A baby's first birthday is an exciting milestone. They probably just started taking their first steps and saying their first words, so the thought of restraint when eating cake seems far-fetched. That's where smash cakes come into play. No need for utensils; just set your kid up in front of it and watch them go. Be sure to have a camera ready so you can capture the excitement at that first taste of cake, the thrill of grabbing more, and the mess your pristine child is sure to make. Smash cakes don't have to be all that elaborate. Simple designs like buttercream ruffles can get the job done. You could also do a giant cupcake, simple polka dots or stripes, or shape the cake like the number one. Smash cakes are only for the birthday child and are by definition designed to get smashed, crumbled, eaten, and otherwise destroyed. Plan a photoshoot to take your mind off the mess.
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What is a Smash Cake?
A smash cake is an individual-sized cake that's specifically for a baby's first birthday. They can dig into it. Grab it. Plop their faces right in it. Anything they want to do. And it's a great photo opp that can also be an entertaining way of introducing a baby to their first real taste of sugar -- just watch their eyes go wide when they realize how yummy cake is!
How to Keep Smash Cakes Tidy
The point of a smash cake is to let your kid make a mess, but how do you keep your home tidy without curtailing the fun? Consider moving the party outside, if you can. Otherwise, you can place the cake onto the high chair tray or set up a blanket, towel, or sheet to put the cake and baby on top of. Most parents opt to have their kids in as minimal a get-up as possible when it comes time to chow down. It will reduce cake getting in your child's clothes, and you can deliver them straight to the bath after. Plus, the pictures will look cute with icing on your baby's skin.
Healthy Smash Cake
Healthy smash cakes are doable and can treat the birthday baby without butter, oil, or sugar. An angel food smash cake can be an excellent idea for health-conscious parents because the recipe has very few ingredients. You can make an angel food smash cake with just cake flour, cream of tartar, egg whites, heavy cream, and pure vanilla extract. The heavy cream is for whipping into an unsweetened cake topping that the baby will still enjoy and create a mess similar to frosting. If you're looking for something with sugar for other children or guests, make a second cake. Sugar can be added to the recipe easily, and the smash cake should only be for the birthday child anyway.
EZ Angel Food
Step 1: Separate the whites of the eggs from the egg yolks.
Step 2: Add cream of tartar and pure vanilla extract to the egg whites, then beat into soft, fluffy peaks.
Step 3: Gently dust the top of the egg whites with the cake flour, then fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites until they're evenly combined.
Step 4: Pour the batter into an ungreased pan, then bake until the top of the cake is light golden brown. When finished, invert the cake and cool it upside down. This will help the cake keep its height.
Vanilla Oat Smash Cake
Another healthy smash cake that doesn’t cost a lot is Vanilla Oat with Yogurt Frosting. It's moist, flavorful, and easy to make. It's also delicious without being high in sugar and can be easily modified to accommodate dietary restrictions. The Vanilla Oat Smash Cake features whole grains and natural sweeteners and tastes like vanilla and maple. Cover the cake with yogurt frosting, then add your favorite fresh fruits for a delectable yet straightforward design. Ingredients include baking powder, butter, eggs, maple syrup, oat flour, salt, and vanilla extract. You can make your own oat flour by grinding rolled oats into a powder using a blender.
EZ Vanilla Oat
Step 1: Grease three cake pans.
Step 2: Lightly beat the egg. Add remaining wet ingredients, then stir.
Step 3: Separately stir together the dry ingredients, then add to the wet.
Step 4: Divide the batter between the three cake pans, then bake.
Step 5: Let cool, preferably on a wire rack.
Step 1: Strain whole milk plain Greek yogurt in a fine-mesh strainer. Line the strainer with a cheesecloth or paper towels for thicker results.
Step 2: Stir yogurt together with a touch of vanilla extract and a little maple syrup, and you've got healthy frosting.
Step 3: Once you've removed the cakes from their pans and they're fully cooled, spread frosting over the top of your first layer.
Step 4: Add the second layer and cover the top with more frosting.
Step 5: Add the third layer and spread the frosting on top and around the sides if you have enough.
Step 6: Add berries or sprinkles to the top of the cake for additional color and taste.
For a gluten-free option, you need only acquire gluten-free oats. Similarly, a dairy-free variety is as simple as substituting coconut oil for butter and dairy-free yogurt in place of Greek yogurt. For egg-free options, try using a banana with regular flour to bind your batter.
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Cookie Monster Smash Cake
A widely popular cake among smash cake options, the Cookie Monster smash cake is easy to make and instantly recognizable. You can make any cake you like underneath, then use the frosting to complete your design. A layered cake is advisable as it will give Cookie Monster's head a better shape. For added texture, be sure to add some whole and broken cookies in front of or around the cake. After all, what's Cookie Monster without his cookies? The best frosting for a Cookie Monster smash cake is typically vanilla because the blue dye will hold a better shade than with chocolate. Opting for buttercream frosting instead of fondant is always a good choice because it's nice and soft, which will be fun for the baby.
Step 1: Either electric blue or royal blue food coloring will work. Acquire black coloring as well. The blue can come out too bright, and adding one drop of black at a time until you reach your desired shade is a useful strategy.
Step 2: Before adding the blue coloring, set aside a quarter cup of your frosting for Cookie Monster's mouth. You'll use black food coloring for this as well.
Step 3: Beat the blue into the frosting with a spatula, adding additional drops of blue or black until you reach the desired color. Be sure to get to the frosting at the bottom of the bowl, too, so the coloring throughout is consistent.
Step 4: Fill piping bags only 2/3 full. You can make your own using ziplock bags then cutting a hole in the corner. Refrigerate the frosting until ready to use.
Step 1: Stack your cake using frosting between layers to hold them together.
Step 2: Crumb coat the cake and spread, then smooth the icing out. Be sure to fill any gaps in between the layers of frosting.
Step 3: When frosting the side of the cake, start at the bottom and press the piping bag tip up against the edge of the cake, then gently pull it away as you apply pressure. The longer you pull away, the longer Cookie Monster's hair will be. Start the next layer of piping just slightly above and drag the frosting downward, so it rests over the top of the layer beneath it. Repeat until the side of the cake is frosted.
Step 4: When frosting the top, start along the outside edge then make your way around the cake until you reach its center.
The Mouth & Eyes
Used a serrated knife when cutting out the mouth. Start at the top and angle the blade in a half-moon shape. At the bottom, cut upwards. Cut at a 45-degree angle on top and bottom. Remove the piece of cake when done. You can frost it blue if you want or dye the frosting you set aside earlier black and use it to make the mouth stand out. Use the black frosting as Cookie Monster's pupils, too, ensuring they are off-center to match Cookie Monster's zany eyes.
Your baby can't eat a blue cake without getting their mouth, teeth, and hands blue, too. It washes out with water and soap, but better to know upfront.
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Chocolate Smash Cake
Chocolate smash cakes can be healthy, too. Avocado frosting can taste like rich chocolate and only takes three simple ingredients to make: cacao powder, pure maple syrup, and ripe avocado. Mix it in a blender for best results. The cake can be made in layers or cupcake style, depending on preference. It's oil-free and can be made nut-free. Try using peanut butter between layers for an added delight.
Step One: Preheat the oven, then lightly grease round cake pans with coconut oil. Dust with flour.
Step Two: Combine non-dairy milk with apple cider vinegar, then set aside to curdle at least 5 min to make buttermilk.
Step Three: Stir baking powder, baking soda, cacao, coconut sugar, salt, and flour together in a mixing bowl.
Step Four: Mix the homemade buttermilk with vanilla extract and applesauce or almond butter until smooth, then pour the wet mixture into the dry.
Step Five: Stir the wet and dry together until you have a uniform batter, then fill the pans about ⅔ full.
Step Six: Bake for about 20 mins, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of each cake comes out clean.
Step Six: Allow each cake to cool in its pan for about 15 mins, then flip them over and allow them to cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack.
Step Seven: While the cakes cool, make the frosting: blend the avocado, cacao powder, and maple syrup until smooth. Add more cacao or maple syrup according to taste.
Step Eight: When the cakes are cooled, top the first layer with your desired center - peanut butter, jelly, chocolate avocado frosting, or anything else your heart desires.
Step Nine: Next, top with the next cake layer, then spread frosting over the rest of the cake. Serve as is or add additional toppings like piping or fruit for more flavor.
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Fruit-Sweetened Smash Cake
Uninterested in giving your one-year-old a sugary first birthday cake? Consider this cake instead. The cake is sweetened with bananas and flavored with freeze-dried strawberries. The frosting is fresh whipped cream mixed with freeze-dried strawberries, too.
Step One: Preheat the oven, then grease and flour parchment paper inside two cake pans.
Step Two: Combine all dry ingredients, then set aside.
Step Three: In a small bowl, mash and puree bananas with a fork.
Step Four: Add freeze-dried strawberries to a ziplock bag, then seal. Crush the strawberries into a powder. Some bigger chunks are okay, but you want the powder as fine as possible.
Step Five: Add powdered strawberries and remaining wet ingredients to the bananas, then mix thoroughly.
Step Six: Add wet ingredients to dry, then mix until combined.
Step Seven: Pour half of the mixture into each prepared pan, then place in the oven and cook about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Step Eight: Remove pans from the oven. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before removing cakes and cooling the rest of the way on wire racks.
Step One: Beat the whipping cream until it starts to stiffen.
Step Two: Fold powdered strawberries into the whipped cream until evenly dispersed—flavor to taste.
Step Three: Add a spoonful of frosting to the top of the bottom layer and spread evenly. Place the next cake layer on top.
Step Four: Use the remaining frosting to cover the rest of the cake.
Step Five: Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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Smash, Baby. Smash!
Congratulations on your baby's first birthday! With these fantastic smash cake options, hopefully, you've been inspired to create the first smash cake for your baby and get lots of great photos out of the experience. Just remember, if your baby turns blue eating cookie monster, wash with soap and repeat until the blue is gone. Keep an eye on your own appendages, too, while making the frosting, or else you'll come out looking like a smurf. Happy smashing!