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Cortadillos (or Mexican Pink Cake) is one of the most popular Mexican Sweet Breads.
Easy to identify with its pink frosting, colorful sprinkles, and perfect for any celebration.
This homemade cake is spongy and moist. At a Mexican bakery, you might see it referred to as pastel de niños, or kid’s cake. A sweet pastry that’s hard not to love.
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Large eggs (at room temperature)
- Vegetable oil or canola oil
- Vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Whole milk at room temperature
Listed above are the ingredients to make the cake.
We are using oil to keep the cake moist. Substitute for 1 1/2 cup room temperature butter, if you like.
Use whole milk or heavy whipping cream. I do not recommend using non-fat milk. The fat will keep the cake spongy.
- Confectioners sugar
- Butter (softened)
- Whole milk
- Vanilla extract
- Pink food coloring
- Candy sprinkles
For those of you who prefer a thinner frosting, use more milk. About 6 tablespoons of milk.
Candy sprinkles are a must to make the Mexican pink cake.
Some places make this cake in layers and add strawberry jam or dulce de leche in between. Here, we are only making one layer.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray oil on a 8″ x 11″ (for thicker cake).
- Set it aside until ready to use.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
Use a 9″ X 13″ pan for thin cake.
What does sifting flour do?
Sifting flour makes the cake light and fluffy. It helps get rid of any large bits that could make the cake dense or cause the center of the cake to sink in.
- In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla together.
- Add in the lemon and stir to combine.
- Little by little, add some flour, then some milk until everything is combined.
The trick to baking a light cake, don’t overmix. Overmixing will cause your cake to be dense and chewy. No one likes that.
Don’t skimp on the lemon zest. A little zest goes a long way!
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake.
Baking times can vary depending on altitude and weather.
After 20 minutes, check to see if the cake is ready. It can take up to 25 minutes to bake.
Let cool slightly. About 10 minutes. Then cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for up to 2 hours.
How to Make the Pink Frosting:
- In a large bowl, mix together the confectioner’s sugar, butter, milk and vanilla.
- Add the food coloring and stir until well combined.
- The frosting will turn pink.
Not into food coloring? Try using beet juice instead.
What flavor is pink frosting?
It’s creamy, rich, and buttery. Not strawberry or cherry in flavor. The pink comes from the food coloring which is flavorless.
- Cool completely before spreading the frosting on top.
- Frost the cake in the pan and add sprinkles.
You’ll ruin a smooth finish if you spread the frosting on a cake that’s still warm. You’ll end up with breakage and crumbs.
What is the difference between icing and frosting?
Icing is thinner than frosting and has more of a shine. Frosting is thick and rich.
Types of Sprinkles
I like to use American-style rainbow sprinkles, Betty Crocker Parlor Perfect rainbow sprinkles, or Confetti quins (the little discs).
The natural sprinkles are good for decoration, but not so great for adding to a batter as they will bleed.
Traditionally, sprinkles are not added to the cake batter in this recipe. However, you can easily add them in for a more festive look.
Baking Times according to Pan Size
- 24 cupcakes pans. Bake for 18 to 23 minutes
- Two 8 x 1-1/2 inch round baking pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes
- Two 9 x 1-1/2 inch round baking pan. Bake 30-35 minutes
- 8 x 8 x 2 or 9 x 9 x 2 inch square baking pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes
I highly suggest using round parchment paper if using round pans.
Don’t want to overbake the cake. Check the cake sooner rather than later.
It’s best to store cakes unfrosted. For frosted cakes, loosely wrap with plastic wrap. Your cake can last for up to 1 week in the fridge.
How to freeze cake:
Whether it is frosted or not, the instructions are the same. Cool the cake completely, then cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in the freezer. It will last for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw overnight (up to 8 hours) in the fridge.
More Mexican Dessert Recipes:
- Pay de Queso (Mexican Cheesecake)
- Pastel de Tres Leches
Cortadillos (Mexican Pink Cake) is a fun and yummy pan dulce that screams celebration. Treat the kids, or kids at heart, with this delicious dessert made completely from scratch.
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Cortadillos (Mexican Pink Cake)
For the Cake:
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup vegetable oil (or canola oil)
- zest 1 lemon (or 3 tbsp lemon juice)
- 1/2 cup whole milk (room temperature)
For Pink Frosting:
- 3 cups confectioners sugar
- 3 tbsp butter (softened)
- 4 tbsp whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 drops pink food coloring (gel)
- candy sprinkles
For the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray oil on a pan 8" x 11" and set aside.
- Sift the flour, salt, cornstarch, and baking powder together into a bowl.
- In another bowl, cream the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil.
- Add the lemon zest and mix.
- Add some of the flour mixture to the egg mixture.
- Then add some milk.
- Do this little by little, alternating between the dry and wet ingredients.
- Continue until the batter is smooth, and there are no more ingredients.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
- The cake is ready when the toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let cool.
- Once the cake is completely cool, prepare the frosting.
To Make the Frosting:
- In a large bowl, mix together the confectioner's sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla.
- Add the food coloring and mix well. The frosting will turn pink.
- Frost the cake in the pan and add sprinkles.
- Slice and serve.
My granddaughter would LOVE this cake for her birthday. Or maybe I’ll make it for her for Valentines Day. Then I don’t have to wait long before making it. It looks and sounds sooooo goood.
I hope you make your granddaughter Cortadillos for her birthday. She’ll love it.
Loreto and Nicoletta Nardelli
This Mexican pink cake looks so adorable and would be great for any birthday or celebration! Also, it seems quite easy to make. Saved it to try!
I hope you try it for a special occasion. Cortadillos was always at birthdays and more!
This Mexican pink cake looks so soft, fluffy, and delicious! The pink frosting is the perfect pairing and so festive.
You’re going to love this Mexican pink cake. It’s so yummy!
I have seen this cake many times at our local Mexican store bakery and was pleasantly surprised by the spongy texture of this cake. The recipe is so simple and I have no more excuses to buy it from outside.
It’s a favorite. Cortadillos brings back lots of childhood memories.
This cake looks so fun! I have heard of the Mexican Pink Cake, but have yet to give it a try! Thanks for the recipe share!
Hope you try it. You won’t be disappointed.
Such a cute and lovely cake recipe! Definitely looks amazingly delicious! Kids will surely love this plus the addition of the candy sprinkles makes this so appealing! Loved it!
Thank you. Yes, the kids love this Mexican pink cake.
Simple, yummy, and perfect for that after-school snack or a quick, fun dessert. The cake had a lovely texture and who doesn’t like pink icing?! And I love the way you cut it.
Right! Pink frosting is always a hit. Glad you enjoyed this recipe for cortadillos.
Wonderful cake recipe! The flavors are perfect and it was so soft. And it was so pretty!
Soft and delicious. This Mexican pink cake is the best!
Lauren Michael Harris
This cake turned out just as pretty as the photos – tasted delicious too! Wr will definitely be making this recipe again and again!
That’s great to hear. Glad you enjoyed this recipe for Mexican pink cake.
Amy Liu Dong
This is such a cool and cute cake, looks absolutely so yummy! I love the pinkish frosting it gives more appeal to kids! Definitely an instant favorite! Loved it!
Thank you. Yes, it’s a favorite here too.
Enriqueta E Lemoine
Dear Maggy, every time I come to your blog I learn something new about the fascinating Mexican gastronomy. I didn’t know about cortadillos but I saved the recipe to make for my next galantine’s celebration. Thanks for the inspiration.
Your galantine’s guests are going to love cortadillos. So yummy!
I made this for a family gathering. The cake turned out perfect. The frosting is so delicious.
So glad you enjoyed these cortadillos. Yes. That frosting is delicious!