Five Layer Celebration Cake

Five Layer Celebration Cake |

It’s my birthday!  Yay me!  I survived another year of this crazy life and I do believe we should celebrate.

It really was a crazy year.  I found myself working from home, which has really been a blessing and a period in my life that I will always cherish.  I’ve spent more time with my kids, my husband and my family.  It was a happy year for my family; my youngest brother got married, my closest cousin got married, and I welcomed a new niece and nephew into the world.

I’ve watched my daughters grow into beautiful, independent little girls, and most notably over the past year, I’ve watched them become best friends.  With my own sisters as my best friends, there is nothing better than knowing that Madeline and Mia will always, always have each other.  Talk about an amazing birthday gift – those girls enrich my life every single day.

Lemon Sugar has grown beyond my wildest and most far-fetched expectations.  I’ve worked with brands like Castello Cheese, Organized Living, KitchenAid, Glidden Paint, and Tide.  It’s been a GREAT year.  I can’t thank you all enough for being faithful readers of Lemon Sugar, and taking an interest in my little corner of the internet.

Five Layer Celebration Cake |

It’s funny that most of my birthday wishes this year have included comments like, “Make your husband cook for YOU tonight,” or “I hope someone makes YOU a cake!”  I actually look forward to my birthday because it’s the one day of the year that I actually get to make what I want.  Obviously, I love to bake, so baking for myself is a luxury that I can’t pass up!

This year, I went back to basics.  You all know by now that I’m a big chocolate cake fan, so a simple chocolate cake, filled with vanilla buttercream (which keeps the cake SOOOOOOOOOO perfectly moist) and topped with a vanilla-amond Swiss meringue buttercream sounded like a great idea to me.

A birthday cake is meant to be bright and colorful and oozing celebration, so I chose a take on ombre shading, inspired by my favorite sprinkles.  I love the way the blue and green and the pink and blue fade together.  Swiss meringue buttercream is the best frosting for ombre shading, and it didn’t disappoint today.  The cake has a dreamy feel, both in its appearance and its taste and texture.


Five Layer Celebration Cake |

Next time you need an awesome celebration cake, give this recipe a try.  It bakes in three layers, which you’ll cut in half before frosting.  If you’ve never tried Swiss meringue buttercream, you definitely need to try this!  It’s not as sweet as standard buttercream, it’s silkier, very buttery and has an amazing texture for frosting.  It works really well with chocolate cake, and it’s really not as hard as it sounds.  However, if you don’t want to attempt it, just double the buttercream filling recipe.

Five Layer Celebration Cake |


Thanks again everyone for following along here at Lemon Sugar.  Your support is one of the big reasons that I have so much to celebrate today.  Thanks for the birthday wishes, and check back tomorrow for another great recipe.

(Which reminds me:  if you want to be sure that you never miss a new recipe, make sure you sign up for Lemon Sugar emails.  You’ll get an email every time I post a new recipe, with a link to direct you to the right place.  No spam, no extras.  Just recipes!  You can sign up by scrolling up to the top of my page, right above the Lemon Sugar logo – enter your email address and follow the directions.  Easy!)


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Thanks for stopping by today!  Leave me a comment below so I know you were here!


Five Layer Birthday Cake
Prep time
Cook time
The perfect celebration cake, this five-layer chocolate tower is layered with vanilla buttercream and topped with a silky Swiss meringue buttercream. Enjoy!
Serves: 1 8-inch, 5-layer cake
For Five Layer Cake:
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 and ½ cups dark cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 1 cup boiling water
For vanilla buttercream filling:
  • 1 and ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperture
  • 6 cups powdered/confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
For swiss meringue frositng:
  • 6 egg whites, from large or extra large eggs
  • 1 and ½ cups white sugar
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, cut into 2-TBS pieces
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract or almond emulsion
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Food coloring, as desired.
For cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
  2. Prepare three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add buttermilk, eggs and oil, and beat until just combined.
  5. Add hot water and hot coffee, and beat until just combined. Batter will be thin.
  6. Evenly divide batter between three pans. I use a kitchen scale to be precise.
  7. Bake for 28-32 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely before frosting.
  9. Once the cakes are cool, use a large serrated knife to cut each layer in half. You will have one extra half layer (Make cake balls!)
For vanilla buttercream filling:
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with your paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add powdered sugar, almond, vanilla and cream, and beat on low until moistened.
  3. Increase speed to medium high and beat until light and fluffy.
For swiss meringue buttercream:
  1. In a double boiler, whisk together egg whites and sugar over medium-high heat until mixture reaches 160 degrees and all of the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer, and using the whisk attachment, beat until stiff peaks have formed and the mixture has cooled to room temperature. This takes several minutes, and bowl should be just barely warm to the touch.
  3. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium, and add butter pieces, 2 tablespoons at a time, until all of the butter has been incorporated.
  4. Continue to mix until the frosting is smooth again, another 3 or 5 minutes. Your mixture may become soupy or curdled, but continue to beat through it until it comes together again.
  5. Once smooth, add almond and vanilla, and beat to combine.
  1. Place one (1/2) layer on a turntable or cake stand.
  2. Spoon about ½ cup of vanilla buttercream on the layer. Use an offset spatula to smooth to edges of the cake.
  3. Add another layer, and repeat the process until you add the 5th layer.
  4. Use the remaining vanilla buttercream to apply a crumb coat to the entire cake (a thin layer meant to hold the crumbs in place when final coat is applied.
  5. Place cake in refrigerator or freezer for 10-15 minutes or until buttercream is slightly hardened.
  6. Meanwhile, divide swiss meringue buttercream into three small bowls.
  7. Add food coloring as desired to each bowl, and stir to combine. I recommend that you use gel colorings for the best/most vibrant color.
  8. Apply each color to the cake in a thick (about 2-3 inch) layer/band around the cake. Start with the bottom of the cake and work your way to the top. This layer should not be "pretty," you are just applying the base coat.
  9. Use an offeset spatula to smooth the frosting and remove excess.
  10. Garnish and decorate as desired.
  11. Enjoy!

leave a comment your way - using facebook or disqus:

  • Samantha Ferraro

    Happy Happy Birthday Erin! I am so glad we got to “meet” trough our blogs!! Gorgeous cake..gorgeous photos!! My birthday is Halloween and I have never had a birthday cake since I was little…lol Maybe I can finally cross this off my bucket list!

  • julieseatsandtreats

    Happy Birthday! This cake looks to die for!

  • Jenny @ BAKE

    I love this ombre cake it is beautiful! sounds like you’ve had one hell of a year, here to the next!

    • lemonsugar

      Thanks Jenny! :)

  • Auntiepatch

    Happy Birthday Erin! Hope you have many, many more! And congrats on the new Rugrats!

    • lemonsugar

      Thanks Karen! :)

  • A Family Feast

    What a beautiful cake!

  • Rita Detwiler

    Beautiful cake

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  • paige

    great cake just wondering do you have any crock pot cake recipes i always make my kids birthday cakes but my oven broke two days ago and the replacement won’t be here for another week in the meantime Cassandra’s 7th birthday is this Thursday help please

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  • Robin

    Wow, 5 layers, I can see why the pieces are so thin. :) Looks great

  • Kneadykitchen

    Delicious! Definitely time consuming but worth it.

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  • gay s.

    So the swiss meringue buttercream has no sugar in it? Is it supposed to be thin or thick? What exactly is it’s purpose if you’ve already got the real buttercream icing on it?

  • Honey James

    Gorgeous cake. I want to make this for my son’s 3 birthday… I’m an absolute novice at baking, so can you tell me if I can use the vanilla butter cream filling to frost the cake too? Or would that be too soft or something and not hold up?


  • Courtney

    Going to attempt this cake. Any tips on how to create the ombre look with the icing? Thanks!

  • Dan

    WOAW Wonderffull icing colors, but i think it would be better with a natural spoundge cake i do not like the chocolate cake effect at all

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  • Chandra Lane Sirois

    Erin, This is the most beautiful cake! I know I am about 2 years too late on this post, but Oh My Goodness I want to dive in and gobble this up. Since you have your birthday coming in a couple of weeks Here’s Early HAPPY BIRTHDAY!