Tessa Huff


Welcome to STYLE SWEET - a cake and pastry resource for the home baker. Explore, bake, and share!

Vanilla Birthday Cake with Fudge Frosting

Vanilla Birthday Cake with Fudge Frosting

Vanilla butter cake with fluffy chocolate icing and sprinkles from Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes.  Happy Birthday, LAYERED!

The Best Birthday Cake Recipe - vanilla butter cake with fluffy chocolate icing

One year ago today, my little cookbook baby hit book shelves literally around the world.  I can't hardly believe it myself!  Where does the time go?  

This past year has proved to be one of my best years yet.  I am beyond grateful for all of your support and thrilled with how well received my dream cake book has been.  It feels like just weeks ago that I was finalizing edits and reshooting pics... But really, somehow an entire year has passed and all my favorite recipes and personal stories have been floating around in and out of your kitchens for months now.  Just thinking about the colourful images I photographed from within my home being splattered with batter as you all whip of cakes with your children or for your loved ones absolutely warms my heart.  And with that, I say, "Happy 1st Birthday, LAYERED!"


They say that your first book is like having your first child.  Having both out in the world at nearly the same time (Everett was born just a week after turning in my manuscript), I have to both agree and disagree.  Like I touched on when the book was released, unlike a child that keeps growing, learning, adapting, pushing limits, and changing, and book is very finite.  There is a definitive end to the process.  And while you can drive yourself crazy picking over each letter and analyzing every recipe a hundred times, once it goes to print, that's pretty much it.  Kinda scary, right?  It's like "Hey world, here is my very best work, my blood-sweat-tears from the last two years, my heart poured into every page and picture, hope you like it...."  That kind of vulnerability is indescribable.  

At the same time, it's also like "Hey world!!  Here is my very best work, my blood-sweat-tears from the last two years, my heart poured into every page and picture.  Hope you like it!!!"  I mean, a beautiful book with my name on it?  A tangible piece of me that gets to go home with other cake enthusiasts around the world?!?!  A book where adults and children alike flip through the pages together and pick out cakes for special celebrations?!?!  I really did pour everything I had into Layered's 288 pages and could not be prouder of the result. Now that is pretty incredible.

The Best Birthday Cake Recipe - vanilla butter cake with fluffy chocolate icing

It brings me so much joy seeing your own creations inspired by Layered.  When writing the book, I don't think I stopped to think too much about what would happen after it came.  I mean, I wanted to make sure the recipes worked in your homes, but I had no idea how connected we would all become through a book.  From getting to meet some of you at local events, sweet messages in my inbox, and thousands of images on Instagram, I am so grateful to be a part of such an incredible cake-loving community.  Here are some highlights from the past year:

Events and Signings:
One of my favorite parts since becoming an author has been getting to meet some you face to face.  I had several book signings both here in Vancouver and in the States, but two stuck out in particular.  A quick 16-hour roundtrip down to Seattle turned into one of my best days all year.  My older brother and I made the drive from Vancouver with un-iced cakes and jars of buttercream in the car and a list of foodie spots to hit up before my event at the Book Larder.  We binged on General Porpoise Donuts, Kurt Farm Shop ice cream, and the best pizza of my life from Delancey. 

To my surprise, the event was packed!  I credit the amazing team at Book Larder for helping promote my arrival, but seriously guys - THANK YOU for coming!!  I loved meeting and chatting with everyone that lovely Tuesday evening.  Many of you even reminded me of myself just after college when I first fell in love with cake.

My second favourite event had to be here in Vancouver at West Elm Market.  Again, the power of cake on community really shows when you have random shoppers coming together to discuss and eat cake together.  I mean, who can say no to cake?  Nobody, I tell you =) The West Elm Market here was an awesome space (it's since sadly turned into a West Elm Bath) for local artists and makers to showcase their goods.  Hopefully we can find a similar type of space and do this again!

2nd and 3rd Printings:
In June, about 1.5 months after it came out, Layered got its second printing!  Yaayyyy!  And in the fall, just before the holidays, its third. 

Layered Goes International:
You can now find Layered, or Tortenzeit, printed in German.  We are currently working on an Italian version, too.

Good Reads Choice Awards:
Spoiler alert - I didn't win...  But Layered did come in 5th!
With past winners including Ina Garten and Gwyneth Paltrow, just being nominated was amazing.  Thanks to all of YOUR votes, I finished just behind Alton Brown.  Can't be too mad about that =)

As Seen On:
From interviews, to shared recipes, to giveaways - here are some of my favorite places around the web where you can find some Layered love:
"Off the Shelf" - Food Network
5 Stylish Layer Cakes - The Kitchn
6 Jaw-Dropping Cakes - The Nest
Yuzu Citrus Cake - Oh Joy!
Flamingo Lawn Cake - Oh Happy Day
Cookbook Corner - Food Bloggers of Canada
Cookbook Inspiration - Joy the Baker

Online Community Support:
When Layered was first released, I asked several of my baking blogger pals to create and share some of the recipes.  I know I've already shared their gorgeous work, but I am still so thankful for their support.  Click here to find all the AMAZING cakes!  Also, this is an updated list - so definitely worth clicking again.

Fan Faves:
I absolutely love seeing your work!  Between email and Instagram, there have been over 1500 cakes inspired by Layered and shared across social media.  And boy are you guys talented!!!

What I am super impressed by is those of you that have committed yourselves to baking through the entire book!!  I am seriously blown away by your enthusiasm and dedication.  I never even thought of someone ever so touched and motivated by my cakes that they would want to make all of them.  So honoured and grateful.  Thank you!

BIG shout-out to the sweetest account, Baking with Mini Me - a mom and daughter duo that are baking their way through the book together.  You gals are rock stars!!

Weddings, Special Occasions, and Much More:
When do we love cake?  All the time!!!  But really, it's things like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and weddings that really scream cake.  Those special moments where you buy all the necessary ingredients, carve out time in your precious schedule, dig out your cake pans and sprinkles, and create a piece of edible art.  I've seen all sorts of cakes - from baby's first birthday cake, Christmas (you guys loved the Winter Chocolate Mint Cake), and even a few wedding cake - using recipes inspired from Layered.  I am so honoured to be a tiny part of your celebrations!

Thank you all for your continuous support.  I am forever grateful.  May you continue to learn, practice, bake, and create!

The Best Birthday Cake Recipe - vanilla butter cake with fluffy chocolate icing

Now of course, what kind of celebration would it be without some cake and prizes!?!?!?!  A couple months ago I started thinking about which cake I should make for the first birthday.  I am no even sure why I had to think twice, because - duh, THE BIRTHDAY CAKE!  As I write in the book, if you don't already have a go-to vanilla cake then this is it.  Make it, memorize it - your future grandchildren will thank you, hehe.

Vanilla Butter Cake
3 1/4 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
6 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup whole milk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside

Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (3 to 5 minutes).  Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, until smooth.  Add in the vanilla and mix until combined.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

With the mixer on low, gradually add in half of the dry ingredients.  Slowly stream in the milk and mix until combined.  Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until the last streaks of flour disappear.  Mix on medium for no more than about 30 seconds.

Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans.  Bake for 28 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.  Let completely cool before slicing in half horizontally to create four, even layers (if desired).

Chocolate Fudge Frosting
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole milk or heavy cream
8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until soft and smooth.  With the mixer on low, gradually add in the salt, espresso powder, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and milk until incorporated. Mix on medium until soft and silky, yet not runny, adding more milk as needed.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.  Add in the melted chocolate and mix until combined.

Please serve at room temperature!  Trust me, it's like 39872 times better than cold from the fridge =)

The Best Birthday Cake Recipe - vanilla butter cake with fluffy chocolate icing

Of course, it's not a party without some giveaways!  The easiest way is to enter below RIGHT NOW.  One winner will be randomly selected in one week.  There will also be a couple other chances to win over social media, so be sure to follow along on Facebook and Instagram all week long!

The Birthday Cake - A video

Earl Grey Caramels + Easter Basket Ideas with LINDT!