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January 10, 2013

Linkyn's Stacky Ring Cake: Yellow Sour Cream Butter Layer Cake

I've wanted to make this cake for a very long time. One afternoon while I was shopping for  for a baby shower gift basket I was putting together, I grabbed a ring stack toy (officially it's called a Rock-A-Stack) and tossed it into my cart. As it sailed through the air and joined the other gifts it occurred to me that this iconic toy's shape and color scheme would make the perfect cake. It was all there, just begging to be "cake-ified", complete with its individual ring layers and bright happy colors.

When Stacie, Linkyn's mom, asked me if I'd be interested in making her son's first birthday cake, I was super excited.  When she told me she wasn't sure what theme she wanted, I couldn't help but suggest this cake. "You know that ring stacky toy thing that every kid has and loves? What about making that as a cake? I've always wanted to make one. I even own the toy..." I went on and on, smiling broadly, dimples blazing. After much deliberation and consideration for a few other themes, I was able to convince her. Hooray!! I was thrilled!


Because of the weight of the ring layers I opted to make the base of the cake out of carved rice cereal treats (I choose Fruity Pebbles because of the fun color). Each of the rings were made out of the most wonderful yellow cake recipe, rich with butter and fattened up with sour cream. Not only does it taste yummy, but it's incredibly stable and although the crumb is very tender, it carves great too.

I carved and split each layer and then filled and frosted them with a very yummy caramel frosting (which I can't seem to find... more on that later).  The good news is that I have the recipe for the cake which you'll find below. If you're a cake recipe nerd like me, you'll notice that the steps for making the batter is much different than most cakes. It starts with beating the butter and all the dry ingredients together from the get-go. This makes the flour particles become coated with the butter and helps prevent  the creation of tough gluten strands once the liquid is added. This creates a cake that's really something special: a pound cake texture with the mouthfeel of wedding cake but more buttery and exceedingly delicious.

Yellow Sour Cream Butter Layer Cake
adapted from Nancy Baggett's The All American Dessert Book

1 2/3 cups unsifted cake flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, soften to room temperature
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream, at room temperature (When buying sour cream be sure to read the label and look for a brand that's 100% cream. Avoid brands that have rennet, sodium citrate, salt or ingredients that you can't pronounce. Blech.)
3/4 cup full-fat milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract - the best you can find!

Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly spray two 9" or three 8 1/2" round cake pans with non-stick spray (Pam for Baking is my personal favorite). Cut rounds of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the cake pans and spray them too. Set aside.

Sift the flours, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the sugar and combine with a mixer on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Beat in the butter a tablespoon or two at a time until all of it is incorporated and the mixture just has the consistency of coarse crumbs; don't over beat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and sour cream together until well blended and smooth. Whisk in the milk and vanilla. Add half the egg mixture to the crumbs and beat on low speed until just blended, about 10 seconds. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes longer.

Beating on low speed, slowly add the remaining egg mixture until all is incorporated. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes longer, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed; the mixture may look slightly separated but don't fret.

Divide the thick batter evenly among the pans and spread it to the edges ( a kitchen scale works great for this task. I highly recommend one).  Rap the pans on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for 20-35 minutes (oven temperatures vary). You'll know it's done when you and put a toothpick into the center and it comes out clean and the surface is slightly browned, and the top springs back when pressed.

Transfer the pans to wire racks. Let cool to barely warm, at least 30 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the pan and under the paper all the way round, then rap the pans on the counter to loosen the layers; handle gently. Holding a rack flat against a pan, invert the layers onto the racks. Remove the papers. Let cool completely. The unfrosted layers will keep, stored airtight airtight, at room temperature for 24 hours or frozen for up to a month. Let come to room temperature before frosting. You can make the cake a day or two ahead of time but wrap each layer in plastic wrap and store in the freezer or refrigerator.

Happy 1st Birthday Linkyn!


  1. Oh, my. This is one amazing cake!!! I'm in awe of your creativity!!!

  2. AnonymousJune 17, 2013

    The ingredients list says baking powder, the directions say baking soda... which is it? I don't want to mess this up! {=0)

    1. My apologies. It's baking powder. I double checked the cookbook to make extra sure. The recipe is now updated.

    2. AnonymousJune 18, 2013

      I made the cake last night (went with powder as a guess, lol) and it was INCREDIBLE!!!! I didn't have a couple ingredients in the recipe so I used what I had... all regular flour as I had no cake flour, sea salt instead of Kosher, and evaporated milk rather than whole milk.

      Next I'm going to try it with egg whites only (increased to 8?)for a white cake... it's a brilliant recipe for a cake you can "shape"! THANK YOU!

    3. Wow, that's quiet the number of variations! I'm glad to hear the recipe worked for you and that you liked it as much as I did. It's definitely a great cake for carving and I'm glad that you agree. Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me about your success. Makes me smile!

  3. This is exactly the type of cake I want to make for my son's first birthday! This is his absolute favorite toy. I was wondering if you would mind sharing what size cake pans you used? Thank you!


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