233~365 Happy Birthday Amy! My son’s first birthday is fast approaching, and I am debating whether or not to make him a cake. He hasn’t eaten anything with sugar (other than the sugars naturally found in fruit and breastmilk) and I would like to keep it that way as long as possible.

I am sure it is my adult sensibility and social programming talking, but I cannot imagine a birthday without a cake. I know my son will not remember what will be a milestone for me; in fact if Christmas is anything to go by, festivities and gifts are not that interesting to him (yet). Nevertheless, this is a special day and I would like to do something outside the norm of our usual routine and usual food.

Are there any baby/toddler-friendly sugar-free (Splenda is not in that category in my opinion) cake recipes that you have tried? How have you celebrated your children’s first birthdays without cake? — Ellen

Comments on How can we celebrate our kid’s birthday without a cake?

  1. Baby’s First Birthday Cake (Carrot Cake)

    (Makes 1 double-layer 9-inch square cake; adapted from “What to Expect”)

    2 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots
    2 1/2 cups apple juice concentrate (you may use slightly less)
    1 1/2 cups raisins
    Vegetable Spray/Shortening
    2 cups whole-wheat flour
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    2 whole eggs
    4 egg whites
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
    1/2 cup wheat germ
    2 Tbsp low sodium baking powder
    1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

    Prep: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two 9 inch square cake pans with waxed paper and spray the paper with vegetable spray/shortening.

    1. Combine the carrots with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the juice concentrate in a medium size saucepan.
    2. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender, 15 to 20 mins. Puree in a blender of food processor until smooth.
    3. Add the raisins and process until finely chopped. Let mixture cool.
    4. Combine the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/4 cups juice concentrate, the oil, eggs, egg whites, and vanilla; beat just until well mixed. Fold in the carrot puree and applesauce. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans.
    5. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 mins. Cool briefly in the pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

    Sugar-Free Cream Cheese Frosting – Frosts one 2-layer cake

    ½ cup apple juice concentrate
    1 pound light cream cheese
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    ½ cup finely chopped raisins
    1 ½ tsp unflavored gelatin

    1. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the juice concentrate.
    2. Process the remaining juice concentrate, the cream cheese, vanilla, and raisins in a blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
    3. Stir the gelatin into the 2 tablespoons juice concentrate in a small saucepan; let stand 1 minute to soften. Heat to boiling and stir to dissolve gelatin.
    4. Beat the gelatin mixture into the cream cheese mixture until well blended. Refrigerate just until the frosting begins to set, about 30-60 minutes.

    Applesauce Spice Cake

    3 eggs
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1 cup unsweetened applesauce
    1 1/4 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tablespoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    dash of nutmeg
    1/2 cup chopped dates
    1 1/2 cups ground almonds (optional)
    2 Macintosh apples – peeled, cored and finely chopped

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9 inch square baking pan.

    Beat the eggs until they drop like ribbons from the beaters. Continue beating and add the oil in a thin stream. Beat in the 1 cup applesauce and the 1 cup unsweetened apple juice concentrate then mix in the flour gradually until well blended. Add the baking soda, ground ginger, ground almonds and apples. Fold together until well mixed.
    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F about 40 minutes or until the cake tests clean with a knife or toothpick. Cool completely before frosting.

    • We also did carrot cake for my daughter’s first birthday. We did not do the apple juice in lieu of sugar, but it has a small amount of sugar anyways. We also left the frosting off and just did the cake. We made mini bundt cakes, so I dusted everyone else’s cakes with powdered sugar. It was a hit.

  2. My son is allergic to dairy, and I’m not a baker, so he just didn’t eat any cake. We had some pretty cakes that we served to others, and took photos. For a couple of months before, I tried to find some vegan cakes or other options, but I didn’t really want him to have all that sugar, and my husband doesn’t think messy babies are cute. So that might not be the answer you were looking for, but it’s all I could think of for us. Some people seemed annoyed, including my parents. I got a small lecture from my dad on how to introduce solids to a baby. (um ok Dad, not helpful. ha!) All in all the party was fun, and everyone was happy.

  3. This website has a raw cupcake that doesn’t use sugar.

    raw carrot cupcakes with cashew buttercream


    Or you can try subbing ground dates for sugar.
    Date Sugar: 2/3 cup = 1 cup brown sugar

    Made from finely ground dates, it is not technically a sugar itself but works well as a solid substitute rather than a liquid substitute. It does not melt or dissolve like other sugars. It also absorbs moisture instead of adding it, you may wish to add 1-2 tbsp more of wet ingredients. It has a really low glycemic index and is not overly sweet- it may be perfect for short baking like cookies.

    Website= http://www.myrealfoodlife.com/part-3-how-to-substitute-sugar/

  4. if you google “sugar free banana bread” you might find something to your liking. Bananas are so sweet, especially when they’re really ripe. You could probably use them to adapt any number of recipes.

      • My twins 1st birthday was two weeks ago. I made vegan sugar free banana bread cupcakes. They were really muffins but I felt better calling them cupcakes. I usually substitute applesauce for oil in sweet breads so I was counting on the applesauce to sweeten these cupcakes.

        Here is the recipe I used:

        2 bananas mashed
        1 1/4 cups flour
        1/2 tsp. baking soda
        1 tsp. baking powder
        1/2 tsp. salt
        3/4 cup granulated sugar (i omitted the sugar)
        1/3 cup vegetable oil (i substituted unsweetened apple sauce for oil)
        2/3 cup non-dairy milk (you could use formula or breastmilk too for the wee ones)
        1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

        • Sounds delish & perfect for our upcoming 1st birthday extravaganza. I’m making the cakes for all the kiddos from our Bradley Method class, so need to make 12 mini cakes. It would be helpful to know how many cupcakes this recipe makes so that I may scale it up.
          Thank you!

  5. My husband can’t eat cane sugar, so we bake all our sweets with maple syrup (The real stuff, we live in the northeast), and they’re still really good. For my daughter’s 1st he made her a carrot cake with the recipe from Joy of Cooking, and just substituted in maple syrup instead of sugar. You can do this with almost any recipe. If the recipe calls for 1 cup sugar, I usually put in 1/2 or 2/3 cup maple syrup to tone down the sweetness, and you want to keep in mind that it’s a liquid, and maybe cut back a little on whatever liquid (water or milk) the cake calls for, but it’s a very easy substitution for most recipes.

    • You say that your husband can’t eat cane sugar, but can eat maple syrup. I just have to ask: is it an allergy? My husband is allergic to cane sugar/processed sugars as well, and that condition is extremely rare. My husband’s never met anyone with the same condition before.
      (Sorry, I know it’s off-topic a bit from the original article)

  6. How about a round of brie with a candle in it? Enjoyable for grown ups, looks cute, and maybe he could take a lick of the innards (if that’s okay with you, obviously). Or what about a box made to look like a cake with healthy treats inside?

  7. we made waffles – i replaced the sugar in the recipie with pureed bananas. the grownups had powdered sugar on theirs, if they wanted. the kids loved it!

    also – i saw an awesome cake made out of melon and fruits on pinterest – was that somewhere on the empire boards??. i´ll try and find it again

    …7 minutes later *tadaaa*

  8. You could just have cake that’s used for pictures and only served to the adults… As you mentioned, he probably won’t miss not actually eating it.

  9. How about a fabulous birthday muffin?
    All naturally sweetened with apples?
    You can even make all natural banana icecream to go with it! Take two whole bananas freeze- take out ten min. prior to wanting to eat and then whip in a blender or with a mixer. Tah Dah! Ice Cream!

  10. One of my three preferred to have fruit rather than a cake, cupcakes, or a cookie. He wanted a fruit bouquet for his birthday and truthfully when the others dug in no one said anything about not having cake!!!

  11. A google search for “Primal” or “Paleo” desserts will bring up a boatload of options that are grain and sugar free. We’re big fans of almond and coconut flours at our house, and can make a pretty sweet banana nut bread. And a little whipped coconut milk on top works as a frosting replacement!

  12. A friend of mine made our daughter a fruit pizza for her birthday using organic hand-whipped cream for “sauce” and kiwi, banana, strawberry, and blueberries as toppings. It was really cute! I’m sure there’s a pizza dough recipe out there that’s GF–coconut flour?

    • *Ahem* Whatup? 🙂

      Coconut flour pizza crust:

      4 eggs
      1/3 cup coconut flour, sifted
      1/3 cup golden flaxseed meal
      1/2 cup coconut milk
      1 Tbsp olive oil
      1/2 tsp salt

      Pour onto parchment-lined pan and use a spatula to shape and smooth it into the thickness you want. 350 for about 15 minutes per side, maybe throw in some raw honey or maple for extra sweetness.

      Almond meal pizza crust

      2 cups ground almond meal/flour (can use up to 1/2c flax)
      3 eggs
      1 T olive oil
      ½ tsp salt
      1 tsp xanthan gum (if desired)

      Use two sheets of parchment paper to press this into shape, and then bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Let it cool, top it, and then re-bake for around 15 minutes or until your toppings are the way you like them. This would be heavier and would taste great with some butter, honey, and cinnamon.

  13. I know someone who made their child a mash cake. A cake made of mashed potatoes and food coloring! It turned out great! She had a blast mashing it and it looked just like a cake!

  14. I would think that if you want to avoid the sweetness associated with cake, you might still want to avoid cake things that are sweetened only with fruit – the recipes are almost certainly designed to be similarly sweet (at least in my experience).

    I love the idea of making a “cake” out of fruit – perhaps “frosted” with a bit of yogurt? You could totally do a “cupcake” tower of tasty parfaits.

  15. Agave nectar is what we use instead of sugar.It is a third more sweet than sugar so you use 67% the amount of sugar called for as agave instead. Kind of like the maple syrup idea.

    • Caution with this, I have at least one friend that reacted really badly to agave, making her quite sick. Also, it has a lot of fructose, which is what makes it sweeter than sugar.

  16. I actually can’t remember the last time I had cake for my birthday – there are just things I’m much more fond of. While I know this isn’t what you’re going for, I always get pie. Just make something that’s his favorite dessert.

    I don’t know if whipped cream is an option, but what about fruit and whipped cream (or maybe yogurt) parfaits?

    And now here’s unsolicited advice time: I think it’s great you’re limiting sugar intake, particularly at a young age, but just be warned that there are two possible outcomes – your kid just doesn’t like sugar that much, or your kid will eat as much sugar as humanly possible when they’re not in your sight (it wasn’t sugar specifically for me, but I wasn’t allowed chips and stuff of that nature, and now it’s very difficult for me to control myself around chips)

  17. My first child had eating delays and food allergies. I made a “wacky” cake, I don’t recall about sugar (i am sure there is a ton – but only adults ate it anyway), but it has no milk or egg. She didn’t eat it anyway, so we didn’t serve it to her or take pictures of the “mess” because she never even went near it. Baby #2 never even had a birthday party and cake for her first birthday. I am sure she will bring it up to me when she is older, but we were all very very sick for the month of her birthday and it was cold and snowy, so we never did it all. I might do one at 18 months. Anyway, I did birthday cakes until 3 years old for my oldest, but now we just do favorite and special food, so if there is a favorite food my kids like, I would rather make that. I stopped after 3 years old when my daughter begged and begged for an ice cream cake and then wouldn’t eat it because it wasn’t what she imagined and my husband had to eat it all! So to sum it up…is there a special food you can make instead? Like birthday noodles, or potatoes? Or chicken? : )

  18. Your child isn’t going to remember it, so I think whatever makes you happy is what you should do. They don’t know you’re “supposed” to have a birthday cake, so unless they’re old enough to ask for them… why do it just because it’s expected? And like others have said, if you want to stick a candle in something, it can be anything! Get a picture in front of a happy birthday sign or something instead of in front of a cake! 🙂

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