Cinnamon Bun Birthday Cake


In January it was Mike’s birthday. He was going to celebrate on his actual birthday, but he waited to long to organize a party. Turns out he also didn’t organize anything for the next weekend, and waited until the night before his party (when we were out at a “Battle of the Bands” event with our engineering buddies) to start texting his friends. So much for giving people notice. Anyways, I harassed Mike endlessly about what kind of cake he wanted. Initially it was between carrot cake and some sort of neapolitan concoction. Then I was inspired by the Nanaimo Bar Birthday Cake that I made for Nate way back in the day, and was all “wow, I could do the same thing but with a cinnamon bun.” I pitched the idea and it was a winner 🙂 Oh, and I guess we’re dating or something like that now.


I knew that I wanted this cake to have an authentic cinnamon bun feel to it, so to me that meant some sort of not-chocolate cake, cream cheese frosting, and some sort of cinnamon sugar deliciousness. Cream cheese frosting was non-negotiable for me, but I was a little unsure of where to put the cinnamon sugar bit.


I figured the easiest way to put the cinnamon sugar in the cake would be to put it between cake layers, but that way it would never go through the oven and get all melty-gooey. I wanted it to melt in the oven, so to me that meant baking it into the cake itself. I was a little bit concerned that the cinnamon sugar would be denser than the cake batter and sink to the bottom. Luckily when I prepared the batter it was pretty thick. For the cake itself I used a butter cake recipe from the SprinkleBakes book (the first one), and subbed brown sugar for white. If you like to bake and you do not own this book, you should make efforts to change that.


About to blow out the candles! And I’m sure Mike would appreciate it if I point out his left tricep to the internet.

I could not have asked for this cake to turn out any better than it did. The flavours were all spot on, and the cinnamon sugar turned out exactly as I hoped it would. Everybody who tried it loved it. At one point the entire other half of the room was raging over it and Mike told me that they were all “sucking [my] dick”. What a sincere compliment! 


Cinnamon Bun Birthday Cake

For the cake:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk

For the frosting:

  • 2 packages of cream cheese, 8 oz each
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4-5 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions for the cake:

  1. Prepare two or three 8 or 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles and shortening. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Make the cinnamon filling by melting the unsalted butter (¼ cup) in the microwave and mixing in the brown sugar (½ cup) and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter (1 ½ cups) and brown sugar (2 ½ cups) until light and fluffy. 
  4. Add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla, ensuring they are mixed in well.
  5. In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt. Use a whisk to mix together thoroughly. 
  6. Add the flour mixture to the butter in three additions, alternating with two additions of milk. Mix well after each addition.
  7. Divide half of your cake batter between all of your prepared pans, smoothing the batter with a spatula. Divide your cinnamon sugar mixture equally between the pans. Ensure that you spread it out evenly on top of the batter, leaving about a 1 inch margin from the side of the pan. Divide the rest of your cake batter between your pans, covering the cinnamon sugar layer and smoothing again with a spatula.
  8. Bake for 30-50 minutes*, or until a skewer/toothpick comes out of the centre clean.
  9. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto wire racks to finish cooling.
  10. Assemble your cake, and be ready for diabetes to hunt you down.

Directions for the frosting:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter and cream cheese, starting with whichever is cooler (aka more firm).
  2. Add the vanilla and mix, then add the confectioners’ sugar gradually, continuing to mix between additions.

* This is based on the size of your pan. I used two 8 inch pans and I was more in the 50-60 minute range

Official recipe reference:

Baird, H. (2012). Butter cake with simple syrup. In Sprinkle Bakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist. (pp 34-35) New York, NY: Sterling Epicure.

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