Fluffy Vanilla Cake with Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting {William’s 1st Birthday!}

Fluffy Vanilla Cake with Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting- the BEST vanilla cake and frosting! | Kristine's Kitchen

What a title!  This cake deserves every descriptive word in that title, and it was the perfect cake to celebrate my sweet boy’s first birthday.

A few weeks ago William turned one, and we celebrated with a relaxed party at home with family and a few close friends.  I thought and thought about a party theme, and nothing seemed quite right, until I settled on a color theme.  I kept things simple, with a few colorful decorations and an easy menu of burgers and salads.  And of course, cake!

I found this cake recipe just two days before the party, and although it was a new recipe I just knew it would be perfect.  The cake was incredibly light and fluffy, and the frosting was sweet and full of delicious flecks of vanilla bean.  I doubled the cake recipe and was able to make a 2-layer, 8-inch cake, a smaller smash cake for William, plus 8 cupcakes with the leftover batter.  I also doubled the frosting recipe, but would have had plenty had I only made one-and-a-half recipes.

Fluffy Vanilla Cake with Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting- a fun and easy way to decorate a first birthday cake! | Kristine's Kitchen

The big cake (above)…and William’s smash cake (below)

Fluffy Vanilla Cake with Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting, plus a colorful first birthday party! | Kristine's Kitchen

We had warm weather on party day, which was great for grilling and eating outside in the backyard.  The menu included burgers, this pasta salad, fruit salad, and a green salad.  After dinner William opened his gifts, although he was more interested in playing with his toys than opening presents.  Big sister Julia did not mind because that meant she got to do lots of helping!

Monthly Photos

I printed out a photo of William from each month of his first year, starting with 2 days old and ending with a picture of him on the day of his first birthday.  Our guests enjoyed looking at the photos of William from his first year.  This was one of my favorite party decorations!

Monthly Photos

Birthday Banner

I just loved how this colorful birthday banner turned out.  I die-cut the letters out of red construction paper and cut squares out of cute patterned paper and solid color construction paper.  I rounded the corners of the squares and then attached it all together with double-sided tape.   I used mini clothespins to hang each piece of the sign to the ribbon- so easy!  I highly recommend this method as I’ve used the mini clothespins for every birthday banner I’ve made now and they are cute and very easy to work with.

Birthday Banner

Pinwheels in Buckets

To decorate the tables outside, I filled colorful buckets with sand and then placed a few pinwheels in each.  They were fun and festive!

First Birthday M & Ms

I also added color to the party with colorful balloons and mason jars filled with a first birthday candle and M&M’s.  I found this cute idea on Pinterest.

Eating his first Cake

I’m so glad I chose a colorful party theme, and William loved looking at all of the colorful decorations.  He dug right in to his smash cake, and very much enjoyed it!  (Don’t worry, we didn’t let him eat it all, even though it looks that way in the picture.)

Happy Birthday, William!  You are our little joy, full of so much personality and so many smiles.  We love you!

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Fluffy Vanilla Cake with Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting {William's 1st Birthday!}
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: One 2-layer, 8-inch cake
This is the perfect birthday cake. It's amazingly light and fluffy, and the whipped vanilla bean frosting is the stuff dreams are made of!
For the Vanilla Cake:
  • 5 large egg whites (150g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 ¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (345g) cake flour, sifted
  • 2 cups (400g) sugar
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp (17g) baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. (5g) salt
  • 12 tbsp. (170g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 24 pieces
For the Vanilla Bean Frosting:
  • 3 sticks plus 2 tbsp. (375g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened
  • 3 tbsp. milk
  • Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups sifted (475g) confectioners' sugar
For the Vanilla Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two round 8-inch pans. Cut out two rounds of parchment paper the size of the pan bottoms. Line bottoms of pans with parchment, then butter again and dust evenly with flour.
  2. In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine the egg whites, whole egg, ¼ cup of the milk, and the vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter one piece at a time, about every 10 seconds, making sure it's cold. Continue to mix on low speed until the mixture is a fine crumbly texture. Add the remaining ¾ cup milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 additions; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. Fold once or twice to ensure the batter at the bottom of the bowl is incorporated.
  5. Divide the batter between the two cake pans, spreading it evenly.
  6. Bake until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs when inserted into the center, about 30 minutes. Be very careful to not over-bake. Check the cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and then set the timer for 5 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small knife, and invert onto wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up. Let cool completely before frosting.
  7. You can store the cooled cake at room temperature for up to 2 days, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap to store. It is best eaten the same day as baked.
For the Vanilla Bean Frosting:
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 8 minutes on medium speed. The butter will become very pale and creamy.
  2. Add the milk, vanilla bean seeds, vanilla extract, and salt and mix until combined. Add in the confectioners' sugar and mix on low speed for 1 minute, and then on medium speed for 6 minutes. The frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy and is best used right away.
To Assemble the Cake:
  1. Place bottom cake layer on a cake plate and spread 1 cup of frosting on top with a small offset spatula. Gently place 2nd cake layer face down on top. Place a generous scoop of frosting on top, spreading evenly with a small offset spatula and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. Chill until set, about 30 minutes.
  2. Remove from refrigerator and apply a final “coat” of frosting.
I highly recommend using a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients by weight. Also be sure to allow time to let the eggs and milk come to room temperature.

Amazon.com is a great place to purchase inexpensive, high quality vanilla beans.

Source: Sweetapolita, who adapted the cake recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum and the frosting recipe from Donna Hay.


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  1. What a cute party! I love the centerpieces. I am definitely going to try this recipe the next time I need to make a cake or cupcakes.

  2. I so enjoy all of your blogs and have been waiting for this one about William’s first birthday. What a fun party with so many tasty treats and wonderful decorations. You are an inspiration.~Karen

  3. Really interested in this cake, it looks so good!! How long did you bake in the smaller cake pan, for the smash cake, and how long did you bake the cupcakes? I really don’t want to mke a regular size cake, cupcakes are just so much easier to serve! Thanks!

    • I honestly don’t remember how long I baked the smaller cake and cupcakes. For the smaller cake, it would depend on the size and shape of your cake pan. While my smash cake was smaller in diameter, it was taller, so I think it took almost as long as the large cake layers to bake. I would just start checking at about 20 minutes and go from there, testing with a toothpick. Cupcakes usually take about 18-20 minutes, and these should be the same. Good luck!

  4. Hi! Found this on Pinterest after feeling WAY overwhelmed by the multitude of way-over-my head 1st birthday cake ideas!!! I love this! It’s simple and SO cute!!! I really appreciate your sharing the recipe! I had one question and that is how you made the 1 with the sprinkles. Putting something down on the cake would ruin the frosting right? Sorry may be a silly question but I’m new to this whole cake making thing!!! :)

    • That’s not a silly question at all! To make the 1 with sprinkles, I used parchment paper. I drew the 1 shape on the parchment and cut it out, being careful to leave the outline of the 1 in one piece as well. For the smash cake, I carefully laid the outline of the 1 down and filled the 1 in with sprinkles. I think I may have had a little help from my husband to hold it in place without pressing it into the cake too much. It worked fine, and it shouldn’t mess up the frosting as long as you are careful. Good luck!

  5. Jennifer Mullane says:

    Loved your post! I just used the recipe for my baby girl’s first birthday – the cake is in the oven for our party tomorrow. It’s looking good so far. Fingers crossed it turns out as well as yours looks like it did!

    • Happy Birthday to your little one! I hope your cake turns out perfect. I’ll be making this cake again next weekend for a family birthday celebration- it’s the best!

  6. Hello!

    Thanks for sharing the yummy cake recipe. I wanted to know how you recommend adapting your recipe for just the smash cake? I would like to make a smaller and taller version but am not sure how to adapt pan size, measurements, cooking time, etc! Any help is appreciated, thank you!

    • It would depend on the size of the pan that you plan to use for your smash cake. I would probably just halve the recipe, and remember not to fill the cake pan more than about half way full as the cake will rise as it bakes. You will probably have some extra batter with half a recipe, but you can always make a few cupcakes. :) Regarding baking time, see my above reply to Carla’s question.

  7. Just found this and it looks perfect. I’m not a cake maker, but wanted to give it a go for my little one’s first birthday. Want to get it right. To clarify… In recipe you say split mix between 2 tins, but I know you had excess mix and made extra cupcakes. How full/deep should mix be in 8″ tins? Filled to the top? Or guessing they rise… Sorry!

    • I would only fill the tins half way full, as the cake will rise quite a bit while baking. I think you will love this cake – my family and I have made it a number of times and it’s always great! Happy first birthday to your little one!

  8. I am planning to make this cake for my sons birthday. But I’m not sure my grocery store has vanilla beans. If not, what should I do? Add more vanilla?

    • I wouldn’t add more vanilla to the frosting. I think it would be delicious even without the vanilla bean. If you have time before your son’s birthday, you can order vanilla beans on Amazon. They are relatively inexpensive there. Happy Birthday to your son!

      • Great idea! I do have time. Thanks so much! Looking forward to this cake!!

      • One more question: I just made this and the parchment paper skewed the shape of the cakes….I obviously did something wrong. Any suggestions? Thanks!

        • In reading my recipe again, I realize I wasn’t really clear about how to line the cake pans with parchment. I cut out a round of parchment paper that’s the size of the bottom of the pans. So, only the bottoms are lined, not the sides. Maybe that was the problem? Frosting should be able to hide any rough edges, though. :)

          • Ahhhhh yes that explains it. I will try that next time. The icing did hide it and it was soooooo delicious!!! Everyone loved it! Thanks so much :)

          • I’m so glad you enjoyed this cake! It is definitely a favorite of ours. I’ve updated the recipe with more specific instructions about the parchment. Enjoy your weekend!

  9. Hello,
    I am planning to bake this cake tomorrow for my son’s first birthday on the weekend. Needed your advice on two things
    – How did you get the sponge cake to bake flat? Mine always rises at the center giving a dome shape.
    – Is this cake moist enough or should I sprinkle some fruit juice over it to moisten it?

    So looking forward to baking this tomorrow! Would appreciate your advice.

    • Hi Jyotsna! Cakes often rise in the center when they bake. If I want/need it to be totally flat then I use a serrated knife to carefully cut off the top so that it’s flat. Do you know how to do a crumb coat with frosting to prevent crumbs in the outer layer of frosting? First spread a thin layer, let it set, and then add a final layer of frosting. This cake is perfectly moist as is; no fruit juice is needed. I think you are going to love this one!

      • Thanks so much for the tip Kristine. As you probably guessed from the questions, I am a novice baker :). This will be my first icing cake. Will let you know how it goes!

  10. Hi Kristine, just wanted to thank you for this wonderful cake recipie. I made it on the weekend for my daughters first birthday and it was just perfect. I have never baked a birthday cake before and was worried about trying to make something that looked and tasted good and this was an absolute hit! So glad I came across your blog :)

  11. Tammy Glass says:

    Kristine, After Icing the cake today does it have to be refrigerated? I will be using it tomorrow. Also have you ever tried putting Fondant decorations on the sides?

    • If you are not serving the cake until tomorrow I would refrigerate it. It would most likely be ok without but I always err on the safe side! Be sure to take it out a few hours before serving to allow it to come to room temperature for best taste. I have never tried adding fondant decorations. Enjoy!

  12. Hi Kristine! The cake looks amazing and I’m going to make it tomorrow for my baby’s first birthday! Just wondered out of interest what the rationale is for the butter being cold, as I’ve always used room temp butter in vanilla sponges in the past. Yours looks amazing so it must do something good?

    • Hi Sarah! I don’t have a good reason for using the cold butter, other than that’s how I’ve always made this cake and it is the best vanilla cake I’ve ever made. I’ve made it at least six times and it always turns out wonderfully. Happy first birthday to your little one!

  13. I’m excited to try this cake for my daughter’s first birthday next month. I have a couple of questions though – I live at 6500 feet, any suggestions for adjusting for altitude? Also, does the cake need to be kept refrigerated once the frosting is on?


    • I hope your family enjoys this cake as much as mine does, Rosie! I recommend frosting the cake the day you plan to serve it. That way, no refrigeration is needed. (It should be fine left out for a few hours.) You can bake the layers the day before and wrap them tightly in plastic, if you want. I always refrigerate any leftover frosted cake.

      I don’t have much experience with high altitude baking. I’d recommend doing a quick Google search on “cake altitude adjustment.” Let me know how it turns out! And happy birthday to your little girl! :)

  14. Luci (UK) says:

    thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m not known for my baking prowess, but this cake was amazing. I loved your detailed directions on how long to mix things for. This cake was a huge hit even with the in-laws who are baking mad.

  15. if i adjusted to 2 9 inch pans for the vanilla cake, do you know how i could adjust the bake time? thanks! :)


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