Read on if you want to find out how to make a healthy no fluff, no nasties, no sugar smash cake for your baby’s 1st birthday, your toddler’s 2nd birthday or any special event involving cake for little ones [yey for partyyyy!]. I even include a recipe of mine at the end. Squeeee!
This post contains affiliate links, at no cost to you, meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through my link.
What is it with smash cakes and the need for sugar? Cakes can be edible (I’m not saying sugar-craving satisfiers) even without the all-mighty sugar, the sweet maple syrup or any sweetener you can think of.
If you have ripe bananas, sweet apples like the Gala variety, heck even some ripe pears, you can do business.
In fact, most of the recipes I’m listing here, if not all, have fruit as the alternative to sugar. And it works well. The cakes stand upright, the kids are happy (who wouldn’t be when there’s cake involved?) and you can delay that candy until baby is 18.
So what is a smash cake [in case you don’t know] and where does it come from?
A smash cake is basically a normal cake usually baked for a child’s first birthday, which is usually torn apart by the little ones, making a mess that is worthy of being photographed.
So you could get away with baking any type of cake, really, put some healthy frosting on top and you’re good to go.
What’s the origin of it?
Some say it comes from Mexico, where children take their first sugary bite from their one year birthday cake. Parents help the little one by pushing them from the back, face straight into the cake.
Others have associated it with the wedding ritual of bride and groom casually serving each other a piece of cake. If they decide to smash it into each other’s faces, however, it is said they will end up in divorce later.
At the end of the day, like I said, a smash cake is just a cake and your child might just decide to not care about it at all, in which case all your efforts would have been in vain.
…here are some smash cake ideas if you find yourself without a proper smash cake recipe that doesn’t involve sugar or sugar substitutes.
Note: photo credits remain with their original authors.
PIN IT FOR LATER
14 healthy smash cake ideas for special occasions involving little children
Amy from Healthy Little Foodies uses banana and dates to sweeten the sponge as well as raspberries for the filling. Dates are quite popular in baby led weaning for their sweetening properties and are especially found in no-bake snacks. The coconut oil, flour and milk pump up the flavour of this cake beautifully. You can definitely replace them with their plain version, but you will lose the cake’s dairy and gluten free properties.
Callie from Luv Cooks opted for a banana and blueberry combo for the cake and extra blueberries for decoration. These can also be used as a natural food colouring, if for whatever reason you would like to give the frosting a blueish tone. Just smash the blueberries and mix with your chosen frosting.
You will need two 9 inch pans to bake this.
Emily from Mama Nosh opted for a banana cake topped with yogurt frosting. This is the easiest type of frosting you can make. Make sure to follow her directions as to how to keep everything tidy when frosting, using an icing spatula and baking paper to help you.
What I found interesting is that she uses a mug like this one to mix all the ingredients and also bake the whole thing in! So less to clean up, plus it gives the cake that tall look.
If you fancy turning this into cupcakes for example, she also gives advice on how to adjust the quantities of the base recipe.
Rachel from Our Havenhill also uses bananas and applesauce in her sponge, but opted for cream cheese for the frosting. I dare say I believe it sits better on the cake than yogurt does.
I don’t really know a good applesauce brand, however whenever the recipe asks for it, I just grate the apple on the smallest size side of a 4-sided grater and voila! Homemade applesauce, no nasties added!
Rachel also gives a suggestion for healthy food colouring if you wish to have a coloured frosting and don’t have blueberries or raspberries to colour it naturally.
Nicole from Naturally Nicole opted for strawberries to give flavour to the cake and also to colour the icing. If you really get some sweet ones then who needs sugar in the first place?
The frosting is a combo of yogurt and cream cheese, so you’re getting the better of both.
Amy from Super Healthy Kids sweetens her cake with a puree made from peaches and banana. She also incorporates buttermilk in her cake but gives instructions on how to make this at home if you can’t find it in the store.
The great thing is that you can easily make cupcakes out of the batter.
Abby from Things for Boys uses carrot and dates to sweeten her cake. Remember what I said about dates? They are quite popular for sweetening baby food.
The shredded coconut adds an extra flavour and the sultanas add to the sweetness of the cake (I recommend soaking them in water for a while before adding them to the batter).
You will find that this batter suits a 8 inch round cake pan and still leaves some for cupcakes on the side (the cooking time is lower for those).
Betty from Oh Everything Handmade shares her smash cake recipe, step by step with photos, made from organic ingredients and with applesauce as the sweetening agent (see my tip in recipe 4 on how to make it at home).
She adds a bit of spices to the mix, using cinnamon and nutmeg, but feel free to skip those if your little one is not a fan.
You will need two 4 inch cake pans to make this recipe.
Siobhan from Mummy Cooks uses bananas and apples to sweeten her cake. What I found interesting is the way she prepares the apples, by first stewing and then turning them into a puree.
That 1 shaped cake form is quite a showstopper too! You can get one here (or any other single digit, for that matter, in case you were thinking of baking one for your 80 year old grandma too!). If not, just use a medium sized square cake tin, like she suggests.
Bethany from BLW Ideas uses only half a banana for sweetening the sponge and another for the frosting, so make sure they’re ripe ones!
If you have an allergic child, she offers the recipe for an allergy-friendly cake, as well as two other variations, with strawberry and cacao powder. I wouldn’t cook the cacao powder version, because of what I said in this post.
You can definitely make cupcakes out of the batter and make sure to read her tips and suggestions regarding the overall cooking process. She even has a Youtube video for you to watch!
What I love about this recipe from Ranae at New Ways Nutrition is that she found a way to incorporate frozen fruit into her batter and icing! She chose to powder frozen strawberries to flavour the cake, much better than the fresh fruit she tried.
If you want to go all natural on your smash cake recipe, then Catherine from Weelicious has your back!
She built this cake tower entirely from fruit. You can leave out the topping, as it contains powdered sugar, and go just for whipping cream or yogurt.
Even though these last two recipes aren’t smash cakes per se, they make the healthiest alternative possible for your little one.
Jennifer over on Kidspot also relies on watermelon to build her cake, but you can definitely substitute it for whichever fruit is in season.
I think it makes a good photo prop, with all those beautiful colours from the fruit.
14. Mascarpone smash cake (see recipe card below)
Now, my recipe is pretty straightforward and uses mascarpone for the fruit filling and frosting.
You can find the whole list of ingredients and the method below.
- Apple and cinnamon pudding
- Bread and butter pudding
- No-fry baked baby omlette
- Blueberry galette
- Baby’s chocolate
I’m a mom on a mission to learn how to be a better cook. I write weekly about what I do with what I have in my fridge, how I repurpose leftovers and cook with less waste and more variety. If it sounds like something you would like to read every week, then pop your email here and you’ll be on your way in 3 minutes.
Remember to pin this on Pinterest for later reference or share on social media.
Cream and frosting
- 250 g mascarpone
- 200 g Greek yogurt
- fruit to decorate (fresh or frozen)
- Preheat oven to 180 C (fan)/ 200 C (electric)/400F/Gas mark 6.
- Prepare two bowls and separate the whites from the egg yolks.
- Whip the egg whites until peaks are starting to form. Over the yolks, put the banana, the coconut oil, the coconut flakes and the flour. Mix these until everything is blended together.
- Over this mixture pour the beaten egg whites slowly, incorporating a little at a time, using a spatula. Use gentle movements to keep the air in the mixture and do not overmix.
- Pour the resulting batter in a 20cm cake pan after you grease it with a bit of oil or butter. Bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Leave to cool for 5 minutes and remove from pan. Leave to cool completely before slicing it in half horizontally.
- While the sponge is baking, you can take care of the cream. Mix the yogurt and the mascarpone using a stand mixer with a whisk accessory. Do not overmix, because the frosting may start to colapse.
- Here is where you add the frozen fruit if you're using. If using fresh, skip to the next step.
- Time to assemble the cake: take the top part of the sponge and use it as the base.
- Spread 1/4 of the frosting, then add fresh fruit on top if you're using. Put the other sponge on top, making sure the part that was on the bottom of the pan is now facing up (we're doing this so that we have a level surface for our frosting).
- Put the rest of the frosting and dress the whole cake in it.
- Top with some more fruit of choice: kiwis, peaches, blueberries or raspberries. Just don't use banana, as it starts to brown really quick.
Usually, my posts contain affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through them, at no additional cost to you.