Poinsettias have always felt so festive to me. I love their vibrant colors and how synonymous they are with the holidays. In fact, I enjoy them so much I decided to make this poinsettia cake!
It’s made with colorful vanilla layers, decadent buttercream frosting and beautiful piped buttercream poinsettias.
Substitutions and Swaps
While I love making this poinsettia cake following the recipe below, I know you might not have all of the ingredients on hand. Or if you have food allergies or restrictions, I’ve got you covered.
Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this recipe.
- All-Purpose Flour – This recipe works best with all-purpose flour, but you can use cake flour or gluten flour if needed.
- Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar as it will change the texture of the cake.
- Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand you can use it in place of the salted butter and omit the salt in this recipe. You can also use vegan butter in its place!
- Egg Whites – You can also use 4 large eggs or if you have an egg allergy you can use 4 flaxseed eggs.
- Sour Cream – You can also use full fat yogurt, buttermilk, whole milk, or an alternative yogurt or milk (almond, soy, oat) if you’re dairy free.
- Heavy Cream – You can also use whipping cream or coconut cream.
- Peppermint Extract – This is totally optional, but I enjoy flavoring the buttercream with peppermint extract to make it more festive. You can use different extracts like almond or coconut, or omit the additional extract all together.
Making This Poinsettia Cake In Different Sizes
This recipe can also be used to make different sized cakes. You can also half or double the ingredients to make a half or double batch!
You can make four 6″ cake layers with one batch of batter. Bake the cake layers at 350F for 34-36 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
One batch of batter can be also be used to make one 9×13-inch sheet cake. Bake it at 325F for 40-50 minutes and use flower nails or heating cores to help the cake bake evenly.
You can also use this recipe to make a Bundt cake! Bake time can vary based on the size and type of pan you use, and can take anywhere from 45-75 minutes. I recommend using a toothpick to test for doneness and checking on it every 5-10 minutes once it’s been in the oven for 45 minutes.
The final variation of this recipe is cupcakes!! This recipe makes about 36 regular sized cupcakes. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 17-19 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Tips for Making the Best Poinsettia Cake
- Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale.
- Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature to help them mix together better.
- Don’t overmix your batter, stir until the cake flour is just combined.
- Don’t level your cake layers until they are completely cooled.
- Make sure your buttercream is the right consistency before frosting your cake and piping the poinsettias. This will help give your cake proper structure and make it easier to decorate.
- If your cake layers turn out less than perfect, I recommend reading my cake troubleshooting guide to see where things might’ve gone awry.
Making This Poinsettia Cake in Advance and Storage Tips
- Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
- Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
- A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
- If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.
Let Me Know What You Think
If you make this poinsettia cake, please tag me @chelsweets and use the #chelsweets!!
Also leave a comment below and a rating to let me know your thoughts.
Vanilla Cake Recipe
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (390 grams)
- 3 cups granulated sugar (600 grams)
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder (10 grams)
- 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (226 grams) - 2 sticks
- 1 cup pasteurized egg whites from a carton (or about 7 egg whites) (235 grams)
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream, room temperature (380 grams)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (8 grams)
- gel food coloring (if desired)
Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
- 3 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (678 grams)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (8 grams)
- 2 tsp peppermint extract - optional (8 grams)
- 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
- 10 cups powdered sugar (1250 grams)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (or whipping cream) (115 grams)
- gel food coloring (if desired)
Vanilla Cake Layers:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 8" pans with parchment rounds and grease with non-stick baking spray.
- Mix together 3 cups all purpose flour, 3 cups sugar, 2 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp salt in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or hand mixer until fully combined.
- Mix in 1 cup of unsalted butter slowly into the dry ingredients on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain and the mixture looks crumbly.
- Pour in 1 cup of egg whites and mix on low until just incorporated. Mix in 1 1/2 cups sour cream in two installments, on a low speed.
- Add in 2 tsp of vanilla extract and mix at a low speed until incorporated. If you want to color your cake layers, add in the gel food coloring with the vanilla.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then mix on a low speed for a few more seconds to make sure everything is properly mixed together.
- Divide the batter evenly between your prepared pans.
- Bake for 32-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
- Allow the pans to cool for 10 minutes, then run a small offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan.
- Place cake layers into the freezer for 30 minutes to accelerate the cooling process. Once the layers are fully cooled, carefully flip the pans and remove the layers.
- Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the layers right before you plan to assemble your cake, or you can wrap and freeze them in you're making them in advance.
- If you make these cake layers in advance and freeze them, let them thaw for about 20 minutes before making your cake. The cake layers should still be slightly cold to the touch, which will make it easier to assemble your cake.
Peppermint Buttercream Frosting:
- While the cake layers bake and cool, make the buttercream frosting.
- Beat 3 cups of unsalted butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth.
- Mix in 2 tsp of vanilla extract, 2 tsp of peppermint extract (if desired) and 1 tsp salt on a low speed.
- Slowly add in 10 cups of powdered sugar, 2 cups at a time. Alternate with small splashes of 1/2 cup of cream.
- Continue to mix on low speed for a few minutes, until the desired consistency is reached.
- If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 Tbsp at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
- Color 1 cup of frosting red with gel food coloring and place in a small piping bag fit with a small leaf tip.
- Color 1/2 cup of frosting green with gel food coloring and place in a small piping bag fit with a small leaf tip.
- Color 1/4 cup of frosting yellow with gel food coloring and place in a small piping bag fit with a small round piping tip.
- Cover the remaining uncolored frosting with plastic wrap to prevent crusting and set aside.
To Assemble The Cake:
- Pipe about 30 small poinsettias on parchment squares using a flower nail. Place the piped poinsettias on a baking tray and chill in the freezer.
- Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board, using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
- Add an even layer of buttercream between each cake layer with a large offset spatula.
- Add a thin coat of frosting around the cake, fully cover the cake layers.
- Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (5 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
- Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake, and smooth using a bench scraper. Chill the cake again in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (5 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
- Use leftover buttercream to carefully stick the frozen poinsettias around the chilled cake. Then cut in and enjoy!
Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.
Amount Per Serving Calories 657Total Fat 35gSaturated Fat 22gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 95mgSodium 273mgCarbohydrates 84gFiber 0gSugar 71gProtein 4g