Vanilla Birthday Cake without a Cake Pan

This birthday cake recipe is made with vanilla cake batter that you can pipe, so you don’t need a cake pan to make a layer cake! The cake is incredibly moist, rich, and buttery – and you can pair it with any frosting. It really puts the “happy” in happy birthday!

I’m a firm believer that the key to a happy birthday is a rocking dessert to go along with it!

A few years back, I didn’t have any pans other than your standard 9×13 inch baking sheets. And while you can always make a sheet pan cake (yum!), sometimes, you crave a layer cake!

Which is how this recipe came about! I created a cake batter that can be made on a standard baking sheet and can be piped into a rounded cake. And once you layer it, no one will be able to tell it was made without a cake pan!

Vanilla cake ingredients:

• baking powder
• salt
• sugar
• butter
• vegetable oil: I like to use both butter and vegetable oil for a better flavor and texture for the cake. Butter adds richness while vegetable oil makes the cake super moist!
• eggs
• sour cream: Since we’re making this cake without a cake pan, it’s important to use sour cream. It doesn’t cause as much leaking or expansion as milk
vanilla extract
• frosting: You can use any frosting you like. I used a double batch of my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting

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How to make vanilla cake without a cake pan:

1. Combine dry ingredients. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, and set aside.
2. Combine sugar, butter, and oil. In a large bowl, cream together sugar, butter, and oil until combined.
3. Add eggs in. Add the eggs in one at a time, whisking well after each addition.
4. Whisk in sour cream and vanilla.
5. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Some lumps are fine!

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  • Don’t be like me. These cakes are too close together…

6. Pipe batter. Fill a large piping bag or plastic bag with the cake batter. Pipe 3 (9 inch) cake rounds on parchment lined baking sheets, then smoothen the tops. Make sure to leave a good amount of room between each cake round because they will expand quite a bit as they bake! If needed, you can bake 2 to 3 batches. The batter can sit out for up to 30 minutes at room temperature.
7. Cool & frost! I find the cakes are easiest to assemble if you freeze them for 20 to 30 minutes to let them firm up (otherwise they are quite soft and fragile).

Vanilla cake frosting ideas:

You can use any frosting you love with this cake. A few of my favorite pairings include caramel frosting, whipped chocolate ganache, ermine frosting, vanilla buttercream or chocolate buttercream frosting, cream cheese frosting, or a simple whipped cream!


Just do note that the cake itself is quite rich! So if you choose to go with a sweeter and more butter heavy frosting (like vanilla buttercream), I’d recommend sticking to a thin layer. But if you go with something a little lighter in sugar and butter (like a simple whipped cream or ermine frosting) then go to town!

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Check out these other recipes!

• one bowl chocolate cake
• sour cream vanilla cupcakes (it’s the inspiration for this batter!)
• funfetti cupcakes
• red velvet cupcakes
• frosted chocolate sheet cake

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About the Author: Thien Bao

Hello, my name is ThienBao. I am a freelance developer specializing in various types of code.