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Adorable DIY smash cake recipes for your baby’s birthday

What is a smash cake? A smash cake is a small cake about 4 inches in diameter that is just for baby to enjoy with their hands to celebrate a first birthday. 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, but today smash cakes are all the rage, and if you think about it, it’s a perfect idea for 1-year-olds because they can dig right in and eat it with their hands.

Smash cake recipes should be baby-sized with just the right amount of icing. Choose icing colors with care because colors like red or blue can leave behind a mark that wipes away easily. A smash cake can be a smaller version of the party cake or a stand-alone. If you’re looking for baby smash cake recipes to make your baby’s birthday even sweeter, we have cute cake ideas to get you baking.

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 4 inches in diameter. These 4-inch cake pans are usually sold in groups of four and can definitely be used for other desserts. A smash cake can also be made using a 6-inch cake pan.

Baby girl enjoying her smash cake on her first birthday

What kind of smash cake recipe should you make?

First birthdays are usually the first time 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 baby’s smash cake. It’s light and fluffy enough to crumble in baby’s hands. Most pediatricians say chocolate is okay when children turn 1 in moderation, and first birthdays are special. If you have your heart set on a chocolate smash cake recipe, give it a go.

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, and there’s less stress and time involved. If you prefer, it’s not too difficult to make a cake from scratch. The key is to use cake flour instead of regular flour. Cake flour will give you a fluffier cake. If you decide on scratch, it’s a good idea to make a trial smash cake before the big day. All-purpose flour is fine, but the cake will be denser.

Baby boy enjoying his smash cake on his birthday
Michelle D. Milliman/Shutterstocl

Smash cake recipes

Vanilla smash cake recipe


  •  3 cups of cake flour (all-purpose is fine, too)
  • 3 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup milk

Chocolate smash cake recipe


  • 6 ½ tablespoons of cake flour (all-purpose is fine, too)
  • 6 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 ¼ cups milk
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ teaspoon salt


  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Grease and flour 4-inch or 6-inch cake pans (You will have enough batter for more than one 4-inch cake. You can also use the extra batter for cupcakes).
  • Mix flour and baking soda together in a large bowl.
  • Combine softened butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Then add in eggs and vanilla.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixer.
  • Add milk into the mixer.
  • Blend until combined.
  • Pour into pans.
  • Bake for 30 t0 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool on a wire rack before removing from baking dishes.
  • Apply the icing when completely cooled.
  • For layers, cut two 4-inch smash cakes in half through the middle and put the icing in the middle of each layer.
Baby girl covered with smash cake icing
Anant Jadhav/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 match the theme. Simple is best for babies, so just icing the cake and topping it off with sprinkles and one candle will be enough. If you do add decorations, remember to take them off before you let baby dig in.

Smash cake icing recipe


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

Blend in a mixture, add additional powdered sugar if the icing is too runny, or milk if it’s too thick.

Final thoughts on smash cakes

Smash cakes are a cute tradition that has really taken hold. It’s 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 adorable 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. Don’t forget the camera and have a smashing first-birthday celebration.

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