1st Birthday Smash Cake Tutorial + Simple Vanilla Cake recipe
Celebrate your little one’s first birthday by making a fun and yummy smash cake! It’s easier than you might think to make one at home, especially with this simple vanilla cake recipe.
My precious girl turned one last weekend! I seriously cannot believe how fast the past year has gone by. It seems like it was just the other day that we were bringing her home from the hospital, and making a pit stop along the way to pick up a big box of hot malasadas to celebrate. 😉
Have you ever had a malasada before? I’d never had one until we moved out here to Hawaii. They are basically fried pieces of delicious sugary dough. Uh-mazing! But I digress…
We decided to keep her actual birthday pretty low key and just stayed at home to let her play with her new toys, which my son and I were SO excited about. Probably more than her. 😉
He was excited to have presents around to open and play with, and I was excited about GIRL presents! She got her first Cabbage Patch Doll, which I couldn’t wait to get for her since I loved mine when I was little.
Plus, Babyland General Hospital (where the Cabbage Patch Dolls are born) is just a little ways up the road from my hometown in Cleveland, Georgia. I’m SO looking forward to taking my kiddos there one day!
We are having a birthday party for her in a couple of weeks with a luau theme, since she’s our little Hawaiian-born baby.
I decided that I still wanted to do a little something special for her actual birthday, and I really wanted to try my hand at making her a smash cake. I had never made one before, and I had never really decorated a cake before either, aside from slapping on some icing with a spatula and going shake crazy with some sprinkles. 😉
I was ready to give it my best shot, though, and I ended up being pretty proud of my work! It actually isn’t that hard at all, and while my cake certainly isn’t anywhere near the quality of a professional’s, I was still very happy with it, and so was our little birthday girl.
How to make a Smash Cake1. If you want to make a two layer smash cake (like I did), search your cabinets for two small, round, glass pyrex bowls. The ones I used were one quart each. You can use two small casserole dishes or other kinds of bowls as well, just so long as they are oven-safe! Grease and flour them both well.
2. Prepare the Simple Vanilla Cake batter according to directions below. Fill each of the glass bowls about 3/4 the way full with batter. I used the remaining batter to make a dozen cupcakes as well. Bake and allow to cool completely. Once cool, loosen the cakes gently from the sides of the bowls by carefully running a knife around the outside edges. You will want to flatten out the tops of your cakes, which you can do by cutting a very thin layer off the top of each with a knife.
3. Prepare your frosting. I used my Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
recipe and added a little pink gel food coloring. Spread a thin layer on the top of one of your cakes, then turn the other cake upside down and place on top.
5. I covered mine in roses, which were DEFINITELY NOT perfect, but I was still really happy with it! Especially since it was my first attempt, I was okay with it not being perfect. Your baby is going to LOVE digging into their cake, and they are not going to care one little bit how fancy it’s decorated, so just HAVE FUN with it! If you want to make roses, take the tip of your icing bag, squirt and move in a circular motion, swirling around in a circle from the center. I covered the top of the cake in these swirls first before attempting the sides.
6. Continue covering the cake by with the same pattern down the sides. The sides were definitely more challenging for me! Just take your time, and remember how much your sweet baby is going to love it. 🙂 For any open spaces, I just gave a simple squirt of frosting to fill.
7. For the the little topper, I tied some baker’s twine around two paper straws (that came in a pack I bought from Target). I LOVE fun straws, and I was so excited that I had some turquoise ones since I decided to do her cake in a pink and turquoises theme. Next, cut out some small triangle shapes from scrapbook paper and tape them to the string, like I’ve shown below. I used three little triangles to spell out the word “one” but you could also make your baby’s name! My little girl’s name is pretty long, so I decided to stick with the word “one” instead. 🙂 I simply wrote the letters on the opposite side with a black sharpie, but you could also use letter stickers!
8. Carefully stick the two straws into your cake, pushing down until both are level and to your liking. Then stand back and admire your finished product!
And now you’re ready to snap some photos of your little one enjoying their special cake! Here’s one of our little princess:
I hope this helps you a bit if you’re interested in making a smash cake for a special little one in your life! It’s really not hard at all, and is actually a lot of fun! Like I said, mine is not perfect. My icing decorating skills could probably use some improvement, but overall I was happy with it.
If I can make one that looks somewhat decent, then I know y’all can, too!
Oh, and here’s the recipe for the simple vanilla cake! Enjoy. 🙂
1st Birthday Smash Cake Tutorial + Simple Vanilla Cake
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter,, softened
- 4 eggs
- 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, (could also be made with cake flour)
- 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups milk, (I used whole milk)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking pans, or line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter together over medium speed for 5-8 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
- Combine the flour and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.
- Alternate adding the dry mixture and the milk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Beat until just combined.
- Pour mixture into prepared baking pans. See notes below for baking times.
- Once baking time is complete, transfer baking dishes to a wire rack to cool. Once completely cool, remove cakes from baking dishes and frost with Easy Buttercream Frosting and enjoy!
If you like this 1st Birthday Smash Cake Tutorial, then you might also like:
Pineapple Sunshine Cake
I love it. After I discovered your recipe I been using it for all my family birthdays .and I impressed myself making cakes , how easy your recipe makes it and what I like the most is that is not over sweet. It is just perfect. Thank you for sharing .
So I’m making this now but where does the milk come into play?? No where other than the ingredient list
Hi there, it’s mentioned in step 4 where you alternate adding it with the dry mix.
Hi! I did a test run of the cake for my daughters 1st birthday. I used 3 6×2 round cake pans. And the cake is delicious and moist, but the bottom was so dense. Any recommendations?
This was just the right amount of batter for two 4-inch cakes layers and 12 cupcakes. Made a smash cake out of the 2 layers and the cupcakes were for everyone else to enjoy.
Hi, I made this recipe a couple years ago and it turned out great. I made it again for my other kiddo’s first birthday and this time it overflowed the Pyrex dishes??? No idea what I did differently but last time I remember using all of the batter just like this time but didn’t have this issue.
Is there anyway to convert this to a chocolate cake? This is my go to cake recipe, but my son is requesting chocolate this year!
For the love of all that’s holy……..where’s the crumb coat??! lol
Are the cakes baked in the Pyrex bowls? Making sure I read that right!
So I’m using your directions on how to make this except I am using strawberry cake mix. Brilliant cake! I’m wondering how long would I cook for if using 2, 6×2 inch pans? Thank you in advance! Also can I make this and let sit overnight to use the next day? If so, how long does it take to get room temperature and will it melt?
Hi! Do you recall how long you cooked the cakes for in the 6×2 pans?
This is super cute. We’re officially WAY past smash cakes (woo hoo!), but I will save this for our next party where we need a small cake!
So cute and it just proves it does not need to to cost a fortune to smash it up! Love this idea and recipe!
This is such a cute cake. I think I just bought a mini boring one at the store when my kids were tiny.
I wish that we would have done a cake smash photo session with all three of my girls. So much fun!
OMG Such a fun idea! And you little girl is so cute, happy birthday
Beautiful cake. For the pink color, do I need to use pink gel or I can use pink food coloring?
when you say 1 quart dishes, are they really 2 cups? my round pyrex dishes say cups not quart sizes. I just want to make sure that I have the correct bowls
Hi Dana, the 1 quart dishes hold 4 cups total so just be sure to use one that is equivalent to that size.
Hi I was just wondering how long this is able to store? Would love to do some pics for my girls birthday but would rather make the cake the day before 🙂
You can definitely make it the day before! Just store it in the fridge overnight.
Hi, beautiful cake. Want to make this for my daughters smash cake. What piping tip did you use to pipe out the roses?
Thank you! It’s a 1M Wilton tip.
Hi! I’m making this cake for my daughter’s first birthday. I’m going to be making the buttercream frosting to cover it. Did you double or triple your recipe to cover all the cake and cupcakes?
No, 1 of the recipe is sufficient.
Hello! I have twins turning one soon. Would the extra batter you use for cupcakes be enough for two extra smash cakes? I’m planning on making them each one.
Hi Kristin, I don’t think it would make enough for another cake. If you made the recipe 1.5x I think that would be enough.
The cake looks fantastic!
Is there an alternative to the sugar? I’m hoping to make a cake for my little one with only natural sweeteners..
Hi! Yes you could make this with whatever sugar substitute your prefer, as long at it uses a 1:1 ratio. I will say that I have only made this with regular sugar so I can’t say how it will turn out using an alternative. If you try it, please let me know how it goes!
Hi – what size baking dish did you use to make the two small cakes? I see your reference to one 9×13, but I am confused about the smaller size. Thank you!
Hi Jess, the two glass bowls are each 1 quart Pyrex dishes.
5 stars! Frosting recipe perfect
This is perfection. Just what I was looking for! Well done mama!
Such an adorable cake – the roses are beautiful too! First birthdays are always fun.
First off, this cake is absolutely adorable! Second, as a mom and foster mom, I am always looking up cake ideas! This is so great! Thanks for the tutorial!