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Get the party started with this sweet treat.

| By Rachael Thompson | Recipes

Lia Townsend's Ultimate Vanilla Birthday Cake

Get the party started with this sweet treat.

Welcome to Put on a Spread, a recipe series that takes you inside the kitchens – and dining rooms – of some of our favourite home cooks. For this instalment, grazing table enthusiast and founder of Stories to Gather, Lia Townsend, shares her recipe for a vanilla birthday cake.


For the cake

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt flakes
  • 250ml milk, at room temperature
  • 120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lemon, zest

For the icing

  • 650g unsalted butter, softened
  • 300g icing mixture, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Rainbow sprinkles to garnish


Making the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan forced) and grease and line two 20cm round cake tins with baking paper.
  • Crack eggs into a mixer on medium-high speed and beat until just combined. With the mixer still running slowly pour in the sugar. Turn the mixer up to high and beat until the mixture has tripled in volume and is a pale velvety texture (this will take around 8 minutes).

While the egg mixture is beating;

  • Whisk by hand the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Place milk and unsalted butter into a saucepan over low-medium heat so the butter melts. The mixture should not bubble so turn the heat down if it does.
  • Once the egg mixture is whipped, pour ⅓ of the flour mixture into the egg mixture and gently fold the flour in until just combined. Repeat for the remaining ⅔ of the flour mixture. Be careful not to over mix as it can toughen the texture of the cake if the gluten in the flour is overworked.
  • The butter in the saucepan with the milk should now be melted so remove it from the heat and pour it into the empty flour mixing bowl. Pour in vanilla extract, vegetable oil, lemon zest, and around ¼ of the cake batter vigorously whisking until smooth.
  • Add the milk/butter mixture into the cake batter and gently whisk until a smooth batter is achieved.
  • Divide the batter between the two prepared cake tins, using a rubber spatula to spread the mixture in the tin. Tap the cake tins on the bench a few tins to remove any air bubbles.
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake for around 30 minutes, rotating the positions of the cakes after 20 minutes. A thin skewer comes out of the centre of the cake clean when it is ready.
  • Once baked, allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack and removing any baking paper. Let the cakes cool completely before icing.

Making the icing

  • Beat softened butter in a mixer on high for a few minutes.
  • Add in icing mixture and vanilla extract and beat for a further 10 minutes until it is pale, fluffy and smooth.

Assembling the cake

  • To serve, trim the tops of the cakes to level them.
  • Place one trimmed cake on to the cake stand or board and use a palette knife to spread half of the buttercream icing.
  • Add the second cake on top and repeat the process of icing the top and the sides of the cake.
  • Scatter the sprinkles and enjoy!

For more from Lia, follow her at @stories_to_gather

Photography by Iris and Me.

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