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Sunday, October 6, 2019

French Butter Cake with Old Fashioned Fudge Frosting {MiMi's Birthday Cake}

French vanilla butter cake wrapped with an old fashioned fudge frosting is the perfect birthday cake. This recipe is straight from my great-grandma's recipe box and is a timeless classic recipe. 

first slice of french butter cake being lifted out with a thick layer of dense fudge frosting on top and colorful sprinkles

    This old fashioned butter cake is really a simple recipe to put together.  Top it with this dense fudge frosting for a bite of nostalgia.  It has been my mom's birthday cake request since she was a girl. First her grandma made it for her, then her mom and now I do.  Maybe it will become a favorite birthday cake for your family as well.

     I've been on a roll with recipes from my great-grandma Peggy.  First there was her German Chocolate Cake with Broiled Coconut Frosting that was out of this world good.

    I mean broiled frosting!!  You have to check it out if you haven't already.

   Then there was her Apple Crisp. It is hard to go wrong with an apple crisp, especially this time of year.  Hers doesn't have any added sugar, yet it is still delicious.

    This cake is probably the most special one that I have from my great-grandma Peggy.  It is one that is tied to a lot of memories for my mom... and comes with its own rules!

    This is MiMi's favorite birthday cake.  The one from her grandma's recipe that was made for her as a little girl.

french butter cake with old fashioned fudge frosting and sprinkles in background with one slice served in foreground

   The one she remembers, enjoys and still wants to have to this very day.  So, of course I had to make her one for her birthday.

    I have gone back and forth a hundred times as to whether or not to share it.  But I have decided to go ahead and give you the goods.

    I know, it seems silly.  But there were a few reasons I was hemming and hawing all month long.

    First, this is one of those super special near and dear to her heart recipes that MiMi only recently shared with me.  She wants it to be sacred and only served on her birthday... it is HER birthday cake after all.

     In fact, she has only had possession of the recipe for a few years herself.  Her aunt was able to come up with it not all that long ago, before that it was just the stuff of legends.

(So if you are reading this DO NOT make this cake for my mom... unless it's her birthday.  It's the rules!)

little dude putting candles in MiMi's birthday cake

     I made the cake exactly how the recipe card was written.   It was DELICIOUS.  Dense and buttery with the thick fudge frosting frosting that MiMi had always talked about.  

     The batter is thick and when you put it in the pan, it seems like there isn't enough.  It barely spreads to the edges of the pans.

     It does rise in the oven and give a perfect crumb, but the resulting cake is shorter than most modern cakes. It's not a towering layered beauty like we may be used to now.

     When I mentioned it to MiMi, she said that her aunt had told her that they normally scale it up a bit to make it a taller cake.  They make 1 1/2 times the amount called for in the recipe to give it more height.

   The funny thing is, once she said something about that it rang a bell.  We must have discussed it when she got the recipe.

looking down on french butter cake with thick fudge frosting on top. Slice served on dessert plate

       When I originally posted this in 2016, I vowed to do the 1.5x recipe the next time so that the cake would be taller.  I really thought about doing it.

       But I ended up sticking to the original.  It seemed more true, plus honesty we didn't need the extra cake just for the sake of making it taller.

        So the cake was once again a little bit short. But you know what? It was delicious.

       Plus that meant that was more fudge frosting for each bite. And more frosting is never a bad thing!

mimi and little dude blowing out the birthday candles on her birthday cake

       So I will leave it up to you if you follow my great-grandma's recipe as it is written or if you scale it up.  Either way, I'd love to see your finished product. (Just don't try sharing it with my mom if it's not her birthday!)

      If you do decide to scale it up, you'll want to add a little bit of time in the oven to cook it through.  It should spring back when lightly touched with a finger.

      I think the frosting recipe should be enough to cover the additional cake as it is.  But who am I to discourage you from scaling that up as well?

      That goes against everything I stand for! But really, you should be fine either way.

      I hope you give this delicious cake a try and tell me what you think!

birthday cake, butter cake, old fashioned cake recipe, fudge frosting, layered cake recipe
Yield: 16 servings

French Butter Cake with Old Fashioned Fudge Frosting

French vanilla butter cake wrapped with an old fashioned fudge frosting is the perfect birthday cake. This recipe is straight from my great-grandma's recipe box and is a timeless classic recipe.
prep time: 20 Mcook time: 30 Mtotal time: 50 M


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
Fudge Frosting
  • 6 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 box (1 lb) confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Enough half and half or cream to make spreadable (a few Tablespoons)


How to cook French Butter Cake with Old Fashioned Fudge Icing

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F and prepare to 8" cake pans.
  2. Beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy.  Add slightly beaten eggs and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
  3. Sift dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture, alternating with milk. Start and end with flour.
  4. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly touched with a finger. Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, then turn onto wire racks and cool completely.
  1. Melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler until smooth.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and powdered sugar.
  3. Add half and half or cream a bit at a time until creamy and spreadable.
  4. Spread over cake while warm, it sets up as it cools.
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Created using The Recipes Generator

French vanilla butter cake wrapped with an old fashioned fudge frosting is the perfect birthday cake. This recipe is straight from my great-grandma's recipe box and is a timeless classic recipe.


  1. Thank you so much for making my special birthday cake. It was perfect and just the way I remember it. Now my grandma, my mom and you have made it for me. How fun is that? Fun for me- that is for sure. So glad you posted the rules. And Jaxon lined those candles up just perfectly so that we could blow them out quickly and get straight to eating it!

    1. He's becoming a pro at this birthday party stuff! I am glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Aww first of all, precious pictures!!! Seconds, I would want seconds, lol but secondly...I know this cake is delicious and all that love that goes into it!! Well, that just makes it all the more special!! Happy Monday and Happy Halloween beautiful!!

    1. Thank you so much, Andrea! And I hope you had a Happy Halloween as well!

  3. Happy Birthday to Mimi♥ The cake is beautiful ♥

  4. My best friend at work loves yellow cake with chocolate icing. I have to make this for her birthday! Thanks for sharing at What'd You Do This Weekend.

    Wishes for tasty dishes,

    1. This would be great for her then! Thanks, Linda!

  5. This sounds yummy!

    I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks:

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  6. I love that you are working with the family to record all the recipes that have been held dear and that you are documenting them to pass on. My Gran and I would make these muffins, we called them Softies. They were the best! We would make them together, it was our thing, before family dinners. Now that she is gone no one has the recipe or knows how to make them. I miss that. And that the passing on, the family tradition, has ended. Makes me miss her more.

    Happy Birthday to Mimi. I want this to be my birthday cake too! French butter cake and chocolate frosting? Oh yeah! Delish!

    1. Oh man, I wish we could all know what was in softies now! We love to make muffins. I have been really enjoying making all of these family recipes. Some I grew up with, others are new to me but make me feel connected to my family's past.

  7. I wish I had recipes that were handed down through the family but, sadly I don't. I'm glad you're ensuring this happens in yours. Thanks for sharing with us at Funtastic Friday!

    1. Thank you! It has been fun making recipes from my great-grandmas and sometimes even further back than that.

  8. This looks delicious! I love cherished family recipes, I wish I had some from my grandma. The only one I have is a holiday side dish that I don't even like, ha ha. Luckily I have recipes from my mom that I treasure 😁

    1. I have been really enjoying some of these older recipes. Too funny that you don't even like the one from your grandma! At least your mom is filling the gap. Thanks, Jessica!

  9. Congratulations!
    Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. Thanks so much for sharing it with us and enjoy your new Red Plate!
    Miz Helen

  10. I promise to not make this for your mom, but I may just have to make it for my husband. Love the family history and love for this recipe. Heart warming :)

    1. Thank you! My mom appreciates you following the rules!

  11. Wow. I just love all types of cake.Really its a nice blog for Birthday cakes.I really appreciate with your choice.

  12. Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchenOctober 6, 2019 at 7:10 PM

    Recipes passed down through generations are always the best. I have a few of my great-grandmother's and they're my very favorite. I have to try this next time a birthday rolls around!

    1. They really are the best, aren't they? I hope you love this vintage gem!

  13. This cake looks delicious - especially the frosting!!!

  14. A wonderful Birthday Cake, looks delicious! Thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with us at Full Plate Thursday,453. Hope you have a great week and come back to see us soon!
    Miz Helen

  15. can this be made in a 13 x 9 pan?

  16. can this be made in a 13 x 9 pan?

    1. I haven't tried it, but I can't see why not. Just add a few minutes to the bake time and keep an eye on it. It should spring back when lightly touched with a finger. You'll have to let me know how it goes!

  17. Would I be able to make this a chocolate cake?

    1. You could certainly sub in some cocoa powder for some of the flour. I've never tried it though, so I'm not sure how much would be perfect. I'd probably try 1/4 cup or so.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I love reading your ideas!