Making Confetti Cake: A Christina Tosi Masterpiece

The iconic Christina Tosi birthday cake. You’ve seen it everywhere: Pinterest, Instagram, Chef’s Table, it’s THE cake.

So, I finally decided to devote a day and make it. It’s not a very difficult cake to make, just a tedious one.

Lots of ingredients to buy, acetate to get at the local kitchen store, and time to complete all the steps.

But it’s worth it! It’s not too sweet, the cake is super moist, and those crumbs!

Oh the crumbs are the best part of it. If I could just snack on a bowl full of those crumbs, I would.

Making Homemade Confetti Cake Recipe

Making a confetti cake is a fun and festive way to celebrate! Here’s a basic recipe for a homemade confetti cake.


For the Cake:

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups (250g) cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp rainbow sprinkles, divided
  • 1/2 cup (118ml) buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup (78ml) grapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp clear imitation vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups (250g) sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 4 tbsp (56g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp (42g) light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs

For the Crumbs:

  • 3/4 cup (93g) AP flour
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 2 tbsp (28g) light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup (59ml) grapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp clear imitation vanilla extract

For the Frosting and Assembly:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp clear imitation vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups (156g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp citric acid (or 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice)
  • 1/4 cup (59ml) milk


For the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 13×9″ rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray; set aside.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and ¼ cup sprinkles in a large bowl. Combine buttermilk, oil, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium-high, beat granulated sugar, shortening, butter, and light brown sugar in another large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. Continue to beat the mixture, occasionally scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl, until almost doubled in volume and very light, airy, and pale yellow, about 4 minutes.
  6. With the mixer on low, add buttermilk mixture until incorporated. Add dry ingredients, beating until just combined, about 1 minute.
  7. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 Tbsp. sprinkles.
  8. Bake until the cake is light golden brown, the center springs back when gently pressed, and a tester inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 30–35 minutes.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer (don’t worry, it’s not cheating).

For The Crumbs:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. Combine flour, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, sprinkles, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Add oil and vanilla, and using your hands, mix until no dry spots remain and large clumps form when the mixture is pressed together.
  4. As though you were making a crumble topping, break the mixture up into clusters (some small, some large) and spread onto a prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the crumble is light golden brown and crunchy, 10–12 minutes (it will firm up as it cools).
  6. Let cool completely.

For The Frosting And Assembly:

  1. Combine butter, shortening, and cream cheese in a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  2. Beat on medium-high until mixture is smooth and fluffy, 2–3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly stream in corn syrup and 1 Tbsp. vanilla.
  3. Beat until mixture is silky smooth and glossy white, about 3 minutes.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and, with the mixer on low, add powdered sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid until just combined.
  5. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until you have a brilliant stark white, beautifully smooth frosting, about 4 minutes (it should look just like it came out of a plastic tub at the grocery store!).

For The Final Assembly:

  1. Place a silicone baking mat or piece of parchment on a counter. Invert the cake onto a mat, then peel off the parchment.
  2. Use a cake ring to punch out two 6″ rounds from the cake (or, using a springform pan as a guide, cut out 2 rounds using a paring knife).
  3. These are your top 2 cake layers (the remaining cake scraps will form the bottom layer of the cake).
  4. Line a sheet pan with a clean piece of parchment. Clean the cake ring and place it in the center of the pan.
  5. Use 1 acetate strip to line the inside of the cake ring.
  6. Place cake scraps inside the ring and use the back of your hand to press scraps together into a flat, even layer (you never see this layer, so it’s okay that it’s messy—but since it’s the base of the cake, it needs to be flat).
  7. Combine milk and the remaining 1 tsp. vanilla in a small bowl.
  8. Dunk a pastry brush in milk mixture and use half of it to generously moisten the base layer.
  9. Use the back of a spoon to spread about 3 Tbsp. frosting evenly over the cake.
  10. Sprinkle ⅔ cup birthday crumbs evenly over frosting.
  11. Use the back of your hand to press them in place.
  12. Use the back of a spoon to spread another 3 Tbsp. frosting as evenly as possible over crumbs.
  13. With your index finger, gently tuck the second acetate strip between the cake ring and the top ¼” of the first acetate strip so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5–6″ tall—high enough to support the height of the finished cake.
  14. Top with a cake round (if 1 of your 2 cake rounds is less pretty than the other, use it for the middle layer and save the most perfect one for the top).
  15. Brush the layer with the remaining milk mixture. Repeat the frosting-crumb layering process.
  16. Nestle remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the remaining frosting.
  17. Use an offset spatula to form decorative swirls, or do as they do at Milk Bar and shape it into a perfectly flat top. Top with remaining birthday crumbs.
  18. Transfer the cake to the freezer and freeze for at least 3 hours to set the cake and filling.
  19. At least 3 hours before serving the cake, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer and, using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring.
  20. Gently peel off the acetate and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Defrost in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Homemade Confetti Cake

1. Can I Substitute The Clear Imitation Vanilla Extract With Regular Vanilla Extract?

Yes, you can substitute clear imitation vanilla extract with regular vanilla extract. However, keep in mind that clear imitation vanilla provides a more vibrant color to the cake.

2. Is There A Recommended Brand For Clear Imitation Vanilla Extract?

While Milk Bar often uses a specific brand, feel free to use any clear imitation vanilla extract available at your local grocery store. The key is to maintain the cake’s signature appearance.

3. Can I Use A Different Type Of Oil In The Cake Batter?

Yes, you can substitute grapeseed oil with a neutral-flavored oil like vegetable or canola oil. Ensure the oil you choose doesn’t have a strong flavor that could overpower the cake.

4. What Is The Purpose Of Citric Acid In The Frosting?

Citric acid adds a subtle tang to the frosting. If you don’t have citric acid, you can use fresh lemon juice as a substitute. Adjust the quantity to your taste preference.

5. How Far In Advance Can I Make The Cake?

You can make the cake ahead and freeze it for up to a week. Just ensure it’s well-wrapped to prevent freezer burn. The assembled cake can also be frozen for longer storage.

6. Can I Use A Different Type Of Flour For The Crumbs?

While all-purpose flour is recommended, you can experiment with alternative flours. Keep in mind that different flours may affect the texture and taste of the crumbs.

7. What If I Don’t Have Acetate Strips For Assembly?

Acetate strips help create a clean, professional look, but if you don’t have them, you can use parchment paper as a substitute. It may not be as tall, but it will still help with layering.

8. Can I Refrigerate The Cake Instead Of Freezing It For Setting?

Freezing is recommended to set the cake and allow the flavors to meld. However, if you’re short on time, refrigerating for an extended period can also help, but the texture may differ slightly.

9. Can I Reduce The Sugar Content In The Cake Or Frosting?

You can adjust the sugar to your taste preference, but keep in mind that it may affect the texture and sweetness of the final product.

10. How Do I Store Leftover Cake?

Store leftover cake in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3-4 days. Be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving for the best texture and flavor.

Final Words

Feel free to customize this recipe to suit your preferences. Experiment with colors, try different sprinkles, or add a personal touch to the frosting swirls. After all, the essence of baking is in making it your own.

So, gather your ingredients, preheat that oven, and let the confetti cake magic unfold in your kitchen. Here’s to the joy of baking and the artistry of creating something truly extraordinary. Happy baking!

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