Chocolate Birthday Cake {Video Tutorials}

Chocolate Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

Well hi! It’s been a bit since my last post, maybe the longest ever, but you know I’m always nearby and knee-deep in frosting and cake. I had so much fun making my the Pastel Swirl Cake video tutorial that I wanted to make yet another this week. So it turns out that I’m in a crazy-for-chocolate mood lately, and I made this 3-layer chocolate birthday cake to celebrate (party for 1?).

Chocolate Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

Since the most requested tutorial has been “how to frost a cake,” that’s the theme of the first video in this post. The second video, a part deux of sorts,  is where I share how I pipe birthday cake borders and, of course, finish with some sprinkles. You might remember this style of cake decoration from the recent How to Make a (Perfectly Delightful) Vanilla Birthday Cake post, as I used the identical technique and pastry tips for that one (you’ll also notice that it looks a smidge better when the frosting isn’t so light–oops!).

Chocolate Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

The cake itself is a 3-layer chocolate cake brushed with a dark rum syrup and filled and frosted with a simple chocolate buttercream that is super light and fluffy–my favourite for indulging. I actually made it a tad too fluffy for piping perfect borders, but hopefully you will still get the idea!

Remember these? This birthday cake is the cake version of these Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting, minus the Nutella (gasp!) and plus the rum syrup. Oh yes, I’d say that’s a reasonable trade, no? Oh, and I promise you won’t taste rum, but rather heightened chocolate glory.

Like I said, party for 1 . . .

Hey, do you want to hear something kind of strange and magical? While I was watching the videos, listening to myself explain the life-altering topic of frosting and piping borders onto a cake, and watching the turntable spin all the while, something occurred to me. Something that gave me butterflies and actually startled me, in a mystical way that is. In 2004, and several years before I immersed myself into the world of cake, I went to a psychic (I’ve always loved that kind of thing). I can recall, clear as can be, her asking me if I make pottery. Pottery? Hmm, no, I’ve never . . . potted? She continued, revealing with conviction that she sees me in years to come frequently working with a turntable, creating art with great passion and eventually teaching and sharing with others. She was so sure of it. I was perplexed, and a little dismayed, since I knew that I had no connection with pottery . . .

Turntable? Creating with passion? Teaching and sharing with others? Could it be?


So here are the two videos–again, I’m not a cinematographer, but I sincerely hope they help in some way!

First, How to Frost a Cake: 


And How to Pipe Frosting Borders:

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • To make the chocolate cake layers I made 3-times the batch of this cupcake batter (1 batch makes one 8-inch round layer) and 1.5 times the batch of the frosting, minus the Nutella (that recipe will yield a good consistency for piping–I added extra milk and whipped it into a frenzy, which is why it tasted incredible but was a bit too soft for piping).
  • Every oven varies, but I baked the cake layers at 350°F until a toothpick comes barely clean, about 22 minutes.
  • With any confectioners’ sugar frosting, you can always thicken it up by adding extra confectioners’ sugar (sifted is best) afterwards, until you achieve the desired consistency. Alternatively, you can always soften it up by adding small increments of milk or even a bit of water.
  • I made a dark rum syrup to brush over cake layers with a pastry brush before filling. To make: Bring 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons of dark rum and voila!
  • As I mention in the videos, I used Pastry Tip -#1M for the bottom border, and Pastry Tip #1E  for the over-sized top border. I used the Small Offset Spatula for the top of the cake, a Medium Straight Blade Spatula and a Bench Scraper while frosting and decorating the cake. I topped the cake with Pastel Confetti Sprinkles/Quins.
Good luck & enjoy!

Share the Sweetness!


  1. says

    Unfortunately I don’t have the data to watch your video but I can appreciate your lovely frosting nonetheless – your cake is beautiful, like everything you make! And that little story is so bizarre! It must be nice to think that perhaps this is what you are supposed to be doing :)

  2. Pauline says

    Hi Rosie!
    Love your website…Just wondering where you bought your wooden turntable from. I’ve never seen it before.

      • Anna says

        I was wondering the same thing! Too bad.. I love your turntable! Please kindly let us know when the husband of your cake teacher decides to sell them online. :)

  3. says

    I love these videos, they are so helpful and make me feel so much more confident about tackling a layer cake.

    PS love your little subtitles too ;)

  4. Laura says

    OMG… I just want to bite straight into that cake. I might just churn this one out for my Mum’s birthday in two weeks… YAY!!

  5. says

    I think the videos are great! I am frosting challenged so this was perfect for me. :) I was actually “introduced” to you by Brian of A Thought for Food on a recent trip to Louisville, and I’m so glad! You are so talented AND I just checked out that vanilla cake post with Reese – she is too precious and beautiful for words!

  6. Michaela says

    I am loving your video tutorials, so helpful (I’m just starting out in the world of baking sweets and don’t have the opportunity to take any formal classes)…thank you so much.

  7. Kristen says

    oh my, that IS startling!! so creepy…clearly psychics aren’t full of bologna ; )

    keep the videos coming, they are amazing (as are you!) oxox

  8. Adrienne K says

    Thank you thank you for de-mystifying frosting a cake! The videos sre beautiful, and so helpful – they make it “look” a lot simpler than it “reads”. It makes me less frightened to attempt my first layer cake. By the way, you would be surprised at how similar this is to pottery. You would be great!

  9. says

    For the Gal who was inquirying about your wooden turn table … I have one – it is actually a “cheese tray” – works so perfect. I use if for heavier cakes that I don’t trust on my little plastic Wilton turn table. Just Google “wooden lazy susan cheese board” and voila!
    PS..Making a chocolate penguin birthday cake this weekend – this is my go-to recipe!
    PSS..I got goosebumps when read your post :) My Grandma had a psychic she really liked. Once she recorded her session and played it for us. It was amazing.
    pink puffy hearts ~ Dominique

  10. says

    I LOVE your video tutorials! It makes you so much more approachable–I’ve been a long-time follower of your beautiful site, and a long-time admirer of your work, and it’s awesome to see you creating these cakes and teaching! I’ve never been huge on cake or cake decorating, but your tutorials have been very helpful, and it makes me want to try again!

    I’d love to know more about your cake turntable–did you make it?

  11. Karen Lawson says

    Hi Rosie, This comment is off the subject but just wanted you to know I was in California lately purusing my favorite beautiful independent gift store, Barbara Cheatleys, Claremont,Ca. and they have an upstairs section dedicated to books, aprons, towels ect,,, this is where I first layed eyes on Pioneer Woman, and of course just had to have her book, and I thought to myself one day Sweetapolita’s book will be showcased here next! Can’t wait to have your beautiful book next.

  12. says

    You make the most gorgeous cakes ever. After watching the one about the tri-color frosting I tried frosting my dad’s birthday cake (it was just a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting) and I’m serious, it helped me so much. The cake was still a little messy, because I didn’t habe enough frosting but practice makes perfect :)

  13. Marianna says

    Hi Rosie! Thank you for these new videos! They are amazing! Thanks to you I’ll be frosting my cakes like a pro! I was wondering if you ever thought about writing a baking book? It would be fantastic to have you in my baking library! Thank you for everyhing, you’re my role model!

    • Vanessa says

      Totally agree with Marianna and others – I’ll def. buy your book if you do one as I trust you, your recipes, tips, and advice implicitly! I have gone from never having baked a cake from scratch before to “cake pro” (hardly but my friends are kind) largely by following you through your blog – THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!

  14. Lauren says

    Hi Rosie! Thanks so much for these videos! Where did you get your turntable and spatulas? I am a beginner and need to acquire these tools! :) Thanks!

    • Stephany says

      Rosie mentioned earlier in the comments that the turntable was a handmade gift… However, on the shop section (one of the tabs at the top of the page) are the tools Rosie uses. You can look for another turntable by searching for cake turntable, cake decorating turntables, or just turntables in general. Hope that helps!

  15. Adrienne K says

    I had to add this – I went back & looked at your “vanilla cake” post, & watched the video of Reese “reading” the nursery rhymes. She’s soooo adorable! And really smart!!!!!

  16. Nicole says

    Thank you once again for a wonderful tutorial! I love making and decorating cakes and this was such a help! Keep the videos, recipes, and all the yummy goodness coming!;)

  17. says

    Hi Rosie,
    I am so thankful that I stumbled upon your blog a few months ago. I have a small home based cupcake and cookie business that evolved due to my love of reading and following baking blogs. I always have to turn down cake requests because I am not confident in my skills. My first introduction to your site was your post with the top ten reader favorites…almost all of which were cakes…and I was inspired to take the summer and make cakes and sharpen my skills. Now, you have videos! How absolutely wonderful! I made the pastel swirl cake last week and will tackle another one soon. Still having issues getting the layers to have an equal amount of batter. Do I really have to get a scale? Would love to see a video on how you fill the pans, whether it’s 2, 3 or 5 layers!
    Again, you are such an inspiration to me and I am sure so many others.

    • Vanessa says

      If you are doing this as a business and have issues getting even layers, it really is a worthwhile investment to get kitchen scales with a tare (resets to 0) setting – they don’t even need to cost that much!

      Another alternative or additional worthwhile purchase is a long sharp knife or cake leveler – Rosie posted a list of useful tools on this site including a knife she swears by for cutting even layers.

      It really makes such a difference when you have the right tools.

  18. says

    Hi Rosie – You inspire me!! I remember attempting to decorate a cake YEARS ago and ending up in tears so I gave up. Now I stick mostly to cupcakes BUT you have inspired me to try new things. I keep telling myself that with practice it will get easier. I LOVE the tutorials and am so happy you started sharing them.

    Funny about the turntable – I was wondering where you got it too. I even showed my husband the video and said “I MUST have one”. He’s working on it. :)

  19. Melissa says

    Thankyou so much Rosie!! I’m 20 yrs old and attempting to make my first “perfectly iced cake” today.. hope it’s as easy as u make it look!! My dad’s a carpenter and I recently asked him to make me a turntable, not expecting it to be done for a few weeks time… he banged it out in 2 days!! (I think hes just really keen for cake!!)

  20. Tesei says

    Rosie, I loved the mystic story and here you are with your turn table teaching others your passion, wouldn’t the psychic be thrilled to see you? Thank you for the tutorial!

  21. says

    Rosie, so pleased you have added video tutorials to your site – look forward to a video on working with fondant!! BTW – nice use of the gift wrapping paper in your always lovely photos. I have the same paper!

  22. Emily says

    Thank goodness for your tips and techniques, otherwise my poor, unsuspecting family and friends would have continued to be subjected to dry, heavy cupcakes with my go-to cream cheese frosting. Not that there’s anything wrong with cream cheese frosting, but I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t belong on every single cupcake that comes out of the oven just because it happens to be MY favorite, and that every once in awhile a little change in routine will not, in fact, kill me. This welcome change in routine also applies to my previous (lazy)method of using the measuring cup to scoop the flour straight out of the bag; I’ve now converted wholeheartedly to the “spoon and sweep” alternative and I’m sure my husband will thank me, as he is my designated taste-tester in good desserts and in bad, for richer or poorer quality chocolate, etc. Suffice it to say, I made vanilla bean cupcakes with white chocolate frosting (all your recipes) for my best friend’s baby shower and oh my goodness, they were A.MA.ZING. I’m looking forward to trying out another recipe this weekend, armed with my newfound knowledge and a ridiculously enormous appetite for all things dessert. I’m not completely nuts, however – I’ve made a perfectly reasonable deal with myself that I am not allowed to bake cupcakes again until I have finished the carrot cake that is positively mocking me every time I open the refrigerator door. Wish me luck!

  23. Jeannine says

    Your video tutorials are amazing! Thank you for always posting such wonderful recipes and methods :)

  24. says

    Hi Rosie, you timed making these videos perfectly – I need to get lots of practice of frosting cakes for when I make my Mum’s in August! (I usually make cupcakes so layer cakes is a whole new challenge and my Mum’s always made my me brilliant cakes so I’d like to do the same for her)

  25. says

    Thanks so much for the video, please keep doing these! I love your blog btw. I follow about 40 food blogs and yours is definitely in my top 3 favorites.

    Just a little note on the annotations you have in the video, the pink is a bit hard to read. If you are only going to use these videos for YouTube, I suggest just using YouTube’s annotations tool and add them that way. It will save you a lot of time not having to add the titles in the video and doing the fades. (I studied video editing and VFX in school).

  26. says

    PS – I also really love all the tips you put on the bottom of your posts (even the links to the products you use, I’ve bought a few based off your suggestions). I like how you take the time in your detailed posts to really teach people how to make better cakes, rather than just slapping a recipe on your posts with a bunch of nice photos.

  27. says

    I am so enjoying watching you work! Your videos are wonderful. That chocolate icing looks delicious. I’m learning a lot…just need to put it into practice!

  28. Amy says

    Hi Rosie, just wanted to let you know that I look at your blog every week all the way over in England and I love to see what your baking! I found your pastel cake tutorial so helpful that I had a go at it the same day, it turned out ok for a first attempt! Thanks x

  29. Vic Alyea says

    I got to eat some of that chocolate cake! Terrific! Possibly the best I’ve ever had! Thanks dear daughter-in-law for sending some via Reese mail. Vic

  30. Laura George says

    I love your food photography! I’m curious what camera/lens you use to capture your scrumptious looking cakes??

  31. Ryan a piccini says

    Gosh you website very well maybe my drug..haha yea that’s corny. But I look up to you a lot I wish I could go to pastry school. I am a mother of one in college, your blog always gives me something to look forward to. So thanks for being my little mental vaca, it helps me more than you know. Btw this cake rocks the casbah.

  32. Di @ Life is Di-licious says

    Fantastic video tutorial Rosie. I now realise that I try to perfect the buttercream too soon. I’ll try your dabbing technique to put the frosting on the side of the cake (I normally use a bench scraper to slab it on). I’ll also be putting grease proof paper in between the turntable and cake board – why have I never thought to do that before? Excuse me while I pop to the shops and pick up a 1E tip :-)
    D x

  33. Vicky says

    I looooove your site and everything in it :)

    Just a random question which is a bit off topic – how do you cut your cakes so well?! In every photo the slices are really neat and there are very few crumbs pulled down into the frosting below. I made the rainbow cake the other day for my godson’s birthday and I just couldnt get a good picture because none of us could cut such a clean slice!!

    Keep up the amazing blogs, recipies, pics, and videos :D xxx

  34. Allie says

    I’ve recently discovered your blog and I’m so grateful that I was looking for some cute cupcake ideas! You do a wonderful job at explaining how to do things and as a sixteen year old baker-in-training I squealed with joy knowing you had videos. My fathers birthday is coming up and I think I might use this recipe for the Inside-Out Neapolitan Layer Cake. That and La La Lavender & Lemon Cloud Cupcakes (for personal enjoyment). I can’t thank you enough!

    • says

      Marina, every oven varies, but I baked the cakes for about 22 minutes at 350°F. It’s a great habit to get into identifying when a cake is ready by the signs, rather than by time–it’s best to leave cakes in oven without opening door for 20 minutes, and then checking every 2-3 minutes after that. When a toothpick inserted in the center comes just clean, they are ready. And, yes, I realize these aren’t cupcakes! ;)

  35. says

    Mmm… this cake and your pastel cake look absolutely delicious! I’m loving the videos — they’re so helpful and make decorating cakes seem so much easier! Thanks Rosie!

  36. embertine says

    Hi Rosie,

    Just wanted to say that I successfully made Swiss Meringue Buttercream for the first time this weekend, and I’m never going back to plain old frosting! I had previously made mousseline (with egg yoks rather than whites) and liked it, but the meringue is better. Works brilliantly with white chocolate melted into it too. My previous attempts have ended in butter soup, but I think that was because I didn’t get the meringue mix really hot while dissolving the sugar. Thanks for all your tips; my layer cake making powers have expanded enormously thanks to you!

    Best wishes,


  37. says

    Oh what a lovely cake – and I have to agree with everyone else, your videos are perfect at helping me see everything you describe! I can’t wait for someone to have a birthday now :-)

  38. Amy C. says

    I love everything you do :) thanks for the video you make everything much easier. I was wondering what color your nail polish is I love the color!

  39. says

    This video tutorial is amazing. Knowing the recipe with some instructions is great. But seeing how it is done it much much better. It gives me more confidence that I’m doing the right thing.

  40. Renee says

    Hi Rosie,

    I have just discovered your site and blog today and I love it! I live in Australia so I will have to hunt around to find some of the ingredient equivalents over here. I was wanting to make a cake for my daughters 1st birthday which is coming up soon and I wanted to make something that tasted great, looked amazing and was quite easy to do.

    I was looking at your Strawberry Cake with strawberry frosting as I would like something pink, would this be something you would recommend or is there an easier cake to make (I am not a complete novice in the kitchen and I do enjoy baking although presentation/perfect would not be my strong point)?

  41. says

    Love these videos and of course now I want some chocolate cake.

    When you double or triple your cake recipes, do you always double or triple your baking powder? Have you had any trouble with that when doing big batches?

  42. says

    Hi Rosie,

    I’ve been a fan of this blog forever! Thank you so, so much for all the beautiful pictures that look good enough to eat (they’re almost always saved as my laptop wallpaper so I can ogle at them all day long!) and the easy-to-recreate recipes.

    I’m planning to make this cake for my best friend’s birthday and I just wanted to know – when you say you “made 3 times this cake batter”, does it mean that you simply tripled the recipe and added it to the mixer all at once OR made it 3 times separately? VERY stupid question I know but I’ve seen that sometimes proportions are so important.

    Anyway, thank you for inspiring me! Lots of love (all the way from India!)

  43. Juliana Ribeiro says

    Please continue posting videos, they are great and help me a lot. Thank you.
    P.s: Dou you can please post any recipe that is not with buttercream? I really, really love your cakes but i don`t like buttercream

    Thank you again, your blog is totally amazing.

  44. Priscila says

    I’m amazed with your experience with the psychic!
    I know that feeling, that ‘click’ when we connect something.. that thing you said you felt when you watched the turntable spinning.. :)
    Makes this cake even more delicious! :D

    I’ll try this frosting this weekend.. ;)

    Thank you for sharing!

  45. sofia says

    I made the exact same cake for my husband’s birthday (I know it’s not such an adult cake, but it seemed an easy last minute cake) and it turned out great. The tutorials helped a lot and the chocolate frosting was to die for!!! It was the best chocolate frosting ever. I still have some left over and I would like to ask for how long can I preserve it in the fridge? thanks a lot for your great recipes!!!

  46. Rashmi says

    Your blog has me gaining weight just by looking at the pics. How amazing! And you lull me into a false sense of security by simplifying everything… One question please, my daughter loooves cakes…. incidentally ur wee one and mine almost share a birthday (09/09/09) unfortunately she has an allergy to raw eggs so ur famed SMB is out… I wanted your suggestion on not so sweet frostings without eggs.

  47. says

    I’m so glad to see that you have video now! You have such a calming voice. It is especially great for decorating to see a video. Thanks for always having a beautiful blog and your kids are gorgeous.

  48. Kim Beidler says

    You are just adorable! So talented and such a good teacher. Thank you for the endless joy (and recipes, ideas, tips, etc.) that I get from your blog.

  49. Angela says

    I made this last night for my son’s birthday, but substituted salted caramel for frosting in between the layers. (
    It was wonderful.
    The caramel does make the cake slippery, and it was necessary to put it in the refrigerator to chill well before frosting, and check on it a couple of times early on to straighten it. This helped tremendously. I also pressed down on the cake to compress it a bit. Next time I will try to cut the layers just a tiny bit more shallow in the center. I also read that you can pipe a ring around the outside of each layer to keep fillings from running down the sides, and to stabilize the cake. I will try this next time. I think it will give the cake a bit more ‘traction.’
    I also added chopped nuts to the top, which went great with the caramel.
    It was super, super rich and delicious.

  50. Niccy says

    When you refrigerated it when it was getting too soft and placed more buttercream on afterwards, would you have done the same if it didn’t need chilling and if so, how could you spread it on smoothly again when it has not been chilled? Thanks for the videos they are great!!

  51. luvurcakes says

    Cool, I’ll check it out. I really want to know how to make the perfect frosting. I’m a new baker, only made cupcakes three times, but the last time I made them, they kinda turned out to be a total failure because of the frosting. I used a packet mix for the frosting where you have to add butter, and I think I added a bit too much butter, and it was really thin and runny. Any advice???

  52. On-Love's-Wings says

    I stumbled upon your website yesterday, and Oh My! Thank you for this delightful recipe, as I tried it out today. I’m a baker and cook at heart ( 2 Italian Grandmothers guaranteed that!) and this recipe was divine. I brought this to a family gathering today and everyone LOVED this. I’m always very particular when it comes to frosting, but this buttercream was absolutely amazing! It even received high honors from a professional chef in the family. Thank you for sharing your gift with the world!

  53. Wasfieh says

    Hi Rosie,

    I stumbled across your website a few weeks ago whilst doing research for a birthday cake and my goodness WOW what a site. Your cakes look amazing and your notes/videos really are helpful. I’ll be making this cake in a couple weeks for my nephews birthday and I have a couple questions.
    Is the rum syrup necessary? Can I just omit this step? Also to confirm, for the cloud frosting you just omitted the nutella?

    Thanks and hope to hear from you soon.

  54. says

    I think everything posted was very logical. But, consider this, suppose you wrote a catchier post title?
    I mean, I don’t want to tell you how to run your website, however suppose you added something that grabbed folk’s attention? I mean Sweetapolita – Chocolate Birthday Cake Video Tutorials is kinda vanilla.
    You might peek at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they write news headlines to grab viewers to open the links.
    You might add a related video or a related picture or two to
    grab people interested about what you’ve got to
    say. Just my opinion, it could make your posts a little bit more

  55. April says


    I love your blog…

    Did you disable the page to see the equipment you used?? Also, what tip do you use to get that look on your cupcakes??

    Thank you for sharing and being wonderful!!

  56. says

    Hi therre everyone, it’s my first pay a quick
    visit at this site, and piece of writing is genuinely fruitful in favor of me, keep
    up posting such content.

    My blog – tools and gadgets (Alexis)

  57. Tracy says

    Hi, I have made a few of your cakes & frostings for my daughter’s birthdays, and I want to make a chocolate butter cream this year. Thank you for the tutorial, but I couldn’t find a recipe anywhere. Malted Belgium butter cream sound TDF, but not going to work on this cake :) Did I miss it somewhere else? Thanks for all your inspirational creations!

  58. Emilia says

    Hi Rosie! I love your website. All of your recipes inspire me and I make them often. I was wondering how much batter would be needed for a one layer 12×18 sheet cake with this recipe. Thank you so much for your help! :)


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