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Snickerdoodle cake has all of the sweet cinnamon flavor of the cookie, but in a fluffy layer cake! Add an optional layer of cookie crumble for even more spice.
Whenever my birthday rolls around, my gears start working on a cake idea. Some years I end up getting a bakery cake, but this year I wanted to perfect one of my favorite cakes: snickerdoodle cake!
Snickerdoodles are some of my favorite cookies, so it makes sense that this cinnamon cake is also a fave.
Sugar and cinnamon are a great combo. This cake is basically a soft vanilla cake with the added burst of ground cinnamon throughout.
It’s great just with frosting, but I also decided to add an extra layer of cookie crumble, inspired by the cake experts at Milk Bar and Sugar Goat.
Whether you go for the crumble or simply frosted, snickerdoodle cake is a great special occasion dessert!
Using cake flour
This recipe calls for cake flour instead of regular flour.
Cake flour has a lower protein content and it is ground more finely than all-purpose flour. Both of these contribute to a lighter, fluffier cake.
You can find cake flour sold in boxes at your grocery store. The most common brand is Swan’s Down, but it is also available from King Arthur Baking and Bob’s Red Mill.
If you need to make a cake flour substitute, it’s easy with all-purpose flour and cornstarch!
For each cup of cake flour, measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour, then remove 2 tablespoons. Add 2 tablespoons cornstarch, and sift the two together 2 or more times to aerate the flour.
Adjust amounts as needed depending on how much cake flour you need.
Room temperature ingredients
When making cakes, we want the ingredients to be at room temperature to help us achieve a smooth batter and fluffy cake.
Set out your butter, eggs, and milk in advance of preparing the cake batter. I usually take out the butter and eggs about 2 hours before I want to bake, and the milk a little later.
How quickly they will come to room temperature depends on how warm your kitchen is, so keep an eye on them to make sure the butter is not getting too warm or even melting.
Your butter should look waxy, not shiny, and you should be able to press a small dent in it. If you can press all the way, it’s too soft!
Eggs can be quickly brought to room temperature by placing them in a bowl of warm water for a couple of minutes.
How to make snickerdoodle cake
Even if you’re not a pro at baking layer cakes, this cinnamon cake is a cinch to mix together.
First, preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans. I also line them with parchment paper circles, or you can coat them with flour.
To coat pans with flour, add 2 tablespoons of flour to one pan, then hold it over the second pan and gently tap and turn the pan to let the flour move around the pan and coat all the greased parts.
Tap any remaining flour into the second pan and repeat, adding more flour as needed. Tap any excess into the trash.
Grab a medium bowl and combine cake flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set this aside while you mix the rest of the batter.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl you can use a hand mixer in), cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This should take 3-5 minutes to bring enough air into the mixture.
Beat in eggs one at a time, making sure they are fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat in vanilla.
Now, add the flour and milk in increments. I like to do one-third of the flour, then half the milk, then repeat and end with remaining flour. Scrape down the sides between additions as needed to make sure everything is getting incorporated.
Once the batter is fully mixed, divide it between your prepared pans. Gently tap the pans on the counter to remove any large air bubbles.
Bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The cake should also be browned and coming away from the edges of the pan.
Let the cakes cool in their pans for 5 minutes, then carefully remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
If you want to make the cookie crumble, make it while the cakes cool.
How to make cookie crumble layer
You’ll need some baked snickerdoodle cookies to make this layer. You can either make your own (this is my favorite snickerdoodle recipe) or you can use storebought.
Using a food processor, pulse cookies to make crumbs. You’ll need approximately 5-6 cookies to get 1 cup of crumbs.
Mix the crumbs with sugar, cinnamon, and butter until a crumble forms. If you’ve made crumble for cinnamon coffee cake, it’s similar!
Spread the crumble onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheet, then break into pieces to use for the cake.
If you prefer, you can create a cinnamon sugar mixture to sprinkle on instead. Combine ¼ cup sugar with 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, then sprinkle it on the frosted cake.
Frosting for cinnamon cake
For this cake, I prefer to use classic American buttercream flavored with vanilla and almond extracts.
If you like, you can use a cream cheese frosting, or add cinnamon for a cinnamon frosting.
The cinnamon frosting is great if you are not using the cookie crumbles.
Simply add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to your frosting after you’ve mixed the other ingredients together. Taste and add more if needed, but remember you’ve already got cinnamon in the cake, so don’t add too much!
How to assemble snickerdoodle cake
Once the layers are fully cooled, you can assemble the cake.
Place one layer of cake onto your cake plate. If desired, level the cake using a sharp serrated knife.
Add one-third of your buttercream frosting and spread to the edges, creating a slight rim around the edge to hold in the crumble. You can use an offset spatula, or put frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a large tip and pipe on.
Scatter half the crumble evenly on top of the frosting.
Take the second layer and flip it, placing what was the top onto the frosted layer. This gives you an even, flat top with no trimming needed!
Add the rest of the buttercream and spread on the top and sides of the cake. Alternatively, you can save some of the frosting to pipe decorations on.
Scatter remaining cookie crumbles on top, or press gently onto the sides.
Chill cake to firm up frosting. Remove cake 30 minutes before serving to bring to room temperature.
This cake is so light, fluffy, and full of cinnamon flavor! I encourage you to give it a try the next time you need a celebration cake.
For the cake
- 2 3/4 cups cake flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups milk, room temperature
For the optional cookie crumble
- 1 cup crumbled snickerdoodle cookies, about 5 cookies
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 batch buttercream frosting
To make the cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 2 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray and line with parchment rounds. Or, coat with flour. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, making sure to incorporate completely before adding the next. Beat in vanilla.
- Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk in increments, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides between additions as needed to ensure ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Divide batter equally between cake pans. Gently tap pans on the counter to remove any air bubbles, then bake for 30-35 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean, and the edges should be coming away from the sides of the pan.
- Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the cookie crumble (optional)
- Combine crumbled cookies, sugar, butter, and cinnamon together until a crumble forms. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes. Let cool completely, then break into pieces.
To assemble the cake
- Place one layer of cake on your cake stand. Trim with a serrated knife to make a flat top, if desired. Add 1/3 of your buttercream frosting and spread to the edges, making a slight rim around the edge. If using the cookie crumble, scatter half of it across the top.
- Flip the second layer so the top is now the bottom, and place it on the frosted layer. (This will give you a flat top.) Scoop the remaining buttercream on the cake and use an offset spatula to spread on the top and sides. Sprinkle on the rest of the cake crumbs, if using.
- Place assembled cake in the refrigerator to set frosting. Bring to room temperature before serving.