A Cake Worthy of its own Celebration


A Cake Worthy of its own Celebration

It seems that when it comes to birthdays and cakes, most of us grown ups are like little kids too. So this year, I planned my husbands’ cake with a little help from my three young boys.

The night before, as I tucked them in bed, we talked about making an irresistible I-want-to-jump-into-that-cake kind of cake. It had to be something that could WOW him away and could also feel yummy and soft when they dipped his face in it (yep! that was their plan).

This talk led me, once again, to tell the boys stories about cakes from my childhood. Most of those cakes came from Sanborns’, a chain of stores that sells almost anything you can imagine: books, DVD’s, make-up, electronics, luggage, candies, the best ever chocolate covered raisins, marshmallows and toys. It also has great coffee-shop style restaurants with some of my favorite molletes and enchiladas. Not to forget its perfumeries and pharmacies. It is a serious knock out one-stop-shop. But most importantly, it was, and may still be, one of the most popular places to get a birthday cake.

One of the cakes that left me with a permanent impression went something like this: A couple layers of fluffy and moist vanilla cake, a foamy and soft meringue filling paired with old fashioned strawberry jam and pecans, the same soft meringue layered all over the top, some more pecans and whatever decorations you fancied.

That cake, by itself, made a party happen. It was a creation worthy of its own celebration.

The next morning, we rolled up our sleeves, and jumped in the kitchen ready to make it. The great thing, is that it turned out to be easy and fun for the boys.

First, you make a quick batter in the mixer with butter, sugar, egg yolks, flour, baking powder and a bit of milk. Pour this cake batter, and spread it, over 2 buttered ring form pans layered with a parchment paper base.

Cake with Meringue and Strawberry Jam 1

Rinse the mixer and make a large helping of soft and airy meringue. This just takes two ingredients and less than 5 minutes. Beat the egg whites until they make peaks that can hold their own shape, add sugar and beat one more minute.

Cake with Meringue and Strawberry Jam 2

Layer that soft meringue on top of the 2 pans that already have the uncooked cake batter. It is hard, really hard, not to eat that meringue as you are pouring it onto the pan.

Spread the meringue in whichever shape you want.

Cake with Meringue and Strawberry Jam 3

Chop some pecans and sprinkle them on top of the meringue layer.

Now, both pans, into the oven they go! Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

Cake with Meringue and Strawberry Jam 4

At this point, the cake is cooked yet moist and the meringue has developed a chewy top, and thick and soft interior.

Add strawberry jam, either homemade or store bought, on top of one of the cakes. You can also add diced strawberries or any kind of berries.

And happy birthday Papi!

A Cake Worthy of Its Own Celebration 8-thumb-510x342-748
Beware: All of these layers make a perfect combination once in your mouth and most people will ask for more than one helping. Though we celebrated my husband’s birthday last week, the cake was so good, that it is worthy of its own celebration.So we are making it again today.

Cake with Meringue and Strawberry Jam 6

Let’s eat!!!

NOTE: We based our take on a recipe from Carmen Titita, one of the leading ladies of the Mexican culinary scene, who herself adapted a recipe from Rosita Murillo from Veracruz, where this cake is just as popular as in Sanborns’. It seems absolutely fascinating to consider how recipes travel from families, to friends, to different countries and receive twists and spins along the way as they move through generations. This is our adapted version.

Birthday Cake with Meringue and Strawberry Jam

Pastel de Cumpleaños con Merengue y Mermelada de Fresa, Adapted from Carmen Titita, adapted from Rosita Murillo
12 to 14 slices
Pati Jinich
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: cake, Dessert, jam, Meringue, pecans, Recipe
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
One of the cakes that left me with a permanent impression went something like this: A couple layers of fluffy and moist vanilla cake, a foamy and soft meringue filling paired with old fashioned strawberry jam and pecans, the same soft meringue layered all over the top, some more pecans and whatever decorations you fancied. That cake, by itself, made a party happen. It was a creation worthy of its own celebration.


  • 2 1/2 sticks 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 10 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup strawberry jam

To Prepare

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter 2 round spring form pans (size from 9 1/2 to 11"). Place parchment paper on the bottom of each pan.
  • In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter at medium speed, until soft and creamy. Incorporate sugar and beat until well mixed. Add egg yolks, one by one, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour combined with the baking powder in batches, alternating with the milk. Pour half of this batter onto each pan.
  • Rinse the mixer. Beat the egg whites until the peaks can hold their own shape, but aren't stiff. Incorporate sugar, and beat until it is well mixed, for a minute or so. Pour this meringue on top of the cake batter on each pan, and gently smooth it out with a spatula. Sprinkle half of the chopped pecans on top of the meringue. Place the pans in the oven.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cake is cooked but moist and the meringue has developed a nice tanned crust. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
  • Remove one of the cakes from the pan, discarding the parchment paper, and place on a platter. Spoon the strawberry jam on top. Remove the other cake from the pan, discarding that parchment paper as well, and place on top of the first cake. Enjoy!

44 comments on “A Cake Worthy of its own Celebration

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  1. I just watched you make a strawberry cake and am looking for recipe. This recipe is not it but close. The one I want you put some sort of crisp round layers in it and you could hear the crisp when cut. Please lead me to that recipe. Thanks, mary

  2. Hola Paty. Me encanta tu programa. Soy Mexicana viviendo en Canada. Mi mami(qpd), me hacia este pastel para mi cumpleanios, es igual pero la cantidad de ingredients varia un poco. De todos modos sigue siendo mi pastel favorito. Saludos desde Canada.

  3. Hola Paty!!

    Crei que darias la receta del pastel (bizcocho) Sanborns, que me encanta!
    Pero cuando termino de leer… el tuyo se ve sensacional!
    Nos encanta ver tu pograma.
    Tienes una chispa muy linda.
    Bendiciones para ti y tu familia. Ojala un dia te pueda dar un abrazo.
    Saludos desde Cd. Juarez, Chih.

  4. Dear Pati,
    I watched one of your cooking programs today for a first time,I’m from Mexico, City, but I live in Anchorage, Alaska for more than 25 years. Today,during your program,My husband and I were tremendously delighted with you, your accent, and specially your wonderful recipes.After your show was over, I kept talking to my husband about the most, delicious cakes of my childhood, while living in Mexico City, I remember the Samborns stores,the cakes, the food, and the originals sangrias. But, nothing comes close to the cakes we used to order for birthdays and special occasions at the ” Panderias la Candelaria” the cakes were made with the following ingredients:Crema de chantilly, duraznos, mermelada de fresa, y nueces. un verdadero pastel! I told my husband about these famous cake in Mexico City! He bought a cake for me yesterday to celebrate my birthday, but I always dream about this cake. I love your show,I love your recipes,Thank god I found you! saludos desde Alaska!

    1. Gloria: Muchos saludos hasta Alaska! I hope to be able to get there one day. I will try to post more recipes for birthday cakes…

  5. Hola Pati, soy mexicana pero desde hace 10 años vivo en Toronto, Canadá. Esta semana por primera vez encontré tomatillos y chiles poblanos (en una tienda de chinos!). Buscando en internet una receta para hacerlos encontre tu página, ahorita estoy fascinada leyendo tu blog! Muero de ganas de probar todas tus recetas, especialmente el pastel de samborns! Ya revise en Amazon.ca y si tienen tu libro, me lo voy a regalar esta Navidad. Sobre tu programa de tv, sabes si lo trasmiten en Canadá? Me gustaría mucho verlo. Saludos.

    1. Gracias Adriana! En algunos lugares de Canada si lo transmiten, checa con tus estaciones locales. Que bueno que te gusta mi blog y mil gracias que pediste mi libro. Muy felices fiestas!

  6. This cake has made me wish I had the ingredients to make it right now! I feel that way about everything you make tho! Love watching you on tv when I can and love the website! Please don’t stop cooking or I will starve to death! 🙂

  7. Hola Pati…Me encanta tu programa.
    Mi mami qpd. hacia el bday cake pero las cantidades son completamente diferentes o sea mas pequenas. A mi me encanta este pastel, ella siempre me lo hacia el dia de mi cumpleanos ya que siempre ha sido mi favorito.

  8. Hi Pati can’t wait to make this i need to know if i can substitute unsalted margarine for the butter & soy or coconut milk for the milk to make this non-dairy? I know maybe the coconut milk might be to thick maybe i could thin out with a little water? I hope i hear from you soon would love to make this Thanx Aviva

    1. Hi Aviva, hm, let’s see. Yes substitute for margarine and yes substitute the milk: you are right coconut milk is too thick, either thin out or you could try almond milk instead?? That’d be yummy.

  9. When I was a kid I went to many Mexican weddings and birthday parties. The cakes all came from Tijuana. The texture and taste were different than one that would come from a bakery in the U.S.The texture was more course. Even the icing was different, maybe creamier or heavier. I always loved them and am trying to find a recipe. But I have had no luck. I was wondering if you have one?
    Thank you.

  10. Pati: no sabes el placer que me dio descubrir tu show en PBS, es un honor que una Mexicana como tu joven, nos de recetas authenticas de nuestro Mexico, tus historias personales con las que UNO se relaciona y recuerda con intense emocion, yo soy de Acapulco y Samborn,s era UNO de mis sitios favorites Los molletes le encantaban a mi Hijoy el pan dulce ni decir, y varias veces su pastel de cumpleanos era precisamente este, mi Hijoy y yo disfrutamos mucho tus recetas asi como las memorials que nos trae, gracias!!!! Y definitivamente vamps a tratar esta y today’s tus recetas!!!!!!

  11. This cake is so mouth watering,the flavors just come alive.This is one of my husband and myself favorites.So if you haven’t tried it you are missing out!

  12. Hello Twitter mom!!! 😀 with this post, which I cant wait to try,I realized that not only are you an awesome chef, but that you also posses awesome photograph skills!! Thanks for all the yummy posts that I enjoy reading and collecting, keep going, xo

    1. Hi Lorraine, I will soon post a Tres Leches Cake too. With the posts, you can print the recipe, but not the photos. If there is any that you want or like, let me know and I can send it to you by mail. You can also send me an email via the contact me link…

  13. Patricia,
    This sounds so delicious, but in our house we have one affirmed jam disliker! I was wondering what it would be like to substitute melted chocolate for the jam? Could be yummy, yes?

    1. Hi Debra! It sounds absolutely yummy. Yes! Let me know when you try it.. I would just add some berries of your liking on the side, to freshen it up…

  14. Pati se me escurre la baba leyendo tus relatos. Disfrute particularmente de este por tratarse del cumple de mi primo que tanto quiero. Me encanto ver su foto e imaginarme a los niños cocinandolo contigo! What a joy!
    Muero por intentar esta receta!
    Besos a todos!

    1. Gaby, Que gusto!! Ojala que la proxima celebracion la pasemos juntos. Mientras, espero que el pastel les guste a tus bebes… Besos!

  15. Pati, I have never tried a cake like this; but it has all the elements I ask for when preparing a birthday cake!. I will bake it soon (incluso si no hay ningun cumpleanos que celebrar pronto).
    Feliz aniversario a Mr. J.