'Older Than Dirt' Birthday Cake

Intensive Cake Unit
by Intensive Cake Unit
1 Cake
50 min

I love snarky birthday cakes SO much! This one’s up there with my ‘Holy Crap You’re Old’ TP Cake and Crap-cakes. 😉 This one’s a bit more colorful – to be honest, much less work – and just as fun! I bought my cake topper on Amazon, but you can find similar ones several places online. (If you’d like a link to the one I bought you can find it here → intensivecakeunit.com/older-than-dirt-cake/)

Dirt cakes are some of my favorites to decorate – there’s nothing messier than dirt, so you can’t go wrong decorating! Plus really – what beats chocolate and Oreos and ganache for a birthday cake? Instructions and all my supply links are below! (available in my original post since they won’t all carry over to foodtalk!)

'Older Than Dirt' Birthday Cake
Recipe details
  • 1  Cake
  • Prep time: 20 Minutes Cook time: 30 Minutes Total time: 50 min
Show Nutrition Info
Hide Nutrition Info
  • (I borrowed, doubled, and slightly modified a cupcake recipe from @thescranline for this one, and it's *amazing.* Also a tad less labor-intensive than my prior favorite. Score! Check out Nick's site and his Instagram feed if you haven't already; he does some incredible work!)
  • 350g all purpose flour (roughly 2 ¼ c)
  • 450g caster sugar (roughly 2 ¼ c)
  • 100g cocoa powder (roughly 1 ¼ c)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt 1 c /250g /16 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 350ml buttermilk (about 1 ½ ; buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
  • 2 t vanilla extract
Frosting / Decorations
  • 8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
  • 16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
  • 5 ½ -6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 4-6 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
  • - 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles)
  • - Large piping bag & tip – I use this set of reusable large bags & tips more than almost any of my others!
  • - Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)
  • - Small offset spatula
  • - About 1 cup of chopped chocolate – I used Dove milk & dark chocolate
  • - 15-20 chopped Dark Chocolate Oreos – regular Oreos would work; I just thought these fit the dirt theme better!
  • - 12 oz semisweet chocolate + 12oz whipping cream, melted together
  • - Gummy worms – I used a mix of Black Forest, Trolli, and Haribo twin snakes!
  • - ‘Older than Dirt’ Cake topper – I found one topper on Amazon that I liked, but I also love this one from Swankerie’s Etsy shop ! (Mine was black and 5” across)
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180C) or 320 FC (160C) for a convection oven. Grease 3 8-inch cake pans with baker's floured spray and/or line pans with parchment paper. 
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (or sift the ingredients together). Add in the softened butter until it’s well incorporated into the dry ingredients and no lumps of butter are visible. 
Next, add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla together and whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds.
Fill the three pans evenly - I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part, and each of mine weighed out to about 550g. Bake for 30-35 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans, and cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
(Especially if you’re short on time, there’s zero shame in falling back on boxed cake mixes! I usually use two mixes for 3 8-inch cake layers – to get a richer cake flavor I replace the oil with unsalted butter, the water with buttermilk(or buttermilk powder with water) and I add an extra two eggs!)
Frosting / Decorations
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with cocoa powder and milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt if needed and beat until well combined.
Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting, and use your small offset spatula to press in slightly to the center and create a bit of a ‘rim’ around the outside of the cake. Sprinkle the frosting with chopped chocolate, Oreo pieces, and a drizzle of chocolate ganache if you’d like (recipe below) and add your next layer on top. Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.
Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer. I usually do this with my large offset spatula. Firmly set your crumb coat – at least 10 minutes in the freezer. I’ll be honest – I accidentally left mine for almost an hour because I got wrapped up in another project! It won’t hurt anything unless you’re planning to serve it soon. Once your crumb coat has set, add your final layer of frosting and texture – I used a small offset spatula followed by a bench scraper for this part; it added an irregular mud-like texture to the cake sides that I liked. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge to set the frosting.
Meanwhile, make your ganache. Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Place whipping cream in a small saucepan and bring almost to a boil over medium/low heat. Pour over chocolate chips and let rest for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth and silky.
(If desired, this can also be done in the microwave – combine ingredients and microwave on half power in 30-second intervals, stirring in between until smooth).
When your ganache has cooled to a moderate temperature – it should feel slightly warm and still be fairly liquid – transfer it to a squeeze bottle or piping or small ziplock bag. A spoon will work if you don’t have either of those; I’ve just found spoons to be a little bit more difficult to work with.
Slowly drizzle ganache around the upper edge of your cake, pausing every inch or so to let more fall in a drip down the side of the cake. I left a few breaks in the drip to make room to add some gummy worms to the sides. Return cake to the fridge or freezer to set the drips.
Top your cake with your cake topper! Transfer some frosting to your piping bag – I used the large star tip – and add on as many frosting swirls, chocolate pieces, chopped Oreos, and gummy worms as you’d like!
  • Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Pinterest or on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!
Intensive Cake Unit
Want more details about this and other recipes? Check out more here!
  • This is hilarious! Have made my share of cakes along the same lines. We have a birthday coming up in our group and this would be perfect. And they all love chocolate so a win in my book. Thanks for sharing and a few good giggles!