When we were planning our little girl’s 1st birthday party, I knew that I wanted to stay committed to our values of sustainability and health. All too often, in the name of ease, we ditch our lofty goals of living a healthy lifestyle “just this once.” But for me, in thinking about the kind of mom I want to be and the example I want to set for my kid, I feel that big events like birthdays or parties are a perfect opportunity to stay true to the values I try to live by every day.
To that end, we made the birthday party as eco-friendly as possible with the use of sustainable, recycled, reusable and/or compostable party supplies, and ordered healthy food sourced sustainably from local farms (check out all the details here). But when it came to the baked goods, I had trouble finding healthy options that I could feel good about serving to friends, family, and babies, that didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
So despite not being an accomplished baker (at all), I decided to bake everything myself. This included over three dozen paleo baby-friendly cupcakes, nearly two dozen baby muffins, and one and a half paleo baby-friendly birthday cakes (the half was a mini, practice “smash cake” I baked on her actual birthday). I’m not gonna lie: it was a LOT of baking, which maybe wasn’t the smartest thing move considering the amount of family we had in town and the amount of preparation for the party we had to do… But hey, staying true to healthy values takes sacrifices, right!?
For the cake, I went for a naked cake style, which fit our boho floral theme and seemed way easier for a novice baker like me to pull off than a fully iced cake ; ) I combed Pinterest for recipe ideas, and ended up combining a few different recipes to create this little masterpiece. To make it paleo and baby friendly, I used coconut and almond flours, and maple syrup instead of sugar. Honey can also be used, but as honey is not safe for babies under 1, I went for maple syrup as the safest choice. It came out delicious, moist, and after freezing it overnight, it held up great under the hot southern California sun for several hours. I decorated it simply with some sliced strawberries, fresh flowers, and an adorable gold glitter cake topper.
Paleo Vanilla Rosemary Strawberry Cake
6 tbsp organic maple syrup
1/2 c. + 2 tbsp organic coconut flour
1/2 c. + 2 tbsp organic almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
Seeds from two vanilla pods
3 1/2 c. raw almonds, soaked overnight
1/2 c. organic coconut oil, melted
2/3 c. organic maple syrup
2/3 c. filtered water
1 tsp lemon juice
Seeds from two vanilla pods
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp organic, sugar-free strawberry preserves (or homemade!)
1 sprig rosemary
1 tbsp organic maple syrup
1/4 cup filtered water
8 organic strawberries, sliced
1 spring rosemary
To make the filling, place all ingredients except water, preserves, and strawberries in a high powered blender and blend until smooth. Start adding water, one tablespoon at a time until the frosting becomingness silky smooth and you’ve reached your desired texture. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spray two 9-inch spring form pans with coconut oil baking spray. In a large bowl, cream the eggs with the maple syrup. Add salt, flours, baking powder, and vanilla seeds and mix until combined. Divide the mixture between the two pans and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Remove cakes from the oven and set them out to cool. Once cooled, remove cakes from the pans.
Place 1 tbsp of maple syrup, 1/4 cup water and a sprig of rosemary in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until reduced to a simple syrup. Remove the rosemary and set aside.
When you’re ready to assemble your cake, remove the frosting from the fridge and whip it until it becomes fluffy. If the top of your cakes are lumpy, you can trim the tops with a sharp knife to flatten them out (this will help the frosting to stick and keep the cake looking even). Place one of your cakes on a platter. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the rosemary simple syrup. Spread the strawberry preserves over the cake, and top just shy of half of your filling, spread evenly over the top of the cake. Top with the second cake, and brush with the rosemary simple syrup. Spread the rest of the filling evenly over the cake and just a bit down the sides. Use a metal spatula to scrape the sides and even out the cake. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving. If you need to freeze your cake (recommended if you made it more than one day in advance, or if you’ll be serving it in a hot place or outside), refrigerate for two hours to harden the frosting a bit, then cover with plastic wrap and place the cake in the freezer. Let thaw in the fridge fora few hours before serving. When you’re ready to present your cake, top with sliced strawberries, a sprig of rosemary, and fresh flowers, if using. Enjoy!
For the cupcakes, we used a slightly different batter — a little less dense, and using vanilla extract instead of vanilla beans. We then topped half the cupcakes with lemon frosting, and half with chocolate frosting. Though the cupcakes are paleo and baby-friendly, I wouldn’t recommend serving the chocolate frosted cupcakes to babies or toddlers ; )