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One of my favorite things ever is celebrating first birthdays! I love love love love to make smash cakes, and have made no secret of this to all my friends with babies. I’m rather shameless about it actually. Anyway, my friend Tara’s little girl turned 1 recently and Tara asked me to make a mermaid smash cake for her mermaid theme first birthday photos. Tara blogs at An Aiming High Wife, so you may have already read some of her posts about her party prep. Today, I’m finally sharing my easy cake decorating tutorial with you so you can make your own mermaid smash cake!
I recorded most of the tutorial in a video, because it’s easier to explain and you can see the motion required to get the little mermaid tail scales on the cake. If you can’t watch the video just yet, keep reading because I’m going to explain a bit of the “why” behind the design and provide some links to the materials I used.
First of all, you’ll notice that this particular piping technique is very similar to piping flower petals for cupcakes (like in this post). I wanted something that would mimic the look of fish scales without using fondant. I have seen many super cute layered mermaid themed cakes with fondant circles as fish scales, and they’re lovely, but FONDANT IS BAD FOR SMASH CAKES!
Fondant accents are totally okay, but there is absolutely no reason at all to completely cover a cake in fondant for a smash cake session. You will not get the best shots out of the session and no one wants that. If it’s your child, you want those cute messy frosting photos, and if it’s your client, they trust you to provide a product that will give them the best final result. USE BUTTERCREAM! I’m not shouting, the emphasis is there because I care about you, and I want what’s best for you and the beautiful cakes you’re putting time and effort into crafting.
Pro Tip: Your photographer will thank you if it’s crusting (American) buttercream because it’s easier to clean off vinyl backdrops and floor drops.
Now that we are all on the same page regarding the kind of frosting we should use, let’s talk briefly about materials. I used the following:
- A cake turntable (I use this one in the video, and recommend it if you don’t plan to decorate a lot of cakes, but something happened when we moved and it makes all sorts of noises now and sticks. I finally upgraded to this one over the weekend.)
- Disposable piping bags
- Wilton 104 decorating tip – I also use the 103 in the video for the second color, you can make the cake all one color or use two 104 tips if you don’t like to complicate things as I do. You may find a better price at the craft store for this
- Gel food coloring – all the colors in the video are part of this set, which I highly recommend as an awesome all-purpose food coloring set if you decorate a lot.
- Frosting tip couplers – personal choice, grab them at a craft store for the best price
- An offset spatula for frosting
And now, grab your water or a cup of tea, and I’ll leave you to spend 10 quality minutes with me and my unscripted video tutorial. 😉 I even decorate on the fly here because I didn’t fully plan my cake design. I recommend doing that…
I’m sure you’d also love to see a photo of the darling birthday girl, and I’m so glad mama gave me permission to use one on the blog. Isn’t she darling?
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you have any questions at all when it comes to making your own mermaid smash cake, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an e-mail or message me on social media!