Layers of fluffy butter cake with swirls of cinnamon roll filling sandwich creamy cinnamon buttercream and crunch candied pecans. It’s slathered in vanilla and cinnamon cream cheese frosting and topped with cinnamon rolls. The ultimate cinnamon roll cake.
Don’t have time to bake today? Pin it for later!
Today is my birthday! Hurray me! I didn’t make this cake for my birthday, but I thought today would be the best day to share it. I mean, look at it. Just look. How can you possibly resist this cake?
I’ll be completely honest with you. Birthdays….. my birthdays… have not been my favorite. Especially those leading up to my 30’s. I always felt embarrassed by turning another year older because I felt I wasn’t living the life I was supposed to be living.
I thought that by my age I should be married and have another child and have and be doing so many things that I don’t now.
Honestly, I felt like my birthday was just a reminder of how much I was failing at life. There have been times I would shut myself away from the world and pretend like it wasn’t happening.
Even this year I told people that I was canceling my birthday indefinitely due to unforeseen circumstances. Last night I was feeling so grouchy about things in my personal life and feeling so frustrated and helpless about them.
What an awful lead up to my birthday, I thought.
But then this morning… something changed for me. Maybe it is getting a year older despite my attempt to cancel it.
I realized that all this day represents is the fact that I was able to survive another 12 months on this planet without totally messing everything up. Just because I am not living the life that society has always told me I should be living.
Just because I am not living on my own… or married… or making X amount of money, doesn’t mean that I am not doing well in life overall.
Somehow I’ve managed to raise a very smart and empathetic little girl. I am running my own small business, and while I may not be as successful as some others, I know with everything in me that it will happen.
I have friends and family who love me and even though I may grump about them, they mean the world to me and I am so grateful for them. Through what I do here, I’ve been able to have some really great experiences and meet some truly amazing, talented, and inspiring people who believe in me and push me to be the best version of me possible.
The tagline of this blog is to “live life sweetly,” and I intend to embrace that more fully this year.
To spread more happiness and more smiles and more confidence to those around me. Whether it be through a tasty treat, or a kind smile to a stranger or a free ear and open shoulder for someone who needs it. I am going to do my best to bring more of that sweetness back into the world.
And I hope you will do the same with me.
Maybe we can start off by sharing a slice of this cinnamon roll cake with someone. I’ll be honest, I didn’t make the cinnamon rolls on top of the cake.
It was the first thing I baked in the new kitchen and I was spent working on the house to remember to whip up some dough for cinnamon rolls to put on the cake.
And let’s be honest. If we are making a cinnamon roll cake from scratch, I think we deserve the occasional moment to rely on something we got at the store.
If you want to make some cinnamon rolls to go with it, more power to you! An even smarter thing would be to use any leftover rolls you have from earlier that morning or stored in the freezer. Either way, this cinnamon roll cake will be amazing!
Want to bake this cinnamon roll cake another time? Pin for later!
For the Cake Swirl
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
For the Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cake flour*
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Candied Pecans
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups pecans, chopped
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 8oz packages block full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
- 7 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 - 3 tablespoons heavy cream, if needed
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
For the Drip
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 - 3 teaspoons water, or more as needed
- Grease and flour three 6-inch baking pans. (I also cut out parchment rounds for the bottoms of the pans). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Start with the swirl. Mix together the ingredients until fully combined and set aside. The mixture will be very thick and crumbly. This is normal.
- Make the cake batter. Add the flours, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and mix until combined. Set aside.
- Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. About 5 minutes.
- Add in the eggs one at a time. Beat the mixture after you add each egg for about a minute before adding the next egg. Once all the eggs are added, beat the mixture for another 3 - 4 minutes.
- Mix the milk and vanilla together in a small cup.
- Add 1/3 of the flour to the mixer and mix until just combined.
- Mix in half the milk mixture until just combined.
- Add half of the remaining flour mixture to the batter and mix until just combined, then add the remaining milk, mixing until that is just combined as well.
- Add in the remaining flour and mix by hand until just combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
- Evenly divide the batter among the cake pans (if you want to get very particular, you can weigh how much batter you add to each pan.) Do not use all of the cake batter. Save about 1/2 cup of the batter. We will use this to top the swirl we add to the batter.
- Top the batter with the swirl mixture. Top the swirl with the remaining batter. It is okay if the batter will not cover all the swirl mixture.
- Bake on the middle rack for about 25 - 30 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out with just a few crumbs sticking to it. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 15 - 20 minutes before removing the cake from the pans and allowing to cool on wire racks completely.
- Wrap the cooled cakes in plastic wrap and store in the freezer until ready to assemble (this makes it easier to frost).
- Make the candied pecans. Add the ingredients to a small skillet and heat until the butter is melted and the pecans begin to toast. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Be very careful as the pecans can go from nicely toasted to burnt very quickly. Set aside to cool.
- Make the frosting. Beat room temperature butter and cream cheese in a mixer (it is very important that the cream cheese is fully room temperature. I leave mine out for hours before using) until smooth and creamy.
- Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing well between each addition.
- Beat in the vanilla and salt. If your frosting is thick, add heavy cream one tablespoon at a time as needed to get a smooth consistency. If your cream cheese is fully room temperature, you should not need heavy cream. The frosting should be a little thick and not too soft. If it is too soft, the drizzle will not stick to it.
- Separate about 1 1/2 - 2 cups of the frosting into a separate bowl. Mix in the ground cinnamon.
- Remove your cakes and level the tops as needed. Top one of the cakes with the frosting with the cinnamon. Top with some of the candied pecans.
- Top with another cake layer and add more of the cinnamon frosting (you want to have a few tablespoons left over) and candied pecans. Top with the last cake.
- Take the regular cream cheese frosting (without the cinnamon) and lightly frost the top and sides of the cake to create a crumb coat. Freeze the cake until the frosting is frozen. This makes it easier to finish frosting.
- Frost the cake with the regular frosting until it is smooth on the top and sides. Add random dollops of the cinnamon frosting on the sides of the cake and smooth out to create swirls of the cinnamon. Freeze as you make the drizzle (and cinnamon rolls if using).
- Make the drizzle by mixing together the powdered sugar and cinnamon together. Add the water one teaspoon at a time. It should be thick and ribbon when you take up a spoonful.
- Add the drizzle to the top of the cake (I like to add mine around the top and gently push it to the edge with a spoon and let the drizzles do its thing).
- Top with cinnamon rolls and any leftover candied pecans as desired.