the perfect summer birthday cake

This was part of my cake-baking spree last February.  Filled with homemade honey custard and fresh berries, this would make for the PERFECT summer birthday cake.

© Tina Vega Photography

The printable recipe is below.

The Perfect Summer Birthday Cake


  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • CAKE
  • 1 cup sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts
  • 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
  • fresh berries


  1. To make the custard, heat milk in a saucepan over low heat until hot (but not boiling). In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, honey, and salt. Whisk in cornstarch. Slowly add a third of the hot milk into the yolk mixture, whisking gently. Pour this mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the hot milk and cook over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and has been bubbling for about a minute (whisk briskly during this time). Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl and whisk in butter until melted. Lay a piece of Saran Wrap on top of the custard and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  2. To make the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add the egg yolks two at a time, blending well between each addition. In a separate bowl, mix together the vanilla and milk. On low speed, add flour mixture in three parts alternating with milk in two parts (beginning and ending with flour mixture). Do not overmix.
  3. Divide the batter between two 8-inch cake pans (greased and bottoms lined with parchment). Set pans aside while you prepare topping.
  4. To make the topping, put the egg whites and salt into a clean bowl of stand mixer. Whip on low with whisk attachment until frothy. Gradually increase the speed to medium-high, whipping until soft peaks form. With mixer on low, add the granulated sugar in a steady stream. Raise the mixer speed again to medium-high and continue to whip until egg whites begin to hold firm, glossy peaks. Fold in vanilla. Divide the meringue on top of the cake batter and sprinkle with hazelnuts and turbinado sugar.
  5. Place cakes in middle of oven and back until tops are lightly brown (about 30-35 minutes). Remove cakes to wire rack for 20 minutes before removing them from pans.
  6. To assemble, place one cake layer on plate meringue side up. Spread honey custard onto the cake. Place second cake on top, meringue side up. Top with fresh berries and serve immediately. Store in refrigerator.

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