First birthdays are so fun and bittersweet to celebrate, and this Healthy Apple Cake is one of my very favorite birthday cakes for kids. It’s SO easy to make, can be made ahead, and has a tangy yogurt frosting. Plus, the apple flavor shines through!
Healthy Apple Cake
When it came time to make a cake for my third kiddo, I wanted something easy so I could enjoy the day with him and also yummy of course! This Healthy Apple Cake fits both of those goals—you can make the cake the day before if you want and it simply stirs together in a bowl. It’s sweetened with maple syrup and applesauce, so it’s less sweet than traditional cakes but still super moist and flavorful.
Healthy Smash Cake
This can work as a smash cake for the baby—which is where you essentially give the cake to baby by placing the whole thing right in front of them and letting them smash and eat it however they like!—or as a cake to share with the rest of the family. I made sure it tastes delicious to adults too, so you can serve it either way.
Ingredients in this First Birthday Cake
The ingredients in this cake are very straight forward pantry staples, so you should be able to find everything in a regular grocery store.
- melted butter or coconut oil (slightly cooled)
- unsweetened applesauce
- maple syrup
- pure vanilla extract
- whole-wheat flour
- baking powder
- baking soda
TIP: To make this cake dairy-free, use coconut oil instead of butter. To make it gluten-free, use cup for cup gluten-free flour blend. To make it vegan, omit the egg and increase the applesauce. See the NOTES at the bottom of the recipe for the full details.
How to Make Healthy Apple Cake Step-by-Step
To make this cake, you’ll need to follow a super simple process of just stirring the ingredients together and prepping the pans. Here’s a look of what to expect.
- Finely dice your apple.
- Place the dry ingredients into a bowl. The wet into another bowl.
- Gently stir all ingredients together.
- Prepare your pans with nonstick spray and rounds of parchment paper.
- Divide the batter between the two pans.
TIP: This recipe is baked in two 6-inch pans so it’s a nicely sized cake for a baby or toddler, but it still feeds about 8.
Easy Greek Yogurt Frosting
This frosting requires only three ingredients and is very easy to make. You do need to make it ahead of time so it has time to thicken, so plan to get it ready the night before you plan to serve the cake.
- Gather your ingredients.
- Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Line with cheesecloth or two layers of paper towels.
- Place the yogurt on top of the paper towels in the strainer.
- Store overnight in the fridge. Liquid will come out of the yogurt making it thicker.
- Mix in the maple syrup and vanilla.
- Frost the cake!
TIP: If you want to frost the sides of the cake, you’ll want to double the frosting recipe.
Tips for Making the Best Healthy Apple Cake
- Dice the apple finely to about the same size. You don’t have to peel it.
- Use coconut oil instead of butter to make this cake dairy-free. You’ll also want to use nondairy Greek yogurt.
- You can make the cake a day ahead. Let cool, then store in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Double the frosting recipe if you want to frost the sides of the cake too.
- Add natural sprinkles or natural food coloring as desired.
- Store any leftover cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
I’d love to hear what you think of this cake if you try it, so please comment below to share!Print
You’ll want to start the frosting the night before you plan to make the cake so it has time to thicken.
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil (slightly cooled)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups diced apple (about 1 large)
- 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Maple Yogurt Frosting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease two 6-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray. Trace the pans onto parchment paper and cut out. Place parchment into the cake pans, trimming as needed to fit. Coat again with nonstick spray.
- Stir together the eggs, butter, applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla, and diced apple. Gently fold in the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Divide batter between the two pans. (I put 1 cup into each, then divide the rest evenly by eye.) Spread the batter evenly in the pan with a spatula.
- Bake for 26-28 minutes, or until the cakes are lightly golden brown around the edges, firm to the touch, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out evenly. Let cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then invert to cool completely on a wire rack.
Maple Yogurt Frosting: Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Line strainer with cheesecloth or two layers of paper towels. Place 1 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt on top of the paper towels on top of the cheesecloth or paper towels in the strainer. Cover and store overnight in the fridge. Liquid will come out of the yogurt making it thicker. (About 1/4 cup of liquid was in the bottom of the bowl each time I made it; discard this.) Add the yogurt (spoon it off of the strainer) to a bowl with 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Stir well with a wooden spoon or beat with a hand held electric mixer. Use 1/2 cup of the frosting between the layers and the rest on the top.
Dice the apple finely to about the same size. You don’t have to peel it.
Dairy-Free: Use coconut oil instead of butter to make this cake dairy-free. You’ll also want to use nondairy Greek yogurt.
Egg-Free: Omit the egg. Increase the applesauce to 3/4 cup and bake for 32-34 minutes. Let cool fully in the pans.
You can make the cake a day ahead. Let cool, then store in an airtight container at room temperature. Frost just before serving if possible.
Double the frosting recipe if you want to frost the sides of the cake too.
Store any leftover cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.