Vintage Birthday Cake Recipes

These vintage birthday cake recipes offer a complete change from today's common store-bought cakes. Learn how to make a naturally delicious homemade birthday cake. By following the simple instructions, you'll achieve amazing results.

Vintage Birthday Cake Recipes

Mom's Recipe Scrapbooks (c. 1920s)

Sailing Ship Birthday CakeHow to Make a Sailing Ship Birthday Cake
(Source: Don Bell)

Sailing Ship Birthday Cake

Choose one of the classic white cake recipes on this site or Aunt Wilhelmina's never-fail chocolate cake recipe if your birthday person loves the taste of chocolate.

Bake a 9-inch square cake of whatever flavor is desired, having first cleaned and wrapped coins or small novelties in waxed paper and placed them in the cake batter for the ship's treasure.

When cool, cut the cake diagonally in half to make two triangles as illustrated in fig. 1 below. One triangle is the large sail. From the other triangle, cut off a strip 2-1/4 inches wide to use for the ship's hull.

Arrange the cake pieces on tray as illustrated in fig. 2, using the small triangle as the ship's second sail.

Sailing Ship Birthday Cake Instructions for CuttingCutting the Cake

fig. 1

How to Assemble Your Sailing Ship Birthday CakeAssembling the Cake

fig. 2

Select one of Grandma's delicious icing recipes to make homemade frosting for the cake.

To decorate the birthday cake so it looks like a sailing ship or pirate ship, spread white frosting on both sails, then sprinkle on white shredded coconut for added texture and taste, if desired.

Spread chocolate brown frosting over the hull, or another color if preferred. Put a line of chocolate frosting between sails for the mast or use a black licorice strip.

White Lifesavers® candies make the portholes. Cut the anchor and crescent for the sail from colored gumdrops or paper.

Finally, make a paper nautical pennant, fasten it to a toothpick or straw, and add it to the large sale to top off your ship.

It's also fun to strew a generous quantity of chocolate coins in gold foil around the cake as party favors. The chocolate coins can be positioned around the edge of the cake, but try to position them so everyone gets a coin when the cake is cut.

Your finished ship is loaded with valuable chocolate treasure and ready for fun eating.

The age-old custom of hiding coins such as dimes and quarters in cakes, though fun, can present a choking hazard and the potential for someone breaking a tooth.

DO NOT hide actual coins in the cake! Chocolate coins are just as much fun and as an option, they could be exchanged later for real coins.

Sailing Ship Birthday Cake Comments

Simply follow the vintage birthday cake recipe's easy instructions and pictures, and you'll have a fun novelty cake that you'll enjoy presenting to your child. They'll love it and love you for making it.

The sailing ship birthday cake will serve 9 to 12 people. If you're planning a larger party, the ship's pattern is simple enough that you could easily double the recipe for two cakes. For example, arrange the sailing ship cakes side by side on a platter as though they are racing.

Or, an extra large square cake pan could be used to make an even bigger cake suitable for a sailing club get-together. Everyone will love the nautical design and homemade taste of this party cake.

Mom made this sailing ship birthday cake for my birthday when I was a youngster back in the 1950s. My friends and I loved it so much that I asked her to make the same cake again the following year. And she did!

This old fashioned birthday cake will bring joy to any child, especially when it's laden with golden chocolate coins.

It's also the perfect celebration cake for a lakeside family picnic or a sailing enthusiast. Just release your creativity.

Musical Happy Birthday Song Cake

Happy Birthday CakeMusical Happy Birthday Song Cake
(PD Source: Vintage Magazine)

This vintage 1940s birthday cake is easily decorated with the musical bars from the familiar song "Happy Birthday to You." It's a hit for any birthday party! Make two 9-inch layers.

Measure into bowl…

2-1/2 cups cake flour (sifted before measuring)
1-2/3 cups white sugar
2/3 cup Crisco (shortening)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk

Blend by hand or in mixer for 2 minutes. Now, stir in…

3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder


1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Blend by hand or in mixer for 2 minutes. Pour into 2 layer pans (9" x 1-1/2" deep) rubbed with Crisco and lined with waxed paper. (For smaller pans, fill half-full, bake cupcakes with any remaining batter.)

Bake in moderate oven (375°F) for 30-35 minutes. Cool; frost with creamy icing.

Pink and White Checkerboard Layer Cake

Checkerboard Birthday Cake with CandlesPink and White 3-Layer Checkerboard Birthday Cake
(Source: Don Bell)

This vintage birthday cake recipe is perfect for a special girl's or lady's party or a special anniversary celebration when a decorated three-layer white cake is needed.

1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon flavoring
1-1/3 cups milk
4 cups flour, sifted
4 teaspoons baking powder, level
6 egg whites

To begin this vintage birthday cake recipe, sift flour three times with baking powder. Cream shortening, add sugar gradually. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk and flavoring. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.

Color one half of batter pink. Place batter in cake pans in alternate strips.

Bake in three layers in a moderate oven (375°F) for about 20 minutes, or until it tests done.

Put layers together with white icing between. Ice top and sides of cake and decorate with small pink candles.

Ryzon's Vintage Birthday Cake Recipe

Ryzon Baking Book (1917)

Ryzon Birthday Cake

Ryzon Birthday CakeDelicious Ryzon Birthday Cake Flavored with Fruit
(PD Source: Ryzon Baking Book, 1917)

1 cupful (1/2 pound) butter
2 level cupfuls (1 pound) sugar
4 eggs
1 cupful (1/2 pint) milk
1 level cupful (6 ounces) sultana raisins
1/2 cupful (2 ounces) currants
1/2 cupful (2 ounces) shredded candied citron peel
1 wineglassful (1/4 cupful) brandy or fruit juice
4 level cupfuls (1 pound) flour
3 level teaspoonfuls Ryzon baking powder
1/4 level teaspoonful salt
1 level teaspoonful grated nutmeg
Boiled frosting

Cream butter and sugar together, add eggs, one at a time, and beat well, now add milk, fruit, brandy or fruit juice, and flour sifted with Ryzon (baking powder), salt, and nutmeg.

Pour into a well-greased and papered cake tin and bake in a moderate (375°F) oven for two hours. Turn out, cool, and cover with boiled vanilla frosting made using the recipe below.

If liked, this cake may be decorated with tiny shamrocks and candles. This vintage birthday cake recipe is sufficient for serving fourteen to sixteen persons.

Boiled Vanilla Frosting

1 level cupful (1/2 pound) sugar
1/2 cupful water
2 egg whites, beaten
1 level teaspoonful Ryzon baking powder
1 teaspoonful vanilla extract

Boil sugar and water in a saucepan until it forms a soft ball when tried in cold water (or until it registers 240°F by candy thermometer).

Pour boiled sugar mixture onto the stiffly beaten egg whites, pouring in a steady stream and very slowly adding, while beating, Ryzon (baking powder) and vanilla.

Stir frosting mixture until thick enough to spread. Sufficient for frosting one cake.

the-birthday-cakeThe Birthday Cake by Harry Whittier Frees, 1914
(Source: Library of Congress LC-DIG-ds-04028)

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