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Hamburger Cake Recipe

This cute hamburger cake looks like the giant sweet version of the classic, with two cake flavors and buttercream "condiments".
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Total Time1 hr 40 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake, Hamburger Cake, realistic hamburger cake
Servings: 12
Calories: 235kcal
Cost: $10

Ingredients

Vanilla Cake Layers:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk

Chocolate Cake Layer:

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup good-quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee

Buttercream + Cake Decorating:

  • 2 cups unsalted butter room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon gel food color in green
  • 1/4 teaspoon gel food color in yellow
  • 1 teaspoon or more gel food color in red
  • White sugar pearls or white fondant punched out into small circles using a piping tip as a cutter

Tools:

  • Piping bag fitted with an open star tip
  • Piping bag fitted with a leaf tip
  • Piping bag fitted with a medium-size open circle tip
  • Piping bag fitted with a large open circle tip
  • Cake board
  • Cake turntable

Instructions

To Make the Vanilla Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line two 8 x 2-inch round cake pans.
  • In the bowl of a stand up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the eggs one at a time until incorporated, then add the vanilla extract.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the cream and milk.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add one-third of the flour mixture, then half of the milk mixture. Keep alternating as you add the mixtures, finishing with the dry ingredients. I mix for about 30 to 60 seconds total—you do not want to overmix this batter, but be sure the ingredients are incorporated.
  • Divide the batter evenly among two cake pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, checking for doneness at 25 minutes. The cakes will be done when a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean and the tops of the cakes are light golden brown.
  • Cool the cakes completely in their pans before frosting. Or alternatively, cool them for 30 minutes in their pans and then gently turn them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

To Make the Chocolate Cake Layer:

  • Make sure the oven is preheated to 350 degrees F. Grease and line one (8-inch x 2-inch) round cake pan.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, mix together the whole milk and the white vinegar. Let the mixture sit until curdled, about 10 minutes.
  • In the meantime, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together on low speed the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Once the milk is curdled, whisk it in a large bowl with the vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until combined.
  • With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Add the hot coffee and mix just until the batter is incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the cake batter to the prepared cake pans and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, checking for doneness at 30 minutes.
  • Cool the cake completely in its pans before frosting.

To Decorate the Cake:

  • In the bowl of a stand up mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until it is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sifted powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk, if using. Mix on low speed to combine the ingredients. Once the sugar is incorporated, crank the mixer to thigh speed and beat the mixture for another 2 minutes, until it has more than doubled in volume, for a fluffy whipped frosting.
  • Divide the buttercream in half. Set aside one bowl. Divide the contents of the second bowl evenly among three bowls. Mix the green gel color into the first bowl, yellow into the second bowl, and red into the third bowl. Note: sometimes “red” is a difficult color to achieve—it requires a lot of food gel coloring.
  • Fill a piping bag fitted with an open star tip with the uncolored buttercream. Fill a piping bag fitted with a leaf tip with the green buttercream. Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium-size round tip with the yellow buttercream. Finally, fill a piping bag fitted with a large round tip with the red buttercream.
  • Place a covered cake board on a cake turntable. Pipe a dab of uncolored buttercream onto the cake board. Place the first vanilla cake layer onto the board. Starting from the outside and working your way in toward the middle, pipe the uncolored buttercream in concentric circles, creating a giant, generous swirl of buttercream. Stop when you get to the center.
  • My frosting was super soft because it’s summer! So transfer the cake to the fridge to firm up a bit, if needed. Pipe the nest layer of uncolored buttercream just as you did the first layer.
  • Next, begin piping green buttercream “lettuce” right on top of the uncolored buttercream layer, using the piping bag with the leaf tip. The idea is not to be too uniform with your leaves! Squeeze the piping bag a little harder to get bigger leaves, and overlap and layer them in a way that looks organic.
  • Squiggle on your “mustard” using the yellow buttercream. I pipe large loops all along the exterior, on top of the lettuce layer but not covering it.
  • Using the red buttercream for your ketchup, piping this is an ongoing loop on top of the yellow buttercream layer but in between the yellow loops.
  • Carefully place the final vanilla cake layer, unleveled and dome side up, on top of the “ketchup buttercream. Gently press down to adhere.
  • Place the sugar pearls on top of the cake for a sesame seed bun effect.

Notes

Short cut alert:
It is not lost on me that this recipe is A LOT of work. It has lots of components. I'm going to say that if you're short on time and in search for a short cut, I would go the boxed cake mix route. A chocolate cake box and vanilla one will do the trick.
You can also make some of these components the day ahead. Make the cake layers a day ahead and wrap them with plastic wrap and stick them in the fridge. You can also make the frosting ahead, too.
Equipment:
8-inch Cake Pans | Kitchen Towels | Piping Bags | Silicon Spatula | Wilton Piping Kit | Offset Spatula | Americolor Food Coloring

Nutrition

Serving: 12g | Calories: 235kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 32g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 24mg | Potassium: 43mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 35IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 2mg