Our Favorite Birthday Cakes: Cinnamon Syrup Cake



Cinnamon Syrup Cake - Eat Boutique

I wish I could offer you a tale of the perfect birthday.

I was hoping to delight you by recounting an amazing celebration complete with pony rides, pointy hats, and presents. Oh man, the presents. Lots and lots and lots of presents.

Of course, the party peak would be the presentation of a cake of biblical proportions:   a super confection that would be just as melt-in-your-mouth sweet as it would be absolutely gorgeous.

But, alas.

The ponies were a no show, there isn’t a single present to be found and my hat is not pointy at all.

Oh, and I dropped my cake on the floor.

Cinnamon Syrup Cake - Eat Boutique

That’s right, this baker managed to pull off the biggest foodie fail and the hugest cake wreck in the history of history.

So this post and this cake are dedicated to all of those birthdays that bomb and cakes that turn out to be confectionery disasters. You know who you are. Here’s looking at you.

It all began, simply enough, with a three layer cinnamon cake and a sweet citrus syrup.

I really like to keep it simple when it comes to cakes and kind of let the sugar and spice speak for itself. I have never been a huge icing person and, frankly, fondant scares me.

Cinnamon Syrup Cake - Eat Boutique

The key, though, is that a cake must be moist. Dry cakes, like potholes, hang nails and dirty socks, are really no fun. And it has been my experience that 9.5 out of 10 cake eaters agree with this sentiment.

So while I designed this cake to be moist enough on its own, the syrup is the thing:   it keeps the cake from drying out.

I grated my cinnamon, I mixed up my batter, and I popped my three layers in to the oven. I should have been forewarned by the ease of this process. Instead, I played air guitar to my Lady Gaga CD and went about my baking business, blissfully unaware of the impending doom.

Cinnamon Syrup Cake - Eat Boutique

The cakes themselves came out fabulous. They sink a little in the middle as they cool. No biggie.

And the key with the syrup is to be sure that you boil it long enough that it reduces and thickens, maybe five to ten minutes.

Layers baked:   check

Syrup thickened:   check

Plate, stack, pour — this cake is a real winner!

Now all you have to do is take your gem over to the table to photograph it and…

Cinnamon Syrup Cake - Eat Boutique

Mister Floor, allow me to introduce you to Mister Cake. You two are going to have a lasting relationship, I can tell.

Why? Because I’m too busy crying my face off in the corner of my kitchen to separate you.

I mean, really. Does it get any worse, cake-wise? Please tell me that I’m not the only fool in the world who has done this.

And then there’s the self-doubt:   “Are the baking gods punishing me for cheating and using self-rising flour?” Just terrible.

But this story can’t end here. I won’t allow it.

I’m going to crawl out of this corner, turn my rally cap backwards and make this a story about perseverance. The triumph of the human spirit. And apparently made for the Lifetime channel. Whatever.

So there you have it:   Cinnamon Syrup Cake.

Cinnamon Syrup Cake - Eat Boutique

It’s not the prettiest cake you’ve ever seen, but it’s dang delicious. And it’s not on the floor. Happy Birthday to me.

Postscript:   Special thanks go out to my husband, A., who sampled a piece of the floored cake (5 second rule) and encouraged me to bake another, and to my friends R. and S., who gave me an opportunity to do just that. You guys rock.

Cinnamon Syrup Cake - Eat Boutique

If you don’t have the time to make a homemade birthday cake for a friend this year, send them a gift box of local, pure and comforting handmade food. Eat Boutique sells a handmade gift box filled with handmade sweet and savory treats. Send food that hugs you back today. And today is the last day to get free shipping by entering “DAD” at check out!

Cinnamon Syrup Cake - Eat Boutique

Cinnamon Syrup Cake

Makes: 12 to 14 servings


For the Cake
  • 4 1/2 c. self-rising flour
  • 3 c. white sugar, granulated
  • 2 1/4 c. whole milk
  • 1 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon, ground
  • 2 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
For the Syrup
  • 2 c. water
  • 2 c. dark brown sugar, packed
  • zest of two oranges


  1. Preheat oven to 350 °.
  2. Grease and flour 3 9-inch circular cake pans. Set the pans aside.
  3. In a large bowl, sift flour, cinnamon and salt together and set aside.
  4. In a very large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, alternating with the milk. Mix carefully but thoroughly until a uniform batter has formed. Blend in the vanilla extract.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared pans, filling each approximately half full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clean. Finished cakes will be golden on their tops with the edges pulling away from the sides of the pan. Remove baked cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely before un-molding.
  6. Meanwhile, to prepare the syrup, bring the water and brown sugar to a boil in a large saucepan. Keep at a soft boil for 5-10 minutes, stirring often, or until the syrup begins to thicken. Once the mixture has thickened noticeably, remove to a heat-proof vessel to cool. Stir in the zest.
  7. Once the cakes have cooled, un-mold them onto a wire rack or a piece of parchment paper. Using a serrated knife, slice off any bumps or ridges that are left in the tops of each cake layer so that they will lay as flat as possible. Place your foundation layer top down and pour the syrup it’s new top. Carefully stack your next two layers top down, pouring more syrup over second layer and then the top of the finished cake. This cake is best when served immediately, but I’ve never known anyone to turn away a cooled cake.
All photos were styled and taken by Meagan.

Eat Boutique is an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista. After hosting pop-up markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie is now focused on opening her first permanent Eat Boutique​–​a food​-​retail concept space ​with a new way to the very best food. Her second cookbook, A New Way to Food: Recipes That Revamped My Pantry & Made Me Love Me, At Last, will be published by Roost Books/Penguin Random House in 2019. Her first cookbook, Food Gift Love, features more than 100 food gift recipes to make, wrap, and share and is available wherever you find favorite cookbooks.

Follow Eat Boutique’s founder Maggie here: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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  • This looks like a little beehive dripping with honey. I love it! I can’t wait to make it.

  • Jane Ward

    Simplest is best – this is lovely: drizzly syrup allowing taste of cake layers to shine.  And fondant scares me too!

  • Nikki @ The Tolerant Vegan

    Oh no!! I wish I could say I’ve never dropped a cake, but I definitely have. I wasn’t strong enough to bake another one, though. I just sulked and pouted the rest of the day. I’m so glad you made this cake again because it looks delicious!! And ditto on the fondant. The texture and taste is just so…I don’t know…odd.

  • It would be just my luck to drop a cake. Perhaps you’ve done it for the rest of us, now all of our cakes will make it safely from counter to table.
    This recipe sounds pretty darn incredible. I’m glad you baked another. 🙂

  • flourtrader

    We all have our triumphs and failures in the kitchen, but in this instance the cake was very much worth making again.  Cinnamon syrup on a cake sounds wonderful.

  • Ha! I love it! This would totally happen to me (and it has…) Impressed you went for round two. Oh, and this looks REALLY good.

  • Ann

    Wow – that looks amazing!  Unfortunately, I’m allergic to cinnamon, so I can only admire (longingly) from afar… sorry it was dropped! Buzzed it!

  • OOOOOO no! Don’t be too hard on yourself… it’s happens to all of us! 

  • Holy Schmoly… this looks good!

  • Oh girl!  You are definitely not the only one who’s ever done this – i know I’m super clumsy in the kitchen on certain days!  So glad you kept at it and made this, because it looks utterly delicious =)

  • Kate@Diethood.com

    Oh nooo! I bet that has happened to all of us. The cake sounds sooo good. I looove that syrup! 

  • I think this cake is simple and pretty.  Perfect actually.  And as for the rest of your post…it’s like you were talking directly at me!  :- 0

  • Alyssa

    I have a substitution question. 🙂 Do you think I’d be able to substitute some (or all) of the butter with olive oil?

    • Hi Alyssa, You can absolutely substitute olive oil for butter in this recipe! At the risk of getting overly technical, olive oil, as opposed to, say, veggie oil, actually contains natural emulsifiers that contribute to a moist, tender crumb. So go for it. And I personally absolutely love the consistency of an oil-based cake. That said, I would go with a light, extra virgin olive oil that has a fruitier taste, such as a California EVOO. Hope this helps!

  • Allthatsleftarethecrumbs

    I agree that it looks like a beautiful beehive.  Sorry that you dropped your cake.  I have certainly had my share of kitchen disasters, including dropping various baked goods.

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  • Briarrose

    This cake looks amazing….I must make this.  The syrup is the perfect touch.  I’m so glad you made a second one so we could see it’s glory.  🙂  Having dropped so many things on the floor myself….I’m crezzy clumsy….I can sympathize. 

  • Anonymous

    wow. im so glad you persisted with this cake cos it looks goddam gooooood. Definitely want to try it out sometime, anything spiked with cinnamon and syrup drenched is bound to be a winner! As a side note I too once dropped a cake on the floor, heartbreaking moment, i feel your pain!

  • Carissa

    Beautiful cake! And the flavours go so well together. It was worth it!

  • Joan

    Cake looks wonderful and I can’t wait to try it.  I too have have my failures in the kitchen due to my rushing, clumsiness or whatever that day. My most memorable failure people know about, (lots that are just between me and the four walls of my kitchen) is forgetting to remove top rack in oven when I was baking 10 round loaves of date nut bread in round tins and forgot to move the top rack.  When the timer went off, I had ten loaves intertwined with the top rack!!   Had to re bake and clean the mess! Now I can laugh about it!

  • Anonymous

    Great story and drool worthy photos!! 

  • Meister @ The Nervous Cook

    We’ve all been there! My floor has enjoyed several delicious homemade treats without me over the course of my cooking career, for sure. Oh well — you’re totally right: All you can do is pick it up (both literally and figuratively) and start again. 

    Lovely, and I’m sure delicious the second time ’round.

  • Schloe

    ARe there really no eggs in this recipe? I’ve got the batter in pans… mmmmm…