Here's the classic I chose for my late August birthday this year: a fluffy golden yellow cake topped with a crowning glory of rich, stick-to-your teeth fudge frosting. The contrast of light cake and thick frosting is simply beyond compare—a taste and texture combination which is guaranteed to take you back to the glee of the birthday parties of yesteryear, if only for a few bites.
'birthday cake' on Serious Eats
This is adapted from the recipe featured on the back of Joy Ice Cream Cone boxes. Joy sells a special baking and storage pan that fits the cones perfectly, but I've found that a popover pan works perfectly. (And a regular cupcake pan should work, too—you may need to use aluminum foil to stuff the pan so the cones don't shift too much in the oven.)
I've made a lot of fancy flavored birthday cakes for other people, but when my birthday rolls around, I prefer the same old-school, yellow cake that I remember my mom making for me. Hers was made from a boxed mix, but my version is homemade. This cake tastes how good yellow cake should; buttery, light, and moist. I use a soaker of simple syrup with real vanilla bean to ensure that the layers pack extra moisture and flavor.