Over the summer, we celebrated our daughter’s first birthday. To commemorate the event I decided to bake her a smash cake. I mean, really, can you think of anything cuter than a baby deep in cake? Okay, yes, maybe a baby deep in cake with a flower crown. I will admit, I am not the most confident baker, but it didn’t matter. My daughter might eat a bite or two, but mostly she would smash it in her little hands or better yet, smash her face into it, hence the name. This was the best possible scenario for me to bake—zero stress. I didn’t need to worry about how the cake would taste (my daughter would eat cardboard, if I let her); only that it look pretty.
I’ve learned time and time again, rarely does a plan ever translate into reality. Of course, my darling Rose did not smash the cake. She ever so delicately put her index finger into the cake and pulled her index finger out again. She hammed for the camera and the audience of friends and family. It wasn’t my plan, but as fate would have it, it was perfect. What I didn’t foresee was that my guests would decide to salvage the cake and eat it! A part of me cringed in horror. People are going to eat it?! It turned out, this was a deliciously moist, perfectly sweet, delicate and fluffy cake. As everyone happily ate the cake that my daughter had just put her fingers into, the irony was not lost on me. If I had initially intended to serve the cake to my guests, it surely would have exploded in the oven and I would have spent countless hours on Google trying to decode why. Was the cake as good as it was because I didn’t second-guess my baking skills? Maybe it was simply because it was baked with so much love.
My recommendation: make two!
Buttermilk Smash Cake
Cooking time 35 minutes
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons flour, sifted
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 pinch salt
- 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
You will need two prepared 4x4 inch baking pans.
- Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt).
- In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Whisk the egg, the egg yolk and vanilla in a small bowl. Add the egg mixture to the creamed butter.
- Alternating between the flour mixture and the buttermilk, gradually add the remaining ingredients and beat on low until just combined.
- Divide evenly between two 4x4 inch round pans and bake on a sheet tray in the middle of the oven 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center is clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool slightly in the pan before removing to cool on a rack. Once cooled completely, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least an hour.
- Remove from the freezer. Slice each cake in half.
It will be easier to slice the cakes if frozen. Trim any crust that may have browned during baking. Do not discard. Save all cake scraps, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. These scraps make an easy dessert when served with ice cream. Once the cakes are portioned, set aside and allow to thaw completely before frosting the cake.
Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, ¼ cup of sugar and vanilla at medium-high speed for about 5 minutes, or until sugar has dissolved and mixture is smooth. Set aside.
- Whisk the cream and 1 tablespoon of sugar until stiff peaks form.
- Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.
- Frost the cake and refrigerate to set. Remove from the refrigerator 20-30 minutes prior to serving.