Baby Friendly Cake

baby friendly cake

Smash cakes! They are a huge part of a baby’s first birthday. For many babies, it’s the first taste of cake! But a lot of moms and dads aren’t too keen on the idea of loading their now 1-year-old with a lot of sugar and processed junk. 

[Jump to the YouTube video below]

That’s what prompted me to come up with something better, something that would be sweet and satisfying but basically guilt-free. The whole family will enjoy this cake! Or you can make a small one just for your baby while the adults have something else.

I made several versions of this cake.

  1. “The Original” – It was refined-sugar free. Vanilla cake. Vanilla frosting.
  2. “Allergy Friendly” – Gluten-free. Egg-free. Dairy-free. Soy-free. Nut-free. Still vanilla, vanilla. See recipe#2 at the bottom! If you don’t have all of those allergies, that’s ok. I included some notes for you too!
  3. “Chocolate Chocolate” – Chocolate cake. Chocolate frosting. Still refined-sugar free.
  4. “Strawberry Strawberry” – Strawberry chunks in the batter. Strawberry frosting. And yes, refined-sugar free.

Below there are TWO main recipes. The first is “The Original” and the second is the allergy-friendly one. After the recipes, I have the modifications you can make for the chocolate and strawberry cakes. 

After that, I have some pointers in general so you don’t make the mistakes I made! 

BIG IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe makes 5-6 small cakes (depending on the size of your banana and how far you fill the containers). The ramekins I used are 2.5-inch rounds. I would say this recipe serves 3-5 adults, so if you are serving a large party, multiply the recipe as needed! If the cake is thicker, it will need to bake longer. 

ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: This is mentioned in the video, but if you use a 9-inch pan, the cake will be pretty flat. I did that once, and instead of leaving it whole, I cut it into 4 segments and made a 4-layer “mega slice”, if you will. Here’s what that looked like:

baby friendly cakebaby friendly cake

The Products I Used

I just wanted to share the specific brands I used for the allergy-friendly version, in case it makes a big difference! 

  1. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
  2. Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread
  3. So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  4. Bob’s Red Mill Baking Soda/Bicarbonate of Soda (This is gluten-free. I didn’t actually use this product. I didn’t realize baking soda/powder might not be gluten-free! So I just used what I had.)
  5. Bob’s Red Mill Baking Powder (This is gluten-free as well, and again, I didn’t actually use it. But for a truly gluten-free cake, you’ll want to use GF soda/powder too. Bob’s is just one of a few brands that makes GF baking products.)

“The Original” Baby Friendly Cake

Takes about 2 hours (including 45 minutes for the cakes to cool)
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Frosting time!: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients for the cake

  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter (room temperature, if possible) – 88 mL
  • 1/2 banana (the riper, the better)
  • 1 egg (room temperature, if possible)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract* – 2.5 mL
  • 1/2 cup water – 4 oz – 118 mL
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I used gluten-free successfully) – 227 g
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon – 2.4 g
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda – 2.4 g
  • a pinch of baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp salt – 2.4 g

Directions for the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Use an electric mixer, whisk, or stand mixer to blend the butter and banana until smooth.
  3. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and water. Blend until smooth.
  4. Add the flour, slowly, while continuing to mix.
  5. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and combine until smooth.
  6. Grease your baking vessel(s) and pour in the mixture. If using small cooking containers, fill to about 1 inch from the top. 
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes (20 minutes for smaller containers).
  8. Once finished, let them cool completely (45-60 minutes).

Ingredients for the frosting

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (pulverized!! Turn it into as fine of a powder as you can!)
  • 1 banana (the riper, the better)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter (room temperature, if possible)
  • 1 tbsp whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract*
  • about 1/2 tsp lemon juice 

Directions for the frosting

  1. Combine all the ingredients until smooth.
  2. If you want to create layers, cut the cakes into 2-3 layers. Add the frosting to each layer and stack them carefully. Then frost the outside. I used an offset spatula. Mine were not very pretty because I have never had luck frosting cakes. But you may have a lot of success with the looks of it! 

*Denotes an optional ingredient
Vanilla extract comes in two forms. One is “imitation”, which contains sugar. The other is “pure”, which contains alcohol. The alcohol is minimal and cooks out, but it would not cook out of the frosting! So if you’re unsure, just leave it out entirely.


Allergy-Friendly Baby Friendly Cake

Takes about 2 hours (including 45 minutes for the cakes to cool)
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Frosting time!: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients for the cake

  • 6 tbsp dairy-free spread (I use Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 banana (the riper, the better)
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seeds + 3 tbsp warm water, set in the fridge 15 minutes) (see VIDEO)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract*
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda < not all brands are gluten-free
  • pinch of baking powder < not all brands are gluten-free
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions for the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Use an electric mixer, whisk, or stand mixer to blend the butter and banana until smooth.
  3. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and water. Blend until smooth.
  4. Add the flour, slowly, while continuing to mix.
  5. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and combine until smooth.
  6. Grease your baking vessel(s) and pour in the mixture. If using small cooking containers, fill to about 1 inch from the top. 
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes (20 minutes for smaller containers).
  8. Once finished, let them cool completely (45-60 minutes).

Ingredients for the frosting

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (pulverized!! Turn it into as fine of a powder as you can!)
  • 1 banana (the riper, the better)
  • 2 tbsp dairy-free spread
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk (or almond milk)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract*
  • about 1/2 tsp lemon juice 

Directions for the frosting

  1. Combine all the ingredients until smooth.
  2. If you want to create layers, cut the cakes into 2-3 layers. Add the frosting to each layer and stack them carefully. Then frost the outside. I used an offset spatula. Mine were not very pretty because I have never had luck frosting cakes. But you may have a lot of success with the looks of it! 

*Denotes an optional ingredient
Vanilla extract comes in two forms. One is “imitation”, which contains sugar. The other is “pure”, which contains alcohol. The alcohol is minimal and cooks out, but it would not cook out of the frosting! So if you’re unsure, just leave it out entirely.


Strawberry Variation!

To make the cake strawberry, simply stir in 1-2 finely chopped strawberries before baking.

To make the frosting strawberry-flavored, only use 1/2 of the banana that’s called for in the frosting recipe. Then purΓ©e 2-3 strawberries with just a touch of water. Stir that into the frosting recipe.


Chocolate Variation!

To make the cake or frosting chocolate-flavored, simply add 1-2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder to the recipes above! (The chocolate was our favorite!)


Tips and Suggestions

  • Set out the butter and egg ahead of time so they can reach room temperature. 
  • If that’s not possible, pop the butter into the microwave for 20 seconds to get a little softer.
  • This is NOT a super sweet, sugar-packed cake like you would buy at a bakery. But it IS SWEET! It’s really tasty altogether. Personally? I’m not a huge coconut fan. But once it’s mixed into the frosting and eaten with the cake, it’s really fantastic.
  • Don’t worry about the salt content. This recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon, which is above the daily sodium limit for under a year old. But it’s split at least 5 ways! If you would feel more comfortable, drop it to 1/4 teaspoon instead!
  • It is VERY important to grease your baking dish ahead of time! You can see in the video that one of my cakes didn’t come out of the container very smoothly; that was the TESTER! I wanted to see if nonstick spray was really that big of a deal. And it definitely is!
  • Don’t overmix your batter! Once it’s smooth, STOP! Overmixing causes little air pockets, and air = dry.
  • If you’re not a huge fan of banana, you could swap some of the banana for unsweetened applesauce. Because applesauce is noticeably runnier, you’ll need to use less of it (for the cake portion, I would use about 2 tbsp, and for the frosting, about 1/4 cup).
  • If you make the chocolate cake, you could also add tiny chocolate chips to the cake part.
  • Let the cakes COOL COMPLETELY before frosting. Otherwise the frosting melts and isn’t pretty.
  • Try popping the frosting into the fridge for 20 minutes before frosting, so it thickens up a little!
  • If you are dealing with just one of the allergies above, simply swap out that single ingredient in “the original” recipe.
  • You can make the cakes ahead of time as well as the frosting. But I would not frost them until the day you need them, if possible. Keep the parts separate in the refrigerator for a few days. You will need to pull the frosting out ahead of time so that it gets soft enough to manipulate.
  • Try making cupcakes and just frost the tops!


Video

Here’s the YouTube video to accompany this recipe. It’s not that great… I haven’t made a video quite like this before, and I wasn’t sure when to film, how to shoot, when to talk, when not to talk. It was tough putting it together! So be kind! I hope this recipe post helps to clarify any questions you may have after watching the video!


How to Make a Flax Egg:

 

A video posted by Baby Led Weaning Ideas (@blwideas) on

 


  • Payal Mehta-Church

    Is it possible to do the cake without banana? My daughter is allergic to bananas

    • blwideas

      Yes! Sub about 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce per 1 banana.

      • Payal Mehta-Church

        thanks will give it a go and let you know

  • Hi there! I made the original cake for my son’s 1st birthday and I’m 99% sure I followed the recipe correctly…and it turned out tasting pretty salty! Is it really supposed to be 1/2 tsp of salt? πŸ™‚

    • blwideas

      I made it a few times and never tasted any salt at all. I’m so sorry that happened with yours. You could leave out the salt entirely but it shouldn’t taste salty. I haven’t heard the salty comment from anyone else, so it’s possible you added it twice? I hope that doesn’t come off as rude. I’m just trying to consider the possibilities! If I make it again soon, I can triple check but I did write down and then follow my own recipe a few times! Sorry Sarah- that is frustrating πŸ™

    • Elizabeth Kay

      I had the same issue and I know I didn’t use more than 1/2 tsp of salt. I wonder if I should have done 1/4 tsp, or maybe my pinch of baking powder was too much of a pinch.

  • Meaghan Tuttle

    So i am thinking about using the original recipe as a base but I kind of want to make it Key Lime Flavors… any thoughts or suggestions? I have 5 weeks to experiment haha

    • blwideas

      Okay I THINK if you just add in about 1/4 cup of lime juice into the batter and add a little more flour, it miiiight work!

  • michelle

    going to try this recipe….are you able to use a piping bag to do the frosting? or is it too runny. I want to make it pretty πŸ™‚

    • blwideas

      The frosting isn’t that pretty, at least not when I do it! Then again I don’t have a piping bag. It’s thick enough for piping I believe. Another possibility is to use coconut whipped cream to make a sugar free frosting. I don’t have that recipe but it would be a smoother consistency!

  • Kylie Borgman

    I feel the need to point out, using coconut makes it not allergen-free πŸ™
    I’ve been advised against giving my child nuts, because my mom has a severe tree nut allergy. So I thought well, okay, I’ll just check out the allergen-free version! But nope, coconut. πŸ™

    • blwideas

      Hi! It’s documented by medical orgs that most people allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut, so it isn’t classified as a common allergen (though anything CAN be an allergen). As far as your mother’s allergy, cuurent rec is to just be careful with introducing allergens if a “family history” exists: that only means if the child’s parents or siblings have the allergy, not grandparents or aunts/uncles. And, if there’s a family history it’s recommended to offer the allergens now rather than waiting, as most kids will outgrow the allergy. The only exception to that last bit is peanuts, not tree nuts. There are some links from the AAP and a few other medical sites that you can look into! Allergy recs changed several years ago! Hope that helps. πŸ™‚

  • melissa doran

    what can I use to cook the cake in if I don’t have small ramicans?

  • Kristan Duaa Durrani

    I love a toasted coconut flavor. Do you think that I could toast the coconut then pulverize for the icing?

    • blwideas

      I think that sounds delicious! Should work just fine I imagine:)