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, it’s great for other celebrations, too!
Healthy Apple Cake
When it came time to make a birthday 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. It also has fresh apple for extra flavor and a delicious cream cheese frosting.
You can make it a full day ahead of time and it’s delicious to serve to a crowd of all ages or to use as a smash cake for baby.
Contents hide 1 Healthy Apple Cake 2 Your toddler won’t eat? Help is here! 3 Healthy Smash Cake 4 Ingredients You Need 5 How to Prepare Cake Pans for Baking 6 Step-by-Step Instructions 7 Easy Greek Yogurt Frosting 8 How to Store 9 Best Tips for Success 10 Related Recipes 11 Healthy Apple Cake (with Yogurt Frosting) 11.1 Apple Cake 11.2 Maple Yogurt Frosting 11.3 To make the cake: 11.4 To make the frosting: 11.5 To assemble the cake:
Your toddler won’t eat? Help is here!
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Healthy Smash Cake
This baby cake can work as a smash cake for a baby’s first birthday—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 it can be 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 You Need
The ingredients in this cake are very straight forward pantry staples, so you should be able to find everything in a regular grocery store.
- Eggs: Eggs help the batter to be light and tender, and hold together nicely.
- Melted butter or coconut oil (slightly cooled): Use either one according to your preference. They work very similarly in this recipe.
- Unsweetened applesauce: Applesauce, either homemade or from the store, provides sweetness and moisture in this apple cake.
- Maple syrup: A little maple syrup adds flavor and sweetness. You can also use honey for kids over age 1 if you prefer.
- Pure vanilla extract
- Fresh apple: Use any apple you like for this recipe such as Honeycrisp, Granny Smith or Pink Lady.
- Whole-wheat flour: I use whole wheat flour here for the nutty flavor and since it holds up nicely with the moisture from the applesauce and fresh apple.
- Baking powder and baking soda: A combination of these help ensure that the cake bakes through and rises nicely.
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 Prepare Cake Pans for Baking
I prefer to grease cake pans with nonstick spray, then line with a round of parchment paper to ensure that the baked cakes come out of the pans easily. Be sure to grease the sides of the pans, too.
To make the parchment rounds, place the pan on top of parchment paper. Trace with a marker, then cut out inside of the lines. That should then fit inside of your pan easily.
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 and scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full information.
- 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.
- Bake, then let cool for a few minutes, and transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of apples are best for apple cake?
We like to use Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, or Pink Lady apples in this recipe. These tend to have wonderful flavor and bake well. You can use any apple though, as the recipe will still work.
What’s the best baby cake?
I love to make a cake using flavors or ingredients that are some of baby’s favorites. I have a lot of birthday cake options, so you can explore and choose the right one for your family.
How to Store
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
You can also make the cake a day ahead of time if that’s helpful for your schedule. Let the cakes cool, then store in an airtight container at room temperature. Frost before serving if possible.
Best Tips for Success
- 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.
- 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.