Danish Layer Cake (Dansk Lagekage)

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

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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
  • Pudding
  • Cake
  • Jam
  • Cake
  • Pudding
  • Cake
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!

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

4.82 from 11 votes

Danish Layer Cake Recipe

Authentic Danish Layer Cake has vanilla pudding and raspberry jam layered between soft yellow cake and is topped with lots of luscious buttercream frosting!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Danish
Keyword cake, raspberry
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 10 servings
Calories 845kcal

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 sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter cut into tablespoons and softened (2 sticks)

For the pudding:

  • 1 (3.4 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups cold milk

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

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 pudding:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together pudding mix and milk. Chill at least 10 minutes.

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 pudding and a second cake layer. Top with raspberry jam followed by a third cake layer. Spread the remaining pudding and top with a final cake layer. 
  • Frost the cake with buttercream and garnish with fresh raspberries if desired. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Recipe 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).

Nutrition

Calories: 845kcal

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  1. c.

    You’ll make the cake from scratch, but not the pudding? Homemade pastry cream is divine, and you already have the necessary ingredients for it in your pantry.

    1. meggan

      Now that we have pastry cream on the blog, this is an obvious change I need to make to the recipe! I forgot about it. Thank you for letting me know, we’ll get it all fixed up! You’re absolutely right. This should be pastry cream instead of boxed pudding. Thanks! -Meggan

  2. Cheryl

    I am so happy I came across this recipe. Growing up in Door County WI we would visit my Aunt and Uncle in Kenosha every June to celebrate my cousin’s birthday and my Aunt would always get this amazing cake from a local bakery. This was the best cake I ever had my Aunt and Uncle have both passed away and I was just thinking about the good times and all the good memories I have of them. Then I remembered the cake I started searching the internet and Pinterest and I found your Recipe. My day was made, I don’t comment on recipes but I just had to. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe I will definitely be making this and saving the recipe.

  3. Dana

    I just made this for my son’s birthday and it tastes fantastic! I wasn’t sure how it would be with pudding since O&H uses custard and more layers. I cheat on the cake a little. I start with a mix and replace the water with milk, replace the oil with a doubled amount of melted butter, and add an extra egg. I frosted it with buttercream frosting I made. Thanks so much for putting this out here!5 stars

  4. Craig Kimball

    My Grandma would get these cakes every year from Racine and bring them for our birthdays. But, somehow, she had them add a layer of lemon filling as the top layer instead of 2 pudding layers. It is one of my favorite childhood memories.

  5. LoriS

    My cakes didn’t rise well.   Any thoughts? 

    1. Kayte

      I also had this problem the first time I made the recipe. The second time, I beat the batter twice as long (about 5-6 minutes) to incorporate more air and got a better rise. They took longer to bake than the recipe states, too.4 stars

    2. meggan

      Hi Kayte, I’m going to retest this since it sounds like it’s not quite right. I’m really sorry about that. Thanks for letting me know! -Meggan

  6. WOW! Thanks I grew up in your Mom’s neighborhood too! My Grandma would get a Danish Layer cake from O&H every Christmas and they have really great bakeries in the “Danish Village!” As a kid I lived a few blocks from the Piggly-Wiggly, Lane’s Pharmacy, Benson’s bakery and Nelson’s Dime Store. I’m sure she will be surprised to hear those names, though I think some are still there!

    I’m going to try this except with four cakes, and mixing jam next to custard like the real deal.

  7. Shelley Pfeiffer

     I live just south of racing in Kenosha .  My family is from Sweden originally ,  and this was birthday cake as I knew it .  Then it became every special occasion cake .  Mom ordered it from a bakery in Waukegan which is about 45 minutes south of racing into Illinois .  The difference was however she would have it made with strawberry preserves,  and whip cream frosting .  If seven minute frosting is the frosting I think it is that would probably be good too but for me it’s never the same without the whip cream frosting .  Thank you for the recipe I’m flying to the south for my birthday this weekend and having a hard time trying to find one .5 stars

  8. Jim

    I owe my life to Danish Layer cake at O & H! Growing up in Racine, this was a staple at every birthday. In fact it was usually just called “birthday cake”. I don’t recall ever having a birthday cake be anything other than Danish Layer. In the 50s and 60s my Grandmother worked at O & H on Durand Ave and my Dad would often go there after school from Horlick High. There was a pretty high school student from neighboring St. Catherine’s who also worked there part-time. Over time my Dad would just go there to see the pretty part-time worker. Soon they married and that’s how my Dad (Al) and Mom (Sue) met. Enjoying Danish Layer cake at O & H in Racine.
    So flash forward to 2019! and I wanted to impress my 18 yr old on her birthday and came across your recipe for Danish Layer. She has grown up cooking and baking and only bakes from scratch. I was a little nervous to not use a box cake mix, but everything turned out great! Thanks for recipe and the memories…. now if you could try your hand at making homemade Kringle….5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Wow, thanks for sharing Jim! What an amazing story- falling in love over danish layer cake! I love hearing stories like this from readers, it makes me continue to love what I do every day! I do have a post for kringle- please give it a try! It doesn’t disappoint! :D -Meggan

      https://www.culinaryhill.com/racine-danish-kringle/

  9. Mary

    My sister inlaw & I had attended a Danish Christmas bazaar. And had the opportunity to try Danish open face sandwiches and the Danish Layer cake with whipped cream. The food was absolutely delicious. This cake plan on making for Christmas dessert, Thank You for posting the recipe.

    1. meggan

      Hi Mary, can you tell me anything about the Danish open-face sandwiches? They sound so good! Thank you! I hope you like this cake recipe. -Meggan

  10. Best cake ever but I have trouble with the layers sliding !! What can I do ??

    1. meggan

      Hi Denise, I’m sorry you’re having trouble with that!! Here are some ideas. 1. Make sure the cake layers are completely cool. If they are still warm, the frosting might melt and make everything more slippery. 2. Trim the top off each layer so it’s completely flat. A long serrated knife works really well for that. 3. Make sure you are spreading the frosting evenly. This sounds obvious, but I figured I might as well point it out, just in case. I hope some of this helps you, and feel free to report back if your layers are sliding less! Good luck. Thanks Denise. -Meggan

  11. Kimberly Rivers

    What happened with the 9 inch pan??

  12. Ruth

    Hi can you send me  a picture of what happened with the 9 inch pan?

  13. Stephen

    My family is from Racine and Danish Layer is my absolute favorite. Funny thing is that all of the family recipe books say to make a sponge cake which didn’t make sense with the texture. Your recipe makes more sense. Thanks. I’ll have to try to recreate but I doubt the frosting will come out as delicious as O&H.5 stars

  14. Oh my goodness. I am from Racine, WI and now live in Oregon. We had this cake for every single birthday! Can’t wait to try your recipe! :) Thanks for sharing!

  15. Mary Lou

    Quick question, the pudding says 3.4 oz box. Did you mean that or 3/4 oz?

    Thanks! Making it now and unashamedly using shortcuts ;)

    1. Mary Lou

      I’ve answered my own question…lol Thanks anyway!

  16. Ellen

    Meggan–My mistake–It’s Sprinkle Bakes! http://www.sprinklebakes.com/2017/12/old-danish-christmas-kringle-dansk.html

    Good thing I printed it out! Happy baking!

  17. Nikki

    Everyone is from Racine lol! Me too! Came looking for Kringle recipe…(Need pecan recipe and prune recipe-asking for a friend haha). Now I am going to make this cake too. Someone is getting blamed for my weight gain….Merry Christmas everyone!

    1. Ellen

      Have a look at Sally’s Baking Addiction blog. She just put in a recipe for a nut kringle–used almond paste, pecans and maybe walnut? Not JUST like an O & H kringle, but might be worth a try.

    2. meggan

      Hi Ellen, where do you see it? I don’t see it on her site and I checked her Facebook page too… I did a search and found some older recipes for a blueberry and a raspberry kringle. No nut ones… if you happen to see it again and can share a link, I’d appreciate it! Thank you!

  18. Hi Meggan I’am so glad I found your site !! My family are all from or still living in Racine Wi. I have always gotten Danish layer cakes for parties all the way down to my grandkids !! O&H has been and always will be the #1 bakery !!! That’s why I was so excited to find your site !! You and your recipes are heaven sent !!! Would you happen to have some kringle recipes ?? Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving !!

    1. Ellen Trovillion

      Denise, Check Cooks Country or Cooks Illustrated for Kringle. They ran a recipe a couple years ago, mentioned O & H in their research.

    2. meggan

      Hi Denise! I literally just posted Kringle today. https://www.culinaryhill.com/racine-danish-kringle/
      This is my mother-in-law’s recipe and it’s SO GOOD. It’s an almond filling… if there is another filling you would love to see, please let me know! I will be in Racine in December so I’ll think of you then. :D Thank you so much for your comment and Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

  19. Kim OHaver

    I grew up in Racine WI and this cake is one of the things I really miss. This too was my favorite birthday cake and I have looked high and low and have found similar but never anything really close until now.

    Can’t wait to make this for friend in TN where I live now. Thanks for the recipe

  20. Ellen

    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!

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