This moist vanilla cake makes for the perfect smash cake recipe! This cake is perfect for any special occasion but is a classic first birthday cake. The cake has an ultra fine and velvety texture, with a soft and fluffy cream cheese buttercream frosting the produces an all-around tender and moist smash cake!

While smash cakes are the iconic cake for baby, cupcakes are also a perfect dessert for your kids’ birthdays. My kids frequently request chocolate cupcakes, but it’s also fun to make German chocolate cupcakes for a bit of an elevated twist to the traditional chocolate cupcake.

A sprinkle smash cake recipe on a cake stand against a white background.

Why This Recipe Works

  • This vanilla cake uses the reverse creaming method. Traditional creaming method is to cream the butter and sugar together first, then the dry ingredients are added. Reverse mixes the dry ingredients with the butter before adding the liquid ingredients. Baking Sense explains why this is done, “Gluten won’t start to form until the flour comes in contact with water (in the egg whites). Coating the flour molecules with butterfat before the eggs are added creates a barrier which slows the formation of gluten. Reverse creaming should, in theory, make a cake with a more tender and velvety texture.” Long story short, we get a soft, tender, moist, delicious cake!
  • And easy-to-make, stress-free cake. The beautiful thing about this cake is how simple and easy it is to make! with just 15 minutes of prep time, you can make this cake in a pinch or make it ahead of time. A smash cake recipe is birthday gold too because baby is just going to, well, smash, so you no longer have to stress about decoration perfection.

Ingredients

Smash Cake Recipe ingredients on a silver baking sheet.
  • Sour Cream: This provides necessary fat for a very moist cake.
  • Cake Flour: We’ll use a mix of cake flour and all purpose flour. Cake flour is much lighter and gives a lighter, softer crumb to the cake.
  • Milk: Adding milk is going to help add additional moisture and provides a soft and light texture.
  • Vanilla: This is a vanilla cake, so we’ll be using a much higher amount of vanilla than you’d see in a different flavored cake.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. With the mixer on low, add the softened butter 2 tablespoons at a time. Mix until it resembles course sand.
A glass bowl with a flour mixture and small butter clumps in it.
  1. In a large liquid measuring cup combine the eggs, vegetable oil (or canola oil), milk, and vanilla. Whisk until combined.
  1. With the mixer on low, pour the liquid ingredients into the stand mixer. Mix on medium speed for 1.5-2 minutes.
  1. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the sour cream. Mix on medium speed for an additional 20 seconds.
  1. The batter will be fairly thick, but soft. (Sneak a small taste of the batter because it’s really good.) Then pour the batter into the greased and floured cake pans.
  1. Grease and flour the pans OR spray the cake pans with cooking spray, place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom of each pan and spray the parchment paper with cooking spray again. Level the batter in each cake pan and then lightly tap the pans on the counter to remove any possible air bubbles.
  2. Bake the cakes for 28-34 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
  3. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and let them cool on a wire rack.

Make the Buttercream Frosting

  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream. Whip on medium speed for 4 minutes. The frosting will appear very light and fluffy.
Vanilla cake frosting in a glass mixing bowl.
  1. To assemble the cake, place a cake layer on a cake plate or cake stand, add frosting between each cake layer and then frost the top and perimeter of the cake. Decorate as desired.
A three layer vanilla cake recipe, smash cake.

Recipe Tips

Frosting: I went with a cream cheese buttercream frosting. However, I didn’t want a super noticeable cream cheese flavor, so I upped the amount of powdered sugar I used. If you want to keep the cream cheese flavor strong, you can either add more cream cheese or less powdered sugar. Make sure cake is cooled completely before frosting. Have the frosting and cake the same temp, otherwise you’ll pull crumbs as you’re frosting.

Freezing: You can make the smash cake in advance for a hassle-free birthday. Wrap the cooled cakes in a double layer of plastic wrap and store them in the freezer. Remove the frozen cake layers from the freezer and let them thaw in the fridge overnight. You can also freeze a fully decorated cake by flash freezing it for about 20 minutes or until the frosting is frozen. Then tightly wrap the entire cake in two layers of plastic wrap and store in the freezer. Let thaw before serving.

Baking: This cake was baked at sea level. You may have to make slight adjustments if baking at a high altitude (You may want to reduce baking powder to only 1 teaspoon) and your cake might bake more quickly. Just a few things to keep in mind. 

A sprinkle smash cake recipe with a slice of cake cut and being lifted out of the cake.

FAQs

What is a smash cake?

Smash cake recipes are typically used for a first birthday cake. The cake is specifically baby’s cake and you’ll recognize it from the iconic photos of babies with their face and hands covered in cake and frosting.

What cake is best for smash cake?

Really soft, moist and fluffy cakes are great for smash cakes. This is a vanilla smash cake, but you could also use a chocolate cake recipe.

What size of cake is a smash cake?

Smash cakes are typically smash since they are for baby. Smash cake size is generally 4-6 inches, but usually not more than that.

A slice of a multi colored sprinkle smash cake on a white plate

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A sprinkle coated smash cake on a cake stand.
Print Review
5 from 4 votes

Smash Cake Recipe

A super moist vanilla cake! This cake is perfect for any occasion.
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 34 mins
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients
 

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder - see notes
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter - at room temperature
  • 2 eggs - at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

Frosting

  • 4 oz cream cheese - softened
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter - softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • gel food coloring if desired

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour three 6-inch pans OR spray the cake pans with cooking spray, place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom of each pan and spray the parchment paper with cooking spray again.
  • Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • With mixer on low speed add butter, 2 T at a time. Mix until it resembles coarse sand, about 1 minute.
  • In a large liquid measuring cup combine the eggs, milk, veg oil, and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
  • With the mixer on low, pour the liquid ingredients into the stand mixer. Mix on medium speed for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the sour cream. Mix on medium speed for 20-30 more seconds. Gently run a butter knife through the batter to break up any large air bubbles.
  • Pour into cake pans. Bake for 28-34 mins or until done and toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs but no batter.
  • Cool cake in pans for 5-10 mins, remove from pans and cool on wire racks completely.
  • Cover cakes with double layer of plastic wrap, store In fridge If you want to frost them the following day. Or, let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting

  • Cream butter and cream cheese in stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Add vanilla and cream. Mix on medium speed for 4 minutes. If the frosting is too thick add more heavy cream, if the frosting is too thin add more powdered sugar.

Notes

*This cake was baked at sea level. You may have to make slight adjustments if baking at a high altitude (You may want to reduce baking powder to only 1 teaspoon) and your cake might bake more quickly. Just a few things to keep in mind. 
Tip: Make sure cake is cooled completely before frosting. Have the frosting and cake the same temp, otherwise you’ll pull crumbs as you’re frosting.

Nutrition

Calories: 847kcal (42%)Carbohydrates: 113g (38%)Protein: 7g (14%)Fat: 42g (65%)Saturated Fat: 26g (130%)Cholesterol: 133mg (44%)Sodium: 338mg (14%)Potassium: 181mg (5%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 86g (96%)Vitamin A: 1149IU (23%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 100mg (10%)Iron: 1mg (6%)
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Did you make this recipe?snap a photo and tag @saltandbaker in your posts and stories so I can see what you’re making!

This recipe was originally published on Aug. 9, 2019. It was republished on Sept. 10, 2021, to include additional information and photos.