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.
TIP: If you need to make this gluten-free, you can use certified gluten-free oats or oat flour.
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?
This cake, due to the oat flour, is a little denser than a traditional yellow cake. It will smash just fine, though, and has a wonderful flavor from the maple syrup and vanilla extract.
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!
I’ve just made this cake for my sons first birthday, but I’ve made 3 days ahead, can I freeze it? And defrost and ice the day before?
I am planning on making this cake for my grandson’s first birthday party. Will the batter fill a 9×13 sheet cake pan or should the recipe be doubled? Thank you!
Hi Kim, the batter will fill a 9×13 sheet pan, however the layers will be thinner than shown in the pictures. Happy Birthday to your Grandson!
Loved this cake so much! Used it yesterday for my sons first birthday and had left overs for my birthday today. I let the yogurt drain overnight and was surprised how much liquid came out. Cake itself was a bit dense but so delicious. My son loved it!
Hi! Would you use spooned, sifted oat flour to measure 3c manually? It doesn’t seem like much if you use a weight conversion. 270g is three cups of oat flour, is that correct? It seems like that’s not enough, but I’ve never worked with oat flour. I just wanted to clarify before I attempted it for my sons smash cake. Thank you for your help!
I spoon the oat flour out to measure, but I don’t sift it. That might be the difference in how you’re thinking about this?
Hi! I’m planning on making this for my son’s first birthday and have never used oat flour before but use whole wheat flour all the time. I saw where you said whole wheat flour could be used instead, but do you think that would make the cake not as good? Thanks!
I prefer the texture and flavor of this cake when made with oat flour.
Made this for my 1 year olds birthday. He LOVED it! I had contemplated just buying a cake but liked that this one is relatively healthy in the sugar department especially. Also love the frosting, so easy! Thanks!!!
What do you do if you don’t have the 5 inch pans? Can you do two regular sized circle cake pans?
What’s regular size? 8 or 9 inch? How many layers would you be wanting to do?
Made it the same, just used reg flour instead. The middle was super soupy and didn’t come out good. Had to scoop out the middle, sacrifice the worst looking cake out of the 3 and rip up pieces to fill the middle holes I made from scooping the soupy parts out. Her birthday is tomorrow, hope it works lol
Regular four doesn’t absorb the same way as oat flour so I’m not surprised that it didn’t work the same BUT I hope you have a great time celebrating!!
What is the depth of the 5inch pan?
The one I have is 3 inches but you don’t fill it up the entire way
I am trying this right now, my batter seems to be a little more thick. I used exactly the measurements you suggested but while I was making my test batch I left the rest setting in the counter. When I came back it was basically like cookie dough consistency! It wasn’t like that before I left. What could be happening?
It’s possible the oat flour absorbed the liquid?
Hi! I only have two 5” pans. Will the batter keep in the fridge if I make the two and then the third once the first two are done? Or shall I just make a few cupcakes with the third? Many thanks!
It may thicken as it sits which doesn’t mean it will be bad, just may be a different texture when you go to bake it. But cupcakes would work!
Hiya I commented a few days ago but it doesn’t appear to be here so hopefully this works! I attempted this recipes (without the eggs one) and it turned out okay however the mixture was quite sticky and the amount wasn’t much, one thin layers worth. I’d have to do 3X the amount to make the full cake so I’m not sure if I did it wrong as I followed the instructions but I am based in the UK so I got a bit confused but apart from that it was good and my son liked it! I’d really like to get this right for his birthday in a couple of weeks 🙂
Hi- did you use the metric conversion or the US measurements? A different size pan? I wonder if something got lost in translation?
Hiya I did the metric measurements however I did the egg free version which didn’t have this option so I kept referring back to the original one and got slightly confused:)
I’m not sure what would have made it so sticky…
If you use greek yogurt in the frosting can you skip the straining step?
I would still strain it to make sure it’s very thick and not too wet.
This sounds delicious and I plan to make it for my daughter’s 1st birthday. I’m getting ready to do a trial run, and wanted to double check..am I reading correctly that the recipe calls for 12 tablespoons of butter?
Yes, it makes a lot of cake:)
i’m confused about the yogurt straining. so i put a paper towel on the sieve, then pour on the yogurt?
Yes, that will just allow the water to come out to thicken the yogurt into a nice consistency for frosting.
Hi Amy, I’m excited to try this recipe for my son’s first birthday next month—it looks delicious! I’ve only got on hand 4.5″ cake pans though, would the baking time change for this size? Also, what maple syrup alternatives would you recommend?
Thank you so much!
Hi- since that size is really similar, I think the bake time range is likely the same. Some people have done half mashed ripe banana and half maple syrup. Some have done date syrup. I haven’t tried it, so I am not sure whether using a full cup of banana would change the texture drastically. I hope your son and you have a very happy time celebrating your year!