Ahh, the smash cake phenomenon. When my daughter turned one a few years back, I don’t remember the Smash Cake Photo sessions being as popular as they are now. Whether or not to have a Smash Cake session wasn’t even a discussion that my husband and I had to have. Only a few years later, smash cakes are hugely popular for babies turning one. Many photographers that I know have pricing listed on their website for Smash Cake Sessions or include them in first year photo packages. My daughter didn’t have a smash cake session, but I DIY’ed my own for the boys. I can’t afford a photographer every time I want pictures of the kids, so I DIY my own most of the time. The boys’ smash cake session was interesting, to say the least. I need to remember to tell you about it sometime. The post will most likely be titled, “How to NOT DIY Your Own Smash Cake Sesson.” The smash cake itself turned out great, but a smash cake with triplets went about like you’re probably thinking it did. I know I have a lot of readers who like to DIY their own photo sessions, and a smash cake is actually very simple to do. You don’t need to be a professional cake baker to make your own smash cake. Because, believe me (Disclosure!!), I am NOT a professional cake baker. Professional bakers may even squirm at my tips below, but they work for me. You don’t even need to make a cake from scratch! A few weeks ago I made a smash cake for a local photographer, so today I’m sharing a few tips to make it easy for you to make your own simple smash cake. Why pay a bakery big bucks for a cake that’s going to be crushed to bits when you can DIY your own?
- Splurge for a 3 inch tall round cake pan. To get that “tall cake” look that photographs well, it helps to have taller cake pans that you may normally use in your kitchen. I have a few 3 inch tall cake pans in various sizes, and then just bake two cakes to piece together. You can purchase the cake pans separately, like this (aff link) Wilton 2105-9104 Perfect Performance Round Cake Pan, 8 by 3-Inch, or if you’re planning on doing a lot of baking then you can purchase different sizes of the pans in a set like this (aff link) Wilton Performance Pans Round Pan Set, 3 Inches Deep. This isn’t a necessity if you’re not wanting to splurge– I used standard cake pans for the white cake in the photo above.
- Cake box mix is okay! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Cake box mix is easy, simple, and you probably already have it in your pantry. Use one box of cake mix per 3 inch pan. Since I made a two layer cake, I used two boxes of cake mix.
- Skip the non-stick spray and grease your pan the old fashioned way. There are a few different methods, but I usually just cut about 1 tablespoon butter and use a paper towel to cover the pan with butter. Be sure to cover the pan evenly. Then flour the pan all over, lightly shaking the pan when finished to get any extra flour out of the pan.
- When using the 3 inch tall pans, bake one cake in the pan, and then let that cake cool while you bake another cake in the pan. Clean the pan in between cakes.
- Cool the cakes completely.
- Cut the top of the cakes so that they are flat.
- While cake box mix is cool, scratch icing is the only way to go. Canned frosting can be too sweet, and it’s expensive when covering a large cake. I use the Buttercream Icing recipe from Wilton. It’s easy for beginners, and it’s simple to color.
- Place four strips of wax paper under the bottom cake layer (under the edges). This makes it easy to clean up frosting messes from around the cake.
- I frost my cakes on cardboard circles like the (aff link) Fox Run 8-Inch White Round Cardboard Cake Bases, Pack of 12, and then transfer them to whatever cake stand I’m using.
- A fancy cake stand isn’t necessary, but I’m totally in love with this (aff link) Decorative Cake Stand. It would be a great splurge for anyone looking for a cake stand to have on hand for parties!
Thanks to Kate McGee Photography for letting me share this photo of the Smash Cake that I made for her client’s session a few weeks ago. It looks like it was a, well, smash!
Did you do a smash cake session for your little one or would you?
Darn! I wish I had seen this a month ago for my little guy! Great tips! I’ll have to keep it pinned for the next baby!
We just did one, and I love these suggestions. My session didn’t go that great either, but I did get a few photos that made it SO worth it!
I thought your photos were great!
I love this! I just had the conversation with a friend who wants to make one for her son’s 1st b-day in September. I am going to share with her this post!
Thanks so much!
Thanks for sharing! Hope it’s helpful!
Erica (@Erica's Recipes) says
Such a pretty photo with the pink frosting and green background! Great suggestion to use taller cake pans too – I’m thinking that would definitely be a good investment thanks!
I’ve been amazed at how much that I use them.
Things have sure changed since my kids were babies. After my first child was frightened at Walmart by the sound of backdrop screen snapping up, I never had professional pics taken of the kids again. Pics I took myself were so much cheaper and cuter! Now, with all digital photographers and so many mommy photographers, I know I should do it. But I’m still cheap! I would DIY a smash cake session–just like you! (Without the triplets!)
Oh, come on Heidi, you’re young- try for the triplets!! 🙂
Stephanie Daigneault says
Passing along to my sister!
Great tips and ideas Melanie. I will have to remember these. Pinned 🙂
Great tips! Thanks!
Oh, this looks so fun!