Healthy Smash Cake Recipe

This easy, healthy smash cake recipe is the perfect healthy alternative for baby’s first birthday. Packed with secretly healthy ingredients like applesauce and topped with a delicious homemade frosting, this healthy smash cake is a wonderful dairy-free, gluten-free and low sugar treat.

Healthy Smash Cake for Baby’s First Birthday

 

On May 3rd our sweet girl Hemsley Ann turned 1!

To celebrate we had an intimate gathering with family and had Hemsley smash her very own cake.

I had seen “smash cake” photography on Pinterest and I loved the idea and while I am by no means a talented baker or cake maker, I decided to put myself to the challenge and see if I could create a healthier and still super cute smash cake for miss Hemsley.

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What Is a Smash Cake?

 

A “smash cake” is a small cake you bake for your little one on their first birthday that nobody really gets to enjoy but them because not only do they get to eat it, they get to “smash” into it as a one year old might do when plopped in front of a big delicious cake!

Usually they smash it with their hands (or feet…or both!) and go to town taking large mouthfuls of cake while all the guests stand around watching the hilarity and the cuteness ensue!

Because I’m a nutritionist  it’s in my blood to make things healthier naturally. I truly can’t help it! A smash cake can really be any flavour and contain any ingredients, so a healthy smash cake will obviously contain healthier ingredients.

While this smash cake does contain sugar, it’s pure maple syrup and there’s not a lot of it. 

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How To Make a Healthy Smash Cake:

 

The cake is sweet, but not too sweet, and also has hidden fruit. I also decided to make the cake completely gluten and dairy free so that I could enjoy a slice too (in the case any of it was salvageable after Hemsley had made her way through it!).

Here’s the process! 

  1. Prepare frosting ahead of time and chill. 
  2. Prepare batter by whisking the dry ingredients in one bowl. 
  3. Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl to combine.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until completely smooth. 
  5. Divide the batter between two 6″ round cake pans (lightly greased with oil).
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes until a toothpick pulls clean in the centre of each cake and cool completely.
  7. Carefully slice the rounded top off of each cake to create a flat surface so the cakes can be stacked level.  
  8. Layer the cake between frosting and decorate as desired.

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Healthy Smash Cake Ingredients:

 

To make this smash cake healthier I swapped out a lot of regular cake ingredients for unrefined, gluten free, and dairy free ingredients. I’m doing my best to use a food philosophy with Hemsley that reflects my own; embracing balance, honouring our bodies and paying attention to how food makes us feel, while also enjoying indulgent foods in moderation. 

Here are the main ingredients you’ll need:

  • Gluten free flour (1 to 1 baking flour – Bob’s Red Mill brand) 
  • Applesauce
  • Almond Milk (unsweetened) 
  • Maple syrup
  • Olive Oil
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla

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Smash Cake Frosting Ingredients:

 

To make the frosting I stuck with icing sugar to get a great consistency! 

  • Coconut Milk
  • Organic Icing Sugar (for the frosting)
  • Vanilla 

 

Optional Decoration:

  • Gold Sprinkles (found at most baking bulk stores, or in the baking section at the grocery store)

 

Watching Hemsley first cautiously poke at her smash cake then slowly but surely start “smashing” into it, taking handfuls and eating bites while also trying to share with all of us, was beyond cute. My heart. This sweet baby girl is so filled with joy, curiosity, love for others, and spunk, I have moments where I still shake my head in disbelief that she’s really ours.

Wow. Babies are truly spectacular and the growth that occurs in the first year of their lives is nothing short of miraculous. I am in awe at Hemsley’s resiliency, her ability to adapt and learn, and to see week-by-week the little person she is becoming.

Healthy First Birthday Smash Cake - www.nutritioninthekitch.com - #firstbirthday #smashcake #healthycake #healthybirthday #firstbirthday #dairyfree #glutenfree

How Many Layers Do You Need For a Smash Cake?

 

When it comes to layers, you can do as many as you want but I recommend at least 2 as this gives the cake the height it needs for great pictures and of course, optimal smashing! I used two cake layers in my healthy smash cake with frosting in between the layers and I think I could have easily gone with three layers for even more height! 

 

What size of smash cake pan should I use? 

 
If you are planning to make a homemade smash cake of your own, one question many people often ask is which size of pan is best. For this smash cake, I used a 6-inch round cake pan, but you could easily use different sized pan and make a 4-inch or 5-inch smash cake too just keep in mind if you use a smaller sized pan you will need to adjust your baking time slightly! 

Healthy First Birthday Smash Cake - www.nutritioninthekitch.com - #firstbirthday #smashcake #healthycake #healthybirthday #firstbirthday #dairyfree #glutenfree

I hope you have enjoyed all of this cuteness and education on making the best healthy smash cake for your little one!

P.S. I was actually able to salvage a little piece of the smash cake for myself and it really was delicious!

(2021) Julian’s 1st Birthday Update: 

 

This Healthy Smash Cake was such a success for Hemsley’s 1st birthday I decided to make it for my son Julian’s 1st birthday as well.

For his cake I used this same recipe and 1.5x the recipe to make 3 cake layers (instead of two)

I decided to go with a Woodland theme inspired by Whisk Wander (see here) and decorated the cake in a “naked icing” style with vanilla icing. I topped the cake with “moss” made from matcha and shredded coconut and “dirt” made from hemp seeds and cocoa powder.

For added decor I used Schliech woodland toys, some greenery, and a small banner I made using card stock paper and wooden letters I found at Michaels craft store. 

Julian loved his cake and it was another success! This just goes to show you can decorate this healthy smash cake however you like and make it your own for your little ones special day. 

 

Be sure to pin the photos below the recipe to save this one for later! 

This delicious and healthy smash cake recipe is great for a baby first birthday. The homemade cake works for a boy or girl depending on your final decorating and is super easy to whip up. It’s made with banana, carrot, vanilla, coconut, and is low sugar, dairy free, and gluten free too!

Healthy Smash Cake Recipe (1st Birthday)

Yield: Serves 6-8 (or 1 happy toddler)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This easy, healthy smash cake recipe is the perfect healthy alternative for baby’s first birthday. Packed with applesauce and topped with a delicious homemade frosting, this healthy smash cake is a wonderful dairy free, gluten free, lower sugar option!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten-free 1 to 1 baking flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Coconut Frosting

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight in the fridge or freezer
  • 1/2 cup organic icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Optional Decoration

  • 1/4 cup gold sprinkles (or other colour of your choice)
  • "One" Candle or Banner & Hearts (see recommended products list)

Instructions

    1. Prepare the frosting ahead of time by placing the can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight.
      Once chilled open the can and scoop the firm coconut cream from the can and add to a bowl (reserve the coconut water for a smoothie or discard).
    2. Beat the coconut cream on high until light and fluffy then add in the vanilla extract and 1/2 of the icing sugar.
    3. Beat again for another minute, then add in the remaining icing sugar and beat once more until completely combined and the icing is light and fluffy.
    4. Chill the icing in the fridge until the cake is ready to assemble.
    5. For the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease two 6-inch cake pans with coconut oil and line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.
    6. In a large bowl add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix to combine.
    7. In another bowl combine the applesauce, maple syrup, almond milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.
    8. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until completely incorporated and no clumps remain, avoid overmixing.
    9. Divide the cake batter between the two pans and bake on the middle rack for 25 to 30-minutes or until a toothpick pulls clean from the centre of the cakes.
    10. Allow the pans to cool on a cooling rack completely before removing the cakes from the pans.
    11. Once the cakes are completely cooled place one layer on a serving tray and gently slice the top of the cakes to make sure they are flat on top and level for stacking.
    12. Spread a 1/2 inch layer of the frosting on the top of the bottom cake layer then top with the other cake layer.
    13. Spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake as evenly as possible and then decorate the cake as you prefer.
    14. Serve within 1 hour.**

Notes

Because the cake is rather moist, dense, and absorbent, the frosting will eventually begin to darken and dry so it is best to frost the cake as close to serving time as possible. I recommend preparing the cake with the middle frosting layer the day of the party, then frosting and decorating shortly before serving for the best taste and appearance.

Pin me!

 

 

It’s crazy seeing these two side by side how many similarities there are… genetics, always amazing me!

 

Christal // NITK 

Author: Christal Sczebel

Christal is the creator of Nutrition in the Kitch. She's a Certified Nutritional Consultant, twice published author, gluten and dairy free recipe developer, food photographer, speaker, wife, and mama. Christal loves good food, all things wellness, and loves to travel. Her wellness philosophy is centred around balance and sustainable health, life's way too short for boring diets and restriction!

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  • What did you use to decorate this cake? I love the look but don’t see a note in your post about how you decorated. Thanks!

    • Hi Christie, I wouldn’t recommend it as almond flour is quite different in texture and density and the ratio of liquids to flour would need to be adjusted, it cannot be straight substituted for the GF flour in the recipe.

  • Hi there! Do you think I could use almond flour in the same measurement as the gluten-free flour? Thank you in advance! I can’t wait to make this!

    • Hi Christie, I wouldn’t recommend it as almond flour is quite different in texture and density and the ratio of liquids to flour would need to be adjusted, it cannot be straight substituted for the GF flour in the recipe.

  • I know you said it’s best to make the day of, but I won’t have time. I plan on making it the night before and frosting it the day of. How do I store it overnight?

    • Hi Whitley, wrap the cake (not iced) in Saran Wrap tightly and place in the fridge overnight, then frost shortly before serving! Also, I would let the cake get to room temperature again before frosting. I hope this helps!

    • Hi lily, I have not personally tried this but the general recommendations are to substitute 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour for every 1 cup of all-purpose flour or all purpose gluten free flour.

  • I’m hoping to make this but wondering what the icing sugar is for the frosting. This may be a silly question but is it just powdered sugar?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Samantha, yes powdered sugar or you can by something specifically called icing sugar, but I believe it’s the same thing!

  • Hi Christal, so if I wanted to leave out the carrot and palm sugar, and just add a bit more apple sauce and some honey, do you think this would work? Or would I need to add the same amount of something else to make up for what I’m leaving out?
    Thanks

    • Hi Amy! Hmm, this might change the texture of the cake and make it too moist as you are replacing carrots (solid) and granulated sugar with two liquid ingredients. You could use shredded zucchini in place of the carrot and additional honey instead of the coconut palm sugar. I hope this helps!

  • Hello, Did you put crushed graham cracker around the rim and bottom? I love how it looks. Do you have any tips on how I can do that? Thanks 🙂

  • Hi, im wanting to make this for my daughters 1st birthday (which is coming Sat) but i dont think i can find the flour you used in yours here in Australia, can i use normal flour instead?
    she also cant have Almond milk, can i replace it with normal milk??

    thanks

    • Hi Chloe, yes you can use regular all purpose flour in place of the gluten free flour and you can also use regular milk in place of the almond milk!