Forever on my quest for healthier sweet treats for myself and the boys, I have begun to collect quite a number of recipes to try. We’ve experimented with wheat-free, gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free and sugar-free baking (sometimes all in the same recipe!) and we’ve eaten our way through a whole lot of cake. Not all of my free-from experiments have gone as hoped, but it’s been lots of fun trying new things and learning what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to blending baking with special dietary requirements. The main thing my friends with children ask me for, is a good kiddie friendly birthday cake recipe, that isn’t laden with sugar. So, I found five different recipes to make, all taste tested by Omi and Orion – with brutally honest feedback (there’s no other way with kids is there?!). All these cakes are refined sugar free, meaning that they don’t contain processed white sugar, but are sweetened with fruit or natural sweeteners such as pure maple syrup. Yes, these are still a form of sugar and although these recipes are healthier, these cakes and sweet recipes are still very much a celebratory treat.
1/ Banana & Blueberry Cake
Thank you to homemade baby food recipes blog for this recipe. There are plenty of great looking recipes on this website, and a whole selection of sugar free baby birthday cake ideas too. Scroll down the page here to find the recipe for this banana and blueberry cake. I substituted the wholewheat flour for spelt flour, the butter for dairy-free sunflower spread and the apple juice concentrate for good quality pure pressed apple juice. My frosting was made from cream cheese beaten with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. I made this for my friend Amy’s little boy’s 1st birthday party, and it was given to all the children in their party bags. The cake turned out really nicely. It was a good height, lovely and moist and full of flavour, without an intense sweetness. The kids really loved this one, they ate all of theirs and asked for more. A thumbs up from Omi.
2/ First Birthday Apple Sauce Cake
Thank you to Megan at Detoxnista blog for this one. I adapted her first birthday apple sauce cupcake recipe – only by placing all of the mixture into a savarin cake mould. This recipe is very very easy, especially if you make up some apple sauce in advance (I made mine with 2 cooking apples, peeled and chopped and stewed with a little water for half an hour). I cheated a little here and iced the cake with two tablespoons of icing sugar mixed with a little lemon juice. However, there are lots of dairy and sugar-free cake frosting recipes to try – for example you could try this vegan cream cheese frosting, this avocado frosting or this cashew nut frosting. The cake itself was really tasty, and sliced easily. If you’ve baked with coconut flour before, you will know what I mean when I say it brings a certain density to a cake, as it’s fine texture absorbs more liquid than average grain flours. Because of that, I’d say this is more of a Sunday cake than a wow-factor first birthday cake – though it didn’t stop my kid’s from tucking in.
3/ No-Bake Peanut Butter Bar Jungle Cake
When me and my brother were younger, my Mum would always bake us a fantastic birthday cake each year. We had giant 3D care bares, trains, scaled-down edible zoos, desert islands, ship-wrecks, sports cars, sylvanian family houses (and so on). Birthday cakes really are a Mum’s time to shine aren’t they? But without bowls of coloured butter icing, an endless supply of chocolate smarties and two boxes of matchmakers, what are the options for a creative sugar-free birthday cake? I’d been meaning to try these peanut butter bars for ages, and when I finally gave them a go, they were so good that they seemed perfect for creating a no-bake celebration cake from. So, the bars became rocks for an edible jungle, with desiccated coconut mixed with a little green food colouring for grass, a selection of plastic jungle animals (from amazon) and some paper palm trees (from ebay). The boys absolutely loved playing with their jungle and were ecstatic when they realised they could eat the rocks and the grass. If not a headliner birthday cake – an idea definitely worth making for the party table.
4/ Beetroot & Chocolate Cake with Beetroot Frosting
Thank you to Erica at Coffee & Quinoa for this lovely recipe. She use turbinado, which is a raw cane sugar – though you can find lots of other raw sugar alternatives on the market now. You could try coconut palm sugar, or do what I did, which was to use 100g of medjool dates (pitted and blended with 4 tablespoons of water). This made the cake really sticky and fudgy. Just be sure to bake it a little longer than the recipe suggests, and test that the cake is completely cooked before taking it out of the oven. I think I took mine out a little too early, as it was still quite wet and had stuck to the tin, even after cooling (hence we named our slightly wonky version ‘the boob cake’ – see photos!). You can also use vacuum packed beets, which save lots of time, but do compromise flavour a little. I would have loved to have made Erica’s dairy-free avocado frosting, though I fancied a pretty pink cake, so I mixed cream cheese with one finely grated beet (all juiced squeezed out) and one tablespoon of melted coconut oil for a quick icing. We shared this cake with some visiting friends who absolutely loved it. The boys did too. Omi named it “the happy cake” and it even got divvied up to my dairy-free friends (icing removed!) as they were keen to taste it. Great flavour, dense, rich and moist. I’m looking forward to making (and eating) this cake again. A definite contender for a chocolatey birthday cake.
5/ Sweet Potato Chocolate Brownies
This is a recipe from the lovely Ella over at Pure Ella. I use Ella’s free-from recipes all the time and they are always great and taste amazing – without the guilt. These brownies were no exception. Sweet, fudgy and rich – just perfect cut into squares, piled high and topped with candles for a special birthday treat. We all loved making and eat these brownies, and have made them again several times since our first go. Ori adores them, as you can see!
*if it’s a classic looking round refined sugar-free chocolate birthday cake that you are after, I can highly recommend a couple of cakes that we have baked a few times lately – that were amazing. This flourless chocolate cake is incredible and so rich, you only really need one layer. You could try topping with a sugar-free frosting (this one’s my favourite) or even doubling the recipe and icing between the layers for a more traditional looking birthday cake. If you fancied a denser flourless chocolate cake, try this one – it is so good and made with ground almonds.*