Continuing our birthday cake series this is a simple idea that will take any birthday cake (even boxed!) from everyday to special in a few quick steps. The inside out, tomboy cake will fit into just about any celebration. It makes a graphic (no frill) statement and is very easy to put together.

An easy tip to fill a decorating bag without a lot of hassle: place the decorating bag inside a long drinking glass or measuring cup to hold it place while you load it with frosting.

To assemble the birthday cake easily; Remove the domes from the tops of the cooled cakes. For the larger cakes, mark them halfway down the side with toothpicks inserted and spaced about 2 inches apart, going all around the cake. Use the toothpicks as a guide to cut horizontally into the cake, cutting with a long, serrated knife and using a gentle sawing motion. Separate the layers and set aside until ready to frost.

Place one layer down on a cake plate or stand. Spread frosting on this layer with an offset spatula for a simple, rustic look. If desired, use a decorating bag and a decorating tip (we used a wide closed star tip) and frost around the outer part of the cake first, making sure to stay about an inch off the edges (as you don’t want the frosting to spill over the edges when the cake is stacked). Then frost the inner part as you would normally. Place a second layer of cake on top of the first; apply frosting. Repeat with other layers. For the fifth, and top, layer, you may leave it unfrosted. Or frost as you would the other layers.

Read on for the full inside out (tomboy) chocolate cake recipe.

Ingredients; 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, 1/2 cup water, 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened, 1-1/2 cups sugar, 4 large eggs, separated (yolks should measure about 1/4 cup, whites about 1/2 cup), 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup buttermilk.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour three 6×3 cake pans (or, use one pan and bake cakes one after the other).

Combine the chocolate and water in a small saucepan and set over very low heat. Cook, stirring vigorously as the chocolate begins to melt, until the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, and sift them together onto a large piece of waxed paper. Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth and well blended. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and the cooled chocolate mixture and beat until blended. Add the sifted dry ingredients in three parts alternately with the buttermilk, beating after each addition until the batter is smooth. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they are stiff but moist. Gently stir one third of the beaten whites into the batter. Add the remaining whites and fold them in.

Divide the batter among the three pans. For two of the pans, fill at least half way. The batter for the last pan will fill about 1/4 of the pan. Bake for about 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a cake comes out clean. Note: the third pan will bake for less time, check for doneness sooner, about 30-35 minutes.

Remove pans from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes, then turn out cakes onto racks to finish cooling completely.

Whipped Cream Frosting; 2 cups heavy cream, chilled, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/2 cup sugar.

Pour the cream, vanilla, and sugar into a deep bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer attached with the balloon whisk. Whip the cream until soft peaks form, about 10 minutes. It must be stiff enough to spread. Use immediately. If frosting begins to soften, place the bowl in the freezer for a few minutes, then whip again until soft peaks form.

Photography and styling by Athena Plichta under the creative direction of Victoria Hudgins.