6 Inch Birthday Cake with Easy Buttercream Flowers

This 6 inch birthday cake is complete with easy buttercream flowers and pretty piped swirls. Follow the recipe and the video tutorial to recreate this elegant cake that tastes as good as it looks.

6 inch cake with floral piping decoration on a cake stand

To make this 6-inch birthday cake with easy buttercream flowers, we started with sprinkle confetti cupcakes, a simple recipe originating from these reader-favorite vanilla cupcakes. The original cupcake recipe makes 12-15 cupcakes. Cupcake recipes that yield around 12-15 cupcakes make enough batter for 3 layer 6 inch cakes. We discovered that while testing this recipe! And we even have a page dedicated to 6 inch cakes explaining it in more detail. I love this size cake because it works for smaller celebrations.

Many of you will enjoy decorating this one. The cake is adorned with beautiful buttercream flowers and swirls in a palette of muted colors. It’s a terrific opportunity to hone your decorating skills – and to be honest, it’s super fun!


Tell Me About This 6-Inch Birthday Cake with Easy Buttercream Flowers

  • Texture: This soft and fluffy cake has a delicate crumb that tastes wonderful with creamy buttercream frosting. The result? A stick-to-the-back-of-your-fork moist cake.
  • Flavor: This 6-inch birthday cake is filled with confetti sprinkles and has the most unforgettable buttery vanilla flavor. The familiar birthday cake flavor and fun sprinkles take you back to childhood!
  • Ease: The cake recipe is pretty standard, but the buttercream designs take some patience and time. If you’re new to frosting decorations, don’t fret! It may seem tricky at first, but it’s just a matter of building your confidence with practice. (You can find more instructions and a video below.)

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

6 inch birthday cake slices on white plates

Recipe Testing: What Works & What Doesn’t

  1. Cake Batter: We have detailed explanations about why we use certain ingredients in the following recipe, including the egg whites, sour cream, and cake flour. We 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 softest 6-inch birthday cake you ever try.
  2. Sprinkles: Anytime you’re using sprinkles in cake batter or cookie dough, it’s best to avoid using sprinkles that will bleed their color. When you add sprinkles, it’s impossible to tell if they’ll tie-dye your batter, but we’ve found that pastel confetti quins never bleed. In fact, your cake is likely safe if you use any sprinkles other than nonpareils. (The little balls.)
  3. 6 Inch Cake Pans: Grab three 6-inch cake pans. Many of you encouraged us to try Fat Daddio’s cake pans. While it’s not a big issue, we wished they were nestled together instead of stacked. Nonetheless, they’re pretty durable! (We have zero affiliation with this company.) 
  4. Use Parchment Paper: And no matter which brand of cake pan you use, we recommend lining the bottom of your cake pans with parchment paper before pouring in the cake batter. It can be difficult and frustrating to remove the small 6-inch cakes from the pans, and the parchment guarantees an easy release. See step 1 in the recipe below.
  5. Buttercream. The frosting below is a variation of this favorite vanilla buttercream, with increased amounts of ingredients to yield enough frosting for the pretty floral design. This recipe yields a lot of frosting, so if you’re not planning to decorate the cake with floral detail, use the ratios from this white cake for the buttercream. If you prefer chocolate frosting on your 6-inch birthday cake, we recommend following the chocolate buttercream recipe/ratios used for this chocolate cake.

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

How to Make Easy Buttercream Flowers Cake Decoration

If you’re a beginner, don’t get nervous– you can absolutely decorate a cake like this! This particular cake-decorating technique is relatively straightforward.

  • Apply a thin coat of frosting around the assembled cake (this is called a crumb coat). Then, divide the remaining frosting between 3-4 bowls to tint with different colors. If you’d like to use the same colors as the pictured cake, follow the instructions in the recipe note.
  • Fill the piping bags with 1 or more colors, then apply swirls, roses, and hydrangea-like flowers all over the cake. This is where the fun comes in. It’s best to begin at the bottom of the cake and work your way up. A “plain” section on top looks really pretty, but feel free to cover the entire cake.

Use 2 Wilton #1M star piping tips (piping tip #2D is similar) and 1 Ateco star piping tip #844. Any star tip will create a similar look!

piping bags filled with colorful frosting

Buttercream roses and hydrangeas on top of 6 inch cake

Easy floral frosting decoration on cake

This design is deceptively easy – if you mess up, just cover it up with another rose, swirl, or hydrangea. Enjoy the process and know that you are your own worst critic. This cake impresses everyone – that’s part of its beauty!

You can also watch me decorate the cake in the video below. We hope the instructions give you the confidence to try. (The blue is darker in the video cake because we used more blue food coloring.)

Print
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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

Description

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


Ingredients

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (207g) 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 6-inch cake pans, line bottom 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.

Notes

  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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103 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. Hi Sally. Yesterday I made a chocolate cake with chocolate icing, but I used your technique to ice it, and it looked absolutely beautiful. Not quite as pretty as your multicolours, but still beautiful and everyone at the party was very impressed. I watched your video and found it easy to do. Thank you Sally!

  3. I just made your cake today and it came out fantastic! One thing I did notice is in the print version of the recipe it doesn’t say when to add the sprinkles.

  4. Will these designs hold up for other frostings? Like a cream cheese frosting? I don’t want to try and then have the droop or melt. This will be my first attempt at cake decorating so I have no answers to even basics questions. Thanks!

    1. It really depends on the frosting! With cream cheese frosting it must be very cold to hold the shape. Buttercream usually works best for me but you can certainly experiment with other types!

  5. Monica De Leon says:

    Hi Sally!

    I just made this cake and it was amazing! Thank you for sharing so much information and steps with us readers. I especially love that you cover grams in your recipe since that is how I am learning to accurately measure. I do have a question.

    After the cake cooled, I was ready to cut the tops of the cakes to make them flat but i found that the cake is very soft and I was worried that I would just drag the cake along and ruin it.

    Do you have a blog post or tips that work for you when you level your cakes?

    Any help would be appreciated!

    Thanks!
    Monica

    1. Hi Monica! Thank you so much for the kind words!! I’m so happy to help. I don’t have any tricks up my sleeve for leveling cakes. I wait for the cakes to completely cool and simply use a SHARP serrated knife. Stick the cakes in the fridge for 30 minutes next time. If they’re a little cooler, they’re much easier to level off.

  6. Success! This was indeed a beautiful cake! Making this cake took me out of my baking slump! And piping is NOTHING to fear! Thanks girl!

    But I don’t think I really knew how small a 6inch cake was until today

  7. Finally made this cake today and I am so happy with the result! Thanks again for your detailed instructions, piping hasn’t always come naturally to me but this was a great test to shake out those concerns. Can’t wait to cut into it tomorow at work 🙂

  8. Hi Sally! for the batter, is it okay to use heavy cream instead of whole milk because I only have 1% milk lol

    1. Hi Justine! The 1% milk would be a better option. Cream is way too heavy for cake batter.

  9. Hi Sally, would it be alright to ommit the sprinkles?

    1. Absolutely! Just leave them out.

  10. Sally, I am going to make this cake today I have the Wilton 1M tip even the 2D tip but I do not have the Ateco 844 tip do you happen to know which Wilton tip could be used instead??? I can’t wait to try this!!!! Thank you for sharing this!!!

    1. Hi Mary! The Wilton 1M tip can actually produce the same look! And open star tip would be great.

  11. I know you recommended a two layer cake above but it isn’t the exact same. Any suggestions for how to convert this cake to 3 9in layer cakes? It’s my absolute favorite but need to increase it for a larger party!

    1. Hi Lindsay, I recommend this recipe for a 9 inch cake: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/funfetti-layer-cake/

  12. Sally, thank you so much for making this daunting-looking technique so approachable! I made this last week for a friend’s engagement party, and it turned out beautifully (and you’re right, even the parts I thought were messed up weren’t even noticable – just put another flower in there!). Your website is my go-to, you explain everything well and it always works. Thanks for the helpful tips and the confidence boost I needed!

  13. What percent is whole milk? I used whipping cream instead of whole milk for cake. My cake didn’t bake from middle right away, I had to put it back in the oven three times. Is it because I divided the batter into 2 6-inch pans instead of 3 pans? Also, did you put all three pans in the oven at the same time or did you cook the cake one by one? Regardless the cake looked and tasted awesome!! It was a little dry when I cut it. I’m not sure if it is something I messed up or was supposed to be like that in texture.

    1. Whole milk is only about 3.5% fat where whipping cream is over 30%.
      If you used all of the batter for 2 pans instead of 3 that would explain why it didn’t bake in the center. If the pans are overfilled then the outside will dry out before the center is fully baked!

  14. Kimberly Hardy says:

    Hello
    Do you have a recipe for two six inch cake pans only?

    1. Hi Kimberly! No, I don’t. Feel free to use this recipe for 2 6-inch cake pans, then use leftover batter for a few cupcakes on the side.

  15. Hi! I really want to try this recipe but I’m hoping to translate it into 8 inch pans. 2 or 3 layers. How would I translate the recipe for that?

    1. I suggest you use this recipe instead: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/funfetti-layer-cake/

  16. Happy to say that I made this cake for my birthday last year and I am doing a variation this year! I’ll tag you on instagram if it comes out great

  17. I have a 1M Wilton tip but I don’t have Ateco. You’re instructions say to have both, but they are pretty similar? Or is there a wilton replacement for the Ateco 844? Thank you!!

    1. Any star tip will have the same-ish look!

  18. Teresa Araujo says:

    I would like to try this recipe with 2 of my Wilton 6″x3″ pans. Will it work if I double the recipe?

    1. Hi Teresa! You can use this recipe, as written, for 2 6×3 inch cake pans. No need to double it. The bake time will be a little longer because the cakes will be thicker.

  19. Hi Sally,
    This looks gorgeous! Could I add raspberries and chocolate chips instead of sprinkles like in this recipe (https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/raspberry-chocolate-chip-layer-cake/) to make that a 6-inch cake or should I follow that recipe and just alter the amounts/baking time for a 6 inch cake? Thank you for any insight!

    1. Hi Jennifer! I love the chocolate chip and raspberry combination in cake. You can use this 6 inch cake recipe and use chocolate chips and raspberries instead of sprinkles. Let me know how it turns out!

  20. Deborah Shriver says:

    Sally, I made this and your chocolate mousse. They were great. I took pictures . Will put both in my blog.

  21. Hello….I just came across this recipe and only own two 6″ rounds and actually did spread the batter between the two pans and they baked absolutely perfectly. No uncooked parts or domed areas or bubble spots that imploded. Just a wonderfully delicious recipe which I will make again and again (tho I tweaked the frosting and added cocoa powder and coffee to it cuz it was waaaay too sweet for me). Thanks!

  22. Delicious recipe! I made this and decorated as instructed and everyone was so impressed! it looked like a professional cake & I have never decorated a cake before. thank you for the recipe and instructions!

  23. Heather Kristensen says:

    I love your encouragement for decorating a cake. Do you think this method would work with a cream cheese frosting? I’m making a pumpkin cake for my daughter’s birthday and would love for it to look special.
    TIA.

    1. Hi Heather, Cream cheese frosting is usually softer and more difficult pipe. I have definitely used it for the larger roses by making sure the frosting is thick and then placing the entire piping bag after it’s filled in the refrigerator. The smaller flowers/shapes might not be as defined and you will need to keep the entire cake in the refrigerator until just before serving as they will wilt if they warm up. You can always use cream cheese frosting between the layers and buttercream on the outside to make it easier!

  24. Hi!

    I love how detailed your recipes are! And I am very excited to try this one!

    Just a random question. You list two different sprinkles, the one at the top is 8 oz, and the next one, near the end comes in 4 oz. was that intentional? I already ordered the one suggested on the link near the top, then when I was reviewing everything I clicked the one at the bottom to make sure I received the right sprinkles. Are they the same color do you know? I’m happy with the color and amount of the first one, but I’m just curious. 🙂 Thanks!

    I’m using this cake (without any color in the rosettes) as the top tier for my daughter’s birthday cake, and the bottom 9 in cake is going to be your marble cake with chocolate frosting. I plan to use some of your peanut butter frosting for flavor in the layers and as decoration.

    One last question, do you think that the peanut butter frosting on the marble cake will hold up, if I use at as the crumb layer too? Then I would plan to put the chocolate frosting over that… Just curious if you think it will hold up since it’s mostly peanut butter?

    Fingers crossed that everything turns out! My grandma has made tiered cakes for years and this is my first attempt at following in her footsteps.

    The good part is, if it’s a total flop, I can serve it as two cakes or make a sheet cake and no one will be the wiser. Lol 🙂

    Thanks for a great resource! I’m excited to get baking! Her birthday party is in 11 days!

    1. Hi AJ! I’m happy to help. 🙂 I think the listings for the sprinkles must have changed in the past year and a half, but either is plenty for this recipe. Peanut butter frosting on marble cake would be delicious and hold up nicely, even if you just use it as the crumb coat layer.

  25. Made the exact cake for my bday yesterday and I followed the recipe to on point! Turned out to be very tasty and beautiful. I’m from UK and couldn’t get my hands on cake flour, so I used the cake flour recipe to make from scratch! Love how descriptive the recipe is!

  26. Amy Wilkinson says:

    I followed your frosting rdecorating recipe to a T and my cake turned out SO beautiful! I am a huge fan of all of your recipes and once again your tips did not fail me! I really appreciate how thorough your directions are ❤️ I was very nervous about piping all the roses swirls and stars but it seriously was a showstopper type cake! I have gained so much confidence now and I wish I could share a photo but I am not on Instagram. It turned out so gorgeous though!!! Thank you so much, Sally!

  27. Love your recipes!! But the proportions are always off for me. I feel like I would have needed to double or even triple the recipe to get the height for a 3-tier cake. I only got 2 thin layers using the above.

    1. Hi Jennifer, That is very odd. Are you using 6 inch round pans?

  28. I have never made a cake in my life, but want to make the smash cake for my daughter’s first birthday so I know exactly what ingredients are in it. I found your recipe and did a trial run tonight – full disclosure I did try a different icing, but the cake was AMAZING! I don’t make cake, I don’t even like to eat cake, but this was delicious and easy. And I SO appreciated your step-by-step instructions, and the link about the room-temperature ingredients convinced me to plan ahead enough to let things sit out for an hour. I accidentally used two 6 inch cake pans instead of three, and just had to cook it a little longer but it still came out wonderfully. Thank you for sharing this!!!

  29. I practiced the frosting and piping techniques today on a six inch cake and it came out almost like yours. I am so pleased. I’ll be making a 4 inch version for my granddaughter’s smash cake, and now I know I can do it! Thank you so much for detailed instructions and the video. The video is SO HELPFUL!!

  30. Jennifer Bene says:

    What tip did you use for the big flowers you “swirled”?

    1. Wilton 1M

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