Cortadillo (Mexican Pink Cake) is a soft and pillowy pan dulce that’s known for its vibrant pink icing. Topped with fun colorful sprinkles, it’s the perfect treat for your kids and a popular sweet bread sold at Mexican bakeries!
If you’re craving something sweet, you can’t go wrong with a slice of cortadillo pan! This popular Mexican cake can be found at Mexican panaderías all over the U.S. and Mexico. The signature pink icing and triangle cuts make it easy to spot, and it’s always been my personal favorite pan dulce!
It can be enjoyed for breakfast alongside coffee or as a dessert after any meal. I have fond memories of enjoying a slice with my family over a cup of café de olla, but it also goes great with some champurrado or just a glass of milk!
What Is Cortadillo?
Cortadillo, also known as Mexican pink cake or “Pastel de Niño,” is a beloved cake in Mexico that has captured the hearts and tastebuds of many. This cake is made from a vanilla-based batter that is both moist and fluffy, giving it the perfect texture that everyone craves. The icing on the cake is a vibrant pink color that’s made from confectioners’ sugar, almond extract, and pink food coloring, which is then covered in lots of fun colorful sprinkles. Cortadillo is a favorite of both adults and children, making it a treat that can be enjoyed by all.
- Eggs: You’ll need 5 large eggs to keep the cake moist.
- Granulated sugar: For sweetening the cake batter.
- Vanilla extract: For flavoring the cake batter. I recommend using a high-quality 100% pure vanilla extract.
- Vegetable oil: Another ingredient that helps keep the cake extra moist. I used canola oil, but any mild-flavored oil will work.
- Flour and baking powder: All-purpose flour and baking powder bring the batter together.
- Salt: A little fine salt in the batter helps to balance out the sweetness.
- Milk: I recommend using whole milk for the best flavor. This is used in the cake batter and in the icing.
- Confectioners’ sugar: Also known as powdered sugar, this is the base of the icing.
- Almond extract: The secret ingredient that flavors the icing! A little bit goes a long way. Here’s the almond extract I love.
- Food coloring: To make the iconic pink icing, you’ll need pink gel food coloring.
- Sprinkles: Another iconic part of this cake is the color sprinkles! You’ll need some rainbow nonpareils sprinkles.
How to Make Cortadillo
Prep: Start by greasing and flouring a 9×13-inch baking pan. This will help ensure that the cake doesn’t stick to the pan.
Make the batter: In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract using a stand mixer for 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the vegetable oil while still beating until thoroughly combined.
In a separate large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt using a fine mesh strainer.
To the beaten egg mixture, add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk. Mix until smooth, then repeat the process with the remaining flour and milk.
Bake: Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking pan and bake on the center rack in a 350℉ for 40 to 45 until nicely golden.
Cool: Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to cool completely on the kitchen counter before removing it from the baking pan.
Make the icing: Mix together the confectioner sugar and almond extract with a fork in a large mixing bowl, then add in the milk 1 tablespoon at a time until fully combined. Mix in 5 drops of pink food coloring to achieve that perfect neon pink. The icing will be very thick, but that’s okay. If you thin it out too much, a lot of it will run off the sides of the cake, which is what we don’t want.
Spread: Spoon all of the icing onto the top of the cake and evenly spread across. You can do this with the back of a spoon or an angled icing spatula. Garnish the top with sprinkles and allow the icing to harden for at least 10 minutes.
Slice: Cut into triangles to serve this pan dulce just like you would find it in a Mexican bakery, or slice it into squares.
- Let the cake cool completely before removing it from the baking pan and spreading the icing on top.
- Use gel food coloring to achieve that vibrant pink color.
- When making the icing, don’t thin it out too much or the icing will run off the sides of the cake. You’ll likely think the icing is too thick when you’re mixing it, but as long as you can spread it with the back of a spoon, it’s perfect.
- Let the icing dry completely (about 10 minutes) before cutting into the cortadillo.
- Stand Mixer. I love using my stand mixer when baking as it makes the whole process so smooth.
- Baking Sheets. A set of various-sized baking sheets is a must in every home.
- Mixing bowls. Using glass mixing bowls when baking makes for easy clean-up, especially when making icing.
Storing and Freezing
To store, cover the cortadillo in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
To freeze, cover the chilled cortadillo in plastic wrap and set it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw overnight before serving.
Photography by Ashley McLaughlin.