Hawaiian Island Smash Cake

I freeeeaking love smash cakes! 

I freeeaking love smash cakes! So fun, so cute, and they make for the absolute best pictures!

I got a request for a 6-inch Hawaiian Island/Moana-themed smash cake for a little girl’s first birthday…best request ever! Recipe below!


(Disclosure: As a way to keep my kitchen stocked with butter, sugar, and flour I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn a commission by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
My posts often contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you!) 

Cake Layers:
Note – this is a halved and modified layer cake recipe from ChelSweets.com – I highly recommend checking out her site if you haven’t before; it’s amazing!! 
1 ½ cups + 2 T  all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter (or 1 stick) room temperature
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
3 eggs 
¾ cups buttermilk, room temperature
1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three six-inch cake pans with parchment rounds, and /or grease with non-stick or baker’s floured cooking spray.
Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in eggs and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.

Bake for 30-35 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 30-45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.

Once the layers have fully cooled, the caramelized bits can be trimmed from the sides / top of the cake using a serrated knife if desired. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:

6 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
12 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
5-6 c powdered sugar
2-3 Tablespoons milk
1 T clear vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
Save and add later –
2-4 drops yellow, orange, and purple (I used a mix of purple and blue to match one of my flowers) Americolor gel food coloring
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined. (Note – you may not end up needing ALL of this frosting, but I made a ¾ batch to make sure I’d have plenty to get all the colors I wanted!)


Additional Supplies/Equipment:
– 1 7- or 8-inch cardboard cake circle
– Candy melts – I used Wilton Bright White – for the seashells
– Seashell mold (I used this one from Amazon!)
– Silk tropical flowers – I found mine at Hobby Lobby, but these flowers clips and these small palm leaves are available on Amazon!

Graham cracker crumbs (fake ‘sand’ for the cake base)
Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper – not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)

Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting, and add the next layer on top. Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.

Now you’re ready to crumb-coat . If you’re unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it’s just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
For the outside layer of frosting, color about ½ cup of frosting purple, another ½ cup orange, and the last part yellow. Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layers of frosting – each covering about 1/3 of the cake – and smooth. I like to use a large offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.

The rest of the decorating process is fairly simple – top with flowers / palm leaves to your liking, melt candy melts and pour into your silicone mold until they’ve set, then transfer to your cake! I added a rim of graham cracker crumbs around my cake base to resemble sand.

Step back, admire your cake, and find someone to give you a high-five! (Shoot me a DM on Instagram if you can’t find anyone right away!)

Make this recipe? Let me know  how it went – or find me on Pinterest or on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!

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