I realize that a lot of you will think I’m totally bananas for making Prim a sugar-free smash cake, given that a baby’s first birthday is usually the first time many parents opt to introduce sugar. And that’s totally fine. Prim is not entirely sugar free to begin with — she eats Cheerios and Kodiak cakes, both of which have a very small amount of sugar. So whether your baby is totally sugar-free or gobbled up a pile of frosting on their first birthday — it’s all good. I just wasn’t ready to go full-sugar for P’s birthday, and so opted to to research sugar-free smash cake options. It was kind of tough to find recipes, but I did finally land on a recipe that was made entirely of natural foods (no stevia or artificial sweeteners) and decided to give it a go.
I made Prim’s cake in two four by two-inch cake pans, trimmed down the top of the layers and then stacked them together for a tiny, two-layer confection. The frosting is also sugar-free (though the embellishments obviously aren’t!)
If you’re looking for a no-sugar option for your little one’s smash cake, this recipe is great. The cake layers are more muffin-y than cake-y, given the lack of sugar, but the end result is surprisingly delicious.
No-Sugar Smash Cake
I made two 4×2-inch cakes + two muffins (which I used as my tasting samples), but I’m sure you could get one 8- or 9-inch cake out of the recipe as well — you’d probably need to double the recipe for a double-layer 8 or 9″ cake.
For the cake:
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup oat flour (grind whole oats in a food processor, then measure)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 4 medium (about 6-7″) very ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (I used TJ’s organic unsweetened apple sauce)
- 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375°. Whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl (or food processor if you want it really smooth), combine all wet ingredients with bananas and mash/whisk until fairly smooth.
- Pour dry ingredients into the wet and stir together until just combined.
- Spoon batter into pre-greased cake pans, filling about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full.
- Bake until the batter is fully set and a toothpick comes out clean. (This was about 20 minutes for the muffins and 50-55 minutes for the 4-inch cakes in my oven.)
- Let cool in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Frost when completely cool, or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to frost them.
- This batter doesn’t rise much, so assume that whatever level the batter is, it will only rise about a quarter higher than that. Also, it will fall a bit after you remove it from the oven.
- I’m always afraid of over-baking sweet treats, and so usually opt to remove things when just done, rather than risk something hard and overcooked. Don’t be afraid of over-baking these a little though! The batter is very moist and dense, so it’s better to go a little long on the baking than a little short — the cake layers will be a bit more bread-y and will hold together better if you make sure they’re fully cooked before removing them from the oven.
- Because this recipe makes more of a muffin-type cake, the layers are pretty dense and durable (which is great if you’re like me and not an accomplished cake-maker!)
- If you need to speed up the ripening of your bananas, take the bunch apart and put them into a paper bag with a few apples and seal the top — they should ripen in about 12-24 hours.
For the frosting:
- 8oz (one brick) cream cheese (make sure to use regular and not low- or reduced-fat)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- up to 1/2 cup no-sugar-added apple juice concentrate
- Combine cream cheese and vanilla extract into a bowl and whisk together using an electric mixer. Slowly add in apple juice concentrate while continuing to whisk on medium to high speed. Add in apple juice concentrate until desired consistency is reached (I had a couple tablespoons left over from the 1/2 cup.)
- Store frosting in a sealed container in the fridge until ready to use and/or store the frosted cake in the fridge until your party starts.
- The more you whisk this icing, the lighter and fluffier it will be . I whisked it on high for about 5 minutes total, adding in about a tablespoon of juice every 30 seconds or so. Keep in mind that the more juice you add the thinner the frosting will be, while the less you add the thicker it will be — but the juice makes it sweet, so the less you add, the tangier the frosting will be. If your frosting appears too thin, try whisking on high for a bit to get it to come back together.
- Because there are no preservatives in this frosting, it can start to turn brown a bit as it sits out (due to the apples). I would recommend frosting your cake the day you’re going to serve it (you can make the frosting ahead and store it in a sealed container in the fridge until you’re ready to use it). I frosted my cake the day before, stored it in the fridge and noticed minimal discoloration, but opted to add another layer of frosting the morning of the party, which brightened the cake right back up.
- You can dye the frosting using food coloring if you’d like, but if you’re looking for a natural dye, try roasted strawberries or beet puree for a red/pink hue, or roasted blueberries to make the frosting purple/blue tinted. You could also add some of the roasted fruit (not the beets!) to the middle layer for a little sweet treat!