Healthy Smash Cake Recipe (1st Birthday)

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

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Healthy 1st Birthday Smash Cake!

 

This healthy smash cake recipe post is about three weeks late. Ha! Let’s just call it #momlife, or maybe #mombrain might be a better term! You also might be surprised to see me posting on a Thursday. I don’t ususually post on Thursdays, or any day other than Sunday, but I’ve been craving change and this post is extra special so it deserves it’s own special day!

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 essentially a 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!

One of my favourite cookbooks geared towards babies and children is It All Begins With Food by Leah Garrard-Cole (the founder of Love Child Organics) as it contains tons of healthy recipes from when baby starts solids to snacks and meals for toddlers and bigger kids. In the cookbook there are also special occasion recipes including a first birthday smash cake.

I used Leah’s recipe to inspire my own first birthday cake creation and I’m super happy with how it turned out. As you’ll see by the photos…Hemsley was a fan too!

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How To Make a Healthy Smash Cake:

 

Because I’m a nutritionist  it’s in my blood to make things healthier naturally, ha! 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 unrefined coconut palm sugar and there’s not a ton of it.

The cake is sweet, but not too sweet, and also has hidden fruits and vegetables. 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! 

  • Prepare frosting ahead of time and chill. 
  • Prepare batter mixing together the dry ingredients in one bowl. 
  • Blend wet ingredients in a blender to get it all nice and smooth. 
  • Pour wet mixture into dry mixture.
  • Divide between two cake pans. 
  • Bake until toothpick pulls clean and cool completely! 
  • 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 I used:

  • Gluten free flour (1 to 1 baking flour – Bob’s Red Mill brand) 
  • Banana
  • Applesauce
  • Carrot
  • Almond Milk (unsweetened) 
  • Coconut Palm Sugar 
  • 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 

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.

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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! 

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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. A little like carrot cake, a little like banana bread, and a lot like birthday cake all-in-one! 

Be sure to pin the photo 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 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 banana and applesauce and topped with a delicious homemade frosting, this healthy smash cake is a wonderful dairy free, gluten free, low 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
  • 1/4 cup mashed banana
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup finely grated carrot
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or 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

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 bottoms with parchment paper.
    6. In a large bowl add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix to combine.
    7. In a blender add the mashed banana, applesauce, coconut palm sugar, almond milk, eggs, oil and vanilla extract and blend until smooth, add the grated carrot and blend again for 15 seconds.
    8. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until completely incorporated, avoid overmixing.
    9. Divide the cake batter between the two pans and bake on the middle rack for 30-minutes or until a toothpick pulls clean.
    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 cut the top of the cake layer to make sure it is completely flat (if the top of the cake is rounded).
    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!

(Recipe adapted from It All Begins With Food Cookbook)

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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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    • Hi Christine, I wouldn’t make that substitution as canned coconut milk is much thicker and higher in fat than almond milk. You could use coconut milk from the carton (not canned), or another non-dairy milk like oat milk or soy milk.

  • Hello! I was wondering if I could make the frosting and cakes ahead of time and refrigerate them until the party. We are going to the beach for our littles first birthday and I would want to make this and then ride it down in the cooler and ice it the next morning. Do you think it would hold up as long as I keep it cool??

    • Hi Lindsey, Yes you can make them ahead of time, and then ice just before serving. I just wouldn’t make the cakes too far in advance as they will likely dry out after a day or so if not iced!

  • I’ve been reading your blog for over a year because I remember all of the pregnancy posts etc. Time flies! The smash cake was really beautiful- well done! and it sounds like it would be something that would be tasty, but you don’t have to feel bad giving your 1 year old. I struggled with this as well when my little one had their first birthday a while back. The pictures were beautiful and you can see Hemsely’s personality shining through. Motherhood is so common and basic (as in – it happens every day all over the world, and has been for ages) but yet still so miraculous and amazing and awe-inspiring at the same time. I’ve enjoyed your posts about life and motherhood just as much as all of your food posts. Keep up the great work! Your authenticity is really beautiful.

    • Hi Asha, thank you so much for the thoughtful comment. It means so much to hear from readers who follow along and take the time to read my posts and give me feedback and support. I appreciate it so much!!

  • Hemsley is a SWEETHEART. Is it weird that me, as someone turning 21 years-old this year, would totally want a vegan smash cake for myself? XD I wouldn’t use my hands, but who needs a slice when I’ll end up eating at least half the entire cake, right?!