cake smash {recipe}

The moment you’ve all been waiting for…CAKE SMASH!

And if you missed the post on Liam’s first birthday, you can find it here.

Liam's First Birthday Party-13 Liam's First Birthday Party-14 Liam's First Birthday Party-15 Liam's First Birthday Party-16 Liam's First Birthday Party-17 Liam's First Birthday Party-18 Liam's First Birthday Party-19

Don’t forget to hydrate! We learned that from Liam’s aunt BZ, who learned from experience that the birthday boy will get fussy if he’s thirsty from all that sugar.

Liam's First Birthday Party-20


Liam's First Birthday Party-21

Also, if you were wondering, I got Liam’s cute tie and bloomer (a.k.a. diaper cover) at a local children’s store, Little Lambs and Ivy II.

Now for the birthday cake…which I tasted after Liam smashed it and it was FABULOUS! I’m going to have to make it again!

Whole Grain Carrot Smash Cake

adapted from Nuture Baby


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting the pan)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 2 small-medium apples, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup canola oil/coconut oil/butter
  • 5 small-medium carrots, washed, stems cut off, and cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • (frosting) 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • (frosting) 1/2 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt
  • (frosting) 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • (frosting) 6 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray three 6-inch round cake pans with canola oil and dust with all-purpose flour, discarding any extra flour.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the beater attachment, beat the brown sugar and eggs until foamy and thoroughly beaten.
  4. Meanwhile, in your blender (I use a Blendtec) or food processor, purée the apple slices and canola oil together. Pour into the beaten eggs/sugar of your stand mixer.
  5. Next, purée the carrots and orange juice together. Pour into the beaten eggs/sugar mixture of your stand mixer.
  6. Add in the vanilla extract to your stand mixer and beat on low until all of the wet ingredients are combined.
  7. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients of your stand mixer and stir until just combined.
  8. Equally separate out into your cake pans (about 1 1/2 cups of batter per pan).
  9. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  10. Allow the cakes to cool for a few minutes in the pan before flipping out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. Meanwhile, to assemble your icing, beat butter, yogurt and vanilla extract together until combined. Add in the powdered sugar until combined.
  12. Assemble the cake and decorate as desired.

Note: I only had one cake pan, so I evenly poured the batter into three bowls and baked them one at a time.

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62 Responses to cake smash {recipe}

  1. Jessica W says:

    That cake looks fabulous! And he looks to have really enjoyed it!

  2. Melissa says:

    YIKES…Canola Oil!

    • caroline says:

      If you don’t mind me asking, what’s wrong with canola oil?

      • Hannah says:

        Canola oil is pretty much a genetically modified oil.

        • caroline says:

          Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I have just learned about canola oil and it’s substitutions. It’s amazing that I thought that was the better option over vegetable oil for all these years and now I need to switch to other oils. You can substitute another oil for canola. I would suggest butter or coconut oil. Thanks again for pointing this out, Hannah!

          • Hannah says:

            You’re welcome! I use coconut oil for everything. Cooking, in smoothies, as lotion for my face, for my baby, as a hair mask, you name it!

          • caroline says:

            I’m assuming you only use the unrefined virgin coconut oil? I’ve used both refined and unrefined. For baking I love refined because it doesn’t have coconut flavor, but recently discovered how bad refined is for you, too! Ugh. Can’t win. I’m about to just go back to butter. Haha!

          • Patricia says:

            I’m looking for a cake recipe for my son’s 1st birthday and stumbled on your blog. Gonna give this a go! BTW, not all Canola is created equal. Organic canola is ok. I use Spectrum brand and it’s great for recipes that call for a Canola. It is non genetically modified.

          • caroline says:

            Hi Patricia, Thanks for the information. 🙂 I recently learned this myself and am now only purchasing organic canola oil to use in addition to coconut oil, olive oil and butter. Thanks again for bringing it to my attention and happy first birthday to your son! How exciting! Happy Baking!

          • jacklyn says:

            there is non-gmo canola oil on the market, just saying.

          • Alyssa says:

            You can also substitute oil in most any recipe with applesauce, it’s also healthier 😉

          • Jiggs says:

            We pretty much switched over from Canola oil about the same time you did. Now it’s olive or coconut oi, and butter. What we have learned is that butter isn’t that bad for your system, taken in moderation, and is easily processed by your body. For general cooking we prefer the spray coconut oil from TJ’s, or the spray olive oil (easier for portion control than just a simple pour). Glad I found this from following the smash cake link!

          • caroline says:

            Agreed. That’s just what we do now, too! 🙂

  3. Haha so cute! I love that last picture!!! The cake looks like it tastes awesome! And its so pretty 😀

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  7. Gina Stav says:

    Have this cake baking in the oven as we speak! I am baking it in a giant cupcake cake pan. This is a trial run for my twins’ birthday…so far the house smells great! Thanks for the awesome recipes!

    • caroline says:

      I’m so happy to hear that! I hope it turned out delicious and your twins have an excellent birthday! Way to go mama!

    • Lindsey says:

      How did it work with the giant cupcake pans? I’m going to be using the same pan for my daughter’s smash cake in two weeks an love this recipe.

      • caroline says:

        The cake makes 6 cups of batter. The giant cupcake-cake pans that I’ve seen have a 10 cup capacity. If that’s the case with yours, you can either make a smaller ‘giant cupcake’ or double the recipe and have a little batter left over for normal sized cupcakes or something. Let me know if you have any other questions and happy early 1st birthday to your daughter! 😀

  8. Kimberly says:

    I am making this cake for my son’s first birthday party on Saturday. I am so excited to see how it turns out. I have a few questions…
    – What brand sippy cup do you recommend at this age? He is just transitioning to cow milk from breast & I’m having a hard time with it.
    – Also, what did you use to put the icing on his cake?
    He IS SO CUTE!!!!
    P.S. I was also inspired by your 1st Birthday Chalkboard and made one with your help…THANKS for all the wonderful ideas!


    • caroline says:

      Hi Kimberly, Happy early 1st birthday to your son! 😀 How exciting! To answer your questions, we tried a bunch of different sippy cups and the one we’ve had most success with is this Munchkin Straw Sippy Cup. It takes a pretty hard suck to get anything out, which is why our son liked it so much. It resembled a bottle in that way. Also, it’s easy to hold by himself and since it’s a straw and not a nipple top, there was no confusion with bottle or breastfeeding. It took a while for my little guy to want to drink milk out of a sippy cup. We did a bottle of whole milk (slowly transitioned from formula) for a good 8 months (just 1-2 per day to get his recommended nutrition). Now he’s 20 months and doing great with both water and milk from this sippy cup. Let me know if you have any other questions! 😀

      Also, I used a icing spatula and a cake turntable to create that affect on the cake. I hope the party is a hit! 😀 Oh, and don’t forget to give your little guy water while he’s eating cake.

      • Kimberly says:


        Thank you for all the pointers. I will definitely give him some water. Happy early 2nd birthday to little Liam!!



  9. Marie-Ange says:

    So I just did a tester for this cake recipe and I seem to have burnt the outside and the inside still isn’t cooked. I can’t be my oven, since I use it all the time and everything else comes out fine. I poured the whole thing into a cake pan though, could that be it. How did you keep your uncrusty on the outside? did you cut around it? I probably burnt it by leaving it in longer than I should have, but the inside wasn’t cooking. help!

    • caroline says:

      Hi Marie-Ange, I apologize for the delay in response. First of all, if you don’t mind me asking, what size pans were you using? I used 3 six-inch round pans for this cake. Also, if you have a cake supply store or go to amazon and purchase Bake Even Strips, those help a lot with protecting the outsides of your cake, while allowing the insides to bake. I use them quite often when I bake cakes. I hope that helps and let me know if you have any other questions. Happy Baking!

  10. Stephanie says:

    This looks delicious & I’m thinking I’ll try it for my daughter’s upcoming 1st birthday! However I have to add that there is NOTHING wrong with using canola oil, it is one of the healthiest oils you can use. Check your sources people. For some reason there are folks out there who like to make trouble by making up a bunch of plausible-sounding pseudoscience nonsense.

  11. Mon says:

    It looks delicious! My baby boy is turning one next week and I want to do a cake smash definetly! I’m looking for healthy recipes and I want to try this one, but I’m worry for the frosting, my boy can’t eat dairy products, and all recipes have butter or cream cheese, do you have a recipe I can use for him?
    Thanks! And great blog! Love it! 🙂

    • caroline says:

      Congratulations on your little boy turning one! I apologize in my delay in response to your comment. If you’ve already celebrated, I hope the cake turned out beautifully! As far as making the frosting, I’ve never tried using non-dairy butter or yogurt to make the frosting, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t turn out. You could use Earth Balance butter and SO Delicious coconut milk greek yogurt for a dairy free frosting. I’m actually really curious to see how it would turn out myself. I’ll have to make it so there will be a delicious option for dairy free 1 year olds, too! 😀 Again, happy birthday to your little dude!

  12. Jazmin says:

    The recipe sounds nice but there’s a lot of sugar in it. I’m trying to avoid sugar in any recipes for my baby’s first birthday. Could I use brown rice syrup or apple juice concentrate instead of sugar?

    Thanks 🙂

    • caroline says:

      Hi Jazmin, The cake portion of the cake only has 1 cup of brown sugar and technically the cake serves 8-12 people. I’m sure your baby will only take a few bites before they’re finished. I’ve never experimented with other sugar substitutes for this specific cake, so if you do, be sure to make it ahead of time to make sure it’ll work for your baby’s big day! I would try using 1 cup of date paste or even coconut sugar in leu of the brown sugar. Happy Baking!

  13. Teya says:

    Hello! I’m hoping to try this recipe out for my sons 2nd birthday! I’m curious if I can cook it in one 6″ pan and then a sheet pan? Or would I have to double the recipe?

    Thanks, can’t wait!

    • caroline says:

      Hi Teya! If I understand you correctly, you’re wanting one 6″ one-layer cake and then a sheet cake? If so, I would just use a 9″ square sheet pan for the sheet cake. Else, if you wanted to use a 9″x13″ sheet pan for the second cake, I would probably double the recipe. You may have leftover batter, in which you could make an extra 6″ layer for the round cake. I hope that helps and let me know if you have any other questions. Happy Baking and happy birthday to your 2 year old! 🙂

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  15. Hannah says:

    Why so much sugar for the icing? Would it work if I used less?

    • caroline says:

      I wouldn’t recommend using any less sugar. The sugar helps the icing come together so it’s not just a glaze. You can always just use less and cover the cake like a glaze, but you will be able to see all of the layers and it’ll be similar to a glaze on a donut. Let me know if you have any other questions! 🙂

  16. Rachael says:

    I just made this cake yesterday for my cousins 1st Birthday Party, what a hit! After we let the lil’ one smash the cake for 20 mins, we set it on a nearby table. For the rest of the afternoon, the adults picked at the smashed cake until there was nothing left! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe- will def become the signature 1st Birthday Cake for the rest of the family!!!!

  17. Brooke says:

    I’m thinking of making this for my daughter’s first birthday, but I’m not sure about the icing (too much sugar, as is the case with all icing). Would a whipped cream icing taste ok, or would that not work with this cake?

    • caroline says:

      I found that all icings have lots of sugar, but luckily, the one year olds don’t eat that much of it before they get full and bored (at least mine did). Plus, this icing doesn’t have as much ‘bad stuff’ as your typical buttercream frosting. However, the benefit of having a sugary icing is that it will hold up to decorating. If you’re considering using just whipped cream for the icing, I wouldn’t layer the cake and you will probably need to top it with whipped cream immediately before serving because whipped cream will melt down (especially if it’s hot and humid). Let me know if you have any other questions and happy baking!

  18. Ashley Kennedy says:

    Wanted to make this for my daughters first birthday this month and wanted to know the consistency of the icing…. Is it firmer and you could do some detail with it with using a bag and tip or is it thinner and wouldn’t hold and more just a spread? ThANks!!

    • caroline says:

      Hi Ashley, it’s thinner than the typical buttercream frosting that you’d pipe on. Plus, I was making it for a May 31st birthday and it was quite warm outside. If you’re wanting to really get in there and decorate I’d suggest using a traditional buttercream or cream cheese frosting. 🙂 Happy 1st Birthday to your daughter and Happy Baking!

  19. amy says:

    Hi! I’m planning on making this frosting for my son’s first birthday party and smash cake pictures (2 days apart). Do you think I could make one batch and store the frosting in the fridge for 2 days to frost the next cake? Also, I’m baking him 4 inch round cakes (2 layers) so will one batch of this frosting recipe be enough or should I double it? Thanks so much:)

    • caroline says:

      How fun! Yes, you can store the frosting in the fridge, but be sure to bring it to room temperature and beat it again before frosting the second cake. I would also think one batch is enough for two 2 layer 4 inch cakes. Happy baking and Happy 1st birthday to your little guy!

  20. ashley kennedy says:

    Do you remember how many mins you baked these for, I used 3 6″ pans and the inside never got cooked all the way, still raw?? Thanks for your help, wanted to get it figured out before my lil one party!:)

  21. ashley kennedy says:

    Also was wondering do you think you could bake the cake and individually wrap each layer and freeze few days ahead of time and then pull out frost day before?? Do you think it would work well and still be fresh? ThANK You so much your help and opinion

    • caroline says:

      You could totally bake them ahead of time and wrap them in plastic wrap before freezing. I would recommend frosting the day of because you’ll have to refrigerate the cake after frosting or frost right before eating. The longer the cake stays in the fridge, the dryer it will be. Happy Baking and let me know if you have any other questions! 🙂

  22. Amy says:

    This cake looks perfect for my son’s first birthday! I think I will make 2 because we are going to do pictures and since this is a carrot cake we are going to include our horse in the pictures to help him “smash”. Was thinking of whole baby carrots and apple slices on top as decoration (and also healthy horse treats)! I will let you know how it turns out! I can’t wait, I have a feeling these pictures are going to turn out great!

  23. kim says:

    Thanks for the recipe. I made this cake yesterday for my son’s first. The cake was lovely, but I think I would have rathered a cream cheese frosting over this one with 6 cups of icing sugar. I didn’t have time to change plans once I really looked at the ingredients as it was one hour to party time! Seems a waste to make a nice low-ish sugar cake and then make such a crazy sugary frosting. Just mentioning in case others made the same assumption I did!

  24. Renee Bessone says:

    I love this idea. I have boy/girl twins. Their fist birthday is coming up this week. I was wondering if I could substitute the whole grain flour for coconut flour? And the white flour with Almond flour? My babies are gluten intolerant. Maybe I’ll just give it a go and let you know. I can use the coconut oil too.
    You have me thinking as I just cant see giving a baby a smash cake from a box with artificial ingredients.

    • caroline says:

      Hi Renee, You may want to give it a trial run before the big day. Coconut flour requires a lot more liquid than your typical gluten flours and almond flour is grainier than standard flour. I would love to know if your experiment turns out, though! I always love playing with gluten free alternatives. If all else fails, I know organic food stores (and I believe Target, too) carries a gluten free box cake mix that I would certainly feed my children. Happy Baking and congratulations on making it a year, mama! Happy Birthday to your twins!

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  26. Becky Byars says:

    My lil girl is turning 1on Dec 9 & I am going to make this cake!! Happy to find a healthy alternative & even though the frosting is sugary, she won’t be eating that much, & if she does, oh well, she’s only 1 once! She otherwise eats very healthy so I’ll let her go nuts! 😉 I’m gonna give the recipe a trial run to make sure the real deal goes well that day-thanks for great-sounding recipe!! 😀

  27. Beth says:

    Baking this cake right now. When I licked the bowl it was delicious! I think little one will love it!

  28. Siew says:

    My son has not tried egg white before, is it ok if i only use egg york in this recipe? thanks so much.

  29. Jessica Frank says:

    Hi there!
    I’d like to make a smaller version of this cake just for him to eat (like formula can size). Any recommendations for adjusting the recipe/bake time? Or should I just do a regular size and cut it into a smaller portion?

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