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Adorable DIY smash cake recipes for your baby’s first birthday

Make your baby's birthday special with a delish smash cake recipe

A cake is a central part of any birthday celebration. When it comes to baby's first birthday though the cake takes on an extra special job. It's usually on the first birthday when babies get to taste cake for the first time. That's where a smash cake comes in. Celebrating with a smash cake is the perfect way to let babies dig into their first birthday cake.

A smash cake is a small cake about four inches in diameter that's just the right size for babies to enjoy with their hands at their first birthday party. Smash cakes actually have a long history and date all the way back to the ancient Egyptians. The popularity of the smash cake recipe has ebbed and flowed over the years, but today smash cakes are all the rage and have become a first birthday staple.




1 hour

What You Need

  • Smash cake pan

  • Mixing bowl

  • Recipe ingredients

  • Mixer

  • Mixing spoons

Smash cakes are essentially a be baby-sized dessert with just the right amount of icing. A smash cake can be a smaller version of the larger party cake the guests will be enjoying or a stand-alone one with its own adorable design. You don't need to head to the bakery to order a smash cake either. A smash cake recipe is simple to make and fun to decorate. So, let's head to the kitchen because here's how to make a smash cake.

Baby boy eating his smash cake
Michelle D. Milliman / Shutterstock

Smash cake pans

Since a smash cake is a fraction of the size of a typical round cake, it’s best to use a pan designed for smash cakes. A smash cake pan is four inches in diameter. These four-inch cake pans are usually sold in groups of four and can definitely be used for other desserts. You can also make a smash cake with a six-inch cake pan. When using a six-inch pan, just cut away those extra two inches.

Baby girl covered with smash cake
Anant Jadhav / Shutterstock

What kind of smash cake recipe should you make?

Birthday parties for one-year-olds are usually the first occasion babies actually get to dig into a cake. So, you will want to keep the recipe simple. An ordinary vanilla sponge cake is ideal for a baby’s smash cake. It’s light and fluffy enough to crumble in baby’s hands. Most pediatricians say chocolate is OK when children turn one in moderation, and first birthdays are special. If you have your heart set on a chocolate smash cake recipe, give it a go.

Baby painting with balloons and cake for first birthday
Serenko Natalia / Shutterstock

Boxed or from scratch?

If you need a quick, no-fuss smash cake recipe for your baby’s first birthday, there isn’t anything wrong with using a boxed cake mix in vanilla or chocolate. It’s an all-in-one recipe that will yield a yummy cake your baby will enjoy. There’s also less stress and time involved. If you prefer, it’s not too difficult to make a smash cake from scratch.

The key is to use cake flour instead of regular flour. Cake flour will give you a fluffier cake and can be found on the baking aisle of most grocery stores. When making a cake from scratch, it’s a good idea to make a trial smash cake before the big day. All-purpose flour is fine, too, but the cake will be denser.

Little girl in red and yellow theme with smash cake
Anna Kolosiuk / Shutterstock

Decide on a smash cake recipe

If you're going to bake your baby's smash cake from scratch, you need to pick chocolate or vanilla. Once you've decided, collect the ingredients.

Step 1: If you're baking a vanilla smash cake, you will need to collect the following ingredients:

  • 3 cups of cake flour (all-purpose is fine, too)
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk

Step 2: If you're baking a chocolate smash cake, you will need to collect the following ingredients:

  • 6 1/2 tablespoons of cake flour (all-purpose is fine, too)
  • 6 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups of milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
Baby girl enjoying her smash cake on her first birthday
Olllllga / Shutterstock

Smash cake recipe directions for vanilla or chocolate

Now, that you have decided on a cake flavor and have your ingredients, let's get baking.

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: Grease and flour four-inch or six-inch cake pans. You will have enough batter for more than one four-inch cake. The extra batter is earmarked for cupcakes.

Step 3: Mix flour and baking soda together in a large bowl.

Step 4: Combine softened butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Then add in eggs and vanilla.

Step 5: Slowly add the dry ingredients into the mixer.

Step 6: Add milk into the mixer.

Step 7: Blend until combined.

Step 8: Pour into pans.

Step 9: Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Step 10: Apply the icing when completely cooled.

Step 11: For layers, cut two four-inch smash cakes in half through the middle and put the icing in the middle of each layer.

Baby girl is all smiles with her blue first birthday cake
hollandog / Shutterstock

Icing on the cake

The best part of any cake is the icing, and smash cakes aren’t any different. Top off your little one’s smash cake with the icing color of your choice. Ready-made icing is quick and tastes good. You can have it match the party cake or be different and have it not coordinate with the theme.

Simple is best for babies, so just icing the cake with a touch of sprinkles and one candle will be enough. If you do add decorations, remember to take them off before you let baby dig in.

Step 1: While your smash cake is cooling, gather together the following ingredients to make the icing from scratch.

  • 1 cup of unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of milk

Step 2: Place the dry ingredients into a small mixing bowl.

Step 3: Blend the dry ingredients together with a spoon.

Step 4: Slowly stir in the softened butter and milk being careful not to over mix.

Step 5: Add additional powdered sugar if the icing is too runny, or milk if it’s too thick.

Step 6: Decorate your smash cake with your icing and top off with sprinkles.

A one year old's birthday smash cake
Ievgeniia Shugaliia / Shutterstock

More smash cake recipe ideas

Simple is always best for baby when it comes to smash cake recipes. If you're looking to do something different for your baby's first birthday though there isn't any shortage of creative smash cake recipes. Here are some fun smash cake recipe ideas that are more theme based for your little one's first birthday party.

  • For a smash cake that roars, try this dinosaur cake from Always Expect More.
  • A barnyard theme is a perfect pick for a baby's first birthday party, and I am a Baker has an adorable smash cake that even Old MacDonald would love.
  • If you're looking for a healthier smash cake, try this tasty smash cake recipe from Yummy Toddler Food. This smash cake features yogurt icing.
  • Some parents may not want baby to get a sugar rush just yet. Don't worry though there are delicious smash cakes that don't use sugar. For a sugar-free smash cake recipe, try this one from Hip Mommies.

Smash cakes are a cute tradition that has really taken hold. Those videos and photos on social media of babies digging into their smash cakes are absolutely adorable. Smash cakes are definitely a fun addition to baby’s first birthday celebration. Remember the goal of a smash cake is to have a sweet baby ultimately covered in cake and frosting for those keepsake photographs.

So, don’t stress over making a gorgeous cake because your little one is going to dive in fingers first. A simple smash cake with icing and sprinkles makes for a yummy introduction to desserts for baby. You can also get a bit more creative if you want to. Smash cakes can be simply sweet or intricate. It's really up to you. Just don’t forget the camera and have a smashing first birthday celebration for your one-year-old.

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Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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