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Christina Tosi's Pancake Layer Cake


Chef notes

This breakfast-inspired cake looks and tastes like a tall stack of pancakes. Fluffy buttermilk cake layers and sweet maple frosting pack all the flavors of the morning favorite into an impressive dessert.


  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown butter
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • maple frosting, homemade or store-bought
  • maple syrup, for drizzling
  • maple cookie or cereal crumbs, for topping



Preheat the oven to 350 F.


Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.


Stream in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla while the paddle swirls on low speed. Increase the speed to medium-high and paddle 5 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your originally fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture and completely homogenous. You're basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn't want to make room for it, so if it doesn't look right after 6 minutes, keep mixing. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.


On very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix on low speed for another 45 seconds to ensure that any little lumps of cake flour are incorporated.


Spray a quarter sheet pan with nonstick baking spray and line it with parchment, or just line the pan with a silicone mat. Using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. At 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn't pass these tests.


Take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer (don't worry, it's not cheating). The cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.

To assemble:

Leave in the pan to make a sheet cake or make a layer cake by stamping out 2 circles from the cake with a cake ring and using the remaining "scrap" for the bottom layer.

Make it your own by topping with your favorite homemade or store-bought maple frosting, drizzle of maple syrup and maple cookie or cereal crumbs.