Yesterday my baby girl turned one year old, and I can’t believe it!
One year old already?! How did this happen?
In preparation for Abby’s birthday, I worked two weeks on a smash cake recipe that’s vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, dye-free, and refined sugar-free — and it was no easy task! I’ll admit I almost caved and added eggs and confectioner’s sugar, but I was determined to start Abby’s second year of life on the right foot.
Some of you may be thinking I’m being too strict and should let Abby have a typical birthday cake, but I don’t want to give her extremely sweet desserts this early in life because taste buds change depending on their flavor exposure. I want Abby to start off liking fruits and vegetables, not craving sweets and refined flour. But no judgments here — if you want to give your baby the real deal, go for it!
I will say, however, that even though this cake is more dense and moist than cakes containing oil, the flavor is pretty fabulous. I used strawberry puree instead of the oil and saved some of the strawberry juice for the icing, which gives this cake its natural strawberry flavor. To make the cashew icing pink, I added a few drops of beet juice to the blender, and I decorated the top of the cake with powdered freeze-dried strawberries sprinkled over a stencil.
This cake is slightly sweetened with coconut sugar and maple syrup, but if you are making this cake to serve to adults, you could easily increase the amount of maple syrup or agave in the icing to sweeten it more. Also, if you’re not avoiding oil, I recommend substituting half of the strawberry puree in the cake with canola oil. Including oil gives the cake a lighter crumb and softer texture. I figured Abby wouldn’t be too picky, so I left out the oil for her smash cake 🙂
I found a set of 3 4.5-inch diameter cake pans at Harris Teeter, which was perfect for my mini smash cake. You could also pour all of the batter into an 8-inch pan or double the recipe for a larger cake or 12 cupcakes. The icing recipe makes more than you need for the smash cake, but the leftovers make a great fruit dip!
I used a plain white version of the cashew icing between the cake layers because I had some left over from a previous recipe, but you will have plenty of strawberry icing for the whole cake if that’s what you want to use. Be sure to plan ahead though, because the icing spreads the best when allowed to set in the fridge for a few hours. Also, serve within one or two hours of icing the cake, because the icing tends to darken in color over time.
- ¾ cup raw cashews, soaked in warm water 2+ hours
- 1 T. strawberry puree/juice (blended from thawed frozen organic strawberries)
- 1½ t. lemon juice
- ½ t. vanilla extract
- 2-3 T. pure maple syrup or agave
- 5-7 drops beet juice, or a few beet slivers
- ¼ cup nondairy milk
- Pinch sea salt
- ¾ cup oat flour (You can make your own by blending quick oats in a food processor, but I used Bob's Red Mill)
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar
- 1 t. baking powder
- ¼ t. sea salt
- ½ cup strawberry puree (blend thawed frozen organic strawberries, drained)
- 1½ t. vanilla extract
- ¼ c + 2 T. nondairy milk
- First, make the strawberry icing: blend the first 8 ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth. Taste and add more sweetener or beet juice, if desired. Transfer to a small air-tight container and place in the fridge to thicken.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 3 4.5-inch cake pans or one 8-inch cake pan with coconut oil.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the oat flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Pour wet into dry, and combine until a fairly smooth batter forms.
- Divide batter among cake pans and bake 20-22 mins. Allow cakes to cool in their pans about 15 mins, then invert onto a sheet of wax paper or a clean baking sheet.
- When cakes are completely cool and icing has thickened (this may take 2-3 hours), transfer one cake to serving plate and ice top, stack next cake on top of that, and repeat. Finally, ice entire 3-layered cake.
- If desired, crush a freeze-dried strawberry into a powder and sprinkle it over number stencil to decorate your cake.
- Serve immediately, or keep in an air-tight container in the fridge up to 3 days. To keep the icing looking fresh, however, do not ice the cake until within about 2 hours of serving.
This cake is so moist and delicious, your guests (or kids) won’t know it’s actually good for them! I made the smash cake for Abby, then doubled the recipe and replaced half of the strawberry puree with canola oil to make one dozen cupcakes for my guests. I topped each cupcake with a strawberry quarter for decoration, and everyone really liked the recipe . . .
especially the birthday girl!
Happy Birthday, sweet girl!