If you have ever been invited to a smash cake party, you may be wondering, “What is a smash cake?” It’s a relatively new and fun tradition that is an excellent way to share a child’s birthday in today’s social media crazed world.
What Is a Smash Cake?
Smash cakes are small, decorated cakes, typically anywhere from four to six inches in diameter. The cakes generally are meant to be eaten by the birthday celebrant, usually a baby, with their hands.
What Is a Smash Cake, and Who Started This Tradition
Smash cakes are a relatively new phenomenon in the United States. With the idea of what is a smash cake covered, we can look at where this tradition comes from.
The truth is that no one can be sure, but there are two popular theories.
One of the theories is that the smash cake comes from the Mexican birthday tradition of mordida de pastel. After the birthday celebrant blows out their candles, tradition says that they should take a bite of the cake for good luck, sans utensils.
Then everyone starts chanting, “Mordida, mordida!” When the celebrant gets near the cake, someone behind them shoves their face into it.
It’s all done in good fun, though some people can take the tradition to the extreme.
Another theory is that the smash cake is a riff on the wedding cake tradition where the couple feeds each other a piece of the cake. Newlyweds often playfully smash their first bite of wedding cake into their spouse’s face.
What Is a Smash Cake and Why Get One
So with the “What is a smash cake?” question answered, we come to another question: why get a smash cake at all?
Baby’s first cake
Since smash cakes are so small, they are perfect to use as baby’s first birthday cake. This allows the birthday baby to have a cake all to themselves.
Babies often explore the world using their hands and mouths. Giving a baby their own smash cake for their birthday lets them feed themselves their first slice of cake in the most adorable fashion possible!
Everyone loves baby photos! So it’s no wonder that smash cake photo sessions are also very popular. Smash cake photo shoots are a lovely way to capture memories that will last a lifetime.
While every photographer and family is different, smash cake photo sessions may often include a themed photoshoot with a cake for the baby to smash on film.
Did you know that the tradition of blowing out candles on a birthday cake can increase the number of bacteria present on the cake up to 120 times? That’s a lot of germs on a single slice of cake!
If you or your birthday party guests are germaphobes, investing in a smash cake is a great way to give everyone a little peace of mind.
What to Consider
Smash cakes are a fun, new tradition but there are a few things you need to ensure before you give your child a smash cake.
Since most smash cakes are made for young children, you always need to make sure that there are no choking hazards.
Avoid any decorations on the cake that your child may choke on. Or if you want to have decorations, be sure to remove any possible hazards before giving the cake to your child.
Not so healthy
Birthday cakes are full of fat and sugar. While it is a great treat to introduce at a first birthday party, it is also understandable if you want a less decadent alternative for your child.
Luckily, there are plenty of healthier cake options to explore. For example, applesauce makes a great alternative for eggs and oil in some cake recipes. Whole wheat pastry flour adds whole grain and fiber to cakes.
Birthday cakes usually contain a lot of sugar. While you may not be able to cut out sugar completely, reducing the amount of sugar or using a natural sweetener may work. Examples of natural sweeteners include maple syrup and coconut sugar.
Be wary of honey, however. Babies under the age of one should not consume honey due to the risk of infant botulism.
What Is a Smash Cake and Where to Get One
So now that you know what is a smash cake and what the alternatives are, there remains one question: Where do you get one?
If you have a particular theme and look that you are going for your child’s first birthday, check out your favorite local bakery.
Many bakeries that specialize in birthday cakes may already know what a smash cake is. If not, request a cake that is relatively small in diameter, ideally six inches or less.
Some bakeries may be able to make a smash cake for your child and a bigger, matching cake for birthday party guests to eat.
After all, there is a good chance that your guests will be relieved not to eat cake that has been pre-smashed by the guest of honor!
Made with love at home
If you love baking, try making your own smash cake at home! Use your imagination to make little cakes that your little one will love to get their hands and face into.
You can make a cake in a standard cake pan and cut it up. Or you can get specialty small cake pans. If you love the look of a cupcake for a smash cake, but want something a little larger, check out giant cupcake molds.
Fun Smash Cake Ideas for Your Baby
Need some fun smash cake ideas? Here are a few ideas to get the creativity flowing.
Why not start your child’s birthday party traditions off right with the classic vanilla birthday cake? This smash cake tutorial from Belle of the Kitchen uses a simple vanilla cake recipe and a traditional buttercream.
Healthier chocolate cake
Being a chocolate lover myself, I cannot imagine a birthday without chocolate cake. If you are like me but want to give your baby a healthier start than a fistful of devil's food cake, this recipe from The First Year Blog may be one to look at.
This healthier take on the chocolate cake has real cocoa but subs out oil and sugar for extra ripe bananas and greek yogurt to cut down on the fat and sugar content. (According to the blogger, it tastes like a banana chocolate muffin).
Blueberry banana ombre cake
If you want a full flavored cake without sugar, this Blueberry Banana Ombre Cake from Lemons for Days is a recipe you should check out.
It is a delicious banana cake filled with chocolate ganache, frosted with blueberry cream. Even better, it is vegan, grain-free, and contains no refined sugar.
Sometimes the best smash cake isn’t cake at all. This fruit tower from Weelicious gives parents a healthier alternative to sugar-laden smash cake by making a tower of favorite fruits for their little one to demolish. Who says destruction can't be healthy?
Beyond the First Birthday Smash Cake
Of course, there’s nothing that says that smash cakes are just for babies. The smash cake tradition is easily adaptable to anyone and everyone’s birthday. Any birthday is a cause for celebration, after all.
Golden and milestones
Milestone birthdays are an excellent way for older kids (and kids at heart) to join in on the fun of a smash cake. Milestone birthdays include teenager (13), quinceniera or sweet sixteen (15 or 16), legal adulthood (18).
Golden birthdays are another excellent option for using smash cakes. Golden birthdays, also known as lucky birthdays, are the year that matches the day you were born. For example, if you were born on the 11th of the month, your 11th birthday would be your golden birthday.
Gender reveal smash cake
Gender reveal parties are a popular way to gather friends and family to celebrate an upcoming birth. The parents-to-be often use a frosted cake to show what gender their baby will be, with the interior color indicating pink for a girl or blue for a boy.
Using a gender reveal smash cake is a fun way to put even more of a spin on this announcement, especially if you have other young children.
Smash cakes for dogs
Dogs are just as much as part of the family as children are. So why not celebrate their birthdays with a dog-friendly smash cake? After all, dogs will smash whatever “cake” you give them anyway so this is just win-win.
When choosing a smash cake for your dog, be sure to use only dog-friendly cake ingredients. If in doubt, find a dog-friendly bakery. Or you can ask your vet if your cake is healthy for your best friend.
Cake Smash Time
Though a relatively new tradition, the smash cake has fast become a staple part of modern childhood. Giving your child, or child at heart, a smash cake is a beautiful way to make fun memories the whole family can look back on for years to come.
Do you have any ideas for smash cakes? Share them in the comments below!