This recipe for my baby’s Applesauce Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting is tested tried and true. It’s baby approved and mama approved. The cake is simple and only lightly sweetened with maple syrup and the frosting has no sugar. This recipe makes a perfect 4 inch “smash cake” or 2 jumbo muffin-sized mini cakes. This is a birthday cake you’ll be happy to serve to your baby, and you won’t mind stealing a bite yourself.
I knew from day 1 that I would be baking my baby’s first birthday cake. No judgment on the cakes that others have chosen, I just knew I wanted Canaan’s cake to come directly out of my oven and only have ingredients I chose.
I’ve seen all sorts of “smash cakes” ranging from just baked oatmeal all the way to blue-frosting mounded dye-your-face-and-hands cake. But what I really wanted was something simple. Something healthier but something that still resembles cake. I wanted something my baby could dig his hands and face into and not end up throwing up in a pile of tissue paper twenty minutes later.
There’s definitely a time and place for sugar. I get that. Yes, he will have “real” frosting one of these days. Yes, he will have a baked treat that’s not from my kitchen. But it’s his birthday and I really want him to enjoy it and not feel awful later because all he’s had up until now is fruit, veggies, meat and rice rusks.
I feel like making my baby’s birthday cake is a right of passage for me. I’m his mommy, and this is so special. I want him to grow up saying “my mom always makes my birthday cake” just like I have the privilege of saying. Even if that comes with a bit of tude when he’s a teen because he’d rather have a DQ ice cream cake or a cookie cake from the mall. Sorry kid, mommy loves you so much that she wants to spend her time crying over a layer cake, made with love.
So let’s talk cake.
The cake is an applesauce cake. It’s sweetened with just a touch of maple syrup and then otherwise the rest of the sweetness is from the applesauce. It tastes like an apple muffin. Canaan has actually eaten my test batches as muffins. Win.
The frosting is SO simple. It is literally just peanut butter and whipped coconut cream. It isn’t sweet, just creamy and delicious. My kiddo ate it by the handful during our trial run.
The result is an adorable “apples and peanut butter” cake. So childish and perfect. You can decorate it with fresh fruit if you want to, but it all gets smashed so quickly I chose to keep it simple.
You can bake the cake in a jumbo muffin tin and you’ll get two out of the batch. OR you can bake it in two 4 inch layers. I didn’t have a 4 inch cake tin (they make tart tins that size) so I baked it in two small square pans then used large biscuit cutters to get my circle layers.
And finally, I used a KitchenAid Mini Artisan Stand Mixer for this recipe. I have it in the matte gray color, which is very battleship or “I’d like an entire house decorated in pink and gold” kind of color. I love it. Very subtle but so stylish. I love that the bowl is sloped just right for small-batch desserts like this one, so the whisk doesn’t miss anything while mixing. You can use your standard mixer for this recipe, but just keep in mind you’ll have to scrape down the bowl well to make sure everything is incorporated.
Let’s get to it!
- ¼ cup all purpose gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
- ¼ cup gluten free oat flour
- 1 Tbs. maple syrup
- ¼ cup unsweetened organic applesauce
- 1 Tbs. melted coconut oil
- 1 egg
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- 1/8 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
- pinch of Kosher salt
- ½ cup coconut cream, cold*
- 2 Tbs. creamy peanut butter
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray your jumbo muffin tin or 4” cake tins with nonstick spray.
- In your mixer, combine the egg, coconut oil and maple syrup. Mix on medium speed for 30 seconds. Then add the applesauce. Next, with the mixer off, add all of the dry ingredients and spices. Turn the mixer on medium low and mix until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Pour the batter into your prepared tins. Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until golden brown and a test stick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack.
- In your clean mixer, whip the cold coconut cream on medium high until very smooth. Then add the peanut butter and whisk until incorporated. Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl so all of the peanut butter is mixed in.
- Frost your cooled cakes. Serve, enjoy!
- *I used a can of coconut cream from Trader Joe’s. I refrigerate the can overnight, then open it and scrape out ½ cup, avoiding any liquid that may be in the bottom of the can.
- You can make the cakes a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate them, well-wrapped. Then make the frosting and frost your cake before serving.