i wanted to have a smash cake photoshoot while we were visiting with my sister in law over Thanksgiving, so she could take pictures, because she’s a fabulous photographer and i wanted her to be a part of it, because she wasn’t going to be here for her niece’s 1st Birthday. at the same time, i wanted to keep it simple, without cheesy props, and i wanted the cake and icing to be organic, and without artificial dyes. i’m super pleased with how it turned out!
i’m a new baker, and i admit, this is the first time i made frosting from scratch. because this was happening on Thanksgiving Day, and i was hosting my own and had been cooking for two days prior, i decided to make it easy on myself and use an organic cake box mix for the dough. i bought one Arrowhead Mills Organic Chocolate Cake Mix and one Arrowhead Mills Organic Vanilla Cake Mix, so that i could alternate black and white layers. i wasn’t sure what was going to happen in the shoot, so i figured it should look good from the outside, and sliced. for her actual Bday, i’m going to make the cake from scratch all around, and go even wilder with the decorating, so stay tuned for that post.
i was hellbent on pink ombre, but i did not want to use artificial food coloring, which is so toxic. it’s carcinogenic, can cause asthma, tumors, chromosomal and neurochemical damage, allergies, and behavioral issues like ADHD. i try to avoid food dyes (though my Texan hubs still sneaks Gatorade once in a while much to my chagrin). you can read more about how dangerous artificial food dyes are here.
so i tried natural food color made from veggies by India Tree Natural Decorating Colors, and it worked fabulously. i only used the red which is made from beets, and i have plenty left in the red bottle of the set. i know it’s much more expensive than the usual Betty Crocker artificial dyes, but it’s worth it. i prefer to save elsewhere. sure my daughter will be exposed to food dyes at other people’s parties and cakes etc, and i’m not going to freak out, but when i bake, i can offer a safe alternative.
as i was baking the cake for a photoshoot, i wasn’t even thinking about the taste of my cake, but i have to say it tasted pretty good, and i loved my frosting. we ended up eating this colossal pink ombre black and white 4 layered cake as our Thanksgiving dessert, and then with our leftovers for days! I wasn’t going to let it go to waste, so i just scrapped my original Thanksgiving dessert plan of making my fave Retro Almond and Pear Cake. i know smash cakes tend to be smaller, but frankly i didn’t want to buy more cake pans, since i had just bought two 9 inch ones, plus i liked the way it looked with the cake being so huge.
i was happy that my baby didn’t actually smash the cake, but rather smashed and patted the frosting. it kind of would’ve been impossible to do with the cake being quite solid, not soft and squishy. this allowed us to salvage the cake and serve it for dessert afterwards. plus i was ok with her having a bite, but i didn’t want her to shovel fistfuls of cake in her mouth. as it was, she had some homemade organic frosting, slapped the cake around, spread her frosting initials which i squeezed onto the top, scrunched up her face, squealed with delight, and then crawled away. brilliant. and less clean up for mommy.
we decided on a very simple natural shoot background- wood floors, and whitewashed wood boards in the back, no decor, and no frilly costumes, just one of her summer dresses (which i can’t bear to pack away), and a headband i made myself with pink/orange ombre silk ribbons i used at our wedding, and a sparkly hair clip of mine i was going to wear to my wedding, and attached to the silk ribbons. we used natural light, it was snowing outside, so it’s quite white, and that’s it!
i used one of these pics for her 1st Bday invite photo, which looked super cute. how gorgeous is the photography? my sister in law Mindi Meeks is so talented. check out more of her pics. here’s her Flickr and her blog.