This cake is perfect for Cinco de Mayo, but also for any spring celebration…Mother’s Day, graduation, even wedding parties!
I love it when I find a recipe that’s delicious but also fun and different. This one will have your guests talking.
The Pinata Cake is easy to make. I couldn’t help but think that you could do this little cake trick for all kinds of holidays. For Halloween you can try filling it with your favorite candies for the kids and for Christmas this could become a fun family tradition!
Enjoy and have fun,
- 3 and 3/4 cups (431g) sifted all-purpose flour1
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) buttermilk, room temperature2
- 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 and 1/2 cups (540g) confectioners’ sugar
- 3/4 cup (65g) natural unsweetened or dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup (120ml) milk
- 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup4
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- around 2 cups assorted candies such as M&Ms, chocolate chips, sprinkles, gummy bears, jelly beans, candy corns, chopped candy bars, mini Reese’s cups etc.
- optional: additional sprinkles or candies for decorating the cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour 4 9-inch cake pans.5
- Make the cake: Whisk the sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 5 full minutes until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, add 1 whole egg at a time, beating well after each addition until all 3 whole eggs are mixed in. Then, repeat with each egg yolk until all 4 egg yolks are mixed in. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrap down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix this batter. The batter will be smooth, velvety, and slightly thick. Spoon/pour batter evenly into each cake pan.
- Bake for around 25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
- Make the frosting: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until pale, smooth, and creamy – about 4 full minutes. Sift the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa together. On low speed, gradually add the sugar/cocoa mixture, followed by the milk, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. Beat for 1 minute. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. If the frosting is too thick, add a splash more of milk.
- Assemble the cake: Grab a 3 and 1/2 – 4 inch circle cookie cutter (I use a large thin-edged cup) and cut a hole into two of the cake layers. Alternatively, you can cut a piece of parchment paper that size and use a sharp knife to trace/cut the holes. Place one of the whole cakes on a cake stand or serving plate. Use an offset spatula or knife to frost the top of the cake, then place one of the cut/holed cakes on top. Frost the top and inside the cavity. Place the other cut/holed cake on top and, once again, frost the top and inside the cavity. Fill the cavity with candies all the way up to the top. Place the last whole cake on top and frost the top and sides of the entire cake. Decorate with frosting and additional candies however you’d like. I used a Wilton 1M tip to pipe frosting around the top.
- Slice, serve, enjoy! (Keep a spoon handy when serving. I like to pile additional candies that fall out of the center of the piñata cake onto each slice as I serve.)
- Make ahead tip: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Assemble and frost the piñata cake the next day when you are ready to serve. Frosted cake can be frozen up to 2 months if you have room in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. Honestly, it tastes much better fresh.
BONUS! With the center circular parts of the cake that were cut out, you can frost them with any leftover frosting to make adorable mini cakes or a small layer cake. So cute, right?
- Make sure you sift the flour before measuring. Sifting is KEY. Otherwise, your cake layers could taste much too dense. You can also use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. Use 4 cups sifted cake flour.
- Buttermilk is required for this cake recipe. If you do not keep it on hand, you can make a DIY version by adding 4 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar to a large liquid measuring cup. Then add enough regular room temperature milk (whole, skim, 1%, 2%) to make 1 and 1/2 cups total. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. This soured milk can be used in the recipe.
- Try my vanilla frosting instead! Simply double this recipe for vanilla frosting and use it in this recipe instead of chocolate frosting.
- This tiny bit of corn syrup makes the frosting uniquely glossy and shiny. You can leave it out if you’d like.
- You can also use 4 8-inch cake pans. The bake time will be slightly longer.