The Birthday Cake

  • Yield: 16 servings

"This is just called The Birthday Cake. This cake was my friend's Frieda Tew's recipe. The cake magically appeared each year on the appropriate day for her family. Secured in a round aluminum 'cake taker,' it traveled by bus with Frieda from Winona, Minn., to Minneapolis, Minn., and Cumberland, Wis. She made this for me even though I wasn't family. Frieda died in the early 2000's. I made her cake in the summer of 2005. Frieda said the frosting is only good if beaten with a hand beater (eggbeater), but I, of course, used a mixer. After the 7 minutes of beating, I turned the mixer off and set it down. I then took the pan of frosting across the kitchen about 3 feet away from the mixer. Suddenly the mixer started on its own and splattered sticky white frosting all over the kitchen. I believe this was a 'heavenly' reminder from Frieda that I was to have beaten the frosting with a hand beater. Thank you, Frieda, for the memories."—Diana Cyert, Winona, Minn.


2cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1tablespoon baking powder
1/2teaspoon salt
2cups sugar
1cup (2 sticks) butter
1cup whole milk
4-- eggs
1cup finely grated semisweet chocolate
1 1/2cups grated coconut
Custard Filling:
1/2cup sugar
2tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2cups whole milk
2-- egg yolks, beaten
2teaspoons vanilla extract
7 -Minute Frosting:
2-- egg whites, unbeaten
1 1/2cups sugar
1 1/2teaspoons corn syrup
1/3cup cold water
1/8teaspoon salt
1teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional Garnish:
1/2cup grated semisweet chocolate


  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease and flour 2  (8- or 9-inch) round cake pans.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Combine butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy.  Add 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture to prevent curdling when liquid is added. Gradually add milk, mixing well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly. Beat in remaining flour mixture. Gradually stir in chocolate and coconut. Divide batter between cake pans. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely.
  4. To prepare custard, Combine sugar and flour. Heat milk in saucepan; stir in flour mixture. Bring to a boil and boil 1 minute. Stir half the milk mixture yolks, then pour back into hot milk mixture in pan. Cook until thicken. Let cool and add vanilla.
  5. To prepare frosting, place all ingredients except  vanilla in top of double boiler (not over heat); beat 1 minute  to blend. Place over boiling water and cook, beating constantly until frosting forms stiff peaks, about 7 minutes (don't overcook).  Remove from boiling water. Pour into mixing bowl, if you wish. Add vanilla and beat until frosting is spreading consistency, about 2 minutes.
  6. To assemble, place one cake layer on a plate. Top with custard filling. Place second layer on top. Spread frosting on top and sides of cake. Garnish with grated chocolate if desired.

Diana Cyert, Winona, Minn.