Sunday, April 28, 2013

The making of her birthday cake

Months in advance of her birthday I started wondering what I would do to celebrate it. I knew for sure I wanted her to have a cake for her birthday photos but I wasn't too thrilled with the cake options out there. Most birthday cakes out there are loaded with artificial colors and sinful amounts of sugar that are too much for even my adult teeth to handle. In fact most commercial birthday cakes don't even have much cake, they usually have teeny layers of cake smothered in frosting, filling, icing and ice cream that I end up having to scrape off. As I searched the internet for healthy first birthday cake recipes I realized that many other moms before me had found a way to put a healthy spin on the traditional birthday cake. I found all kinds of healthy cake options ranging from "cakes" carved out of fruit to recipes that didn't require sugar, eggs or even flour!

After going back and forth over several ideas I finally decided to bake her a cake myself. Based on other recipes I had found online I put together my own recipe which basically had no sugar or sweetener other than banana and applesauce.  I originally wanted to bake her a carrot cake with banana and applesauce but  ultimately decided to leave out the carrot because of my choice of cake pan. Once I decided on the type of cake, I had to choose the style, shape and size.  I definitely wanted something fun for the photos and considered a cake in the shape of the number one or a Disney character. In the end I opted for an over sized cupcake because I was advised that the number 1 shaped cake would only photograph well from certain angles.

Once I got it into my head that I wanted to bake the giant cupcake, there was no going back. I searched on amazon and found the Wilton giant cupcake pan and fell in love with all the awesome customer photos. My mind was more made up than ever about going forward with this cake. 

As you can see from the photos, the cake pan is in two halves, one side is for the bottom of the cake and other side bakes the top of the cake.

I decided to bake the cake the night before her birthday so it would have enough time to cool down before I added the frosting. Based on the instructions that came with the cake pan it stated that crumbly cakes like a carrot cake were not the best for the pan and the cake might not stay intact when it came time to remove it from the pan. The instructions advised that a denser cake like a pound cake would be best. Based on that, I made a banana-applesauce pound cake using the following recipe

1 cup all purpose flour
1¼ cup organic whole milk
3 sticks of veggie spread
1 cup organic applesauce
5 ripe bananas
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 
½ cup raisins

Several things went wrong with the cake but I still ploughed ahead and made the best of it. 
Firstly I couldn’t find ripe bananas anywhere! I didn’t want to buy them too early to avoid them getting too ripe but in the end the ones I did find were only slightly ripe and not as soft as I wanted them to be. Anyway I started out by mashing the bananas with my potato masher 

and then I added in the sticks of butter substitute and used my hand mixer to get it creamy. Then I mixed in the applesauce.  Once that was nicely mixed in it was time to add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt cinnamon.  

When the cake batter was done, I sprinkled in some raisins.

Because of the complexity of the cake pan, and based on all the reviews I had read. I decided to bake the cake in sections.  I think this cake pan would be much better if the two pieces were separate, that way you could take out one half of the cake if it cooked faster than the other side. To avoid the issue of one side being overcooked while the other was still raw in the middle, I decided to follow the advice of other reviewers and give the "bottom" of the cake a head start in the oven . So I sprayed the bottom section of the cake pan with Pam baking spray. I don't really like Pam spray and usually try to avoid it but I was so paranoid that the cake wouldn't release from the pan if I didn't use it. My first mistake was over spraying the pan, which caused the cake to look much darker and have a much harder crust than I would have liked. Once I had sprayed it, I poured cake batter into the bottom section, I only filled it about 60% full because I was so sure it would rise and didn't want it to bubble over. This was my second mistake. I forgot that since I was making it such a dense cake with all the banana, fruit and fat, that the cake would not rise very much.   So anyway I popped it in the oven and after 12 minutes exactly, I took it out, quickly sprayed the "top" compartment and again filled that about 60% with batter.

 Then I waited over an hour for this cake to bake. It took forever, much longer than most cakes I have baked. When I checked on it after about 40 minutes I realized that the cake was not rising and it occurred to me at that point that I should have put more cake batter into the pan to get it to be the full size I wanted. But it was too late at that point!!

So as you can see in the photo below instead of getting a giant cupcake I ended up with a medium sized cupcake, but my darling baby didn't know the difference so it all worked out! I will attempt this cake again some time soon with the same pan now that I have the experience with it.

I let the cake cool on the rack and then wrapped it and placed it in the fridge.

The next day I made cream cheese frosting by whipping up cream cheese, applesauce and butter with my hand mixer. 

I started out using a Wilton cake decorating bag and tip to entirely frost the top of cake, but I decided I didn't like how it looked and scraped all the frosting off until the ridges of the cake showed through which added a nice touch to it.  Once the cake was frosted I added a polka dot candle to it and declared it mission accomplished!


  1. It turned out adorable! And she is such a cutie!

  2. You did a great job with the giant cupcake!! so adorable and girly! She will love the photos when she is old enough to look at them.
    The polka dotted candle is so cute! Perfect finishing touch and love the cake stand/platter too, so pretty. She is absolutely beautiful, what a gorgeous little girl she is indeed!