With an easy stir-together method and a naturally sweet flavor, this delicious Sweet Potato baby cake is the perfect cake for a first birthday. It’s easy, flavorful, and delicious for baby…and grown-ups! (It also makes a festive holiday dessert!)

sweet potato cake with sprinkles

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and have all of my first birthday cakes developed so I could have made them for all of my babies—but at least I get to share them with you now!

This simple and healthy baby cake is easy to stir together, perfect to make ahead, and sweetened with mashed sweet potato and maple syrup so it’s an ideal first birthday cake.

While I love this cake myself, it is especially great as a first birthday cake. It is super soft, has nice flavor, and is lightly sweetened with maple syrup. It’s such a fun smash cake, especially if you have a baby who loves sweet potato baby food!

We often have this in the fall as a seasonal dessert to share with the whole family. It’s a great kid-friendly Thanksgiving recipe or a fall kids birthday cake recipe.

(You may also like my First Birthday Smash Cake, One-Year-Old Birthday Cake, Blueberry Smash Cake, and Healthy Banana Cake.)

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Ingredients You Need

To make this baby cake, you’ll need to have the following ingredients on hand and ready to go.

ingredients in sweet potato baby cake on counter.
  • Mashed sweet potato: You can use any type of cooked mashed sweet potato including Crockpot Sweet Potato, Sweet Potato Baby Food, or Sweet Potato Puree. This is easy to make, but you’ll want to plan to make it ahead of baking. You can also use canned unsweetened sweet potato puree.
  • Vegetable oil: This helps to keep the cake nice and moist. You can also use melted unsalted butter or avocado oil if you prefer.
  • Maple syrup: We use this as the sweetener in this recipe. You can also use honey for kids over age 1 if you prefer.
  • Egg: This helps bind the ingredients together.
  • Vanilla extract: Adding a bit of vanilla extract helps give the cake a yummy flavor.
  • All-purpose flour: This helps the cake stay light and fluffy.
  • Baking powder and baking soda: These help ensure the cake rises and bakes through evenly.
  • Cinnamon: This adds that classic sweet potato cake flavor.
  • Cream Cheese Frosting: This is a simple mix of cream cheese, maple syrup, and vanilla, and is the perfect pairing with sweet potato cake.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • You can use pumpkin puree in place of the sweet potato if you prefer.
  • If you’d prefer to use whole wheat pastry flour in place of the all-purpose, you can do that.
  • Use honey instead of maple syrup for kids over 1 if desired.
  • Gluten-free: Use a 1:1 style of gluten-free all purpose flour.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the process involved in making this baby cake. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the full recipe, including the amounts and timing.

sweet potato cake wet ingredients in glass bowl with whisk.

Step 1. Stir the wet ingredients together in a large bowl.

sweet potato cake batter in glass bowl with whisk.

Step 2. Gently stir in the dry ingredients.

Baking pans lined with parchment paper for sweet potato cake.

Step 3. Line the cake pans with circles of parchment paper.

Sweet potato cake in baking pan.

Step 4. Divide the batter into the pans and bake!

Cream cheese frosting in glass bowl with whisk.

Step 5. Make the cream cheese frosting.

Topping sweet potato baby cake with cream cheese frosting.

Step 6. Top one layer with some of the frosting and spread evenly. Add the second layer and frost to the edges.

TIP: Trace the cake pans onto parchment paper, then cut out just inside the lines to make rounds that fit into the pans. This is a foolproof way to line pans to prevent the baby cakes from sticking.

Sweet Potato Smash Cake

If you’re looking for a smash cake for the kids, this sweet potato cake is great since it’s 6 inches and super soft and easy to smash. It also is a nice blend of nutritious ingredients in a really festive form.

It has a lightly sweet flavor, so it’s perfect for babies turning 1. And the cream cheese frosting simply needs to be stirred together and spread on. Nothing fussy there!

slice of sweet potato cake

Make-Ahead Tips

You can make the baby cakes a day ahead, let cool, and store in airtight containers at room temperature. You can even frost the whole thing and wrap carefully with plastic wrap and store in the fridge up to 24 hours ahead.

It can be hard to wrap it tightly without messing up the frosting, so I usually wait to frost it, but if you have a cake carrier, that could work, too!

sweet potato cake with colored plates

How to Store

Store leftover baby cake in the fridge once frosted for up to 3-5 days in an airtight container or wrapped with plastic.

Best Tips for Success

  • Top baby cake with sprinkles if desired. These naturally colored ones are pretty!
  • If making the sweet potato puree, plan to do that step ahead of time (even up to three days ahead if you store it in an airtight container in the fridge) so the sweet potato is cool when you are ready to make the cake. You can also just do it an hour or two before you plan to bake.
  • The baby cake can be made 24 hours before you plan to frost it. Let cool completely on a wire rack, then store in an airtight container at room temperature. (It’s also fine to frost it the day before if you can carefully wrap it in plastic wrap and store in the fridge to keep it fresh.)
  • Use as a smash cake for a baby or to share with the whole family.
  • Gluten-free: Use cup-for-cup gluten-free flour.
  • Egg-free: Increase the baking soda to 1 teaspoon, omit the egg, and add 2 tablespoons milk.
  • The whole wheat pastry flour will create a slightly denser cake.
  • The batter makes 24 mini cupcakes, using about 1 tablespoon batter in each and baking for 12-14 minutes.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this cake if you make it, so please rate and comment below!

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sweet-potato-baby-cake-on-cake-plate

Sweet Potato Baby Cake

With an easy stir-together method and a naturally sweet flavor, this delicious sweet potato baby cake is the perfect cake for a first birthday. And as a sweet potato cake with cream cheese frosting, it's also a festive holiday dessert or a treat to share on a day that needs it! (Plan to make the cake at least an hour before you want to eat it so it has time to cool.)
4.96 from 65 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dessert
Calories 226kcal
Servings 8

Ingredients

Sweet Potato Cake

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (softened at room temperature for at least an hour—it should be soft when you poke it with your finger)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
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Instructions

To make the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease two cake pans and line with a round of parchment paper cut to fit the inside of each pan. (Use the pan to trace the pan onto the paper, then cut out just inside the line.) Coat the top of the paper with nonstick spray, too.
  • Whisk together the sweet potato, oil, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl.
  • Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt to just combine.
  • Divide the batter among the prepared pans, using about a heaping cup in each. Smooth to spread the batter evenly.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then gently invert onto a wire rack to remove from pans and cool completely.

To make the frosting:

  • Add the cream cheese to a medium bowl with maple syrup and vanilla extract. Mix together with a whisk until fluffy. (If this is hard to do due to the temperature of your cream cheese, you can use an electric handheld mixer.)

To assemble the cake:

  • Place one cake on a cake stand or plate.
  • Spread about half of the frosting on top of one cake, add the second cake, then top with the remaining frosting, spreading smooth.
  • Add sprinkles if desired.

Video

Notes

  • Top with sprinkles if desired. These naturally colored ones are pretty!
  • The cake can be made 24 hours before you plan to frost it. Let cool completely on a wire rack, then store in an airtight container at room temperature. (It’s also fine to frost it the day before if you can carefully wrap it in plastic wrap and store in the fridge to keep it fresh.)
  • Store leftovers in the fridge once frosted for up to 3-5 days in an airtight container or wrapped with plastic.
  • Gluten-free: Use cup-for-cup gluten-free flour.
  • Egg-free: Increase the baking soda to 1 teaspoon, omit the egg, and add 2 tablespoons milk.
  • The whole wheat pastry flour will create a slightly denser cake.
  • The batter makes 24 mini cupcakes, using about 1 tablespoon batter in each and baking for 12-14 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 226kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 20mg, Sodium: 212mg, Potassium: 104mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 2389IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 52mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was originally published May 2015. 

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4.96 from 65 votes (45 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Plan to make this for my little lady’s first birthday smash cake! Can I substitute butter for the oil? Or use olive oil in place of the vegetable oil? My babe has a soy allergy.

    1. Yes to melted unsalted butter or a very light in flavor olive oil. Of the two, I’d go with butter. enjoy!

  2. Hi there, could I use date syrup instead of maple syrup?

    Planning to use 3x 4inch cake pans to make a baby cake and roughly 6 cupcakes.
    Should I double the recipe?

    1. I think yes to date syrup. For the amounts, I think you would need to use the recipe as written to make the three layers, then additional batter to make cupcakes.

  3. 5 stars
    If I could give this more stars I would! Seriously impressed with this recipe. I’ve tried several no processed sugar cakes and this beats the rest by far. It’s so soft and light and has such a lovely flavour. I think this is my new favourite cake. Not just for the kids but for me as well!

  4. Good morning! Haha! My kids are:
    36, 34, 32, 28!
    But, this sounds like the way I like to bake.!!!!!
    Would you mind giving me the pan size for the 3x recipe?
    Would that be the amount of batter for say a Bundt pan? Baking times? Or toothpick test?
    2x recipe would be for 2-9” rounds?

    1. So I poked around King Arthur’s website and they say 6 cups of batter is what you want for most bundt pans. This recipe, the 1x, makes 2 cups, so you’d want to triple it. I am guessing that the baking time might be around 45 minutes at 350 F. I hope that helps!

    1. No, they are not great 1:1 subs for wheat flour since they absorb liquids so differently. You can use an all purpose gluten-free flour blend though.

  5. 5 stars
    Hey there! I’m wondering about substituting vegetable oil for coconut oil or applesauce. Any thoughts? We are using this recipe for our baby’s first birthday. I’m excited to have found it as I don’t want her eating sugar yet & she loves sweet potatoes. I also am planning to do 2 or 3 small round cake pans (4 or 5 inch). Would I need to double the recipe? Thanks for your time!

    1. Hi- I wouldn’t use applesauce for the oil since that will add a different type of moisture and I am not sure the cake will bake through the same way. It’s really good with the oil (or you can use melted butter too). For the cakes, I don’t think you need to double the recipe. If you make 2 4 or 5 inch, the layers will be thicker so the baking time to get the center cooked through will likely be longer. If you do 3 4-inch, I still think you’ll have enough batter. The cakes won’t be super thick, but I think it will work just fine. (I just made this over the weekend and it’s so yummy!)

  6. Could you use apple sauce in place of honey or maple syrup? Or would that be too much moisture? I am looking to do this in a cup cake form.
    Thank you!

    1. I haven’t tried it that way and it might be too much moisture. You could probably leave it out and add 2 tbsp milk if you’re looking to make it added sugar free though.

  7. Can I make this and freeze it for a couple months before baby’s birthday? Messaging March 27 for a may 24 bday.

    1. Sure, I’d bake the cakes and let cool fully, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place into a freezer bag to freeze. Thaw at room temperature and frost.

  8. 5 stars
    So delicious, taste similar to an old fashioned donut! So yummy it was picky eater approved! Delicious for all ages, will definitely be making this again and again.

  9. I want to try this recipe for my daughter’s first birthday but with a standard size muffin tin for cupcakes. What would the baking time be do you think? Thanks!

  10. 5 stars
    Made this smash cake for my 1 year old’s bday this weekend using pure canned pumpkin in place of sweet potato. I’m at high altitude and cake and frosting came out perfect. It is delicious.. my baby didn’t each much and mainly made a mess but I couldn’t stop eating it

    1. Hi Kerri! I am at high altitude as well and have already tried another recipe and it didn’t turn out well. Can I ask what altitude your at?

  11. Hi Amy!

    I just made this as practice for the real version I need this Saturday for my daughter’s first birthday party. It’s completely cooled but broke apart very easily when transferred from wire rack to a plate. I made it with AP flour and the egg substitute for an egg allergy. Any thoughts on how to get my Saturday version to hold together better? I appreciate that it’s so moist but don’t want it to be a mess before it’s even served. Thanks!

    1. Hi- I’m sorry to hear that that happened. If you have the option to use half whole wheat, that might help. You could also add 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed. (I haven’t had this happen so I am trying to offer ways that might firm up the batter for you.)

  12. 5 stars
    I’ve made this cake about 5 times. It is delicious! It is so good; it doesn’t even need icing. I used canned pumpkin every time instead of the sweet potato because it was convenient. As written it makes a just sweet enough cake. You can cut the maple syrup in half without any problems. Then it tastes like pumpkin bread instead of cake, but it is still really good. My baby can’t have wheat, so I tried making it with oat flour. You need to use 1 and 1/3 cup of oat flour instead of 1 cup of regular flour. When made with just oat flour, the texture is less cake like, but it is still really good flavor wise. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

  13. 5 stars
    This is the kind of cake I was looking for to make for my soon to be 1 year old’s birthday. I’m not ready to introduce sugar, or at least the taste of sugar. This cake is very moist and flavorful but mild in the sweet department, without the frosting. My baby is also not a fan of sweet foods so I may modify the frosting or use something different. I would make this in mini muffin size for an anytime snack.

    1. I am sure that would work, though I haven’t tested it that way so I’m not sure if the baking time would be different. Let me know if you try it!

  14. 5 stars
    Used this recipe to make 12 cupcakes for my sons 1st birthday. The cupcakes were far more delicious than I anticipated and so perfectly moist. Thank you so much for this recipe!! My one and three year old gobbled them up so fast!

    1. If you mix it, put it in the piping bag and chill it for a bit, I bet it would work pretty well since cream cheese is fairly firm when it’s cold.

  15. 5 stars
    Hi Amy,
    I love your recipes! Tried this one for my daughter’s first birthday today since she loves sweet potatoes. I made a 9” cake, cooked for close to 40 minutes (cake tester came out clean). I prepped the sweet potatoes using your crockpot sweet potatoes recipe the night before I made the cake. After the cake cooled, I wrapped it in plastic wrap overnight. When I served it the next day, it tasted GREAT! But I noticed some small green spots. Any idea what that is?

    1. Hi- I honestly don’t know, but the only thing I can think of is that there was an unusual reaction with the sweet potato and the baking soda. I’ve not ever had that happen this this and I’m glad it tasted food. I hope you had a great day!

    1. I haven’t tested it that way, but I think it might be okay. They’d be thinner than shown in the post and the baking time might be lower at 14-16 minutes. Let me know if you try it that way!

  16. 5 stars
    Made this today for my baby’s first birthday, it was delicious. We all loved it, especially baby. We didn’t have maple syrup so we used half a cup of granulated sugar and still came out super super moist, and just the right amount of sweetness. Will definitely be making again.

  17. I’m going to make this for my sons 2nd birthday but only have canola oil, no vegetable oil. Would that work? If not, what can I use instead of vegetable oil? Thank you very much!

    1. Hi- You could use a lightly flavored olive oil or melted and slighted cooled butter if either of those are options you have. Happy birthday to your little one!

  18. 4 stars
    Just made this yesterday. The cake tastes amazing, but it’s still very moist inside. Do you have any suggestions for drying it out just a bit more? I also found it took way longer to cook, think I had it in for 40mins before the top browned and it felt ready. This is definitely a keeper thou, thank you 🙂

    1. Hi- Is it possible that the baking soda wasn’t fresh? That would be the most likely cause of this. You could bake it longer on a lower temperature setting with the top covered in foil if you want to try drying it out a bit more. I’d try 325 or 350 I think.

  19. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe! My husband doesn’t like a lot of sweets (particularly for health reasons) but I wanted to make something special for his birthday anyway. This was incredibly easy AND delicious. It didn’t leave us with unwanted sugar headaches either. My only questions are as follows: 1) If my frosting was harder to spread (had to use my fingers), does that mean I probably should have used the handheld mixer longer or maybe set out the cream cheese longer? 2) How do you get the cakes evenly flat? I used the exact same cake pans but the tops were rounded. Should I have shaved off the top of the bottom layer to stack them better? Appreciate your help! Thank you!

    1. Oh and I topped the cake with pomegranate seeds (since I had them on hand instead of sprinkles) and the burst of sweetness was delicious!

    2. I think that the cream cheese likely needed a little longer at room temperature. And I would just do your best spreading the batter even on the cakes, especially towards the edges so there isn’t more batter in the middle thickness-wise, but it’s also okay if they are a tiny bit rounded. Glad it went well otherwise!

  20. I’m making this for my sons 2nd bday this weekend! Can the frosting be made and refrigerated ahead of time? And maybe left to ge to room temp for frosting? Or best to make just before frosting the cake? Also, do you know how many regular cupcakes this would make and how long to bake them for, appx? Sorry! Im not much of a cook/baker!

    1. Yes, you can make the frosting ahead of time, just store it in an airtight container or a zip top bag. I believe this should make 12 cupcakes and that they should take in the 14-18 minute range to bake. (I haven’t tested them that way, but I’m making an educated guess based on another recipe with similar proportions.) I hope you have a happy time celebrating!

  21. 5 stars
    This is a wonderful recipe, thank you so much. I never comment on food blogs, but this is worth it. I’d eat this on any occasion. I made it for my one year olds birthday today, my older toddler helped, and with gluten free self raising. This made it a little denser but it was moist and just right for little gums.
    Thanks!

  22. Hi Amy!
    I am having a bit of trouble with this recipe. I have madr it twice as a trial for little one’s birthday and the cake always turns out too “pancake type”, no spring to it with and resembling the texture of an omelette. Any ideas on what I am doing wrong? This really is the cake we wanted!

    1. Hi- I would check the freshness of your baking soda and consider trying a fresh box. That would be the most likely explanation. I hope that helps!

  23. I’m looking forward to trying this out for my son’s first birthday this weekend. He really loves Japanese sweet potatoes and I often make him puree out of those. Do you think these would work instead of regular sweet potatoes?

    1. I haven’t tried them so I can’t say for sure, but I think they might be a little bit less moist? Otherwise, they should work the same!

    1. I’m not sure what you mean? The sweet potato needs to be blended smooth before you add it to the cake.

      1. You can blended in a blender or food processor or just mash it smooth with a fork. Either one will work as long as you don’t add a lot of liquid to either option.

  24. Hi, the cake looks great and I hope to try the recipe as is, however, do you think the sweet potato pure could he subbed for baby food puree? Or another puree like thick applesauce?

    1. Hi- I know this works with pumpkin puree and I suspect others would work too as long as they are thick and not too watery. So there might be some variation between baby foods and applesauces—the thicker the better!

  25. I’m going to attempt this recipe to make two 4” smash cakes for my twins’ first birthday. Any thoughts on how long I should bake for and how full to fill the pans?

    1. Hi! I can’t say for sure on the timing since I haven’t tested it in that size, but I would aim to fill each pan half full and bake in the 10-14 minute range. Let me know how it goes and happy almost birthday to your twins!

      1. 5 stars
        Thank you! I ended up baking the 4” rounds (stainless steel) for probably close to 25 min, but I think my oven temp may be off so somebody else might not need so long. That made two 4” double tier cakes. We also made a second batch of batter and used it for 12 cupcakes (for mom, dad, and big brother to join in the fun). One batch of frosting was just enough for both cakes and the cupcakes. It was so tasty!

    1. I think honey would be fine but I haven’t tried it with anything else so I can’t say for sure. If you omit the sweetener, it won’t be very sweet. Honestly, it’s not a very sweet cake even with it so I would consider including it if you have maple syrup or honey!

    1. I haven’t tried it with oat flour so I can’t say for sure. I don’t usually recommend swapping it directly but some would likely be okay.

    1. I think it would, though I’ve never tried it so I can’t say definitively if the baking time would change. I would fill the cups 3/4 full and start checking for doneness, looking for a cake tester to come out clean when inserted into the center, at 20 minutes. They should bake in about the same amount of time as the 8-inch cakes, though go by the cake tester to be sure. (But it’s a good idea and I’m going to have to try them as cupcakes soon!)