A baby’s first birthday is a HUGE milestone for both baby and parents (surviving your first 365 days of parenthood is a tremendous accomplishment). From the day I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to do a “smash cake” photo session to celebrate Thea’s first birthday. I love babies’ reaction to their birthday cake and, no doubt, I wanted to photograph those memories, treasure them, and share them with our loved ones.
If you are familiar with my blog or with my nutritional philosophy, you know I want to limit Thea’s intake of added sugars during her first 2 years of life. This meant I had to make her cake completely from scratch… I love cooking but baking is a complete different story. Anyhow, I accepted the challenge and started recompiling several “sugar free” cake recipes as well as icing recipes. This cake also needed to be picture pretty because after the baby, the cake was the protagonist of the photo shoot 😂😂😂
At the end, I opted for a carrot cake sweetened with dates and home made “stabilized whipped cream” icing, which I sweetened with vanilla and blueberries. Baking the actual cake was not difficult. Personally, my biggest challenge was decorating the cake. Thankfully, my amazing brother in law was visiting at the time and after my failed attempt on making an icing rosette, he successfully took over!!!
As for the actual photo shoot and Thea eating the cake… well, that didn’t really happened. She wasn’t feeling her best that weekend. We attempted the photo shoot twice, Saturday and Sunday, but still didn’t have much success.
She was not interested on touching and getting messy with the cake until we added some puffs on it 🤦♀️. Then, we realized she actually didn’t like the white background paper she was sitting on top of because as soon as we sat her down, she would start crawling her way out of it. So we gave the high chair a try. Still wasn’t much improvement, but we were able to get a few more pics.
I must confess I was a little disappointed and felt like I failure. I had spent several hours planning this photo session, making her tutu, getting all the decor, and of course, making the super healthy-no-sugar-added cake. But this is reality: motherhood is not perfect, things don’t always go as planned, and our kids don’t always want to cooperate with what we have in mind.
Somehow, we still managed to get some good gems and, to me, that made it all worthy! At the end that was the whole purpose: to cherish and create OUR OWN memories!
I’m sharing the recipes below because the cake was definitely delicious! My hubby, brother in law, and I devoured it after the photo session!
It is a great, healthy alternative for anyone looking for a naturally sweetened cake recipe and, it can also be modified into muffins for a healthy toddler snack (just top it with some PB or almond butter and you have all the macro-nutrients in one meal 🙂 )
- 3 eggs
- 2 ripe bananas
- 10 dates
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup almond flour
- 6 tbsp coconut oil
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare pan by adding parchment paper to the bottom of two 6” cake pans, and greasing the sides.
- Whisk eggs in a bowl.
- Blend bananas, dates, and coconut oil until it makes a cream. Then, add to the bowl with whisked eggs.
- Mix almond flour, cinnamon, and baking powder. Then, add to the cream and the whisked eggs, and stir it all together.
- Add the shredded carrots and stir until well incorporated.
- Pour into the greased pans and bake for 40-45 mins. They are done once they pass the toothpick test!
- Let it cool completely before icing. I actually baked this the night before and decorated it the next morning!
Whipped Cream Icing
- 4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin*
- 3 tbsp cold water
- 4-5 tbsp hot water
- 1-2 tsp vanilla
- cinnamon to taste
- 1/2 cup blueberries (I used them because I wanted a purple hue, you could sub with any fruit depending on the color of your choice).
- Add water to unflavored gelatin and give a little whisk so that the granules absorb the water. It would look like a slushy.
- Add hot water to slushy mixture and stir until it dissolves.
- Mix heavy whipping cream at medium speed. Add vanilla, blueberries, and cinnamon.
- Once the mixture starts to thicken up, increase speed to medium high.
- Quickly add the stabilizer mixture. It should be at the consistency of your like soon after adding the stabilizer.
*I used unflavored gelatin as a stabilizer agent because I wanted to be able to make rosettes with it. If you just want it as a topping you can omit the gelatin.