DIY Preemie

How to Create a Wild One Cake Smash

Your little ones first birthday is here! The time just seemed to fly by, didn’t it? It seems like only yesterday they came into this world, and now it’s time to celebrate! Cakes smashes have become increasingly popular over the years. Nowadays there are hundreds, if not thousands of different themes for a cake smash -but here’s how to create a Wild One.

Creating a Wild One cake smash comes down to five different aspects. The cake, the outfit, the decorations, the background, and photography.

The Smash Cake

The cake is the star of the show, besides your little one of course! Keep in mind that the cake itself doesn’t need to be super extravagant. A smash cake is created for the little one to play in, get messy with, and snap some cute, memorable pictures. You can create one yourself, like this birch tree cake or you can order one from your local bakery.

Typically smash cakes are vanilla, confetti, or any other white cake topped with buttercream frosting. This allows them to get messy, without being overly distracting from the final images.

Some ideas for decorating a wild ones smash cake could be: a tree, buffalo plaid, or woodland creatures.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a cake for a cake smash.

  • Cakes created heavily with black or red food coloring can stain the skin. Although harmless, your little one could spend the next couple days looking like he or she was caught red handed!
  • Keep in mind that chocolate cakes, although delicious, can end up looking like something else altogether when smashed up and spread around.
  • A child can get a handful of buttercream frosting in their mouth without issue, but a handful of fondant is chewy and poses as a potential choking hazard. The artistic, fondant cakes should be reserved for the big cake.
  • If ordering a cake, don’t call the day of, or even the day before. Your local bakery will need a minimum of 2-3 days to create a custom smash cake.
Tools and accessories florists need for making up a bouquet

The Wild One Decorations

Time to set the scene for your little party animal to let loose. How you choose to decorate is really up to you, but here are some ideas to help pull the theme together.

  • Bring nature in: Add logs, twigs, or live plants to your set up.
  • Crates: Add a rustic touch.
  • Wild One Balloon: Nothing says ‘Wild’ like this giant balloon (literally). You can couple this with a balloon arch as well!
  • Where The Wild Things Are Book: A timeless classic, and a picture perfect prop for a studious wild thing.
  • Woodland Creatures: Whether you’re going for safari animal wild or Canadian wilderness wild, a couple stuffed animals help set the scene.
  • Signs: Such as ‘ Stay Wild ’, ‘Wild Child’ or ‘ Wild and Free ’.

The ‘Wild Thing, I Think I Love You’ was a custom sign built by . I wanted a large one with rustic feel, that captured my love for this little wild thing -while also playing off my love for older music.

Unrecognizable mother and baby walking outside.

The Background

When choosing the background it’s important to keep it simple. After all, the main focus is your little one. The best background for a wild one cake smash would be the great outdoors, with all the trees and flowers acting as the perfect backdrop for your little one to rumpus in. If you are taking pictures outside, try to avoid taking pictures at noon when the sun is at its peak to avoid harsh shadows.

However, if you were blessed with a winter baby like myself, and outside photos are not an option -go for a plain, black or white paper backdrop. This gives your little one the center stage, as well as making for easy cleanup after its all said and done.

Stay away from backdrops that have a picture printed on them to set the scene for some far off land. These are often busy and distracting. If you must go with a pictured backdrop, go easy on the decorations, and be aware that they are more difficult to clean.

The Cake Smash Outfit:

There are a variety of outfits out there for your little one to sport during the photos. From suspenders and bow ties, to party hats, or flowy dresses. You can dress your baby however you see fit. Just try and avoid paying too much or getting too attached to an outfit that’s gonna be worn during the photoshoot – it might not make it another day. Especially if the cake uses deeply pigmented food coloring!

If all else fails, a diaper works just fine too.

The Photography:

For high quality pictures, you need a high quality camera and proper lighting. Be sure that this is already set up, before bringing your baby in for the photos -since their patience (and consequently time to take pictures) is low. If this isn’t your forte, a professional photographer can take care of it all. Just bring your little one, the cake, and some decorations and let the photographer capture their special day!

baby birthday

Limit The Number of People:

Keep the amount of people at the photoshoot low. I know everyone and their dog wants to watch as the little one discovers the wonder of cake for the first time, but too many people create a distraction, bring conflicting opinions, and can get in the way of the photographer.

Plus, there is very little opportunity to visit the little one while the photoshoot is happening, and even afterwards. There’s only (roughly) a 30-45 minute window of opportunity for pictures, and then after that its straight into the bath. After all that excitement, the little one is likely pretty tuckered and ready for a snooze.

For your money’s worth, just record a video of them at the shoot to show friends and family later. We held our sons cake smash on his actual birthday, that fell on a Thursday, and then threw him a birthday party on one of the following weekends. This way, we got pictures to capture his first birthday and everyone was still able to visit and celebrate with him in the days that followed.


Bring a smile and excitement. If you feel stressed or anxious, your baby will feel the same way. Take a deep breath, smile, and enjoy the moment no matter which way it goes.

Lastly, when all else fails… add a wooden spoon!

wild one cake smash with birch tree cake and wooden spoon

Health & Happiness,


Desserts Kid Friendly Recipes Uncategorized

Birch Tree Cake With ButterCream Frosting

All my childhood I’ve been somewhat of a baker. I remember creating coffee mocha cakes, brownies, and cookies of every kind. And in what seems to be a cruel turn of events, everything I once loved to bake -I can no longer eat. So you can imagine my bittersweet delight when I was able to go back to my roots and make an actual cake -with flour. This particular cake I actually made for my son’s first birthday and his wild one themed cake smash.

I’ve been out of the cake game for a long time, so honestly I’m a bit of a rookie when it comes to them now. I’m not used to measuring properly. I’m not used to following directions exactly, or following those strict rules that promise a perfect cake in return. But luckily for us, there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to birch tree cakes …and I think that’s what makes them so wonderful! So what if your birch tree cake is leaning a little? Or it’s got some weird marks on it? Or it flat out fell over? Now its a log cake – embrace it.

Wanna get right into it? Jump to the Recipe

Before we get started, there are just a couple things you’ll need that will make creating this cake so much easier.

Steps For a Good Crumb Coat

A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting that traps stray cake crumbs, helps fill in any gaps between the cake layers to create a smoother working surface, and keeps loose crumbs from ‘messing up’ your final frosting coat.

For best results:

  • Make sure the cake is completely cooled; a hot cake will melt the frosting.
  • You can use any kind of buttercream frosting to crumb coat your cake, as long as it is thin enough that it won’t tug and break the cake’s surface.
  • Work from a separate bowl when crumb coating. This way you can avoid crumbs into the frosting you’ll use for the final, perfect coat.
  • Don’t worry about visible crumbs or a ‘uneven’ coat. This layer should be thing enough to see the cake and crumbs through it. Just smooth the frosting as best as you can, and let chill before applying the final layer of frosting.

Decorating A Birch Tree Cake

There is no right or wrong way to create these patterns and lines, but here is what I found helped along the way:

  • Pull up a reference photo.
    • Let this be your guide. Having a reference will help you get a feel for the patterns, marks, and distinct ‘eyes’ of the birch tree.
  • Don’t smooth the cake.
    • Birch trees are rough and have texture. Mimic this by leaving the cake a little rougher around the edges.
  • Use a toothpick or a paintbrush.
    • A little gel food colouring goes a long way, and the black pigment in particiular is exceptionally strong. Even the finest of lines get exponentially larger when touched and smudged. Go slow, you can always add more colour later.
  • Let nature play a part.
    • Gather and wash some small sticks, wrap the ends in plastic wrap and stick them into the cake for a pinch of realism.
  • Add personal touches.
    • A ‘carved’ heart, initials, arrows – the possibilities are endless!

Birch Tree Cake With Buttercream Frosting

Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: birch tree cake, buttercream, cake, frosting
Servings: 4 People
Author: Savannah


Maple White Cake

  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup butter room temperature
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp maple extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Maple Buttercream Frosting

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups salted butter
  • 2 tsp maple extract

Decorations & Assembly

  • small twigs & sticks
  • brown & black gel food colouring


Maple White Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 inch glass baking dish (are my cake pros screaming yet?).
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add buttermilk. Add maple (or vanilla, or peppermint, or whatever kind of extract you want your cake to taste like, really!).
  • Slowly combine the flour and sugar mixture.
  • Bake for minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Allow cakes to cool for a several minutes, before transferring onto a wire rack.

Maple Buttercream Frosting

  • Mix egg whites and sugar together in a small bowl. Place bowl over a pot with 1-2" of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the mixture is hot, reads 160°F on a candy thermometer, or is no longer graint to the touch. Approximately 3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and beat mixture on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled.
  • Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth.
  • Add maple extract.

Decorating & Assembly

  • Once the cake has cooled, cut the cake into three 6" diameter circles -I used a small serving bowl as my guide . Save the rest of the cake mixture for cake pops (or enjoy it now, who am I to judge?) . See how the pros do it here:
  • Place the bottom layer of cake on a serving tray. Top with approximately 1/4 cup of frosting, and repeat for each of layer. Crumb coat the cake and chill for minutes.
  • Frost the sides of the cake. It doesn't need to be smooth, the texture helps create a more realistic birch tree! Also, the rougher texture helps hide blemishes, and accidental touch marks …which is perfect for cake noobs like myself.
  • Place a small amount of gel food colouring into 3 individual, small dishes -one with black gel colouring, and two with brown. It's easy to over do it with color here, especially with black, so add a small amount at first. You can always add more later. Add a touch of hot water (½ tsp or less) into each dish, enough to thin the gel to make it easier to apply.
  • Take ½ cup of frosting and place into a piping bag (or a ziplock with the corner cut off works just fine too). Mix in one of the brown gel food colorings. On the top of the cake, pipe in circles, starting at the center and working your way outwards to mimic the rings of a tree.
  • Take a toothpick, or a unused paintbrust and paint on the patterns and lines of the birch tree with the remaining brown and black food coloring. Take a spatula to blend and smudge the lines for a more natural look.
  • Add your finishing touches! Twigs, pinecones, figurines, or a hand 'carved' heart.

That’s all there is to creating a birch tree cake! Trust me, if an absolute noob like me can do it, so can you!

Health & Happiness,