Traditional Danish Layer Cake has creamy vanilla pudding and raspberry jam layered between homemade yellow cake. The whole thing is smothered in luscious buttercream frosting!

When I was growing up, I loved it when my mom made me Danish Layer Cake for my birthday.

Her side of the family is from a town called Racine, Wisconsin (home to Danish Bakery legend O&H), so Danish Layer Cakes were part of the fabric of her childhood.

She made things easy by starting with a boxed mix, but I’m returning this cake to it’s full glory with full-on from-scratch status.

Traditional Danish Layer Cake on a marble cake stand with a slice being lifted out.

Pin Now To Save!PIN IT

How to Make a Danish Layer Cake

Start by making a yellow cake batter and divide it between two (2) 8-inch round cake pans. You can use 9-inch pans but it won’t work as well. If you don’t believe me, just email me and I’ll send you photographic evidence.

When they are cool, you slice each lengthwise. You’ll have 4 layers of cake.

Then, you assemble in this order:

  • Cake
  • Pastry cream / pudding
  • Cake
  • Jam
  • Cake
  • Pastry cream / pudding
  • Cake

Traditional Danish Layer Cake on a marble cake stand with a slice on a blue plate with a fork.

Top the whole cake with luscious buttercream frosting. My mom used to use Cool Whip, but you just can’t compete with classic buttercream!

I’d love to say I’ll save you a slice. But I’d be lying.

Traditional Danish Layer Cake on a marble cake stand.

Traditional Danish Layer Cake on a marble cake stand with a slice being lifted out.

Danish Layer Cake Recipe (Dansk Lagekage)

This recipe has been updated to feature homemade pastry cream instead of instant vanilla pudding. Please see the recipe notes to substitute instant vanilla pudding (or cake mix or cool whip instead of buttercream frosting).
4.8 from 20 votes
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr
Servings 10 servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Danish
Calories 856

Ingredients 

For the pastry cream:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the yellow cake:

  • 1/2 cup whole milk at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter cut into tablespoons and softened (2 sticks)

For the buttercream frosting:

  • 1 cup butter softened (2 sticks)
  • 4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Pinch Salt optional

To assemble the cake:

  • 1 small jar seedless raspberry jam see notes
  • Fresh raspberries for garnish optional

Instructions 

To make the pastry cream:

  • In a medium non-aluminum saucepan over medium heat, warm milk until tiny bubbles appear on the surface, about 6 to 8 minutes (about 180 degrees Fahrenheit/82 degrees Celsius).
  • Meanwhile, In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar. Whisk in cornstarch and salt.
  • While whisking constantly, pour in half of the hot milk. Whisk in remaining hot milk and return to saucepan.
  • Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens to a firm consistency, about 5 to 8 minutes. Whisk in vanilla. Scrape in to a bowl.
  • Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on to the surface of the pastry cream. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 to 3 hours.

To make the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 (8-inch) round cake pans, then line parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer fit with the whisk attachment, beat together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. 
  • With the mixer on medium-low speed, beat the butter in to the flour mixture one piece at a time. Continue beating until the mixture resembles moist crumbs, 1 to 3 minutes total.
  • Add the milk mixture to the mixer and beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 3 minutes longer. Stir by hand with a rubber spatula to make sure the batter is fully combined.
  • Divide the batter evenly between both pans, gently tapping the pans on the counter to settle the batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry with a few crumbs attached, 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through baking time.
  • Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a small sharp knife around the inside of each pan to loosen, then flip the cakes on to a wire rack. Peel off the parchment paper, then flip the cakes right side up to cool completely, about 2 hours.

To make the frosting:

  • In a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, cream butter until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Reduce mixer speed to low. Add 4 cups powdered sugar, cream, vanilla, and salt (if using). Continue mixing 2 to 3 minutes longer. If the frosting seems too soft, add the remaining powdered sugar 2 tablespoons at a time.
  • Cover and refrigerate the frosting until assembling the cake, up to 1 week in advance.

To assemble the cake:

  • Cut each cooled cake in half lengthwise so there are four layers of cake total.
  • Arrange one cake layer on a serving platter. Top with half the pastry cream and a second cake layer. Top with raspberry jam followed by a third cake layer. Spread the remaining pastry cream and top with a final cake layer. 
  • Frost the cake with buttercream and garnish with fresh raspberries if desired. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Notes

  1. Sometimes seedless jam is hard to find. I found this brand at my local Target ($3.49 each). Raspberry jam with seeds in it may be substituted for the seedless jam.
  2. 1 yellow boxed cake mix, prepared according to package directions, may be substituted for the homemade yellow cake.
  3. 1 (16 ounce) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed, may be substituted for the buttercream frosting (that's how my mom always makes it). The traditional frosting for Danish Layer Cake is actually whipped cream.
  4. One (3.4 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding made with 2 cups cold milk (ignore package directions and use 2 cups cold milk) can be substituted for the pastry cream. While the cakes are baking and cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together pudding mix and milk. Chill at least 10 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 856kcal
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @CulinaryHill or tag #CulinaryHill!

Culinary School Secrets
Pro-level tricks to transform your cooking!

Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. My birthday is in a couple weeks and I just learned my mom (from Racine originally) ordered a DLC from O& H to be  shipped here to St Louis for our birthday dinner!  Can’t wait!

    1. I just made this cake for my and my son’s birthday. Everything turned out delicious! I had never made it before, but followed all your instructions and was so happy with how it all turned out. The only thing I can criticize is that I personally think this cake doesn’t need the buttercream icing. To me it pushes the sweetness too far. After the fact, I realized that buttercream is not the traditional icing for this cake? I wish the recipe had followed the traditional icing because I think that would have been better balanced. When I make it again, I will use that instead. Your buttercream recipe was great – just too sweet for this cake in my opinion (that’s the only reason I’m giving 4/5 stars).4 stars

  2. Yes I saw! That’s awesome. Who knows…maybe I know them lol. Baked the cake just now (need to assemble, but I’m sure it’ll be lovely) and used your recipe and it turned out great. Sad I can’t eat it (I’ll have to make it again for me.).5 stars

  3. So funny thing. I am completely obsessed with Danish Layer Cake, but haven’t really made it in years and wanted to do it right. I came upon your recipe because I was looking for what type of cake (yellow) is typically used because I wasn’t sure if I’d forgotten. Of course, I started reading your post first…so I have to comment…I’m from Racine, Wisconsin (displaced by military life…Air Force husband) and O&H is the BEST (I literally just got a holiday catalog from them and was drooling over all the things I hope someone sends me for Christmas this year.). Perhaps this is why I love Danish Layer Cake so much.

    Anyway, I thought that was awesome. I’m planning to bake a quick cake for a baked goods fundraiser at church tomorrow and Danish Layer Cake was the best thing that came to mind :) I’m making mine with seedless strawberry jam and fresh strawberries (because that’s what I had in my cabinet) and buttercream from our grocery store bakery (because I had to cheat a little bit lol).

    1. Hi Alyssa! This is fantastic! I can’t remember if I put this in my post or not (and clearly I’m too lazy to look) but my grandma is from Racine originally and so is my husband’s family (they still live there). So I hang out in Racine periodically, and obviously I always go to O&H Bakery! It’s the best! I’m so excited that you found the recipe and that it sounds good to you. Everyone at church is going to be excited, I have no doubt. Strawberry jam sounds fantastic too… thank you so much for the lovely, thoughtful comment! Thank you so much. Made my day.

  4. There is nothing better than a Danish Layer Cake from O & H! They make the best frosting–not that greasy sweet stuff most bakeries use. Please, please don’t tell your readers that subbing instant pudding and cool whip will result in a Danish layer cake–Yikes! It has to be be homemade buttercream, at the very least. eVen if you’re not a baker, make the frosting. It is the perfect birthday cake!

    1. Hi Ellen, I wish I could tell people how to bake, ha ha! I only have that in there because that’s how my family makes it, and if they ever visit my blog for the recipe, I want them to know how to proceed. It’s not authentic that way, but I know my family. Nothing I can say would make certain people make real frosting. I am a culinary school student myself and I know shortcuts are not the way to the best food, but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! Thanks.

    2. We actually never use buttercream in Danish layer cakes. Usually we use a combination of pastry cream and unsweetened whipped cream + some fresh fruit. And then we decorate with whipped cream, fruit and chocolate. Most importantly, the ratios are different than American layer cakes. The cake layers are thin and the fillings are piled high :)

  5. Few days to late for my birthday :-( but keeping it for next year. Promising ingredients ! Great photos ! Thank you so much !4 stars

  6. It tastes even better if you bake your own cake layers instead of using a mix and then whip your own cream to go on top! Decorate with strawberries (we use strawberry jam in the layers instead of raspberry) or chocolate shavings on top and it is wonderful! At least that how we always make it in Denmark ;)5 stars

    1. Malene, this is actually REALLY great feedback for me! My mom always called it Danish Layer Cake but I wondered if anyone in Denmark actually made it… or if it was just vaguely similar that we Americans ruined along the way. :) Which actually we kind of did with the cake mix and the cool whip, but now I know better. So, I can’t wait to try your version (completely from scratch and with strawberry jam). Thank you so much for this insight into the real deal!

  7. This is not the comment you might be expecting but you are the only person I know of that shares a birthday with a brother, 2 years apart, besides my little brother & I. We looked like twins, have an identical birthmark, & nearly identical birth times except I was born in the morning, he was born in the late afternoon. Sorry, just had to say something. Personally, think it is more fun being a “not twin” as we call ourselves.

    1. Laura, I LOVE THIS STORY! I am so excited to hear it, because I’ve never heard of anyone else who had the same situation as me! And it is totally awesome. I remember when I was little, in elementary school and stuff, it was soooooo cool when they announced our birthdays were on the same day! Or at least I thought it was cool. :) And we had the most EPIC birthday parties – joint sleepovers, so 10 boys and 10 girls in the same house (boys playing basketball in the living room, girls playing dress-up upstairs). It was just so fun. And now that I’ve gone through the whole trying-to-conceive/getting pregnant/having a baby situation myself, I realize how uncanny the timing is. My brother and I don’t look like twins, but it’s awesome that you and your brother do. :) Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  8. Hope you had a great birthday, Meggan! You definitely celebrated in style with this gorgeous cake. I love layer cakes that aren’t too fancy. it’s just too scary if I feel like everything has to be perfect. This seems like a cake that an ordinary person i.e. me can make and it’ll look and taste great. 

    Never heard of this cake but I love it! 5 stars

  9. You know, growing up in Argentina, this cake was a staple but I didn’t have a name for it (I remember it with the 7-minute frosting as we didn’t have Cool Whipe there). Now I’m gonna have to make it. Thanks for the memory! Happy birthday!5 stars

    1. That’s crazy! Who would have thought that this cake would have been in Argentina, but hey why not! People love good cakes everywhere. :D I am sure it is much better with 7-minute frosting which is so light and not too sweet – just perfect here! Thanks for sharing your story and for the birthday wishes. Much appreciated!