Nayla’s first birthday cake

Nayla's first birthday cake

To mark my daughter’s first birthday, I wanted to take up a baking challenge. A big one. A two-tier one! I had never attempted such a cake before, but I could really picture it sitting proudly on the table among the other great éclairs, macarons and tartelts I was going to make for the party!

I first did a bit of research online for recipes, and techniques and found everything I needed (cake and butter cream recipe) on the BBC GoodFood website, it is essentially the top 2 tiers of this cake. It is a delicious vanilla cake kept moist thanks to a fragrant vanilla syrup, with a nice layer of buttercream in the middle and covered in fondant icing. I decided not to add any jam as I preferred the vanilla flavour to be dominant (and the overall look once cut open).

To learn how to cover the cake with fondant icingBuddy – the Cake Boss shows it very well in this tutorial, although I am sure he can do it with his eyes closed! For the decoration, you can check how to make a fondant ribbon & bow by Oakleaf Cakes. The key is to keep the fondant warm, working it with your hands so it is workable, if you let it cool it will dry and crack.

Two weeks before the D-day, I practised with only one tier, to see how it would turn out, how much time I would need and most importantly how it would taste. I was satisfied with everything and decided to go ahead. The secret was to make the cake the day before to allow plenty of time and be calm in the kitchen.

Trial Nayla's cake
Trial cake

I must say I had a little (big) help from my sister, who designed the tiara – thanks sis!

I say Miam Miam & Yum to that! Do you?

Nayla's first birthday cake

  • Servings: 20
  • Print

Material needed

  • 1 deep tin Ø16cm (8-10cm high)
  • 1 deep tin Ø23cm (8-10cm high)
  • 1 rolling pin
  • 1 pizza cutter (or pastry cutter or 1 sharp knife)
  • 1 cake board Ø16cm
  • 1 cake board Ø23cm
  • 1 spatula
  • 4 + 3 cake pops sticks
  • Letters fondant cutters
  • Butterfly cookie cutter
  • Heart cookie cutter
  • 1 designer sister to design the tiara 😉 or some tutorials here
  • 1 candle 🙂

Ingredients for the cake

  • 500g butter, at room temperature
  • 500g golden caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste
  • 10 large eggs
  • 170g plain flour
  • 200g full fat Greek yogurt
  • 500g self-raising flour
  • 6 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
  • ½tsp salt

Ingredients for the syrup

  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 100ml water
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste

Ingredients for the buttercream

  • 350g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 600g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste

For the fondant icing

  • 1.5kg white fondant icing
  • pink food colouring is the cheapest option but you can buy a small pack of pink fondant icing instead

Method for the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C, grease the tins with butter and line the bottoms and sides.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter, salt, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one by one, mixing really well after each addition (add a couple tbsp flour if it starts to look slimy).
  4. Add the yogurt and beat again.
  5. Mix the flours and add to the batter and fold with a metal spoon. Add the milk and mix again.
  6. Divide the batter between the tins (about 2/3 full) and bake for 1h15 for the small cake and 1h30 for the large one.
  7. Cool and drench with the syrup.

Method for the syrup

  1. Place sugar, water and vanilla in a saucepan and gently heat up until the sugar is dissolved. Leave aside for the vanilla to infuse.

Method for the buttercream

  1. Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat well until pale and fluffly.
  2. Add the icing sugar, a spoonful at a time, beating really well after each addition.
  3. Add the vanilla and mix.

Method for the decorations

  1. Add colouring to about 250g fondant and knead well. Be careful to add one small droplet at a time.
  2. Make all the decorations a day or two before so they can dry and harden, following the links above and cutting the shapes with the cookie/fondant cutters.


  1. Divide the buttercream into 400g and 600g in 2 bowls.
  2. Level the cakes – cut the top off the cakes so you have a flat surface.
  3. Slice them in half. Fill with some buttercream. Put the upper part of the cake back on top of the buttercream.
  4. Place the cakes upside down on 2 sheets of baking paper. Cover all the surface (top and sides) with two layers of buttercream, placing the cakes in the fridge for the buttercream to harden between the two layers.
  5. Roll the fondant icing out on a sheet of baking parchment or on a worktop dusted with some icing sugar. You need to first roll out one circle about ø25cm ad cover the small cake with it. Then the other about ø35cm and cover the large cake with it.
  6. Place one spoonful of buttercream in the center of the cake boards, draw a criss cross pattern so it forms little squares of buttercream rather than an even layer. Place each cake on its board.
  7. Add one spoonful of buttercream on the surface of the large cake where the small on will sit. Again, draw a criss cross pattern. Place the upper cake on top.
  8. Push four cake pops sticks into the large cake, where your small cake will sit. These will form pillars to support the weight of the upper cake. Cut them to the level of the surface.
  9. Decorate the cake – you can use some water as glue, just use your fingertips to wet the surface you need to stick to the cake.
  10. Leave the cake at room temperature until service.


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