6 Inch Birthday Cake with Easy Buttercream Flowers

This 6 inch birthday cake is complete with easy buttercream flowers and swirls. Follow this recipe and my video tutorial to recreate at home!

6 inch cake with floral piping decoration on a cake stand

It was my birthday last weekend and I used my birthday cake as an excuse to practice a new-to-me decorating technique: covering the whole cake in multicolor buttercream flowers and swirls. My assistant, Stephanie, came over one day to help and then we filmed a video tutorial to show you how it’s done. We had so much fun doing this!

This is a 6 inch birthday cake. I used my favorite vanilla cupcakes recipe as the cake batter and added lots of rainbow sprinkles. Cupcake recipes yielding around 12-15 cupcakes is the perfect amount of cake batter for 3 6-inch cake pans.

You can find more flavors on my 6 inch cake page. 🙂

3 layer 6 inch sprinkle birthday cake with frosting on cake stand

6 inch birthday cake slices on white plates

How to Make a 6 Inch Birthday Cake

Cake Batter: I have detailed explanations about why I use certain ingredients in the following recipe including the egg whites, sour cream, and cake flour. I won’t repeat all the information here, but you can read more about the recipe in the vanilla cupcakes post. In short, this will be the fluffiest 6 inch birthday cake you ever try. Trust me.

Don’t Use Nonpareil Sprinkles: Like every sprinkle or confetti cupcakes recipe, avoid using sprinkles that will bleed their color. It’s impossible to tell before you add them if they’ll tie dye your batter, but I’ve found that pastel confetti quins never bleed. And you’re likely safe if you use any sprinkles besides nonpareils. Those little balls always bleed their color. The batter looks cool at first, but then turns brown. It’s the worst.

My Favorite 6 Inch Cake Pans: Grab three 6 inch cake pans. Many of you encouraged me to try Fat Daddio’s cake pans. I wish they nestled together; you have to stack them. No big issue at all, though. They’re pretty durable! (I have zero affiliation with this company.) No matter which brand of cake pan you use, I strongly encourage you to line the pans with parchment paper before pouring in the cake batter. The parchment guarantees easy release; I found it difficult and frustrating to remove the small 6 inch cakes without it.

2 images of sprinkle cake batter in a glass mixing bowl and cake batter in 3 6 inch cake pans before baking

2 images of frosting in a glass bowl and 6 inch cake with vanilla buttercream on a cake stand

Vanilla Buttercream

Once you bake and cool the cakes, begin preparing the vanilla buttercream. This is actually my vanilla buttercream with increased amounts of ingredients to yield enough frosting for the pretty floral design. If you prefer chocolate frosting with your 6 inch birthday cake, I recommend following the chocolate buttercream recipe/ratios I use for this marble cake. But if vanilla buttercream is your choice, let’s decorate your 6 inch cake with the most colorful buttercream flowers ever.

piping bags filled with colorful frosting

Easy Buttercream Flowers Cake Decoration

If I can decorate a cake like this, so can you. Over the years you’ve seen my talents as a cookie and cake decorator develop and I found this particular cake decorating technique both simple and straightforward, especially if you’re a beginner.

  1. After applying a thin coat of frosting around the assembled cake, called a crumb coat, divide the remaining frosting between 3-4 bowls. I tinted it my desired colors, which you can find in the recipe notes below.
  2. Fill piping bags with 1 or more colors, then begin applying swirls, roses, and hydrangea-looking flowers all over the cake. It’s best to begin at the bottom of the cake and work your way up. I think a “plain” section on top looks really pretty, but feel free to cover the entire cake.
  3. Use two Wilton 1M star piping tips (2D piping tip is similar) and one Ateco 844 star piping tip. Any star tip will have the same-ish look!

This design is so much easier than it looks and if you mess up, just cover it up with another rose/swirl/hydrangea! Have fun with it and know that you are your own worst critic. I thought the pictured cake had so many flaws and you know what? I’m the only one who cared. Present this cake to anyone and they’ll be incredibly impressed.

Buttercream roses and hydrangeas on top of 6 inch cake

Easy floral frosting decoration on cake

Looking for a birthday cupcake? Try my confetti cupcakes. And you can watch me decorate this cake in the video below. I hope the video gives you the confidence to try decorating this way. (The blue is darker in the video cake because I accidentally squeezed more gel food coloring out. Oops!)

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Buttercream roses and hydrangeas on top of 6 inch cake

6 Inch Birthday Cake with Easy Buttercream Flowers

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: serves 8
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This 6 inch birthday cake is complete with easy buttercream flowers and swirls. Follow this recipe and my video tutorial to recreate at home!


  • 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 6 cups (580g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream or whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 6-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the small cakes seamlessly release from the pans.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the egg whites on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes, then beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients just until combined. With the mixer still running on low, pour in the milk and mix just until combined. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. Gently fold in the sprinkles. The batter will be slightly thick.
  4. Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 18-21 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
  5. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin, more cream if frosting is too thick, or a pinch more of salt if frosting is too sweet.
  6. Assemble and decorate: Using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand, cake turntable, or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with about 3/4 cup of frosting. Top with 2nd cake layer and evenly cover the top with about 3/4 cup of frosting. Top with the third cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides or, to replicate the decoration in the pictures and video, follow my directions in the recipe notes below. Refrigerate for at least 30-45 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake hold its shape when cutting.
  7. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Let the frosting sit at room temperature to slightly soften for 10 minutes before assembling and frosting. Frosted cake or unfrosted cake layers can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before decorating/serving.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Colorful Small Mixing Bowls6-inch Round Cake Pan | Pastel Americolor Gel Kit | Regular Americolor Gel Kit | Icing Spatula | Icing Bags | Wilton 1M Open Star Piping Tip | Ateco 844 Closed Star Piping TipConfetti Sprinkles
  3. Cake Flour: Sift cake flour before measuring. If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, you can make this homemade cake flour substitute. I suggest doing this 2x, then remove 1/4 cup since you need 1 and 3/4 cups in this recipe.
  4. Milk: Whole milk and full-fat sour cream are strongly recommended for the best taste and texture. A full-fat plain yogurt would work instead, though the cake may not be as light. Same goes with a lower fat milk.
  5. Why is Everything at Room Temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.
  6. Sprinkles: Avoid using nonpareils (the little balls) as they bleed their color into the cake batter. I used these pastel confetti quins.
  7. Buttercream: This yields a lot of frosting, if looking to decorate the cake without the floral detail, follow these ratios for vanilla buttercream.
  8. To Decorate Exactly as Pictured: Once cake has been assembled with frosting between the layers, spread a thin layer of frosting, called a crumb coat, all over the top and sides. I recommend a bench scraper to smooth the sides and top. Divide the remaining frosting into 4 bowls. Tint frosting your desired colors. I used mauve and dusty pink from this gel food coloring kit and a very tiny drop of sky blue from this gel food coloring kit. I kept the rest of the frosting white. Grab 3 piping bags. Fit piping bags with star piping tips. I used two Wilton 1M star piping tips (2D piping tip is similar) and one Ateco 844 star piping tip. Add spoonfuls of two different colored frostings to each piping bag, alternating colors. Your piping bag will be marbled with different colors. (Note: I kept one piping bag only the mauve color.) Twist the open end of the piping bag shut and squeeze the frosting down to the tip. Squeeze some frosting onto a plate until you begin to see more than 1 color. Pipe swirls, roses, and hydrangea-looking flowers all over the cake, starting at the bottom and working your way up. You can watch me decorate my cake in the helpful video above.
  9. Looking For a Bigger Birthday Cake? I recommend making this 9-inch 2 layer vanilla cake and adding 2/3 cup sprinkles.

Keywords: white cake, vanilla cake

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  1. This cake is stunning! Perfect for birthdays!

    1. Thanks Natalie!

  2. Sally that cake so cute also happy belated birthday!!!!

    1. Thank you so much!

  3. This cake looks so good! I love funfetti and the buttercream swirls are adorable.

    I only have eight inch pans though. Could I double the recipe to fit?

    1. Hi Stacey! I recommend picking up 6-inch pans and following this recipe or preparing my 9-inch layer cake instead and dividing between 3 pans. I’m unsure of the exact bake time.

  4. I am in your camp, I have been making my own birthday cake for the last few years. This looks beautiful, I love all the colors and patterns. I hope you had a happy birthday weekend. I am going to have to try to expand my decorating for my birthday cake this year.

    1. Thank you so much Courtney! I hope you do expand your decorating for this year’s birthday cake – let me know how it goes 🙂

  5. This cake is stunning.
    And I love, LOVE your video.

    1. Thank you so much!!

  6. So I’m totally a math nerd but the area of a 6″ pan is 45% of a 9″ pan. I love little 6″ cakes so I have used the math to half many of your cake recipes to produce the perfect little cake. Hope this works for others too!

    1. I love it! I’m thrilled you’ve been able to turn so many of my recipes into smaller cakes – hope you enjoy this one!

  7. Brittany Audra @ Audra's Appetite says:

    I love those cute cake pans…such a perfect size! I’m thinking I’ll have to get some for myself 🙂 Happy belated birthday!

    1. Thanks so much, Brittany! The pans are such little cuties 🙂

  8. Very beautiful. Love the colors. So easy too and a bakery look.

    1. Thank you so much, Iram!

  9. That cake is stunning and your video was beautiful and really made me think I could do it (think being the operative word as I have never decorated a cake in my life)!!! Thank you so much for showing!!

    1. You CAN do it, Deb!! Let me know how it goes!

  10. Wow Sally! I know decorating at one point was not your forte! However, your skills are incredible! I pray someday I get THIS good! This is GORGEOUS!

    1. Thank you so much Sharon! I have learned so much over the years 🙂

  11. And Happy Belated Birthday! 🙂

    1. Thanks!!

  12. SO PRETTY!! I have been holding out on spending the money on the gel colors but this just convinced me that I should definitely buy them!! Or more specifically, use an Amazon gift card to buy them 😉 My birthday was yesterday! Happy Belated to you- isn’t having a bday around Memorial Day the best?!? Automatic long weekends for the win! I hope you had a great time celebrating with your sweet family. Your pic on your IG Story with Noelle was so adorable 🙂 🙂

    1. Happy birthday to you too, Angela! You will LOVE the gel colors! Definitely a good use of your gift card 🙂

  13. Happy Birthday, Sally!! Your cake is beautiful and looks delicious!

    1. Thank you Deb!!

  14. Happy, happy birthday Sally! I’m sitting here at 7 AM drinking coffee and wishing I had a piece of your funfetti cake or even a cupcake (chocolate frosting natch) for breakfast. I love the frosting. Of course you never leave out the details and inspire everyone to try to make this yummy gorgeous cake. That’s why it’s fun!

    1. Thank you, Carolyn! Leftover cake is 100% a breakfast food!

  15. This cake looks so cute & you’re right – perfect for a smaller gathering! Happy belated birthday, Sally 🙂

    1. Thank you, Hayley!

  16. Firstly that looks amazing.
    Now I love decorating with buttercream. But my problem is I have very warm hands, and within seconds the buttercream starts to melt and makes the flowers shabby, Iv tried the keeping a cold pack next to me to cool my hands, iv tried making two three piping bags but nothing seems to help. What do you suggest??

    1. When you hold the bag of frosting you should hold the very top – place the tied part in the joint between your thumb and first finger and use the rest of your hand to squeeze from the top. This gives you more control and also keeps your hands off of the majority of the frosting bag. You can always put the whole frosting bag in the fridge for a few minutes if it gets too warm. Hope this helps!

  17. Happy Birthday Sally!!
    Your cake is beautiful! I love the flowers. I baked something similar for a friend for mother’s day.
    I always want to bake my own birthday cake, every year it’s supposed to be the year when I do it, but my birthday is a few days before Christmas, so with all the things to do, it doesn’t happen, hopefully this December will! I’m so glad you could do it. Thank you for sharing your recipe, I ordered the cake stand!

    1. Thank you! Hopefully you at least gets lots of Christmas cookies for your birthday! You will love the cake stand!

  18. Happy belated b-day, Sally! This looks wonderful

    1. Thank you so much, Vivian!

  19. What piping tip do you recommend for cream cheese frosting? I tried to pipe cream cheese frosting before and it wasn’t firm enough. Any tips?

    1. Hi Jackie! Star piping tips are great with cream cheese frosting if you refrigerate the frosting for at least 1 hour first. It holds its shape much better for piping.

  20. Ida Bochner says:

    I wanted to say how beautiful your cake was but I was so disturbed by the video i had to watch befor getting to your cake decorating video.
    It seemed so inappropriate for your lovely web site.

    1. Hi Ida! I’m so so sorry about that. Do you remember what the ad was for so I can request to block it? You can send me an email at [email protected] .com to discuss if you prefer!

  21. Paige Flamm says:

    This looks like the perfect way to celebrate someones kindergarten graduation today!


    1. Aww that’s so exciting!!

  22. Sally it looks beautiful but personally I’m starting to back away from “american buttercream” and use Italian or even Swiss. They may be somewhat more finicky but I tend to enjoy the mouth feel and they seem to hold up better on my cakes. One thing i haven’t done enough of is flavoring them and l trust you so much I’m wondering if you’re going to take us into these new venues ? Thanks Sally & Co.

    1. You are one step ahead of me and I love it! I plan to work on a Swiss meringue buttercream tutorial later this summer, so I hope you come back to see!

  23. Patricia C Riippi says:

    Belated HAPPY birthday! This cake is beautiful and I’m sure delicious! I am not very good at cake decorating but I’ll try this..I know I am craving a piece of cake right now!

    1. Thank you so much, Patricia!

  24. barbara ann says:

    Such a delicious & beautiful way to celebrate your day!! I hope you had ice cream with it!

  25. Happy belated birthday! 6″ cake is such a good idea now that it’s just me and my husband at home. i would like to buy some but would like to know what depth you used – 2 or 3 inch? thanks!

    1. Hi Patty! I used the 2 inch depth.

  26. Christina Aliyetti says:

    I have a smash cake to make in a week so this recipe is perfect timing! 3 cake pans bought and I’m so excited to make this cute little cake!

  27. Sally, first: Happy Belated Birthday. I hope you and your family had a splendid weekend. Second: if ever there was a cake that exclaimed, “Happy Birthday, Sally!” it is that one you created. I am sitting here, shaking my head and smiling in disbelief as I watch your video. Absolutely beautiful. It is a reflection of who you are as a person–beautiful on the outside and amazing on the inside. This post made me smile today. Thank you. That is why I love coming to your website. You bring a bit of serenity to this world–with some much needed sugar!

  28. Hi, Sally,

    I’d just like to say that your new website design is fantastic! However, I noticed a problem that happens when I try to access your website on my mobile phone. The menu bar always pops up by itself and covers the whole screen, and there is no “x” button or other way to remove it. Can you please look into how to fix this problem? Thank you so much!

    1. Thank you for letting me know, Marianne! Sorry this is happening to you! We will look into it!

  29. First of all, happy birthday! Wow! What a stunning cake! What can’t you do? I am very intimidated about decorating, one day when I have plenty of free time I will have to give it a try.

    1. Thank you, Michelle! This is actually easier than it looks! Everyone is a beginner when they start – just practice and you will be rocking frosting flowers in no time 🙂

  30. Hey Sally! This is just gorgeous! I’ve never made or decorated a cake, but this looks just fabulous! I may actually be brave enough to try with your video tutorial! I just wanted to know where you got that gorgeous cake stand?! I’m starting to expand my baking tools and am looking for a couple of nice cake stands 🙂 Thanks!

    1. Hi Jenny – you can totally decorate a cake like this!! The cake stand is from Magnolia (there is a link to it up in the post!)

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