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Vanilla Smash Cake

smash cake topped with flowers on a white cake stand.

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If your baby is turning one year old soon, you'll need a smash cake! You can make 2 tiny homemade cakes that are cute and delicious with this easy recipe for vanilla smash cake.

Ingredients

Scale

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

For the Frosting:

  • 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) butter, softened
  • 1/2 lb box powdered sugar (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 1/8 tsp salt, if using unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3 (four inch) cake pans or 2 (six inch) cake pans.
  2. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with hands beaters, beat butter and sugar together until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides with a spatula, if needed. 
  4. Add the egg, yolk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. 
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry ingredients, then the buttermilk, then the other half of the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. 
  6. Divide the batter evenly into prepared pans. 
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. 
  8. Let cakes cool at least 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. To make the frosting, beat room temperature butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, until smooth.
  10. Add milk, 1 tbsp at a time, as necessary to reach a fluffy but slightly stiff consistency. If frosting becomes too runny, add a bit more powdered sugar.
  11. Cut completely cooled cakes in half horizontally so that each cake now has two rounds. 
  12. Scoop a small bit of frosting onto the top one round. Top with remaining round and frost as desired. Repeat with remaining cake to produce two cakes. (See notes about other options)
  13. Decorate, take all the cute photos you want, then remove the decorations before you let baby smash the cake!

Notes

  • Use room temperature ingredients for the best results.
  • When measuring the flour, be sure to spoon it into the measuring cup then level it off for the best results.
  • Grease and flour your pans well to avoid any sticking.
  • Make sure the cakes are completely cooled before frosting. I even pop mine in the refrigerator. This ensures the crumbs don't get everywhere and make a mess with the frosting.
  • If the cakes dome a little bit, use a serrated knife to level off the tops so that they are completely flat.
  • If you made the frosting in advance, be sure to bring it to room temperature before frosting the cake so that it will spread more easily.
  • Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction.

Cake pan options:

  • Use 3 four-inch cake pans, and cut each cake in half to produce 3 smash cakes.
  • I have also used 2 four inch cake pans (as photographed), but have had others readers report overflowing with this option. If you use two small pans, be sure they are at least 2 inches tall and increase the baking time by about 5 minutes.
  • Use 2 6-inch cake pans for one slightly shorter and wider cake (reduce baking time by a few minutes).
  • Use round, 2-cup glass pyrex storage containers if you have them and don't wish to buy tiny cake pans (the recipe will be the same as written, but may take a couple minutes longer).
  • If you want to avoid  the fuss of cutting a cake in half and frosting the center, frost the baby cakes as they are, or stack them for a very tall cake!

To make in advance:

  • Prepare the recipe as written. After removing cakes from the pans, let them cool completely then wrap in plastic wrap and then in foil. refrigerate up to 2 days or freeze cakes until you're ready to use. Thaw most of the way before frosting. 
  • The frosting can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Keywords: how to make a smash cake, vanilla smash cake, homemade smash cake for babies