This Vanilla Oat Smash Cake with Yogurt Frosting is an easy and super special first birthday cake. It’s moist, flavorful, and so yummy—and has the creamiest yogurt frosting. Find everything you need to make this smash cake, plus allergy-friendly and make-ahead options.
I first learned to make this healthy first birthday cake from a friend when she made it for her daughter Ruby, and I’ve now made this cake about a dozen times in various forms over the years. I love both how easy it is to make—no special skills required!—and how good the final result tastes.
The tender crumb of the cake is paired with a yogurt-based frosting for results that are as delicious as they are fun for the kids to smash.
This is a perfect first birthday cake option since it’s sweetened with maple syrup and has plenty of flavor and healthy fats. It can also be made ahead of time too, which is helpful when planning a party for a little one.
1st Birthday Smash Cake Recipe
This healthy first birthday cake is made with whole grains and natural sweeteners and is a fun way to celebrate the big day! The cake tastes like maple and vanilla, with a slightly tangy yogurt frosting.
We like to top it with fresh fruit for a simple and bright finish.
Remind me, what’s a smash cake?
A smash cake is a cake meant for a baby turning 1. The idea is that they will eat, smash, and generally make a mess of it as they explore this new food by using their hands and sometimes their bodies! (It’s usually placed in front of baby on a highchair or on the floor on a sheet or drop cloth.) It’s a fun tradition to mark a big milestone, and this version of a smash cake is an easy one to make at home.
TIP: You can place the cake onto the highchair tray, or onto the floor with baby set on top of a sheet to contain the mess a bit.
Ingredients You Need
Here’s a look at what you need to make this smash cake:
- Oat flour: You can use store-bought oat flour or make your own by grinding rolled oats into a fine flour in the blender.
- Butter: I use unsalted butter in baking so it’s easy to control the level of salt in the recipe.
- Maple syrup: This natural sweetener adds flavor, sweetness, and moisture.
- Vanilla extract: You can use regular vanilla extract or an alcohol-free option.
- Baking powder: This helps the cake rise and also ensures the batter bakes through.
The process for making this first birthday cake is simple. Here’s a preview of the process so you know what to expect. Scroll down to the end of this post for the full recipe and all the variations.
- You’ll need three 5-inch cake pans for this recipe. Grease and line them with parchment paper.
- Lightly beat the eggs. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir.
- Gently stir together the dry ingredients and add to the wet.
- Divide the batter between greased cake pans. Bake until lightly golden brown around the edges and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out cleanly.
- Let the cakes cool on a wire rack while still in the pan.
- Carefully remove cakes from the pans and cool fully on the wire racks.
TIP: There are additional size options at the end of the recipe if you prefer to use 6-inch cake pans, 8-inch cake pans, or cupcakes.
How to Make Yogurt Frosting
The frosting for this smash cake is made with whole milk plain Greek yogurt, a little maple syrup, and a touch of vanilla extract. It’s slightly tangy from the yogurt and super simple to make. (And there’s no need for cups and cups of powdered sugar to make it thick and spreadable!)
Here’s a look at the simple frosting and assembly method.
- Strain the yogurt in a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth or paper towels over a bowl. This makes it thicker, as it helps to remove some of the liquid in the yogurt.
- Stir yogurt together with maple syrup and vanilla in a bowl.
- Add some frosting on top of the first layer. Spread.
- Add another cake and more frosting.
- Add the third cake and top with the rest of the frosting.
- Add berries if you’d like.
TIP: You can leave it plain, top the layers with berries, add sprinkles, or add a candle.
Gluten-Free First Birthday Cake
The oat flour in the smash cake recipe is made from finely grinding rolled oats in a food processor or blender. You can buy oat flour if you’d like to skip a step. And if you need the cake to be gluten-free, simply buy certified gluten-free oats.
Dairy-Free 1st Birthday Cake
You can make this recipe without dairy by using coconut oil and a dairy-free yogurt. See the Notes section at the bottom of the recipe card for the details.
Egg-Free 1st Birthday Cake
To make this without eggs, there are a few adjustments you’ll want to make to the batter, including adding ripe banana and a small amount of regular flour to help bind the batter together. The banana flavor is subtle and the cake is moist and sweet. See the Notes section at the bottom of the recipe for the details.
(This Blueberry Smash Cake is also egg-free.)
Does this first birthday cake contain sugar?
It does contain natural sugars from maple syrup. Your little one’s first birthday is a big celebration, so it’s only fitting that they have a really special cake to mark the day! (Though this is so good you might hope they don’t smash it so you can have a piece for yourself. I usually use just two layers of the cake for the smash cake and save the third one so the rest of us can have a slice!)
TIP: If you want to use less maple syrup, a few people have replaced half of it with very smooth mashed ripe banana.
What’s the texture of this cake like?
What’s the difference between a cake and a smash cake?
A smash cake is a cake meant to be placed in front of a baby on their first birthday and smashed, eaten, or explored in any way the child chooses. A cake is usually just sliced and enjoyed.
How to Store
This is a great 1st birthday cake to make in advance, especially if you’ll be busy celebrating your new toddler on their big day. Simply bake the cakes and make the frosting the day before. Store the cakes, once fully cooled after baking, in airtight containers (in one layer) at room temperature.
Store the frosting in an airtight container in the fridge.
TIP: I recommend frosting just before serving, but you can frost up to an hour ahead and leave it at room temperature.
Best Tips for Success
- Grease each cake pan and line with a parchment paper round. Then grease again. This will help the cakes stay together well when you turn them out from the pan. (To make the parchment paper rounds, trace the pan onto parchment paper and cut out three times. Trim slightly to fit inside the bottom of the pan.)
- Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning them out onto the rack for the best texture.
- To Make the Cakes Ahead: You can bake the cakes up to a day ahead. Let cool fully on wire racks and store at room temperature in an airtight container. Frost just before serving.
- To Make the Frosting Ahead: Prepare the frosting as directed and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
- To Use Three 4-Inch Pans: Divide the recipe in half. The baking time will be 16-18 minutes and the layers will be slightly thinner than shown here.
- To Use Three 6-Inch Pans: The baking time will be 20-22 minutes, and the layers will be slightly thinner than shown here.
- To Use Two 8-Inch Pans: Bake in two 8-inch round cake pans, using about 2 cups of batter in each pan and baking for 18-20 minutes. The layers will be thinner than shown here.
- To Make as Cupcakes: Use about 3 tablespoons of the batter in each paper cupcake liner to make about 16 cupcakes. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean (I did 20 minutes). The rest of the recipe is the same.
- To Make Oat Flour: Place rolled oats into a blender. Cover and grind until resembles a fairly fine flour. Measure the amount of flour needed for the cake after grinding.
- Dairy-free: Use melted and cooled coconut oil in place of the butter and nondairy Greek-style yogurt for the frosting.
- Egg-Free: Use the ingredient list below in the Notes section.
- You can try making this with whole wheat flour if you prefer—though check for doneness closer to 18-22 minutes and stir very gently to avoid overworking the batter.
- You may also like Healthy Banana Cake, Blueberry Smash Cake, Healthy Apple Cake, Sweet Potato Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, and my best birthday cakes.
I’d love to hear your feedback if you try this cake, so please rate and comment below to share!
This post was first published May 2017.
Vanilla Oat Smash Cake with Yogurt Frosting
Greek Yogurt Frosting
- 1½ cups whole milk yogurt
- 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vanilla Oat Cake
- 3 cups oat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted and slightly cooled)
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 4 eggs (lightly beaten)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh berries to garnish
To make the Frosting:
- Place 1½ cups whole milk yogurt in a sieve or fine-mesh strainer lined with a paper towel with a bowl underneath. Let sit for 30 minutes or up to overnight, covered in the fridge.
- Transfer the yogurt to a bowl and stir in 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Trace one 5-inch cake pans onto parchment paper and cut out three times to make the rounds. Trim slightly to fit inside the bottom of each pan.
- Grease three 5-inch cake pans with nonstick spray and place a round of parchment inside of each. Grease again.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
- Divide the batter evenly between prepared cake pans, using about 1⅓ cups batter in each pan.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 22-26 minutes. Remove from oven and place pans onto a wire rack. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then carefully invert to cool fully. Discard parchment paper rounds.
- To assemble, place one cake on your serving plate. Top with about ⅓-½ cup of frosting, spreading it in an even layer just past the edges. Add the second, repeat with frosting, and then repeat with the third cake . Use an offset spatula or knife to scrape off the frosting overhang for a "naked" cake look, or use additional frosting to coat the entire cake.
- Top with berries and serve…as in, let the birthday kiddo dig in!