Healthy Smash Cake
Published Jul 11, 2023, Updated Aug 13, 2023
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This healthy smash cake is perfect for baby’s first birthday. It’s made with almond flour, banana and has no added sugar.
Before I get into this easy smash cake recipe, I have to stop for a minute because I can hardly believe that my baby is turning one!
It honestly feels like I gave birth to Olivia yesterday and yet a whole year has gone by. Before having children I remember hearing parents say that “kids grow up way too fast” and oh my goodness, now I can totally relate. Cue the tears!
I knew I wanted to make Olivia a homemade cake for her first birthday and I wanted it to be on the healthier side without any added sugar. If you’ve landed on this recipe, you’re probably in the same boat… so welcome, I have the perfect recipe for you!
Table of Contents
- Healthy Smash Cake Recipe
- Ingredients Needed
- Step By Step Instructions
- Substitutions & Notes
- Tips For Success
- Smash Cake FAQ’s
- Healthy Frosting Ideas
- Topping Ideas for Baby’s Cake
- How to Make This Cake Ahead of Time
- How to Store
- Smash Cake Photo Session
- What Parents Are Saying
- More Baby Recipes and Resources
- More Kid-Friendly Recipes
- Healthy Smash Cake (For Baby’s First Birthday) Recipe
Healthy Smash Cake Recipe
When I was looking for a smash cake recipe almost all of them had some sort of sugar and/or looked too heavy and dense (aka less smashable). Or they were sugar-free, but the sugar was substituted with artificial sweeteners, which I didn’t want to use for this cake.
I know some people will say, “it’s their birthday, let them have sugar,” but as a health coach I see value in waiting for babies to be a bit older before introducing added sugar. (The American Dietary Guidelines actually recommend waiting until baby is at least 2 years old before giving added sugar.)
With the no added sugar criteria in mind, I started testing small cake recipes using fruit as the sweetener and more nutrient-rich flours like oat and almond flour. After a few tests, I created this recipe with mashed banana and almond flour. The cake is perfectly moist with a light and fluffy crumb and a subtle sweetness that babies will love!
Moms (or dads), I have a feeling you’re going to love me because this smash cake recipe only has seven simple ingredients (excluding the frosting + toppings)! And you probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry:
- almond flour – I chose almond flour for this recipe because it has a natural sweetness and gives the cake a light and fluffy crumb that makes it easier for your baby to smash and eat. I recommend using blanched almond flour because the skins have been removed so you’re left with a fine-textured, light colored flour that works perfectly for cake.
- banana – perfectly ripe mashed bananas are a key ingredient as they replace the oil and sugar in this recipe. Make sure your bananas are ripe (fully yellow with a few black spots is perfect). Unripe bananas will not work well!
- eggs – the eggs help the cake rise and give it the fluffiness.
- vanilla extract – a nice flavor enhancer.
- cinnamon – this is totally optional, but I like the subtle sweetness cinnamon adds to the cake.
- baking powder – to help the cake rise.
- salt – if you’re worried about the salt in your baby’s diet, you can leave this out.
- icing + toppings – see all of my ideas below.
Step By Step Instructions
Prep: Preheat oven to 350°F and spray three 4-inch springform pans with cooking spray. You can also line them with parchment paper if you prefer not to use cooking spray. Set aside.
Mix wet ingredients: Whisk eggs in a medium mixing bowl bowl. Add mashed banana and vanilla and stir until combined.
Add dry ingredients: Add almond flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Stir until just combined.
Bake: Divide batter evenly between the springform pans and bake for 20 minutes or until the tops of the cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool: Remove cakes from the oven, let cool for 10-20 minutes in the pans before carefully removing from the pans to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
Decorate: Let layers cool completely before stacking and decorating. See my frosting and topping ideas below.
Substitutions & Notes
- Flour: I have tested this recipe with all purpose flour and oat flour and neither turned out well. They both resulted in a denser cake that wasn’t very smashable, so I highly recommend using almond flour for the best results.
- Bananas: I haven’t tested this cake with any other fruit puree so I’m not sure how it will work. Some have used unsweetened applesauce instead of the bananas and said it turned out well. If you try it, please let me know in the comments.
- Eggs: If you have an egg allergy or want to avoid eggs, readers have used flax seed eggs in place of the eggs with good results.
- Different size pan: You can make this cake using 6-inch cake pans, you’ll just need to double the recipe to get three 6-inch layers. It’ll also likely require more bake time!
- Cupcakes: I haven’t tried it, but some readers have made 12 cupcakes by doubling this recipe. You might just need to bake them for a few extra minutes.
Tips For Success
- Store at room temp: I don’t recommend storing the cake layers in the fridge as they will get dense in the cold.
- Frost right before serving: For the best results, I recommend frosting your cake right before serving unless you’re using traditional frosting.
- Let cool completely: Make sure you let the cake layers cool completely before frosting and decorating. If they are still warm the frosting could melt off causing a big mess before baby has even gotten to it yet!
- Use overripe bananas: Since the only sweetness in this recipe is coming from bananas you want to use overripe bananas (with brown spots on them), as they’ll be naturally sweeter.
Smash Cake FAQ’s
A smash cake is a small cake made to celebrate a baby’s first birthday. It’s called a smash cake because the cake is placed in front of the baby and they are encouraged to dive in, using their hands to enjoy the cake. The cake typically gets smashed as baby enjoys eating it. It’s meant to be messy and fun and it’s the cutest thing to watch! It makes for a great photo session.
Smash cakes are traditionally for a baby’s first birthday, but you can definitely make this cake for your kiddo (or yourself) at any age!
A 4-inch cake is the perfect size for a smash cake. I used a set of 3 (4-inch) springform pans. These pans made it super easy to pop out the layers and the small cake is perfect for baby to smash. I haven’t tried making this into a larger cake, but others have made this cake using 6-inch cake pans. You just need to double the recipe for 3 6-inch layers.
Most people choose to serve a small smash cake to baby and have another cake to serve to guests. That said, some babies don’t touch their smash cake or only eat a small part of it and the leftovers can totally be eaten by family (or guests who don’t mind eating a cake that’s been touched by the baby).
The main difference is the size! Smash cakes are usually smaller than regular cakes so babies can smash and eat them easier. And many smash cake recipes (like this one) are healthier and lower in sugar than traditional cakes. If you’re looking for more of a regular cake recipe you could try this healthy birthday cake or strawberry cake. I also have a few cupcake options on the blog: almond flour cupcakes, healthy vanilla cupcakes and healthy chocolate cupcakes.
It tastes like a lightly sweetened banana bread with a hint of warm cinnamon! The only sweetness comes from the bananas, but it still has amazing flavor that both kids and adults will love. I ate a bunch of this cake during the testing process and after Olivia’s birthday. It’s so yummy!
Several people have commented that they’ve made this recipe into cupcakes or baked it as a 9×13 sheet cake. For the 9×13 pan, double the recipe and bake for about 20 minutes. For cupcakes, double the recipe and bake a few extra minutes.
Healthy Frosting Ideas
There are so many options when it comes to frosting your baby’s cake. It really just depends if you want to keep the frosting sugar-free and if you need the frosting to be dairy-free. Typically I just use whopped cream or full fat Greek yogurt as a frosting when I make this cake, but I’ve got lots of ideas for you:
- Coconut whipped cream – You can make your own with a can of coconut cream or use store-bought coconut whipped cream (found in the frozen section). You’ll want to let the whipped cream thaw in the fridge and frost the cake right before serving. I did this for Olivia’s cake, but it made the layers slippery so I’m not sure I would do that in the future.
- No sugar whipped cream – simply whip unsweetened heavy cream in a mixer and use this as a frosting. Here’s an easy recipe.
- Yogurt – Babies tend to love yogurt and it makes a great frosting option for this smash cake. I recommend using a thick Greek yogurt as regular yogurt will likely be too thin. You You can use any flavor you like or even blend fresh berries with plain Greek yogurt if you want a colorful frosting. You can also aadd a little maple syrup and/or vanilla to sweeten it up. Just mix 1-2 cups of plain Greek yogurt with 2 Tablespoons maple syrup and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. I recommending icing the cake right before serving.
- Buttercream – if you want to opt for real deal frosting, I recommend using my recipe for easy vanilla buttercream.
- Store-bought frosting – This will add sugar to the cake, but it’s an easy option! I really like the Simple Mills vanilla frosting. It’s thick so you will need to soften it up a bit before icing the cake. I usually pop it in the microwave for a few seconds.
- Other frosting ideas – my healthy cream cheese frosting, healthy chocolate frosting and peanut butter yogurt frosting are all great frosting options. They are all lightly sweetened.
Topping Ideas for Baby’s Cake
In the photos you see here I kept it simple with a candle and fresh berries for the toppings, which looked so cute. Here are some other fun ideas on how you could decorate this smash cake:
- Fresh berries: Most babies, including mine, tend to love fresh berries, so that’s what I topped this cake with. I did a combo of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, but feel free to use any combo of berries/fruit you like.
- Sprinkles: Add a fun and colorful touch to your smash cake by topping it with sprinkles. I love the Supernatural sprinkles as they are vegan, soy-free, gluten-free and free from artificial dyes.
- Jam swirls: Swirl some fruit jam into the frosting for a fruit twist. You can use store-bought or make this strawberry chia jam.
- Date caramel: Drizzle my date caramel sauce on top of this cake! It’s naturally sweetened with medjool dates and would look so pretty drizzled on top.
- Candle/sign: You may not want to light a candle for baby, but you can still use one to decorate. I love this gold one candle, but any candle will look great! For some of the photos I also used this first birthday cake topper and for Olivia’s birthday I got this little sign I ordered from Etsy that says “Olivia is One.”
How to Make This Cake Ahead of Time
If you’re making this for a birthday party, you’ll probably want to make it ahead of time so you’re not making a cake as guests arrive. I recommend making this smash cake one day in advance. If you do this, bake the cake and let the layers cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool, place in an airtight container and store at room temperature. I don’t recommend storing the cake layers in the fridge as they will get too cold and dense!
If you’re using a regular frosting, you should be fine to frost the cake ahead of time too. If you’re using yogurt or a whipped topping I recommend frosting the cake right before the party/serving.
How to Store
In the fridge: Cover the entire smash cake with plastic wrap or place in an airtight container and store at room temp for 1 day or in the fridge for 3-4 days.
In the freezer: You can freeze the cake layers in freezer bags for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, let the cake thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Then let the cake come to room temperature, before frosting and serving.
Smash Cake Photo Session
If you’re considering a 1st birthday smash cake photoshoot, I can’t recommend it enough. I made this cake for my son’s smash cake photo session and the photos turned out to sooo cute. I want to print and hang all of them!
Photos by Lindsey Martin Photography
What Parents Are Saying
“I have actually made this cake twice already! Once because my dad ate one of pieces thinking it was a “muffin” and gave it 5 stars lol…and again for my sons first birthday. Very easy to make, moist, and I love that there is no sugar added. This cake tastes amazing! Definitely will be making again just for us to eat. I made a vanilla butter/cream cheese frosting. Great recipe!” – Dayna
“This was the perfect recipe for my baby girl’s 1st birthday smash cake! It’s super moist and sweet without any added sugar and it tastes like banana bread. She loved it!
Thank you Brittany for sharing this with me early so I had it in time for her birthday! 🙂” – Kristin
“So good I made a second cake! I was so excited to find a healthy option for my son’s first birthday and it was even better than I hoped! The adults liked it even more than he did. 😀 Thank you so much!” – Kyle
More Baby Recipes and Resources
- 6 Baby Food Combinations (Stage 2)
- Carrot Baby Food
- Oatmeal For Babies
- Baby Pancakes
- Baby (+ Toddler) French Toast
- Peach Puree
- Poop Chocolates
- Oatmeal Fingers
- Baby Yogurt Melts
- How to Start Baby-Led Weaning + First Foods
More Kid-Friendly Recipes
- Zucchini Pizza Bites
- Homemade Samoas Cookies
- SunButter Cookies
- No Bake Energy Balls
- Healthy Baked Chicken Nuggets
- Protein Packed Healthy Mac and Cheese
- Greek Yogurt Popsicles
- Frozen Yogurt Bark with Berries
- Banana Blender Muffins
Healthy Smash Cake (For Baby’s First Birthday)
- coconut whipped topping, homemade or store-bought OR plain full-fat yogurt OR frosting of choice
- fresh berries or sprinkles
- Preheat oven to 350°F and spray 3 (4-inch) mini springform pans with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Whisk eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Add mashed banana and vanilla. Stir until combined.
- Add almond flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Stir until just combined.
- Divide batter evenly between the 3 springform pans and bake for 20 minutes or until the tops of the cakes are golden in color and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove cakes from the oven, let cool for 10-20 minutes before carefully removing from the pans.
- Let layers cool completely before stacking and icing with frosting of choice. I've tested plain full-fat yogurt as well as coconut whipped topping. For toppings, I like the idea of naturally-colored sprinkles or fresh berries.
- 6 inch pans: I haven’t tried this, but some others have made this cake in three 6 inch pans by doubling the recipe and cooking it for the same amount of time.
- Coconut whipped cream – You can make your own or if you’re okay with a little sugar you can use store-bought coconut whipped cream (found in the frozen section). You’ll want to let the whipped cream thaw in the fridge and frost the cake right before serving. This is what I used for Olivia’s cake and I will note that using it as a frosting between the layers made the layers quite slippery so I’m not sure I would do that in the future. I think yogurt would hold better!
- No sugar whipped cream – If you want a no sugar option you can buy unsweetened heavy cream, whip it with a mixer and use this as a frosting. Here’s an easy recipe.
- Greek yogurt – Babies tend to love yogurt and it makes a great frosting option for this smash cake. You can use any flavor you like or even blend fresh berries with plain Greek yogurt if you want a colorful frosting. Regular yogurt will likely be too thin so I recommend using a thick Greek yogurt if you want to use yogurt as your frosting. You can add a little maple syrup and/or vanilla to sweeten it up. To make it, just mix 1-2 cups of plain Greek yogurt with 2 Tablespoons maple syrup and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. Ice the cake with the yogurt right before serving.
- Traditional frosting – This will add sugar to the cake, but it’s an easy option! I really like this easy vanilla buttercream.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.