Vegan Healthy Smash Cake

By Alexandra Caspero on October 8, 2018

Healthy Smash Cake! Naturally sweetened, healthy vegan smash cake. Made with flax, bananas, applesauce and frosted with a sugar-free coconut frosting.

And just like that, my sweet baby is 1.

Fellow parents, I know you know how monumental this occasion feels. It’s hard to explain the mix of emotions that happen when you realize that your baby has been your baby for 365 rotations of the earth. Van’s still my baby, but he’s quickly moving on to toddlerhood.

So, we celebrated with a healthy smash cake. We celebrated his first birthday and, just as importantly, the milestone as parents. The first year is rough. Motherhood has been complicated, messy and filled with self-doubt. More importantly though, it’s been the most joyous, peaceful and gratifying path I’ve ever walked.

All of the cliche’s are true; it really is the most incredible kind of of love.

healthy vegan smash cake

We hosted a big party in celebration this weekend at a local park. Our friends and parents showed up to eat, play and watch this guy eat smash this cake.

Of course, it’s hard to have a first birthday party without a cake to celebrate! This healthy smash cake is perfect for those of you who want the experience of doing a smash cake without having one that’s loaded with sugar, butter and artificial colors. For parents who are vegan or have kids with allergies, this one is also free of eggs or dairy.

I went back and forth for a trying to decide if I was going to make a healthy smash cake or just a regular one and ultimately decided to do a healthy one.

Why? Well, for starters, Vander doesn’t know any different. I’m sure he would have loved a ‘regular’ cake but since he’s none the wiser, I didn’t feel like I needed to introduce sugar to him here.

Additionally I knew with all of the festivities, he was going to be stimulated enough. Therefore, I didn’t want to give him a ton of sugar on top of that.

healthy vegan smash cake

Let me preface this by saying that removing sugar from baked goods alters the texture and flavor. This vegan smash cake is great and perfect for a 1st birthday smash, but it is dense and not sweet- even with using the banana and applesauce.

So don’t expect fluffy white cake from the grocery store, because it’s not that.

Ingredients for Baby’s First Birthday Cake

For the cake: 

  • Dry ingredients like flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt
  • Pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon with a pinch of ground ginger and nutmeg)
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • Apple sauce
  • Milk of choice
  • Flax seed
  • Maple syrup
  • Vanilla extract

For the frosting: 

  • Coconut cream
  • cream of tarter
  • Unsweetened coconut, for garnish (optional)

Substitution Ideas

You can use any kind of dairy-free milk for this, though I’m partial to oat milk as I like it in baking. I used. White whole wheat flour is my preference here for this recipe as the cake it pretty dense, 100% whole wheat would make it even denser.

For a gluten-free cake, I’d recommend using a gluten-free flour blend like a 1:1 blend. I haven’t tried it with other gluten-free flours like oat flour or almond flour and therefore can’t guarantee success.

The ripe banana and applesauce lend are natural sweeteners without added sugar. However, I made this cake slightly on the sweeter side with adding in a few tablespoons of maple syrup. You can omit that if you’d like.

I prefer to frost this with my coconut whipped cream frosting and it’s gorgeous with a pile fresh berries on top.

healthy vegan smash cake

Healthy Smash Cake Recipe Instructions

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients

    Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together: flour, baking soda/powder, pie spice and salt.

  2. Puree the wet ingredients together

    In a blender, puree together the banana, applesauce, milk, flax seed, maple syrup and teaspoon vanilla extract. You can combine by hand, but I find that a blender makes the banana creamier and easier to mix into the cake.

  3. Combine the wet and dry together

    Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined, taking care not to over mix the mixture.

  4. Make the cake

    Lightly spray and flour two 4″ cake pans (or two 6-inch cake pans or an 8″ cake pan, or cupcakes.) Divide batter and cook for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
    Remove and set on a cooling rack for 10 minutes; then remove from pan and cool completely.

  5. Make the frosting

    Open the can and spoon the hardened white cream into the base of a stand mixer or a bowl fitted with a hand mixer. Discard the water at the bottom, or use in another recipe. (Adding too much of the water will make a thinner frosting and won’t turn out the same.)
    Add the cream of tarter to the bowl and beat until fluffy and able to hold stiff peaks; this may take ~8 minutes. Place in the fridge until ready to frost.

  6. Assemble the cake

    If you want 4 cake layers, then divide the cake layers in half. Add a dollop of the frosting to the top of the cakes, spread out in an even layer, then add the other cake on top. Spread the rest of the coconut whip on top to the rest of the cake and frost. Then, gently adhere shredded coconut to the top/sides, if desired.

healthy vegan smash cake

As you can tell by these photos, he loved this healthy smash cake! It took him a moment to figure out that he could eat it, but then the fun began.

I hope you love this vegan cake as much as he did. Free of refined sugars and make with whole grains, perfect for your little’s first birthday!

If you try this, make sure to come back to rate it and leave a comment. Seeing you make my recipes makes my day and your feedback helps other readers.

Print
healthy vegan smash cake

Vegan Healthy Smash Cake

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 37 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cake 1x
  • Category: cake, smash cake, birthday
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: birthday cake, 1st birthday, american

Description

Vegan healthy smash cake! If you’re looking for a naturally sweetened, healthy vegan smash cake THIS IS IT! Made with flax, bananas, applesauce and frosted with a sugar-free coconut frosting. Perfect for a 1st birthday party!


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 37 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cake 1x
  • Category: cake, smash cake, birthday
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: birthday cake, 1st birthday, american
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 37 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cake 1x
  • Category: cake, smash cake, birthday
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: birthday cake, 1st birthday, american
Scale

Ingredients

For the cake: 

  • 1 cup flour (I used an white whole wheat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and pinch ground ginger/nutmeg)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce (I used an unsweetened)
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used oat milk as I like it for baking; soy would also work great)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed + 3 tablespoons water, combined until lightly gelled
  • 2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the frosting: 

  • 1 can coconut cream, chilled
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • shredded, unsweetened coconut, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, baking soda/powder, pie spice and salt.
  3. In a blender, puree together banana, applesauce, milk, combined flax + water, maple syrup and vanilla. You can combine by hand, but I find that a blender makes the banana creamier and easier to mix into the cake.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined, taking care not to overmix.
  5. Lightly spray and flour two 4″ cake pans (or an 8″ cake pan, or cupcakes.) Divide batter and cook for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Remove and set on a cooling rack for 10 minutes; then remove from pan and cool completely.
  7. For the frosting: Do not shake the can once you remove from the fridge! Open the can and spoon the hardened white cream into the base of a stand mixer or a bowl fitted with a hand mixer. Discard the water at the bottom, or use in another recipe. (Adding too much of the water will make a thinner frosting and won’t turn out the same.)
  8. Add the cream of tarter to the bowl and beat until fluffy and able to hold stiff peaks; this may take ~8 minutes. Place in the fridge until ready to frost.
  9. Assemble the cake! I sliced the tops off the cakes to make them flat, then sliced the cakes in half to create 4 layers. You can also just do two layers. Add a dollop of the frosting to the top of the cakes, spread out in an even layer, then add the other cake on top.
  10. Add the coconut whip to the rest of the cake and frost. Then, gently adhere shredded coconut to the top/sides, if desired. Eat!

Notes

  1. You can freeze the cake ahead of time after baking. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze, then thaw completely before frosting.
  2. The frosting can be made a day ahead of time, kept in the fridge.
  3. These are the 4 inch pans that I used.

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Remy
      September 26, 2022 AT 12:48 pm

      I made this over the weekend for my niece. Both she and the adults loved it.

    2. Lauren
      September 26, 2022 AT 12:47 pm

      My kiddo licked off all the frosting. the cake was pretty good too 😉

    3. Zeke
      September 26, 2022 AT 12:46 pm

      Surprised at how moist this turned out…thrilled!

    4. Sammie
      September 24, 2022 AT 11:18 am

      Baked this in an 8 inch pan, then used a tub of marscepone cheese as a frosting. We like that better than coconut cream frosting as it’s thicker.

    5. Reign
      September 24, 2022 AT 11:13 am

      Made this for my daughter’s 1st birthday. Turned out great and love that she was able to have a healthy first cake for her birthday.

    6. Teresa
      September 21, 2022 AT 2:07 pm

      Sooo good! My 2-year old loved it.

    7. Anna
      June 21, 2022 AT 6:10 am

      Hi. My baby has FPIES and have not tested him for flax seed. Can I substitute that with almond butter or roast almonds/blend into a paste?

      1. Alex
        June 21, 2022 AT 8:41 am

        Hi Anna– if you aren’t vegan and baby isn’t allergic to eggs, then you can sub in an egg. I haven’t tried almond butter as an option but could likely work. The flax seed helps to bind the ingredients together like an egg. Or, can sub in chia seeds or just omit. It should be OK as this cake is fairly dense

    8. Taraneh Tudisco
      April 15, 2022 AT 4:16 pm

      Hi! Super excited for this recipe but the cake has been in the oven for 38 min and outside is very golden but the toothpick still coming out very wet. Not sure what to do. I keep re-reading the recipe and I followed it to a T.

      Should I just let it cool and see what happened? Maybe it will set?

      Any tips are appreciated. His bday is tomorrow

      1. Alex
        April 16, 2022 AT 11:02 am

        Hi Taraneh, thanks for the feedback. What size pan are you using? I’d recommend cooking it until a toothpick some out mostly clean, not wet.

    9. Shannon R
      March 12, 2022 AT 8:35 pm

      Hi there! Just making your recipe and wondering if it’s ok to use an egg instead of flax/water? I know this won’t make the cake vegan but I’m curious. Also, what size of can is the cream of coconut? I have quite a large can (19 to oz/560ml) and couldn’t find anything smaller. Thanks in advance!

      1. Alex
        March 14, 2022 AT 11:14 am

        Hi Shannon- yes, an egg will work. I used a 15 ounce can of coconut cream, but a larger can will just mean more frosting– or you can save the rest of the can for another recipe/freeze it.

    10. Missy
      June 3, 2021 AT 4:12 pm

      This turned out really good!!! Made it exactly how it said. Yum! I did add sugar to the frosting cause it didn’t taste good Unsweet like it was.