Over a month later, I am finally getting around to posting about Indyanna’s birthday cake! I can’t believe my little babe is over a year old, time really does fly. Making a birthday cake that was safe for her to eat was really important to me, but I also wanted everyone else to enjoy it too. At least 15 people tried this cake and they all raved about it! It was pretty freakin good! I am happy that we now have a go-to, grain-free cake for years of birthday parties to come.
Indyanna had never had anything sweet, besides the occasional fruit, which even that I hadn’t given her much of before her first birthday. So, for some reason I thought, oh she probably won’t even like cake. Boy, was I wrong, this little babe has a serious sweet tooth! She would have eaten as much cake as I would have let her. She kept opening up her mouth for more bites, I had to eventually nonchalantly remove her from the table.
Her birthday was super fun. We kept it mellow. We just had the grandparents, aunts and uncles over for a light lunch of curried chicken salad, followed with some birthday cake.
Why should 1st birthday cakes be grain-free?
It is unfortunate that parents choose a child’s first birthday to introduce white flour and sugar to a baby’s diet. I don’t blame parents, I think it is a result of massive amounts of poor nutritional advice from so called experts. Most babies digestion is not prepared for processing grains at this age. In order to process grains, we need to make the enzyme Amylase. Babies do not make this enzyme in large enough amounts to digest grains until their molar teeth are fully developed. And for most kids this doesn’t happen until they are closer to 2 years old.
So, what happens when babies are given grains that they cannot digest? It irritates the lining of their digestive tract and can impact the balance of good and bad bacteria in their gut. If babies guts are chronically irritated and inflamed this can lead to a host of problems, including food allergies and even behavioral problems. In addition, when we are feeding our babies cherrios, toast, pasta and other foods that have no nutritional value, we are leaving less room in their diet for nutrient-rich foods that they need to grow and be healthy.
Most of us think, it is just one day, it’s not like I feed my baby this way all the time. The way I look at it, this one day is their day and they should feel great. They shouldn’t have to potentially deal with an upset gut and blood sugar spikes and crashes. We should celebrate our babies by nourishing them!
What makes this cake baby friendly?
Besides wanting to make a cake that was free of grains and processed sugar, I wanted to make a cake that was also nut-free. Although nuts are okay to introduce around this age, they should be soaked and dehydrated to make them more digestible. Nuts are also a high allergenic food, so I didn’t want to introduce them on Indyanna’s birthday, in case she reacted poorly. I also choose not to bake with nut flours often, as they are not heat stable and they are high in Omega-6. We tend to consume a lot more nuts too when they are in the baked form, than the whole form. I narrowed down my flours to coconut flour and arrowroot flour. According to Nourishing Traditions, arrowroot agrees with babies more than any other starch or sugar.
I also wanted to avoid honey, although you could technically introduce honey at 1 year, not any earlier. I am such a worrywort, I didn’t want to risk any bad reactions on her birthday, so I went with maple syrup as the sweetener. Plus, I LOVE maple buttercream!
The one problem I have found with baking with coconut flour, is that it can be quite dry. I spent an entire week testing recipes nightly to come up with a coconut flour cake that wasn’t dry and compared to a traditional cake in flavor. After trying my own recipe experiments, as well as those from other blogs, I found the best cake to be an adaptation of the coconut flour cake recipe from Nourished Kitchen. I made my own maple buttercream frosting to go with it.
I went with a dairy frosting because I believe butter and other high-quality dairy to be a healthy food for little babes. Raw and grass-fed dairy is loaded with the fat-solube vitamins A, D & K. Also, I only used heavy cream and butter, so the amounts of lactose and casein in this frosting are minimal. If you choose not to do a dairy frosting, then Nourished Kitchen has a recipe for a coconut frosting. But, I am warning you, I think the frosting is what made this cake!
Lets talk about the cake some more!
A friend of mine who had recently made a real buttercream frosting for her daughter’s first birthday had mentioned that she was disappointed by how it got hard and her daughter couldn’t stick her hands in it. So, with her story in mind, I added a little bit of heavy whipping cream to the buttercream frosting to give it some fluff.
I also didn’t want to use any weird food coloring to write Happy Birthday, Indyanna on her cake, so instead I opted to make this cake topper that I had seen and loved on Kelli Murray’s blog many months before.
What else can I tell you about this cake? Because I clearly haven’t told you enough… ;). I also used this cake decorating kit, hoping it would help me make a cake that looked liked it was from Ace of Cakes, just kidding, I would be happy if it looked like it came from Ralph’s. But, I quickly realized that cake decorating is not my area of expertise! Next year, I am going to recruit some help in this department. This is a relatively involved recipe, so I really don’t think I’ll be making it more than once or twice a year.
Coconut Flour Cake with Maple Buttercream Frosting
Coconut Flour Cake (adapted from Nourished Kitchen)
1 dozen eggs
2 cups coconut milk (I used homemade)
1/2 cup maple syrup (make sure to choose 100% real maple syrup, with no added sugar)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 very ripe bananas
2 cups coconut flour (I used this kind)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (I used this kind)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
coconut oil for greasing the pan (I used this kind)
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, bananas, 1/2 cup maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.
- Add coconut flour, baking soda and sea salt to the egg mixture and whisk until a smooth batter forms.
- Grease 2 – 9 inch round cake pans with coconut oil.
- Divide up the batter evenly between the 2 cake tins. Use a rubber spatula to smooth it out.
- Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool.
- Cover both cakes with frosting (recipe below). Fill the center with cooked strawberries (recipe below). You can also use the strawberry filling to decorate the cake.
Whipped Maple Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup maple syrup
16 ounces grass-fed butter, softened but still cool
4 eggs, preferably pasture raised
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream (preferably raw and grass-fed)
dash of sea salt
- In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the maple syrup to a boil, and cook until it registers 240 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
- While your maple syrup is heating, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- With the mixer running, slowly pour syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow, steady stream, until completely incorporated, about 1 minute. Continue beating for an additional 4 to 5 minutes. Add butter, one piece at a time, until thoroughly incorporated. Then add heavy cream slowly and whip until it is well combined and fluffy.
2 cups organic strawberries, stems removed and sliced
- Place the strawberries in a saucepan over medium heat.
- After a few minutes, the strawberries will release their juices.
- Allow them to cook uncovered, occasionally stirring and smashing them.
- Keep cooking them until the strawberries are soft, smashed and the sauce has reduced. About 30 minutes.
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