Sprinkles add color and pizzazz to a birthday cake in Jackie Alpers’ new cookbook, "Sprinkles!"
Sprinkles add color and pizzazz to a birthday cake in Jackie Alpers' new cookbook, "Sprinkles!" (Quirk Books)

The frosting, the sprinkles, the candles and love -- there's something very special about birthday cakes, Arizona food writer Jackie Alpers says. Her new cookbook, "Sprinkles! Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts" (Quirk Books, $18.95, 144 pages), embraces the world of jimmies, sprinkles, and hundreds and thousands.

Here are three ways, Alpers says, to make that birthday cake even more "stupendous."

  • Height: "The more layers, the better. Why stick with the standard two or three layers when you could have six or even 10?"

  • Surprise: "Go the nontraditional route. Sandwich layers of crepes or even cookies between thin layers of whipped cream frosting, or attach cream puffs or doughnuts to a foam cone base to make a tower."

  • Sprinkles: "Sprinkle with abandon! When sprinkles are folded into cake batter, they typically melt away during baking, leaving behind little confetti-like poufs of color. In this deconstructed version of the birthday cake, the crusts are removed to show off the sprinkles inside."

    Confetti Layer Cake

    Makes 1 triple layer cake

    1 1/2 cups milk

    9 large egg whites, lightly beaten

    1/3 cup applesauce

    1 tablespoon vanilla extract

    1/2 teaspoon almond extract

    4 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted

    2 tablespoons baking powder

    1 1/2 teaspoons salt

    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

    2 cups sugar

    3/4 cup rainbow jimmies, divided

    4 cups buttercream

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat three 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray, then dust with flour.

    2. In a medium bowl, stir milk, egg whites, applesauce and extracts. Into another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

    3. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add flour and milk mixtures alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Fold in 1/2 cup sprinkles.

    4. Divide batter among pans. Bake until a tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

    5. Cool cakes in pans set on wire racks for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of each pan, then invert cakes onto a cutting board. With a serrated knife, carefully cut off the tops and "crusts," exposing the confetti sprinkles.

    6. Place first layer on a plate. Spread 3/4 cup buttercream evenly over top. Repeat with second and third layers, leaving the sides exposed. Decorate the perimeter of the top with the remaining jimmies. Serve, or refrigerate up to 3 days.

    -- Jackie Alpers, "Sprinkles!" (Quirk, 2013)