Smiley Face Cake (Chocolate Cake Recipe)

When I asked my son what cake he wanted for his third birthday, he told me a smiley face cake. After the choo choo train cake from last year, my first thought was “Woohoo! Too easy!”. I didn’t know whether to believe him, so I asked him a few more times, and it was always the same (actually, it became “a chocolate smiley face cake with Smarties!”)

Smiley Face Cake

Note: Australian/Canadian Smarties that are a bit like M&Ms, not the US-style Smarties 😉

Since we got home from visiting my family the day before his birthday, I made and froze a simple chocolate cake ahead of time and just had to decorate on the day. It’s an easy recipe, but the cake is wonderfully moist and with a nice richness.

Smiley Face Cake1

Icing was a standard buttercream, using Wilton gel colouring. It turned out a little more orangey than I would have liked, but not too bad. I’m also hopeless at getting buttercream smooth, so I fluffed it up a bit (to make it look like my son’s Mr Happy stuffed toy…hmmm, clutching at straws?). I used large Cadbury buttons for the eyes and cut a strip of Willy Wonka Fabulicious Raspberry Twister for the mouth (tastier than liquorice!).


My son loved it (but then, what 3 year old doesn’t love cake)!


Here’s the recipe for the chocolate cake (from Australian Women’s Weekly Kids’ Party Cakes):


1 1/3 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
125g (4 1/2oz) butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup water


1.  Pre-heat oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line a 20cm (8”) round cake pan. (I only line the base of the pan, but shhh, don’t tell anyone!)

2.  Sift flour and cocoa into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a medium bowl if using a handheld mixer).

3.  Add all the other ingredients to the bowl and mix on low until the ingredients are combined (to avoid a flour and cocoa storm!). Increase the speed to medium and beat for a few minutes, until the mixture starts to turn a lighter colour. Scrape the bowl with a spatula a few times (if your mixer doesn’t scrape the sides of the bowl well, like mine!).

4.  Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean).

5.  Leave the cake to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Then decorate!


I have no idea how he managed to get so much icing on his hand (and then his shirt…).


  1. What a sweet cake! I hope he had a wonderful birthday.

  2. So cute! It always seems like kids are unimpressed with things that take time and talent but are amazed by the simplest things…guess we can learn from them. 🙂 I’d love it if you stopped by my linky party and link up one of your favorite posts!

  3. Love the last photo – kids love cake and this id proof! It is decorated so cute, too

  4. Jenny @ Simcoe Street says

    So cute!


    PS. I’m having a great giveaway from Cutting Edge Stencils and would love it if you came by and entered 🙂

  5. This is really a cute post. love the photos of kid and cake looks so tasty.
    CA Wine Club