How to Make a Simple Smash Cake

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The smash cake. This may very well be your baby's first real taste of sugary sweetness and your first go at kid-party planning. Heck, it might even be your first venture into cake decorating. Wherever you stand, welcome to the sweet side where we always have cake. Lots and lots of cake.

I do know it's not all sunshine and rainbows here. This milestone can be a little stressful, and the last thing you should be losing sleep over is the dessert. We'll take the stress out with a smash cake that's adorably easy and decorated with something no 1-year-old can refuse — snacks!

Baby snacks that make great cake decor

  • Yogurt melts 
  • Fruit puffs
  • Dried cereal
  • Flavored rice cakes
  • Mini teething cookies

Let's make a smash cake!

Supplies 

  • Small cake (no larger than an 8" round)
  • Snack of choice (I used yogurt melts in mango, berry and peach)
  • 1-2 cups of extra frosting (optional)
  • Piping bag (optional)

Step 1: Make the cake

Every parent has their own rules here, and that's a debate I am not getting into. Sugar free? Sweet! Gluten free? Adios, glutens! Boxed mix and canned frosting fan? Do you!

What I will tell you for certain is to keep it simple. The first year is hard enough; you don't need to do hard labor on the first birthday too. 

I suggest making a 4" or 6" round cake for your little cake monster. A single layer cake is perfect here, but I know you're all going for the over-achiever-smash-cake-shot, so layer if you must (but no more than two!). Otherwise, you run the risk of overwhelming your party star and making too much work for yourself.

Bake the cake a day or two before and store tightly wrapped. Frost the cake and decorate it the night before or the morning of your party. The yogurt melts that I used on this cake held up great in the fridge, but if you're not sure, make sticking on your decorations one of your last bits of party prep and leave the cake out after that.  

Step 2: Decorate the sides

Let's be real: the sides are what matter for that all-important smash shot, so they've got to look good. I went with three flavors of yogurt melts because I love the color combination.

Use two colors and create stripes or a checkerboard look, or keep it super simple and monochromatic with just one flavor. Tell people it's a minimalist-chic birthday cake. Whatever it takes.

If you end up with three flavors, like me, first add a row of melts around the base of the cake, keeping the color pattern consistent all the way around. Start the second row's pattern one dot over from the row below to create diagonal stripes. For classic stripes, keep all the rows the same.

Add more rows, shifting the color pattern over by one dot with each row, until the sides are completely covered.

Step 3: Decorate the top of the cake

Again, keep it simple here. Use the snacks to draw a number 1 on top of the cake with the same color pattern you used on the sides. Or just use your child's favorite flavor for the "1." Doing that might also prompt them to reach for the cake with a smile instead of screams. (No guarantee though.)

Extra credit: Finishing touches!

I said to keep it simple, but I also know that you may not heed my advice or you may already know your way around a piping bag. If that's your jam, here are a few cute finishing touches to try. 

Fill a piping bag, paper cone or zip-top bag with a cup or so of extra frosting. Then snip the tip of the bag and pipe a simple, chunky pearl border around the top of the cake. Hold the tip of the bag close to the surface of the cake, apply pressure and pull the bag down and away from the cake while releasing pressure. Repeat until the border is complete. 

You can also smash some of the yogurts melts (or whatever snack you're using) to add some "confetti" to your border. 

Once you're satisfied, store your finished cake in the fridge overnight lightly covered with plastic wrap, or keep the cake at room temperature if you're within a few hours of the party. The amount of time you're able to leave it at room temperature will depend on your ingredients and filling. 

All that's left to do is watch your little cutie dig in... or not. They'll do what they do, so snap a few pics either way and enjoy the special day. 

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