So to mark the occasion for our little 1 year old I made her her own cake, to do as she pleased – to throw and smash and play and eat. I love the idea of a smash cake, because it is the perfect way to involve a 1 year old in their birthday cake (and, of course the photos!). Otherwise let’s be honest, the first birthday cake is for the guests, not the birthday girl/boy.
We did it at home, when it was just my husband and I, which was much easier and made for much better photos than trying to snap a few pics during her party. Something I have learnt about photos is that to get good photos you have to be intentional about it – set aside time, set up the space, do it when there is good light etc. Otherwise I find we end up with blurry or dark photos with messy backgrounds.
I looked for a sugar free cake option, because I haven’t introduced my daughter to sugary foods yet. I had a few people make comments about me being mean or not even letting my daughter eat cake on her birthday. But my daughter has a lifetime of sugar ahead of her, I’m just trying to delay is as long as I can. And though some foods might seem bland to us, for her new foods, tastes and textures bring plenty of excitement.
I tested two sugar free cake recipes, though one tasted much better than the other, so I’ll only share that one. I was actually very impressed by how tasty this cake was.
I found this recipe for ‘Little Punkins’ in ‘What to Expect, the Toddler Years’. It’s a muffin recipe, but I made it into a cake. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, so here is what I did:
¼ cup coconut oil
2 whole eggs
1 egg white
1 cup raisins
1 ¾ cup apple juice concentrate
1 cup mashed pumpkin
1 ½ cups self raising flour
½ cup wheat germ
- Preheat over to 180 degrees. Grease cake tin.
- Beat oil and eggs in bowl.
- Chop raisins with apple juice in blender. Add pumpkin and blend. Fold pumpkin mixture into the egg and oil mixture
- Add flour and wheat germ
- Pour into cake tin and cook until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean (I cooked the mixture in two halves to make thin cakes which I stacked on top of each other).
For the icing I used cream cheese and a little apple juice, whipped for a few minutes with an electric beater.
This was the difficult bit. I’ve made many a cake in my life, but I’m not much of a photographer at all, so photographing a toddler and a cake was a challenge to me. I needed to think about lighting and the set up and nap times.
We wanted to start straight after nap time. I iced the cake and got it ready while Nala was asleep. But first Nala had to have lunch (no point trying to photograph a hungry toddler), then a bath and hair wash, then we decided we needed a white sheet on the floor to create a good background, so off I headed to the shops. We borrowed a friend’s camera that we’d never used before and at first we couldn’t get the photos to come out clearly, so we played around with the settings a bit and the next thing I know we’ve got a tired, grumpy toddler on our hands. I actually wanted to push on, put the cake in front of her and see what she does. It was already 3pm on a wintery day and the natural light I was relying on was not far from fading.
But, tired toddlers progress to very quickly into ‘hold-on-to-mummy’s-leg’ toddlers, so it was off to bed for little Nala, dressed in her tutu. We restarted around five, with Nala as her best, happiest self, and we used the flash on the camera to make up for the lack of natural light.
Did she like the cake?
Well at first she was most interested in pulling the bunting and princess decorations off. And then she slowly and cautiously started dipping into the icing with her fingers. She didn’t dive in like I’ve seen other babies do online, instead she seemed curious as to what it was. I think it’s fair to say she was a run away birthday girl though – while she was interested in tasting the cake, she was more interested in running towards us and trying to grab us and the camera. She was very intrigued by the fact that our living room had turned into a set, the camera and the decorations on the wall. But persist we did and for a few moments here and there we had her sitting behind the cake. And snap away we did. She actually loved the squishy texture of the icing and ended up with it all over her hands, feet, clothes and mouth. She barely tasted the cake underneath, so turns out I could have packed it full of sugar anyway!
The verdict – it was lots of fun and super cute and I’m really happy with how it all turned out. Welcome to the world of cakes, birthday girl!