The birthday cake at a child's first birthday often takes center stage, with family, friends, and baby posing around it for photos. As a focal point, it should not only have the same theme as the rest of the party but should be as delicious as it looks!
First Birthday Cake Decisions
Several decisions need to be made before you can order or make your child's first birthday cake.
The type of cake you order is truly your own preference. Consider these options:
- Tiered cake - A tiered cake looks stunning in photos and on the dessert table, but can be costly if you're ordering it and difficult to make if you've never done it.
- Shaped cakes - A shaped cake is one cut into a specific shape. It could be three-dimensional or it could be a sheet cake carved into a certain shape. Three-dimensional ones, like tiered cakes, can be both costly and difficult. Carved sheet cakes or cakes made in single-layer shaped novelty pans provide a fun look without a lot of fuss.
- Sheet cake - Sheet cakes provide flat, even surfaces for creating unique scenes and decorations. They are easy to slice and serve. However, you may not get the "wow" factor that comes with larger tiered or shaped cakes.
- Round/square cake - A round or square cake can have layers with fillings. Decorate it similarly to a sheet cake. It offers a bigger presentation than a sheet cake without much more effort.
- Smash cake - A smash cake is one just for the special birthday boy or girl, who is allowed to squish, smash, and stuff the cake into his or her face, to the amusement of friends and family. These are popular for photo opportunities, but not essential.
Whether you choose to make additional cupcakes in a second or third flavor is your decision. Some parents like the way they look when decorated to match the larger cake while others don't feel offering multiple options is necessary. If the guest list is long, you may want to consider adding them so you're sure there's plenty to go around.
Flavors and Frostings
Both chocolate and carrot cake make Taste of Home's Top 10 Cake Recipes list and Saveur's list of 21 Great Birthday Cakes. Both lists also include popular fruit-flavored cakes, like lemon, pineapple, and strawberry, too. However, you can't go wrong with choosing a classic vanilla or your baby's favorite flavor.
When it comes to frosting, you have several options. Choose the one that fits your tastes and cake flavor the best.
- Fondant, which produces a clean look but may not taste as good as buttercream
- Buttercream, which has a sweet flavor but might not hold up outside or in the heat as well as fondant
- Cream cheese, which is rich and creamy but needs refrigeration
The first birthday cake design is what's going to catch everyone's attention at the party. Choose something simple, like a cake shaped as a number one or chevron stripes in the birthday party colors, or go with themes to catch everyone's attention.
- Country western - Hats, boots, cacti, and horseshoes make great design options.
- Animals - From safari/jungle themes to favorite pets like cats and dogs to ladybugs and dinosaurs, a cake can have a shape, design on top, or even animal prints.
- Royalty - Have a crown shaped cake or one with a picture of a crown on it for your little prince or princess.
- Vehicles - Trains, construction vehicles, tractors, motorcycles, cars, planes, and boats all make excellent starting points for a first birthday design.
- Heroes - Firemen, policemen, and members of the military are good themes for a cake featuring those aspects to match their party.
- Sports - Basketball, football, soccer, volleyball, softball, and baseball, or even a combination of several, are all great themes.
- Circus - From the big tent to the elephants and the clowns, a circus-themed cake is a festive option.
- Alphabet and numbers - Add a learning aspect to the cake by having ABCs and 123s written on the cake.
- Dolls - A cake shaped like a favorite doll or with a small doll sticking out with the cake as a skirt is a fun idea.
Rubber duckies, balloons, blocks, and other fun icons from baby's first year can all be incorporated into the cake and party theme.
Your baby's first birthday cake can reflect his or her favorite character from a television program. Just a few ideas include:
- PBS characters - Sesame Street favorites like Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Elmo are always popular. Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat are big hits too. And don't forget about Thomas the Train and Clifford!
- Disney channel characters - Mickey, Minnie, Doc McStuffins, Handy Manny, Princess Sophia, and more are all great options for kids' cakes.
- Nick Jr. characters - The loveable pups on Paw Patrol, merpeople from Bubble Guppies, the colorful characters from Yo Gabba Gabba, and Dora and friends from Dora the Explorer can all be made into cake designs.
Handling the Cake During the Party
Have the cake set out on a special cake table or with the rest of the food during the party. If you plan to take photographs with the cake, be sure to do so before the food portion of the party begins.
When it's time for your baby to blow out the candle on the cake, be sure to let everyone know so they can grab their cameras. Have everyone sing and then allow your child to blow out the candle with your help. Then you can cut and serve the cake.
Alternatively, if you plan to have a smash cake, you can cut the cake and allow people to take a slice as they desire throughout the party or as they help themselves during the buffet.
Celebrate With Cake
Cake is considered by many to be an essential part of any birthday party. Be sure the first one your child has is worthy of the milestone occasion!