If you’re looking for a special first birthday cake—or second, or third birthday cake!—you’ll love this Vanilla Oat Smash Cake with Greek Yogurt Frosting. It’s moist, flavorful, and super delicious, but it’s made without refined sugar or gluten. Plus, there are allergy-friendly options to make it without eggs and/or dairy if needed!
Healthy First Birthday Cake
This smash cake recipe comes from my friend Sarah 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!
“While we’re not particularly rigid about limiting sweets, especially when it comes to special occasions, I instinctively look for ways to keep treats as wholesome as possible. When I stick to that philosophy, I find we enjoy celebrations even more, having enjoyed something special to eat without crashing too hard in the minutes and hours that follow.”
1st Birthday Smash Cake Recipe
This healthy first birthday cake is made with whole grains and natural sweeteners, but it is joyfully gratifying to eat for both babies and their parents, should they not actually smash it all! The texture is light and delicate but the flavors are bold —hearty oat, floral maple syrup, and tangy yogurt.
It’s lovely even without the fruit, though I think the fresh berries make it extra special.
Remind me, what’s a smash cake?
A smash cake is a smaller cake meant for a baby turning 1 to eat, smash, and generally make a mess of all by themselves. 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—and have it look beautiful and ready to dive into!
So while you can adjust this recipe to make a layer cake to feed all of the guests at a party, the main recipe is for a small three layer 5-inch cake.
Ingredients in this First Birthday Cake
Here’s a look at what’s inside this simple cake.
- oat flour (purchased or made by grinding rolled oats into a powder in a blender)
- maple syrup
- vanilla extract
- a little baking powder and salt
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 to make a small smash cake. (You can also make a standard-size two layer cake if you prefer. See the note at the bottom of the recipe.)
- Strain the yogurt in a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth or paper towels. (photo 1)
- Stir yogurt together with maple syrup and vanilla in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use. (photo 2)
- Grease the pans and line the inside of each with a round of parchment paper. Grease again. Gather the rest of the ingredients. (photo 3)
- Gently stir together oat flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, melted and slightly cooled butter, and vanilla extract. (photo 4)
- Divide between greased cake pans and bake. (photo 5)
- Let cool and frost and stack, or store in an airtight container overnight until ready to frost and serve. (photo 6)
- Top with berries!
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.
TIP: You can try making this with whole wheat flour if you prefer—though check for doneness closer to 12-14 minutes and stir very gently to avoid overworking the batter—though it’s very moist and delicious with the oat flour!
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. It’s a delicious alternative for an egg-free birthday cake. See the Notes section at the bottom of the recipe card for the details.
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 an airtight container (in one layer at room temperature). Store the frosting in an airtight container in the fridge.
What kind of yogurt is the frosting made from?
The frosting is made with whole milk plain Greek yogurt, strained to remove a bit more of the liquid, a little maple syrup, and a touch of vanilla extract. It’s slightly tangy from the yogurt and super simple to make. (Just drain any liquid in the yogurt container before measuring it out.) And there’s no need for cups and cups of powdered sugar to make it thick and spreadable!
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!)
Do I have to top with berries?
You can do whatever you want after frosting! Leave it plain, top with sprinkles, or add a candle. It will be delicious no matter what!
What’s the texture of this cake like?
Can I make this smash cake into cupcakes?
You can! See the Notes section at the bottom of the recipe for details.
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 before turning them out onto the rack. This will help to prevent them from crumbling.
- To make oat flour: Place rolled oats into a blender. Cover and grind until resembles a fairly fine flour. Measure the amount needed for the cake after grinding.
- To Make this Cake Ahead: You can bake the cakes up to a day ahead. Let cool fully on wire racks and store in an airtight container. Frost soon before serving. You can make the frosting up to a day ahead as well.
- To Bake this as a Regularly Sized Layer Cake: Double the ingredients and bake in two 8-inch round cake pans. Bake and frost as directed.
- To Make as Cupcakes: Use 3 tablespoons of the batter in each paper cupcake liner to make 8 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.
I’d love to hear your feedback if you try this cake, so please comment below to share!Print
This fresh smash cake has a base of rolled oats and is simply decorated—so your little one can dig right into the deliciousness. This recipe is baked in 5-inch cake pans to create a small, personally sized cake for your newly minted toddler!
- Prepare the Greek Yogurt Frosting.
- 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. Trim slightly to fit inside the bottom of the 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. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and place pans onto a wire rack. Let cool at least 30 minutes in the pans.
- Carefully turn cakes out onto a cooling rack and let cool fully to room temperature. Discard parchment paper rounds.
- Place one cake on your serving plate. Top with about 1/3 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 store in the fridge if needed until 30-60 minutes before ready to serve. Let the birthday kiddo dig in!
Greek Yogurt Frosting
Place 1 cup whole milk yogurt in a sieve or fine-mesh strainer lined with a double layer of cheesecloth or paper towels 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 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extra. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To Make this Cake Ahead: You can bake the cakes up to a day ahead. Let cool fully on wire racks and store in an airtight container. Frost soon before serving. You can make the frosting up to a day ahead as well.
To Bake this as a Regularly Sized Layer Cake: Double the ingredients (except the salt) and bake in two 8-inch round cake pans. Bake and frost as directed.
To Make as Cupcakes: Use 3 tablespoons of the batter in each paper cupcake liner to make 8 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 these Egg-Free:
1 cup oat flour
1/2 all purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 very ripe banana, mashed (about 1 cup sliced banana)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Then proceed with the recipe. They may need another 2-4 minutes to bake, but test it with a cake tester inserted into the center to be sure. It should come out clean. Let it cool completely in the pan. Store it in the fridge if you need to make it ahead.
To Make Dairy-free: Use melted and cooled coconut oil in place of the butter.