Looking for a fun and photo-worthy smash cake sans the artificial ingredients and added sweeteners? Try this healthful and adorable paleo cake for a first-birthday to remember!
For the printable recipe PDF click here.
Monsters 1-4 never had the smash-cake experience. Having grown up with a severe sugar addiction myself, I couldn't shake the notion that introducing them to sugary treats just because I wanted to was like passing them a pack of cigarettes and saying, "Here buddy, go to town."
A little intense, I know--I'm totally that mom. We've always done a lot of fruit, but my rule was to hold off on other sugary treats at least until they could ask for them by name. I figured that as long as they didn't know what they were missing, I didn't want to be the one to initiate a love of something just so I could turn around and restrict it.
Since all my monsters had been summer babies, our first-birthday tradition was a watermelon cake--actual watermelon, sliced to look like a cake, sometimes layered with other sliced fruit, always decked out with candles--and so far, it had been a hit.
But Monster 5, our glorious outlier, was born solidly in the fall, when watermelons are hit-or-miss at best.
By the time his first birthday rolled around, we had been making no-sweetener-added banana muffins for quite a while, so I figured why not use that as a base?
To make a smash cake, I whip up a double batch of my gluten-free, dairy-free paleo banana-muffin batter, bake it in a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet (aka jellyroll pan, or half sheet pan in restaurant lingo), and use a 4-inch round cookie/biscuit cutter to cut out four layers.
The scraps are cut into bite-sized pieces and placed in a container in the fridge for snacking monsters.
The frosting is simply unsweetened whipped coconut cream. One 13.5-ounce can is more than enough to fill, frost, and decorate a four-layer, four-inch smash cake. Just be aware that coconut cream is sometimes sold in smaller cans; so if that is what you go for, get a few.
You can also use full-fat canned coconut milk, but keep in mind that it will have a higher percentage of coconut water that will need to be drained off for the cream to whip effectively, so you will probably need two cans. Always place your coconut cream or milk in the fridge overnight before whipping so that the clear water will be easier to drain off.
When assembling the cake, I recommend placing two slightly overlapping pieces of parchment on the serving plate or cake stand before beginning. These can be easily removed when done, leaving clean edges on the platter. It may be helpful to place the filled cake in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up before frosting the outside, or even in between adding layers if things get too squishy.
Generally, I fill completely and do a thin layer of frosting (aka a crumb coat), place the filled cake in the freezer for about 15 minutes, and then come back for a cleaner, final coat of the whipped coconut cream.
To naturally color the leftover whipped coconut cream for decorating, I use about a half teaspoon of powdered blue spirulina, which has amazing health benefits of its own in addition to being the monsters' favorite coloring agent.
To pipe my decorations, I whisk my blue spirulina powder into the remaining whipped coconut cream and transfer the colored cream to a quart-sized zip-top bag with a piping tip nestled in one corner. I like to keep it somewhat simple, but you can go as fancy as you fancy.
Store the assembled cake in the fridge for a day or two or in the freezer for longer--just don't forget to thaw in time for smashing!
And there you have it: an adorable, no-added sweetener, paleo smash cake fit for first birthdays and beyond. So if you're that mom like me, or maybe you're on a Whole30 and want the baby to have his cake but only want compliant ingredients in the house, or whatever your situation may be, you can smash it up, scarf it down, lick your lips, and never veer from your diet.
If you like things a little sweeter, throw some chocolate or carob chips into the batter, mix your sweetener of choice into the frosting, and satisfy that sweeter tooth, too!
Here's what you'll need:
For the cake:
1 cup coconut oil, melted
8 bananas (ripe is best)
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 tsp kosher salt (such as Morton)
2 T ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract (optional)
1 13.5oz can coconut cream, chilled
1/2 tsp powdered blue spirulina
Here's what you'll do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line a half sheet pan (18x13x1-inch rimmed baking sheet) with parchment so that the parchment extends over the edges of the pan.
Use a masher to thoroughly mash the bananas before thoroughly whisking the cake ingredients together in a bowl, or place all the cake ingredients in a food processor and process till smooth (my preferred method).
Spread the batter into the prepared pan, and bake at 350 for 27-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the very center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the pan.
Lift the cake out using the edges of the parchment, and use a 4-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out four layers, or more if desired. Stash the scraps in the fridge for snacking--or mix up some buttercream and make cake balls for your guests if you're feeling ambitious! The cake layers can be made a few days in advance, wrapped in plastic wrap, and stored in the fridge until ready to assemble if desired.
For the frosting: Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, scoop the chilled coconut cream into the bowl of a stand mixer, being careful to leave any clear liquid behind--stash that coconut water in an airtight container in the fridge and add it to a smoothie within the next day or two!
Whip the coconut cream till thick and voluminous--it should hold soft peaks when the beater is lifted up--scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Fill and frost the cake with the whipped coconut cream, reserving some for embellishments. Place the frosted cake in the freezer while you color the remaining frosting.
Whisk the blue spirulina powder into the remaining whipped coconut cream. Snip off the tip of a quart-sized zip-top bag or piping bag and nestle a piping tip into the hole. Transfer the colored coconut cream to the baggy, and you are ready to pipe!
Store the assembled cake in the fridge till smash time!
For the printable recipe PDF click here.