Healthy First Birthday Cake… it IS possible!
It’s baby’s first birthday…time for cake! Fortunately, a fun first birthday party for your baby does not have to include loads of sugar (and yes, I’m talking that adorable smash cake, too.) A healthier alternative can be done. In this case, you can have your cake and eat it too. 😉
This healthy smash cake was a HIT with Baby R. If you’re like me, you have spent some time doing a good Google and Pinterest search for the perfect smash cake for your little one. Look no further, I’m sharing a perfectly moist, but completely free of any sugar or sweetener (well, except FRUIT), dairy free, gluten free, AND vegan-friendly cake.
FAQs About Smash Cakes and Babies
Can my baby have cake on his(her) first birthday?
Many organizations and professionals including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend babies don’t receive any added sugars for the first 2 years of life.
Of course, the final decision is entirely up to you. While I believe in moderation and balance in general, I also know the recommendations are made to ensure proper regulation of baby’s taste. They are also meant to ensure nutrient-dense foods are primarily served the first 2 years of life, a time when nutrients are so incredibly important!
What IS a smash cake?
A smash cake is that cute frosted cake that your 1-year-old smashes all over their face/clothes/highchair. The guest of honor usually eats it at their party in front of all the guests.
What is a smash cake made of?
That depends! Typically, it’s just a regular birthday cake made into a small adorable treat. However, you CAN make a healthier birthday cake alternative like this one.
Why I chose a Banana Smash Cake
Rowan hasn’t had any sugar, including maple syrup, honey, or other sugar alternatives. (Well, with the exception of a minuscule bit in this coconut cream frosting on his cake, and small amounts here and there worked into family meals occasionally.)
I personally chose to make a no sugar cake free of any sweeteners (except fruit itself) as I knew Baby R wouldn’t know the difference anyway! He LOOOOVES bananas and applesauce so this cake was a perfect fit for him.
My philosophy is one of balance. And for me, this cake fits with my balance mentality for a 1 year old. He doesn’t even know real, sugar-filled cake exists…so why give it to him?
Making a Healthier Smash Cake
There are tons of different ways you could go about making a healthy smash cake at home. And honestly, most muffin or bread (like banana bread) recipes could easily be converted in a smash cake for your little one. So if you have a family favorite recipe you love and feel good about, try turning it into your baby’s birthday cake!
Key Ingredients in this Easy Smash Cake:
Seriously, with an ingredient list like that, it’s practically a bowl of oatmeal!
A 1st Birthday Cake without SUGAR
Most healthier birthday cake alternatives included a sweetener. I found recipes that were naturally sweetened were few and far between. Leaving sugar/sweeteners out is EASY! Simply use FRUIT. Nature’s sweetener. We chose bananas and applesauce, but dates would also make a perfect option.
Alternatively, you could choose to make a cake with minimal added sweetener such as maple syrup or honey (which babies can have at one.) This would work especially well if you want to serve the same cake your baby eats to your guests.
The recipe makes good muffins too, but we didn’t end up serving any at his party. Though we planned a healthy party (it was important to us this time since he wouldn’t be having any real cake just yet himself), we made a variety of muffins sweetened with honey, maple syrup, and dates for the guests.
Vegan Smash Cake
I loved this recipe and used it as a starting point/inspiration, but did make a few tweaks including subbing the whole wheat flour for oat flour. Oat flour is wetter than whole wheat flour so it does involve a few changes, but it makes for a nice moist baked good. I’m grateful that Rowan doesn’t have any food intolerances, but since this recipe is vegan that makes it dairy free and egg free, if that’s important to your family.
I actually made this recipe to trial the week before his party and turned it into muffins. I ended up giving him 1 or 2 for breakfast and hoped he wouldn’t recognize it at his party. When he devoured it I knew it would be a winner (he hadn’t had any muffins before these.)
How to Make an EASY Smash Cake
Honestly, I’m no cake decorator and was not interested in making the cake look fancy, anyway. So here is my basic method for decorating a cute and SIMPLE smash cake.
Small Cake Pans
I used a 4-inch cake pan that I picked up at TJ Maxx similar to this one. You could also use something like these Wilton mini tart pans. Honestly, I thought 4 inches was a perfect size. I did 2 layers for my smash cake, but you could do more if you wanted a taller cake.
Decorating Your Smash Cake
My little one is OBSESSED with bears. LOVES them. Says BEAR all day long. So, I just chose to spread the coconut cream frosting on the cake and top it with this very realistic bear.
Schleich has a variety of other very real looking animals that are perfect for woodland or farm birthday cakes. They are kind of expensive but something your kids will likely enjoy playing with for many, many years.
Healthy Frosting for a First Birthday Cake
We ended up topping it with a coconut cream frosting (ok, it was just coconut cream whipped and a bit of maple syrup added.) It spread on the cake easily and gave him the experience of messy fingers without loads of sugar. He LOVED it. (Side note: So did a couple guests who I found finishing the remainder of the “icing” directly off the cake.😅) Seriously though, this coconut cream frosting would be the perfect healthy frosting for any kid or baby’s birthday cake.
Other Recipes Your Baby Will Love:
Healthy Smash Cake (No added sugar)
This healthy smash cake is made with NO ADDED SUGAR and is even gluten and dairy free. This will make the perfect first birthday cake for your healthy baby!
For Smash Cake
- 4 Bananas extra ripe
- 1/2 cup Applesauce (no sugar added)
- 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil melted
- 3 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1.5 cups Oat Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
Coconut Cream Frosting
- 1 can coconut cream
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
For Smash Cake
Mash the bananas and mix in the applesauce. Melt coconut oil and add this and vanilla to the banana mixture.
In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients (oat flour, baking soda, and cinnamon.)
Mix banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until blended.
Coat mini cake pan with coconut oil and pour batter in 1/2 to 3/4 full.
Bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow cakes to cool and stack using icing. Top with coconut cream icing.
Coconut Cream Frosting
Place a mixing bowl in the freezer to chill.
Place canned coconut cream in fridge to chill overnight or place in freezer for a couple hours.
Remove canned coconut cream and chilled bowl from freezer/fridge.
Carefully open the canned coconut cream. The cream will be at the top of the can. Skim it off with a spoon leaving the watery coconut milk in the bottom of the can. Place the cream in the chilled bowl.
Add maple syrup to cream and beat with a hand mixer. Beat until soft peaks form, but don't allow the cream to get warm.
Keep the coconut cream frosting cool until you are ready to put it on the cake.