made a name for herself in some of New York City’s top bakeshops, and she is also the editor of Unpeeled, one of the loveliest food blogs out there (if you haven’t made her pecan shortbread cookies, what are you waiting for?!). When Lisa’s sprinkle cake popped up in my inbox a few weeks ago, my daughter was sitting beside me, looking over my shoulder and said, “Mom, you have to make that.” I didn’t need much convincing. In Lisa’s words, “Some might say that, technically speaking, rainbow sprinkles do not have much taste or flavor. But to me? They taste like something close to joy. They taste like fun. And who doesn’t need a little of that right now?”

What You’ll Need

For the Cake Layers

ingredients for sprinkle cake

For the Frosting and Sprinkles

Step-By-Step Instructions

Make the Cake Layers

dry ingredients in bowl

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

whisked dry ingredients in bowl

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar.

butter and sugar in mixer

Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl once during this process to make sure everything is evenly combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl again.

creamed butter and sugar

With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Don’t worry if the batter looks curdled.

adding the eggs one at a timeMix in the vanilla, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about one minute. Scrape the bowl and briefly mix again.

mixing in the vanilla

On low speed, alternately add the whisked dry ingredients in three additions and the buttermilk in two: dry, wet, dry, wet, dry.

adding the dry ingredients to the batter

Again, don’t worry if the batter looks curdled.

adding the buttermilk to the batter

When everything is just incorporated, remove the bowl from the mixer.

mixed sprinkle cake batter

Scrape the bowl as necessary, and then add the sprinkles. adding the sprinkles to the batter

Fold by hand using a spatula.

final mixed sprinkle cake batter

Pour the batter evenly into the cake pans and use the back of the spatula to smooth the batter.

sprinkle cake batter divided into mixing bowls

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are golden and set, a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, and the edges are pulling away from the pan.

baked sprinkle cake layers on cooling rack

Cool the cakes in the pans on a rack for about 20 minutes. When the pans are cool enough to handle, run an offset spatula or a knife around the rim, and turn the cakes out onto the rack. Let fully cool.

Make the Frosting

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), beat the butter and cream cheese until creamy and evenly combined, about 30 seconds.

beating butter and cream cheese for carrot cake frosting

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar.

gradually adding the confectioners sugar to the frosting

Beat in the vanilla and salt, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.

Frost the Cake

Once the cake layers are cool, use a long serrated knife to cut off the domed top of the cake layers so that they are flat. Discard (or snack on) the domed top. Repeat with the additional layer, and set aside.

trimming the domes off of the cake layers

Put one cake layer on a cake stand or serving platter with the cut-side up. Put about 1 cup of the frosting in the center and, using the the back of an offset spatula, spread the frosting evenly just to the edge of the cake.

frosting the sprinkle cake

Add the second cake layer on top of the first with the cut-side down on the frosting (so that the bottom of the cake is on top). Scoop about 1 cup of the frosting onto the center of the cake and spread it to the edge.

stacking the layers and frosting the sprinkle cake

Put a 1/4-cup blob of frosting on the side of the cake, and use your offset spatula to spread it over a section of cake. Rotate the cake stand as you go. Repeat until the entire side of the cake is covered. Don’t worry about making the frosting too perfect; you will smooth it out again later, and the sprinkles will cover any imperfections. Place the cake, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes to set.

frosted sprinkle cake

Remove the cake from the refrigerator. To smooth out any bumps and create a “sticky” surface for the sprinkles, hold an offset spatula under hot water for a few seconds to warm it. Tap off any excess water, and then slowly run the hot spatula over an area of frosting until it is smooth and glossy. Continue this process over the entire cake. Then, gather a handful of sprinkles in the palm of your hand and gently press them into the side of the cake, working from the base of the cake to the top edge, opening your palm as you go. Rotate the cake stand in your hand and repeat, going all the way around.

pressing the sprinkles onto the sides of the cake

Gather another large handful of sprinkles and sprinkle them over the top of the cake. (I like to use a wide metal spatula to gently press the sprinkles into the frosting to even out any remaining bumps.)

pressing sprinkles onto the top of the cake

Scrape any “fallen” sprinkles off of the cake stand and wipe the edges of the cake stand clean with a damp paper towel, if necessary.

finished sprinkle cake

Slice and celebrate.

Note: I have simplified Lisa’s cake decorating method a bit here. If you’d like to see how a professional pastry chef frosts and decorates a cake, check out Lisa’s excellent tutorial here.

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Rainbow Sprinkle Funfetti Cake

Servings: Makes one 8-inch layer cake

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles

For the Frosting and Decoration

  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 generous pinches salt
  • About 1-1/2 cups rainbow sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Spray two 8-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Cut two 8-inch rounds of parchment paper and line the bottom of each pan, then spray the paper with nonstick cooking spray. (To measure the parchment paper, just trace the bottom of the pan.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed (or medium-high speed if using a hand-held mixer) until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl once during this process to make sure everything is evenly combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl again.
  4. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Don't worry if the batter looks curdled at any point during the mixing process. Mix in the vanilla, then increase the speed to medium (or medium-high if using a hand-held mixer) and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about one minute. Scrape the bowl and briefly mix again.
  5. On low speed, alternately add the whisked dry ingredients in three additions and the buttermilk in two: dry, wet, dry, wet, dry. When everything is just incorporated, remove the bowl from the mixer. Scrape the bowl as necessary, and fold in the sprinkles by hand using a spatula.
  6. Pour the batter evenly into the cake pans and use the back of the spatula to smooth the batter and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are golden and set, a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, and the edges are pulling away from the pan. Cool the cakes in the pans on a rack for about 20 minutes. When the pans are cool enough to handle, run an offset spatula or a knife around the rim, and turn the cakes out onto the rack. Let fully cool.
  7. Once the cake layers are cool, use a long serrated knife to cut off the domed top of the cake layers so that they are flat. Discard (or snack on) the domed top. Repeat with the additional layer, and set aside.
  8. Put one cake layer on a cake stand or serving platter with the cut-side up. Put about 1 cup of the frosting in the center and, using the the back of an offset spatula (or a butter knife, if you don't have an offset spatula), spread the frosting evenly just to the edge of the cake. Add the second cake layer on top of the first, so that the cut-side is down (and the bottom of the cake is on top). Scoop about 1 cup of the frosting onto the center of the cake and spread it to the edge. Get eye level with the cake to make sure that everything looks even. Put a 1/4-cup blob of frosting on the side of the cake, and use your offset spatula to spread it over a section of cake. Rotate the cake stand as you go. Repeat until the entire side of the cake is covered fully. Don't worry about making the frosting too perfect; you will smooth it out again later, and the sprinkles will cover any imperfections.
  9. Place the cake, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes to set.
  10. Remove the cake from the refrigerator. If you touch the frosting, you will notice that it has formed a skin; that's normal. Place the cake next to the sink and turn on the hot water. Hold an offset spatula (or butter knife, if you don't have an offset spatula) under the hot water for a few seconds to warm it. Tap off any excess water, and then slowly run the hot spatula over an area of frosting until it is smooth and glossy. Continue this process over the entire cake, warming the spatula under hot water as necessary, until the cake is smooth and glossy all over. This process both evens out any bumps in the frosting and also creates a "sticky" surface for the sprinkles to adhere.
  11. Place the cake stand on a 13 x 18-inch sheet pan. This will catch the falling sprinkles. Fill a small bowl with about the sprinkles. Gather a handful of sprinkles in the palm of your hand and gently press them into the side of the cake, working from the base of the cake to the top edge, opening your palm as you go. Stop at the edge and don’t “round the corner” onto the top of the cake. You want to keep those side edges sharp. Rotate the cake stand in your hand and repeat, going all the way around. Gather another large handful of sprinkles and sprinkle them over the top of the cake. (I like to use a wide metal spatula to gently press the sprinkles into the frosting to even out any remaining bumps.) Scrape any "fallen" sprinkles off of the cake stand and wipe the edges of the cake stand clean with a damp paper towel, if necessary. The cake can be stored in a cake dome at room temperature for up to 3 days.

For the Frosting

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), beat the butter and cream cheese until creamy and evenly combined, about 30 seconds. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the confectioners' sugar until incorporated, then beat in the vanilla and salt. Increase the speed to medium-high (or high speed if using a hand-held mixer) and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
  2. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cake can be frozen, without frosting, for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place it in a heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight on the countertop and then frost before serving.

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Reviews & Comments

  • My frosting came out hard and it was not easy to spread. I was careful to have the butter and cream crease at room temperature. Even after frosting, my cake does not look anything like yours in your pictures – very smooth. Where, do you reckon, I could have gone wrong

    It is in the fridge now. I hope the second stage of smoothing it, it will look good.

    • — Sarah on November 8, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Sarah, Is there any chance you may have made a measuring error? If it was too thick/hard, I’m wondering if perhaps you added an additional cup of confectioners’ sugar.

      • — Jenn on November 9, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    I have made about a dozen of your recipes over the last few months and have found some really great staples that I’ve been throwing into my rotation. Thank you for such a great site with easy instructions and ingredients!

    I’m planning to make this cake for my son’s second birthday. I was wondering whether I could make it a four layer cake instead of two (I’m dying the layers jewel tones for an Aladdin themed Halloween Birthday celebration). Any tips would be greatly appreciated regarding baking times or amounts (if you think the layers would be too scant if I divide the batter into four or if I’ll need more frosting). Thanks!

    Best,
    Safa

    • — Safa Fleurat on October 24, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Safa, so glad you like the recipes! I think that the layers would be too thin if you divided the batter into four cake pans. Rather, I’d bake the cake as instructed and then slice the two layers in half horizontally to make 4 layers. And you will need more frosting; I’d make one and a half times the recipe. Sounds like a great birthday cake!

      • — Jenn on October 27, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!
    Would I be able to decrease the amount of sugar, without affecting the taste/ consistency of the cake? Also, I’m a huge fan of all your recipes!! I’ve shared your website with so many of my friends!
    Thanks so much,
    Roshnee

    • — Roshnee Verma on October 20, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you like the recipes! You could get away with cutting the sugar by 1/4 to 1/2 cup here. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on October 21, 2020
      • Reply
      • Thanks so much Jenn!!
        I will let you know🤗
        Roshnee

        • — Roshnee Verma on October 22, 2020
        • Reply
  • Hi! I don’t have a stand mixer. Could I use a handheld one instead? And if so, should I modify anything? Thanks!!

    • — Jessie on October 13, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, just increase the speed a bit. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 14, 2020
      • Reply
  • Have you made this cake with yogurt as a substitute for the buttermilk?
    thank you!

    • — Laura on October 9, 2020
    • Reply
    • No, but I think you could; you may just need to thin it out a bit with a little milk. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on October 9, 2020
      • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! My only modification was that I needed to bake mine almost 45 minutes. I used white lily flour and it just took longer to bake.

    • — Jean Kennell on October 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • My frosting is unusually thick – I’m afraid it’ll be too difficult to spread. Any suggestions?

    • — jane simon on September 28, 2020
    • Reply
    • Actually, I think it was just too cold. It’s fine now!

      • — jane simon on September 28, 2020
      • Reply
      • Yes, the consistency can vary a lot based on the temperature of the butter and cream cheese. If necessary, it’s fine to thin it with 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk or cream. Hope you enjoy the cake! 🙂

        • — Jenn on September 28, 2020
        • Reply
  • I am a novice cake maker, but the Funfetti cake was too attractive, what a showstopper! Delicious and easy to make. Made me look like a pro.

    • — Jan M on September 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • Jenn, how long would I bake this using 9” round pans?
    Thanks,
    Jack

    • — Jack on September 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Jack, I’d start checking them at 25 to 30 minutes. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on September 21, 2020
      • Reply
  • Needed a cake recipe for my son’s birthday and this popped up in my inbox at the right time. Followed the recipe carefully as per directions and the result was a beautiful birthday cake that everyone loved! Highly recommended!!

    • — Sharita on September 18, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Can I substitute butter for lard – especiallly for the icing?
    BTW every recipe I have made from your website has been fantastic – I’m a huge fan!
    (In fact I’m starting to question my own question, LOL!) Thanks for the recipes. Cheers!

    • — Elizabeth McMenemy on September 17, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth, I wouldn’t recommend it here – sorry! So glad you’re enjoying the recipes! 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 18, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I was searching for a birthday cake that was colorful when your email came in with the sprinkle cake. I do have a question? Do the sprinkles totally melt inside the cake. I want to make this for a 95 year old and she doesn’t like textures (crunchy things) in her mouth.
    I would not be using the outside sprinkles just the inside ones which are so colorful. I will decorate the outside with numerous colors of frosting.

    • — Jacquie on September 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Jacquie, There is a very slight crunch to the sprinkles inside the cake. It’s a delicious cake, even without the sprinkles.

      • — Jenn on September 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • “Makes one 8-inch layer cake” is confusing. Doesn’t this recipe make a two 8-inch layer cake?

    • — Ty on September 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Ty, I can see why that would be confusing. It makes one layer cake and the cake has 2 layers. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on September 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • Could this recipe be used for making cupcakes? Thanks

    • — cheryl on September 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on September 18, 2020
      • Reply
    • I made this cake this afternoon with my 8 year old granddaughter. The batter was pretty thick, as in almost difficult to spread evenly into our pans. The total time needed for baking was actually 45-50 minutes! Our cake turned out with a very coarse texture but an excellent taste! We did have a lot of fun getting sprinkles all over the outside!

      • — Linda Harden on October 3, 2020
      • Reply
    • Hi! Would I be able to make this into a quarter sheet pan? How would I adjust the measurements?

      • — Jackie on October 20, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Jackie, I assume you mean a 9 x 13-inch pan? If so, I do think it would work and I’d bake it at 350°F/175°C and start checking it for doneness at 30 to 35 minutes. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

        • — Jenn on October 22, 2020
        • Reply
  • Hi Jenn—
    Can you recommend your best source, mail order or wherever, to get quality rainbow sprinkles?

    • — Joanne on September 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Joanne, Honestly, I just buy them at the supermarket. 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 18, 2020
      • Reply

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