Desserts | Feeding Babies & Toddlers | Recipes

Healthy Smash Cake {Sugar Free for Baby’s 1st Birthday}

This healthy smash cake is fruit-sweetened (ie SUGAR FREE) and makes a perfect healthy first birthday cake for your 1-year-old. Perfect for any baby, even those with food allergies, your baby will love this egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly cake. Your little one will love this banana – applesauce smash cake!

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This recipe was originally published on January 26, 2019 and updated on April 12, 2021, after I made it for my daughter as well. The recipe is original to post and did not change. Be sure to check out the video below so you can see how easy it is to make!

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 both of my babies! Sweetened with bananas and applesauce it is full of flavor even though contains no added sugar.


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healthy smash cake recipe

What is a smash cake?

A smash cake is a cute frosted cake that a 1-year-old smashes all over their face/clothes/highchair on their first birthday. It’s a fun tradition and parents and guests of the baby love to watch their little one enjoy cake for the first time!

Can my baby have cake on their first birthday?

Every parent/family needs to make the decision for their own family on when to serve sugar and desserts to their child. However, it’s important to realize that holding off on sugar or traditional desserts, does not mean you need to hold off on cake altogether.

This banana smash cake makes a perfect sugar-free first birthday cake.

When Can Babies Have Sugar?

Organizations and professionals including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and American Heart Association recommend babies don’t receive any added sugars for the first 2 years of life. Be sure to check out my post all about sugar for babies if you have more questions about the official recommendations and reasons to wait.

While I believe in moderation and balance in general, I also know the recommendations are made to ensure proper regulation of the 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!

Why a Banana Smash Cake?

We hold off on sugar, including maple syrup, honey, or other sugar alternatives until our kids are 2 years old. (Well, with the exception of small amounts here and there worked into family meals and travel occasionally.) Any dessert we serve needs to be sweetened with fruit like bananas, apples/applesauce, or dates.

I personally chose to make a healthy first birthday cake free of any sweeteners (except fruit itself) as I knew my kids wouldn’t know the difference anyway! I first designed this healthy smash cake reicpe for my son who LOOOOVES bananas and applesauce so this cake was a perfect fit for him. And now 2 years later, my daughter thoroughly enjoyed it as well.

My philosophy is one of balance. And for me, this cake fits with my balance mentality for a 1 year old. If they don’t even know real, sugar-filled cake exists…why give it to them?!

applesauce smash cake for baby 1st birthday no sugar

How to Make a Healthy Baby Smash Cake Without Sugar (or sweetener)

There are tons of different ways you could go about making a healthy baby cake at home. And honestly, most muffin or bread (like banana bread) recipes could easily be converted into an easy 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!

This cake isn’t super fluffy. It’s more the texture of banana bread since it is made with oat flour and sweetened with bananas and applesauce. If a super fluffy bakery-style cake is important to you, then you should probably go for a more traditional (but less healthy) recipe. However, I PROMISE you, my kids didn’t care and yours won’t either.

Ingredients in this Easy Smash Cake:

  • Bananas
  • Applesauce
  • Coconut Oil
  • Oats
  • Vanilla
  • Baking Soda
  • Cinnamon
  • Coconut Cream
  • Optional: Freeze Dried Fruit (I used strawberries in my daughter’s coconut cream frosting to give it some pink and sweetness); Maple Syrup (I added just 1 TBSP in my son’s coconut cream frosting. This is totally optional.)

Seriously, with an ingredient list like that, it’s practically as healthy as 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. Most at least called for maple syrup or honey.

Leaving sugar/sweeteners out is EASY! Simply use FRUIT. We chose bananas and applesauce, but dates like in my no sugar pumpkin muffins could also make a good option.

Making it a 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 change the consistency, 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.

banana smash cake

How to Make & Decorate an EASY 4 inch 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.

Use 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.

How many layers for a smash cake?

I did 2 layers for my smash cake, but you could do 3 if you wanted a taller cake.

Smash Cake Topping Ideas

  • Schleich AnimalsThey have a variety of very realistic-looking animals that are perfect for woodland or farm birthday cakes. I used the bear for my son’s cake.
  • Flowers – I simply topped my daughter’s cake with a couple floral flowers
  • Fruit – Top it with some blueberries or strawberries for a yummy and beautiful way to add color.

Healthy Frosting for a First Birthday Cake

I topped both of my kids with a “coconut cream frosting“. It spreads on the cake easily and gives the baby the experience of messy fingers without loads of sugar. My kids LOVED it.

How to Naturally Color the Frosting

For my son, I left the coconut cream white, but for my daughter, I used freeze-dried strawberries to color it pink as well as lightly flavor it.

I purchased my freeze-dried strawberries at Aldi, but you can find them at almost any grocery. Simply blend them in your food processor until they are a fine powder and then mix them into the coconut cream until you have the desired pinkness.

Other Sugar-Free Recipes Your Baby Will Love:

I hope your 1-year-old loves this smash cake as much as mine did! If you make it please be sure to tag me over on Instagram so I can see your baby and their cake. AND, if you are looking for a PERFECT FIRST BIRTHDAY GIFT, I highly recommend a learning tower. This SDADI learning tower is the one we have and love or check out my post about finding the best learning tower for your family.

healthy smash cake for baby
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4.72 from 7 votes

Healthy Smash Cake {No added sugar}

This healthy smash cake is made with NO ADDED SUGAR and is even gluten, egg, and dairy free. This will make the perfect healthy first birthday cake for your baby!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time40 mins
Keyword: 1st birthday cake, healthy smash cake
Servings: 8 slices
Calories: 180kcal
Author: Josten Fish, Registered Dietitian

Ingredients

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
  • freeze dried fruit optional

Instructions

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.
  • Beat until soft peaks form, but don't allow the cream to get warm.
  • Optional: If you want to sweeten or color the coconut cream naturally, add freeze-dried strawberry powder to cream and beat with a hand mixer. Alternatively, you can add 1 Tbsp maple syrup to sweeten minimally and maintain a white color.
  • Keep the coconut cream frosting cool until you are ready to put it on the cake.

Notes

  1. If you are using freeze dried fruit, blend in food processor to make a powder before mixing to coconut cream. Mix enough to reach your desired color.
Nutrition Information:
Serving Size: 1/8 of cake (not including frosting or toppings); 180 calories, 30 g carbs, 5 g fat, 3.6 g protein
healthy smash cake recipe with no added sugar

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68 Comments

  1. Héloïse says:

    Hi!
    Thanks a lot for the recipe. I made this cake but with normal wheat flour, and the cake rose but deflated once out of the oven. Is it normal? What did I do wrong??? 😭😭😭

    Thanks!

    1. No, not normal. I’ve not tested this recipe with wheat flour. It’s quite different to bake with than oat flour so that could have affected it.

      1. Hi! is this recipe for only one layer of cake? Thanks!

        1. Josten Fish, Registered Dietitian says:

          No, this recipe will make 2-3 layers of the small 4 in cake size. If you make 2 layers, you can use the remainder for muffins.

  2. Elizabeth McGill says:

    How far in advance can you make the cake?

    1. Josten Fish, Registered Dietitian says:

      I made it the day before for my daughter. I would just wait to put the coconut cream on it until the day of to prevent cracks in the “frosting” over time.

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