Birthday Cake


I was told by a friend that the first time I published this recipe, I did not give enough instructions (horrors), so I am re-blogging it with more photos and advice.

This is the most popular birthday cake on my husband’s side of our family. It is not technically “cake”, but rather tender cookie layers separated by custard and jam and topped with whipped cream. Although children can eat a slice of the cake on someone else’s birthday, they cannot have one for their own birthday until age 16. That is the tradition started by my husband’s grandmother. Personally, I think it is because his grandmother was clever and cut the number of times she had to make this delicious, but multi-step cake by 5 grandchildren x 15 years, which is 75 cakes! Children got to taste and to anticipate and eventually to arrive at this rite of passage. Until then, she made one-step cakes for simpler palates.

1/2 lb. butter (do not substitute)
1/2 cup sugar

4 egg yolks, one by one
then add 2  1/2 cups flour
Do not overwork the dough.

Split into 4 portions and roll flat to 8” rounds on parchment. If you don’t roll dough perfectly round, cheat a bit by using a pot lid like a giant cookie cutter. Move parchment to upside-down cookie sheet (or use one without rims).



Bake at 350 degrees F. until lightly brown around the edges (8-10 minutes). Let cool for 5 minutes. Carefully lift the layers and peel off the parchment paper and fully cool on racks. (IF you break a layer, no worries, just use it for one of the two middle layers.)


Carefully transfer bottom layer to serving plate. Cover bottom layer with raspberry jam.


Place second layer. Smooth on custard (Grandma made hers, but I use Bird’s).


Place third layer. Cover with jam. Top with last layer of shortbread.

Cover with whipped cream (sweetened with a spoon of sugar and a bit of vanilla). I used a piping bag to apply the whipped cream this year, but last year I did not so the photos at the beginning and end of the blog are different. Choose as you like, depending on how thick you like your layer of whipped cream.

This cake is best if it stands a day or two before serving as the jam and custard soften the cookie layers.



  1. That looks soooo good. Your husband’s grandmother was very clever! That would be a ton of cakes. I make a three layer chocolate cake with whipped cream filling and chocolate buttercream frosting for birthdays only. It’s just too much work. We all really look forward to that cake.


      1. You’re so right about that. My daughter’s favorite holiday is American Thanksgiving. We go all out and plan for it maybe a month in advance. It’s always so good. She’s back in Canada for school now but she made dinner for her roommates on American Thanksgiving last year.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s