This Vanilla Oat Smash Cake with Yogurt Frosting is an easy, yet super special first birthday cake! It’s moist, flavorful, and so yummy—all without refined sugar. Plus: I have allergy-friendly and make-ahead options too.
Healthy First Birthday Cake
This smash cake recipe comes from my friend Sarah Crowder of Punctuated with Food. She made it for her youngest daughter Ruby when she turned one and has been making it ever since for other occasions too! I’ve made this cake about a dozen times in various forms over the years and I love both how easy it is to make—no special skills required!—and how good the final result tastes.
1st Birthday Smash Cake Recipe
This healthy first birthday cake is made with whole grains and natural sweeteners, but it is so fun and festive to celebrate the big day! The cake tastes like maple and vanilla, with a slightly tangy yogurt frosting. We like to top it with fresh fruit for a simple and fresh finish.
Remind me, what’s a smash cake?
A smash cake is a cake meant for a baby turning 1. The idea is that they will eat, smash, and generally make a mess of all by themselves using their hands and sometimes their bodies! It’s a fun tradition to mark a big milestone, and this version of a smash cake is an easy one to make at home.
TIP: You can place the cake onto the highchair tray, or onto the floor with baby set on top of a sheet to contain the mess a bit.
Ingredients in this First Birthday Smash Cake
Here’s a look at what’s inside this simple cake.
How to Make this Vanilla Oat Smash Cake Step-by-Step
The process for making this first birthday cake is simple. Here’s a look.
- You’ll need three 5-inch cake pans for this recipe. Grease and line them with parchment paper.
- Lightly beat the eggs. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir.
- Gently stir together the dry ingredients and add to the wet.
- Divide between greased cake pans and bake.
- Let cool on a wire rack.
- Remove cakes from the pans and cool fully.
TIP: There are additional size options at the bottom of the recipe if you prefer to use 6 inch cake pans, 8 inch cake pans, or make this as cupcakes.
How to Make Healthy Yogurt Frosting
The frosting is made with whole milk plain Greek yogurt, a little maple syrup, and a touch of vanilla extract. It’s slightly tangy from the yogurt and super simple to make. And there’s no need for cups and cups of powdered sugar to make it thick and spreadable! Here’s a look at the simple frosting and assembly method.
- Strain the yogurt in a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth or paper towels over a bowl. This makes it thicker.
- Stir yogurt together with maple syrup and vanilla in a bowl.
- Add some frosting on top of the first layer. Spread.
- Add another cake and more frosting.
- Add the third cake and top with the rest of the frosting.
- Add berries if you’d like.
TIP: You can leave it plain, top with berries, add sprinkles, or add a candle.
Gluten-Free First Birthday Cake
The oat flour in the smash cake recipe is made from finely grinding rolled oats in a food processor or blender. You can buy oat flour if you’d like to skip a step. And if you need the cake to be gluten-free, simply buy certified gluten-free oats.
Dairy-Free 1st Birthday Cake
You can make this recipe without dairy by using coconut oil and a dairy-free yogurt. See the Notes section at the bottom of the recipe card for the details.
Egg-Free 1st Birthday Cake
After having a lot of requests, I tried this without eggs and am so happy with the results! I added a ripe banana and used a small amount of regular flour to help bind the batter. The banana flavor is subtle and the cake is moist and sweet. See the Notes section at the bottom of the recipe for the details. (This Blueberry Smash Cake is also egg-free.)
Can I make this birthday cake ahead of time?
Sure, this is a great first birthday cake to make in advance, especially if you’ll be busy celebrating your new toddler on their big day. Simply bake the cakes and make the frosting the day before. Store the cakes, once fully cooled after baking, in airtight containers (in one layer) at room temperature. Store the frosting in an airtight container in the fridge.
TIP: I recommend frosting just before serving, but you can frost up to an hour ahead and leave it at room temperature.
Does this first birthday cake contain sugar?
It does contain natural sugars from maple syrup. Your little one’s first birthday is a big celebration, so it’s only fitting that they have a really special cake to mark the day! (Though this is so good you might hope that they don’t in fact smash it so you can have a piece for yourself. I once used just two layers of the cake for the smash cake and saved the third one so the rest of us could have a slice!)
TIP: If you want to use less maple syrup, a few people have replaced half of it with very smooth mashed ripe banana.
What’s the texture of this cake like?
Watch this Smash Cake in action below!
Tips for Making the Best 1st Birthday Smash Cake
- Grease each cake pan and line with a parchment paper round. Then grease again. This will help the cakes stay together well when you turn them out from the pan. (To make the parchment paper rounds, trace the pan onto parchment paper and cut out three times. Trim slightly to fit inside the bottom of the pan.)
- Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning them out onto the rack for the best texture.
- To Make this Cake Ahead: You can bake the cakes up to a day ahead. Let cool fully on wire racks and store at room temperature in an airtight container. Frost soon before serving.
- To Make the Frosting Ahead: Prepare the frosting as directed and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
- To Bake in Three 4-inch Pans: Divide the recipe in half. The baking time will be 16-18 minutes and the layers will be slightly thinner than shown here.
- To Bake in Three 6-inch Pans: The baking time will be 20-22 minutes and the layers will be slightly thinner than shown here.
- To Bake in Two 8-inch Pans: Bake in two 8-inch round cake pans, using about 2 cups of batter in each pan and baking for 18-20 minutes. The layers will be thinner than shown here.
- To Make as Cupcakes: Use about 3 tablespoons of the batter in each paper cupcake liner to make about 16 cupcakes. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean (I did 20 minutes). The rest of the recipe is the same.
- To Make Oat Flour: Place rolled oats into a blender. Cover and grind until resembles a fairly fine flour. Measure the amount of flour needed for the cake after grinding.
- To Make Dairy-free: Use melted and cooled coconut oil in place of the butter and nondairy Greek-style yogurt for the frosting.
- To Make Egg-Free: Use the ingredient list below in the NOTES section.
- You can try making this with whole wheat flour if you prefer—though check for doneness closer to 18-22 minutes and stir very gently to avoid overworking the batter.
I’d love to hear your feedback if you try this cake, so please comment below to share!
Vanilla Oat Smash Cake with Yogurt Frosting
Greek Yogurt Frosting
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk yogurt
- 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vanilla Oat Cake
- 3 cups oat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted and slightly cooled)
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 4 eggs (lightly beaten)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh berries to garnish
To make the Frosting:
- Place 1 ½ cups whole milk yogurt in a sieve or fine-mesh strainer lined with a paper towel with a bowl underneath. Let sit for 30 minutes or up to overnight.
- Transfer the yogurt to a bowl and stir in 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extra. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease three 5-inch cake pans and place a round of parchment inside of each. Grease again. (Trace the pan onto parchment paper and cut out three times to make the rounds. Trim slightly to fit inside the bottom of each pan.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
- Divide the batter evenly between prepared cake pans, using about 1 ⅓ cups batter in each pan.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 22-26 minutes. Remove from oven and place pans onto a wire rack. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then carefully invert to cool fully. Discard parchment paper rounds.
- To assemble, place one cake on your serving plate. Top with about 1/3-½ cup of frosting, spreading it in an even layer just past the edges. Add the second, repeat with frosting, and then repeat with the third cake . Use an offset spatula or knife to scrape off the frosting overhang for a "naked" cake look, or use additional frosting to coat the entire cake.
- Top with berries and serve...as in, let the birthday kiddo dig in!
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup maple syrup
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 cups sliced banana)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract