First Birthday Cake || {Cup}Cake Smashing

by Heather

This first birthday cake recipe is a great first cake for baby – it’s gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free {sweetened only with pear juice}. Works great for cupcakes too, which make the perfect size for a tiny smash cake!

First birthday cake or cupcake recipe that's gluten free, dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free, egg free, and nut free. MSPI friendly.

Tuesday my little boy turned 1. Due to an onslaught of January birthdays we’re not celebrating with a party quite yet, but we couldn’t resist a mini cupcake smashing session on the actual day of this big milestone.

baby's first birthday

Of course that means we needed a first birthday cake!

I was a little unsettled with the idea of loading my baby up with sugar just for the sake of this tradition, but I didn’t want to be that mom. You know the one. The one that refuses to give her kid sugar or anything bad for them, and then they go crazy when mom’s not looking.

first birthday cake recipe

Well he’s obviously a little young for the backlash part of that scenario, but I still didn’t want to make a big thing about it. I know one day of sugar isn’t going to hurt him, but I still didn’t feel good about going crazy with it, especially given his poor sleep habits and the food allergies he’s already dealing with.

first birthday cake recipe for cupcakes

You’d be surprised what comes up when you Google “sugar free” cupcake {or anything}—> a whole lot of recipes that are anything but sugar free. I found things loaded with honey, syrup, and chocolate, all labeled “sugar free”. Umm not so much. Sugar was the least of my worries anyways, given I needed to come up with a first birthday cake recipe that was also gluten free and dairy free.

So I did what I do best: got to experimenting in the kitchen to find a compromise- something that wouldn’t deprive him of the first birthday cake experience, but also wouldn’t be bad for him. I think I succeeded.

cupcakes for baby's first birthday

I probably could have gotten away with not sweetening these at all, but I wanted them to be family friendly- delicious for everyone. Instead of refined sugar, I used 100% fruit juice reduced to enhance the sweetness. It was the perfect bit of sweet plus a little bit of tang from the fruit. I made the first batch with apple & pear juice; the second with apple & pineapple juice, which gave the cupcakes a nice little twist, especially when paired with the coconut frosting. Feel free to experiment with other juices if you try these- I think pomegranate and orange would be delicious!

First Birthday Cake Recipe

Baby Approved Cupcakes

sugar free cupcakes

by with a Side of Sneakers



    For the Cupcakes

    • 2 cups oat flour {or other flour of choice- I used gluten free oats}
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ cup coconut milk
    • 1/4 cup reduced 100% fruit juice {~1 cup of juice}
    • 1 flax egg {1 T flax meal + 3 T water}
    • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
    • 1 t vanilla

    For the Frosting

    • 1/2 cup coconut cream {from can of full fat coconut milk}
    • 1 Tbsp reduced 100% fruit juice {reserved from cupcakes}


    For the Cupcakes

    Bring 1 cup of 100% no sugar added fruit juice to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat but maintain a boil until juice reduces to a little more than 1/4 cup {it’s ok if you have extra}. Reserve 1 Tbsp for frosting.

    Combine all ingredients and stir to combine. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes. Makes 12 cupcakes, or 16 smaller cupcakes.

    For the Frosting

    Chill a can of full fat coconut in the fridge overnight.

    Once chilled, turn the can upside and open it. Scrape out the solidified coconut cream from the top of the can.

    Place coconut cream in a chilled mixing bowl and whip on high until starts to turn creamy. Pour in 1 Tbsp of reduced fruit juice. Continue to whip on high until smooth and fluffy.

    Frost cupcakes once cooled.

    Powered by Recipage

    refined sugar free cupcakes

    Now I can’t wait to get started on the cake for his first birthday party- it’s going to be awesome!

    Did you have a smash cake for your baby’s first birthday?

    Click here for more Gluten Free Dairy Free Recipes that won’t leave you trapped in the kitchen for hours or hunting down a million bizarre ingredients.

    { 26 comments… read them below or add one }

    Kierston January 11, 2013 at 9:20 am
    Holy cupcakes! This I gotta make!
    Linz @ Itz Linz January 11, 2013 at 9:45 am
    holy yum!!
    Andrea @ fromfltond January 11, 2013 at 11:09 am
    I love these! Way to go on creating a clean cup cake! Pinning!
    Sylvia @ Frolic Through Life January 11, 2013 at 12:37 pm
    This recipe is amazing! My little man turns three next week and I see these happening for his day too!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast January 11, 2013 at 1:38 pm
    I am definitely trying these. I've experimented with some of those "sugar-free" recipes too, but never tried fruit juice. And I've been wanting to try the coconut cream icing, too... thanks, Heather!
    Jane January 11, 2013 at 2:47 pm
    This is brilliant! I'll be making these. I also thought of using your 2-ingredient pancakes and making them into a giant baked pancake and decorating with fruit (kind of a healthy version of a cookie cake).
    Heather January 13, 2013 at 9:35 am
    That would be a great idea too!!
    Megan @ Fiterature January 11, 2013 at 6:12 pm
    This post could not have come at a more perfect time! I have a baby dedication to go to on Sunday, and I wanted to bring a healthy dessert. Done and done!!!! (Came over from the #BestBodyBootcamp FB Page!)
    Megan @ Fiterature January 12, 2013 at 10:52 am
    Quick question: do you melt the coconut oil before you use it? Mine is in a solid state right now. Thanks!!!!
    Heather January 13, 2013 at 8:24 am
    Lindsey @ Sound Eats January 17, 2013 at 8:13 pm
    First of all, how is it that your little boy is already 1? I used to follow your blog a little more regularly, but with my last year of my nutrition degree/ prepping for internship apps and everything, I totally dropped off the face of the internet for a while. Anyway, I really wanted to say that I love your usage of reduced fruit juice for the sweetener. I can't wait to try that sometime!
    Satah@Kids Heart Real Food January 31, 2013 at 11:33 pm
    Great post! I agree that it is a fine line between wanting to keep your baby healthy but not getting too uptight about it. My son is turning one this weekend and I have a cupcake recipe ironed out but have been stressing about the frosting. This looks perfect and I can't wait to try it. Thanks!
    Lily February 22, 2013 at 12:53 am
    the cupcakes looks amazing and yummy!!! Thank you for sharing this.
    Marshelle Capile July 11, 2013 at 3:02 pm
    I am so glad I finally found the perfect recipe!!! Thank you!!! Did you post your sons 1st birthday party cake? I would love to see it!
    Heather July 11, 2013 at 6:41 pm
    I actually ended up just doing a pile of pancakes so there'd be more whip cream to make a mess with ;)
    Alexis November 22, 2013 at 11:42 am
    In the cake, should it be canned coconut milk or the coconut milk that comes in a carton in the (non)dairy case?
    Heather November 24, 2013 at 12:02 pm
    I think I used the canned kind for the cake, but either should work for that. (The frosting has to be the canned kind -full fat,)
    Alexis November 22, 2013 at 11:48 am
    In the cake, do you use canned coconut milk or the kind that comes in a carton in the (non)dairy case?
    Jennilee March 21, 2014 at 10:59 pm
    I made these today for my 14 month old and he loved them. Thanks so much for a real no sugar added recipe.
    Stephanie April 7, 2014 at 11:45 pm
    Can you make this in a small cake pan? If so, how long would you bake for?
    Sarah September 15, 2014 at 3:20 pm
    Can I make this a day ahead? Will it hold? Also-can the frosting be piped?
    Heather September 16, 2014 at 9:55 am
    Yes, I did! You might be able to pipe the frosting in cooler temperatures, but I'm not positive it will hold up.
    Laurel December 11, 2014 at 2:05 am
    What if I wanted to make this into a small cake for my son's 1st birthday? Do you know the best sized pan for this and altered baking time?? Thanks!! (I am not a baker) :-/ This recipe is the best I've found and am looking forward to making it.
    Heather January 11, 2015 at 9:35 am
    You could probably use a standard 8 inch round pan, or if you want to make a little layered cake use 2 smaller ones. I'd try around 20-25 minutes!
    Cynthia June 8, 2015 at 11:52 pm
    What did I do wrong? The only thing I did differently was use Bob's gf flour. I ended up with a crumbly dry mixture that looked nothing like cake batter. Help! My son's first birthday is closing in on me.
    Heather June 10, 2015 at 3:03 pm
    Ah oh no! You might need to add extra liquid - different types of gf flours absorb completely different amounts of liquid. The batter should still be slightly "pourable" after it's sat for a few minutes.

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