Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

How to Make a Piñata Cake.

Learn exactly how to make an incredibly moist and flavorful butter layer cake complete with fudge frosting and filled with candies inside. It’s a piñata cake, everyone!

Picture overload today! I hope you’re ready for this. I don’t even know if I’m ready for this but it’s happening. And it’s still gracing the corner of my kitchen counter staring back at me. “Eat meeeee,” it says. Am I the only one taunted by talking leftover cake?

Oh. Ok. The cheese stands alone.

If you are looking for the most epic cake in the entire world, look no further. This here cake, my dear readers, is the tallest most buttery tower of indulgence. To make it even better (and similtaneously worse for upcoming bikini season… sorry?), this layer cake is topped and filled with rich fudge frosting. But the crème de la crème of this entire dessert masterpiece is the hidden treasure inside.

How to Make a Piñata Cake-- does it get ANY better than this? From scratch recipe on

SURPRISE CANDIES! I simply cannot type that without all caps.

How to Make a Piñata Cake-- does it get ANY better than this? From scratch recipe on

I made today’s party perfect cake for several reasons: first, Cinco de Mayo is around the corner. And if that’s not enough excuse for a piñata, I don’t know what is. Second, it’s my birthday next month so a plethora of sprinkles on any given day between now and then is required. And finally, I teamed up with BHLDN, Anthropologie’s wedding brand, to bring you this recipe. By the way, here is the exact cake I created for them. See my recipe notes below for the vanilla frosting recipe that I used. (Same butter cake recipe.)

BHLDN asked me to create a homemade alternative to a wedding cake. Something fun, exciting, and celebration worthy. So I delivered.

How to Make a Piñata Cake-- does it get ANY better than this? From scratch recipe on

Let me teach you exactly how to make this piñata cake. I promise this is totally something you can handle. It’s just like baking a regular layer cake, but with a couple extra assembly steps. Start with my homemade cake batter. You want a flavorful cake with a tight crumb to hold its shape, but also one that is still tender and enjoyable to eat.

Today’s piñata cake is a cross between a vanilla cake, a butter cake, and a yellow cake. Its ingredients are standard: creamed butter and sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, flour, buttermilk. The KEY is in the eggs. This is a giant four layer cake– you will need 3 whole eggs plus 4 egg yolks. That is a lot, I know. But again, this cake is enormous. All those egg yolks (and the buttermilk) are what make this piñata cake so rich, so moist, and soooo tender. Oh my gosh, this has to be my favorite cake recipe.

Begin the assembly! Bake the four layers in 9-inch cake pans. Allow to cool completely. Frost one layer. This will be the bottom of the cake. More on this silky smooth fudge frosting in just a sec.

Bottom layer:

How to Make a Piñata Cake-- does it get ANY better than this? From scratch recipe on

Then, cut a circle in the center of two of the cakes. You know what I used? A large, wide cup. You can also use a 3 – 4 inch round cookie cutter or a cut circular piece of parchment paper to use for tracing with a sharp knife. Just make sure those two cakes have the same size hole. These two holed cakes will be the two middle layers of the piñata cake.

How to Make a Piñata Cake-- does it get ANY better than this? From scratch recipe on

Place one holed cake layer on top of the bottom frosted layer. Frost the holed layer and inside the cavity. Like so:

How to Make a Piñata Cake-- does it get ANY better than this? From scratch recipe on

Top with the 2nd holed layer (which is the third layer of the piñata cake) and frost that too. Then, grab some candies. I used springtime chocolate morsels that came in yellow and pink, M&Ms, Sno-Caps, and sprinkles. You can use absolutely anything you, your kids, your friends, and your lucky piñata cake eaters love: chopped candy bars, white chocolate chips, gummy bears, jelly beans, candy corns, etc.

How to Make a Piñata Cake-- does it get ANY better than this? From scratch recipe on

Fill the hole with the candies.

That’s a weird sentence.

How to Make a Piñata Cake-- does it get ANY better than this? From scratch recipe on

Then, top the cake with another whole cake layer. Frost the entire cake and decorate as you please. Get crazy! Get festive! And most importantly, get hungry.

So, that fudge frosting. Woo-eee. Chocolate to the max! Smooth as silk, luscious, creamy, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth, “let me just eat the frosting with a spoon if ya don’t mind” fabulous. In one word, this fudgy frosting is legit.

Now, the best part… drum roll please.

Cut into the cake and listen to the ooo’s and ahh’s as your hungry party goers discover the candies hidden inside. OMG this is the coolest cake in the world.

How to Make a Piñata Cake-- does it get ANY better than this? From scratch recipe on

How to Make a Piñata Cake-- does it get ANY better than this? From scratch recipe on


PS: For a super fun surprise, use my piñata cake as a gender reveal cake and fill it with either pink or blue M&Ms for a baby shower or other gender reveal celebration!

Piñata Cake

This cake serves a lot so, as expected, there are high amounts of each ingredient. You will need four 9-inch round cake pans as well as a 3 and 1/2 - 4 inch circle cookie cutter or you can carefully slice a hole in the center cakes with a sharp knife.



  • 3 and 3/4 cups (431g) sifted all-purpose flour1 (measured correctly)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) buttermilk, room temperature2

Fudge Frosting

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 and 1/2 cups (540g) confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 cup (65g) natural unsweetened or dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) milk
  • 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup4
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • around 2 cups assorted candies such as M&Ms, chocolate chips, sprinkles, gummy bears, jelly beans, candy corns, chopped candy bars, mini Reese's cups etc.
  • optional: additional sprinkles or candies for decorating the cake


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour 4 9-inch cake pans.5
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 5 full minutes until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, add 1 whole egg at a time, beating well after each addition until all 3 whole eggs are mixed in. Then, repeat with each egg yolk until all 4 egg yolks are mixed in. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix this batter. The batter will be smooth, velvety, and slightly thick. Spoon/pour batter evenly into each cake pan.
  4. Bake for around 25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
  5. Make the frosting: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until pale, smooth, and creamy - about 4 full minutes. Sift the confectioners' sugar and cocoa together. On low speed, gradually add the sugar/cocoa mixture, followed by the milk, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. Beat for 1 minute. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. If the frosting is too thick, add a splash more of milk.
  6. Assemble the cake: Grab a 3 and 1/2 - 4 inch circle cookie cutter (I use a large thin-edged cup) and cut a hole into two of the cake layers. Alternatively, you can cut a piece of parchment paper that size and use a sharp knife to trace/cut the holes. Place one of the whole cakes on a cake stand or serving plate. Use an offset spatula or knife to frost the top of the cake, then place one of the cut/holed cakes on top. Frost the top and inside the cavity. Place the other cut/holed cake on top and, once again, frost the top and inside the cavity. Fill the cavity with candies all the way up to the top. Place the last whole cake on top and frost the top and sides of the entire cake. Decorate with frosting and additional candies however you'd like. I used a Wilton 1M tip to pipe frosting around the top.
  7. Slice, serve, enjoy! (Keep a spoon handy when serving. I like to pile additional candies that fall out of the center of the piñata cake onto each slice as I serve.)

Make ahead tip: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Assemble and frost the piñata cake the next day when you are ready to serve. Frosted cake can be frozen up to 2 months if you have room in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. Honestly, it tastes much better fresh.

Recipe Notes:

BONUS! With the center circular parts of the cake that were cut out, you can frost them with any leftover frosting to make adorable mini cakes or a small layer cake. So cute, right?

  1. Make sure you sift the flour before measuring. Sifting is KEY. Otherwise, your cake layers could taste much too dense. You can also use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. Use 4 cups sifted cake flour.
  2. Buttermilk is important! If you do not keep it on hand, you can make a DIY version by adding 4 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar to a large liquid measuring cup. Then add enough regular room temperature milk (whole, skim, 1%, 2%) to make 1 and 1/2 cups total. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. This soured milk can be used in the recipe.
  3. Try my vanilla frosting instead! Simply double this recipe for vanilla frosting and use it in this recipe instead of chocolate frosting.
  4. This tiny bit of corn syrup makes the frosting uniquely glossy and shiny. You can leave it out if you'd like.
  5. You can also use 4 8-inch cake pans. The bake time will be slightly longer.

Inspired by Betty Crocker

Did you make a recipe?

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

And guess what? We now have piñata cupcakes too!

Pinata cupcakes on



  1. Hey Sally!
    I love your blog! I am going to try to attempt this amazing cake for my friend’s birthday today but my problem is that every single cake I have made in our house goes flat once I take it out of the oven-it’s very frustrating. It rises beautifully and then collapses! Some people say it is because I live at a higher altitude (not that much higher) and should change the amount of leavening agents? What do you think? 

  2. Or ccould i maybe just add sprinkles to this recipe?

  3. I wanted to leave a comment on the moist yellow cupcakes recipe the life of me cannot get it to work. I want to make green tea-pistachio cupcakes and lemon cupcakes with blueberry icicing, but I am not thrilled with the “base” cupcake recipe from the sites that have those cupcakes. These sound amazing. Can I use this recipe and just add the propotional amount of green tea powder/lemon juice & zest that the other recipes call for? I need to make about 36 cupcakes and wanted to make one big batch of cupcakes and then divide them. That’s how I ended up here on Pinata cake because your other comments said this was better for a large batch, but I wasn’t sure if it was enough… will my plan work?

  4. Hi Sally! I want to make this cake for my little sister’s birthday and I was wondering if it was the right kind of cake batter that could be turned into a funfetti cake? I love all of your recipes! 

  5. Hi Sally! Can I bake this in multiple 9×13 pans?

  6. Hi Sally, your site looks beautiful, wonderful recipes and ideas. Your site is a real treasure of the most beautiful recipes. Thank you.

  7. Hi!!Great recipe,but I have a question.Does the flour need to be sifted?

  8. Hi Sally.. love ur recipes and the way u explain all the sciences of baking.. have done so many recipes from ur site.. cinnamon rolls brownies red velvet layer cake devil’s chocolate layer cake.. and can’t go by without trying something new.. I want to make this cake for my husband’s birthday.. but I will be serving this cake to jst 4-5 people.. so can I make this cake 3 layered and fill the middle with the sprinkles..

  9. Hi Sally, I have only 2, 9″ tins, could I bake this batter in batches?

  10. Hi there

    I made this cake for my son and it was fabulous. My daughter would like a three layer cake but a tall one so I need to make it in a deep circle pan rather than the victoria sponge tins. Would this recipe be OK to use in a deeper pan?

    Thanks in advance.

    Amy 🙂

  11. Hi, Sally!
    I am such a big fan, I know you probably hear it all the time, but, yes, huge fan over here.
    Anyway, I want to make this cake for my son’s birthday, but I think I am going to try the vanilla frosting, since I want to colour it red.
    (Everything needs to be red. Yeah. Toddlers.)
    I was wondering if just doubling it would be enough, it seems a bit too little of an amount to me.
    Also, if I would just try to colour the chocolate frosting, would it work?
    Thank you for taking time to read this comment, I am so looking forward to the cookies book!

  12. Happy 2017 Sally!
    I am baking this cake for a new year’s party!
    I can never get to frost neatly..
    Can you cover Frosting 101 in your baking basics please!

  13. Hi Sally , I have a request for a chocolate pinata cake, could you suggest a good chocolate cake recipe that would work well for this?
    Could I replace Cocoa powder for flour in this recipe to convert it into a chocolate one?

    • Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as subbing cocoa for some flour. Make my chocolate cake recipe instead. You can split the batter between three 9-inch cake pans; the bake time will be less than what that recipe instructs because the layers will be thinner. Just cut the hole in the middle layer for the candies.

  14. When you’re baking these 4 cakes, do you cook 2 in the same oven at the same time? If so, how do you arrange them in it as to not under or over cook one?

    • Hi Sarah, sometimes I bake them all at once and rotate them top to bottom halfway through. Or, depending how much time I have, I bake just two at a time and rotate once to the other side.

  15. This is awesome, I might make this for my son’s upcoming 8th birthday!

  16. This looks like so much fun! Love all the creative ideas on here 🙂

  17. Hi Sally, I am a Turkish mom who learned baking basically from your website! Thank you so much!
    I want to bake this pinata cake for my sons Dinosaur birthday party. I have only 8,9,10 inch pans one of each . I will use 8 inch and 9 inch pans to make a volcano shape.and m&m’s inside! Ooooo preschoolers will be delighted 🙂
    The thing is my son does not like butter frosting. Any chance using a frosting like whipped cream?
    And if I bake in batches, i am wondering the second batch, even waits in room temperature, start rising because of baking powder?

    • Such a fun idea! You can keep the batter at room temperature if baking 1 cake at a time. Whipped cream would definitely work as a frosting!

  18. Sally, this cake was so fun to make! I made it for a friend’s birthday, and she absolutely loved it! Everyone at work just raved about the piñata surprise inside

  19. Oh Sal I love your cake it’s very pretty! Just don’t know how you manage to stay so thin with all this baking! Keep up the good work! You have one of the best blogs!

  20. Hi Sally! Love your recipes! Quick question. Would I be able to bake and assemble this cake tonight for my sons bday party tomorrow at 1:00. I have so much to do tomorrow and it would make thing so  much easier for me! Or would it be better to do it a few hours before the party? Oh FYI I am filling it with Smarties… Don’t know if that makes a difference…

    • Absolutely! I would keep it covered at room temperature OR refrigerate overnight then set out first thing in the morning so it’s room temp when serving.

      • I saw ur response too late so I ended up assembling the cake a couple hours before the party. I gotta tell you…the layers were easy to work with  and so was the frosting! The end result was amazing and the cake got rave reviews for both taste and appearance. My sons eyes lit up like the fourth of July when he cut into it on his fourth birthday party! I have u to thank! You’re amazing….so thank you!!

  21. Warning! Do not make the center hole too big. In an effort to be generous with the candy, I cut the cirlce about 3″ across. Once I started frosting it, everything started to crumble.

  22. This is fantastic! Not only tasty but so quick and easy to make.

  23. Hi! This is amazing and I am attempting this for a baby shower this weekend. Does anyone know how tall this cake ends up being when done exactly according to the recipe? I have a cake carrier that is about 5 inches tall but I don’t think that will be tall enough for this. Thanks!!


  24. Another fantastic recipe!!  Made it for coworkers and filled it with pink and purple m&ms and silver sanding sugar to match our show colors.  I also used the vanilla icing recipe linked on this page and dyed it pink. 

    After it was cut open, the joy of watching people walk past the table and then do almost a double take as they saw what was spilling out was hysterical.  Thank you for these recipes that help keep my friends and coworkers happy and well-fed.

  25. Hi Sally – hope you can help me. My brain is getting boggled. I want to make a 3-layer piñata sheet cake in a 9×13 pan using your Triple Chocolate Cake recipe and the Vanilla Buttercream frosting recipe from here: I’ve figured out that I should triple the cake recipe but how many portions of the frosting recipe do I need to cover a triple layer 9×13 sheet cake? 

    also, is there any problem with making a sheet cake into a piñata cake? I plan to cut a hole in the bottom two layers and then plug the top with the cut out cake circle (cut in half horizontally). I could hardly find any examples online of a piñata cake that is not round. Can it be done, and any issues I should think about? Thank you so much!

  26. Dear Sally,

    I don’t even like sweets generally but I make them all the time from the blog and the books and LOVE all of them.
    For my daughter’s first birthday I want to make a piñata cake but with vanilla frosting and with funfetti within the batter, should I then just up the amount of the funfetti cake recipe by 1/3 or add funfetti to this one and how much would that then be?

    Love from Serbia!

    • I would add sprinkles to this cake batter– stir in 2/3 – 3/4 cup and you can always add more if you’d like.

      • Thank you so much! I will post pictures on my Instagram with a hashtag if it turns out presentable!

  27. I loved the ida of this cake! My niece loves Smarties, and her wish for her 3rd birtdhay was “chocolate cake and smarties” so used your directions to make the perfect “smarties suprise birthday cake”. Everyone was so supriesd, and my niece was thrilled. I used your tripel layer cocolate cake as thats my favourite chocolate cake recipe 😉

  28. Hi Sally,

    Could I add mini chocolate chips to the cake batter?

  29. I’m making a skittles filled cake for my brother in law’s birthday. I want to make each layer of the cake a color of a skittle. There are 5 colors. Do you think this cake recipe could easily be divided into a 5 th layer? What changes would you suggest?


    • Hi Bre! You can divide the cake batter between 5 cake pans. The bake time will be shorter. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  30. Hi Sally,
    what length/size spatula is best for frosting cakes with?

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