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.
To make this 6-inch birthday cake with easy buttercream flowers, I started with sprinkle 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. I discovered that while testing this recipe! We even have a page dedicated to 6 inch cake recipes, explaining it in more detail with many other flavor ideas, including a 6 inch citrus cake. 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, much like my larger 9 inch confetti cake. 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.)
Recipe Testing: What Works & What Doesn’t
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.)
This 6 inch birthday cake is complete with easy buttercream flowers and swirls. Follow the recipe and video tutorial to recreate at home!
- 1 and 3/4 cups (207g) cake flour (spooned & 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
- 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 6 cups (720g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream or whole milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 6-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper rounds, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans. (If it’s helpful, see this parchment paper rounds for cakes video & post.)
- Make the cake: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): 6-inch Round Cake Pans | Glass Mixing Bowl | Whisk | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Cake Turntable | Pastel Americolor Gel Kit | Regular Americolor Gel Kit | Bench Scraper | Icing Spatula | Piping Bags (Reusable or Disposable) | Wilton 1M Open Star Piping Tip | Ateco 844 Closed Star Piping Tip | Confetti Quin Sprinkles | Cake Carrier (for storage)
- 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.
- 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.
- Why is Everything at Room Temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read more about the importance of room temperature ingredients.
- Sprinkles: Avoid using nonpareils (the little balls) as they bleed their color into the cake batter. I used these pastel confetti quins.
- Buttercream: This yields a lot of frosting. If looking to decorate the cake without the floral detail, follow these white cake ratios for vanilla buttercream.
- 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.
- 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