How to make your own Kansas Day cake

A Kansas Day cake.

When working on a separate story about Kansas Day, I ran across this website, which asked Kansans to bake a cake for their state’s 150th birthday. I happily accepted this challenge, adding it to a long list of goodies I’ve brought into my coworkers at the Journal-World.

I knew I wanted a tasty cake recipe I’d tested before, so I went with Smitten Kitchen’s yellow cake, my go-to recipe. For the frosting, I went away from what I normally do and went for a chocolate frosting from Smitten Kitchen. (I know, I know, everyone is supposed to love chocolate. I don’t eat it that often.) This frosting definitely changed my life — at least in terms of baking. You make it in a food processor! So easy.

For the decoration, I made up a plain recipe of vanilla frosting from and dyed it yellow for my petals. I bought black chocolate-covered sunflower seeds at Michael’s, which has a whole variety of colors. I made those the center of my sunflower and also threw a few in between layers of the cake. I piped some petals on the top, and voila! A Kansas Day cake.

Watch the video for a quick visual on how to make this cake. The recipes follow below. To see cakes others have made and other Kansas Day photos, visit the state’s Kansas Day Flickr group.

Yellow Layer Cake from Smitten Kitchen

Makes two 9-inch cakes.

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, at room temperature

2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or spray two 9-inch round cake pans. Cut parchment paper to fit the pans, then butter/spray those too.

Sift together your dry ingredients (cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) in medium bowl, set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time, incorporating each fully before adding the next. At low speed, beat in buttermilk. Don’t worry if it looks curdled — that’s how it’s supposed to look. Add the dry mix slowly until incorporated.

Split batter evenly between both pans. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and cool completely.

Instant Fudge Frosting from Smitten Kitchen

Adapted from a Sky High recipe

Makes about 5 cups

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)

3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 tablespoons half-and-half or whole milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Put all ingredients except melted chocolate in food processor. Pulse to mix, then process completely. Add in chocolate and process again until mixed.

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting from

3 sticks butter, softened

4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

(Yellow food coloring for this recipe)

Beat butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating to fully incorporate between each addition. You can also speed up the mixer between additions to make it really fluffy. After all is added, beat in vanilla and food coloring.

To assemble cake

Additional ingredient: black chocolate-covered sunflower seeds

Frost top of first layer of cake with chocolate frosting. Sprinkle chocolate-covered sunflower seeds on top of frosting. Place second layer on top of cake. Frost whole cake with chocolate frosting. Place chocolate-covered sunflower seeds in center to make center of flower. Use yellow icing in piping bag to pipe and fill petals.