Sugar-free Carrot and Date Cake

Smash Cake

I’m in two minds about using sugar in a cake made specifically for a baby. On the one hand, it’s their birthday, and the only time they have cake, so a little bit of sugar isn’t going to do any harm. But on the other hand, they’re a baby, they don’t need, want or crave the sugar so why get them hooked on it?

I think this cake is a perfect compromise. The dates are nice and sweet, so it doesn’t taste like you’re missing out on anything when you have a piece, and everything in the cake is good for babies, so you don’t have to feel guilty if they eat the whole thing. This cake is ideal for smash cakes, or a healthy cake for your baby’s 1st birthday, or any other time.

I made up this cake to use as Roman’s Smash Cake. It is based on a recipe from Gill Rapley’s Baby-led Weaning Cookbook. The cake turned out really well and tasted even better the next day. The dates had melted into the cake, so it just tasted like a regular, sweet and delicious carrot cake.

Sugar-free Carrot and Date Cake
makes 8″ cake or 12 cupcakes

200g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
130g dates, stones removed, and finely chopped
50g shredded coconut*
110g butter, melted
110g sultanas (golden raisins)
1 cup grated carrot (about 1 large carrot)
2 tbsp milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
whipped cream and sprinkles to decorate (optional)

Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Lightly grease an 8″ round cake tin** and line the bottom with baking paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder and ground spices together. Give it a good stir to make sure it’s evenly combined. Stir through the dates and coconut.

Combine the melted butter, sultanas, carrot and milk (I use the saucepan I melted the butter in). Add to the dry ingredients and mix gently until evenly combined. You should have a very thick mixture. Add the eggs and give it a good stir.

Smash Cake

Spoon into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 45 – 60 minutes (about 30 mins for cupcakes) until done when tested with a skewer.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack, removing the baking paper, to cool completely. Store in a tin or wrapped in foil until ready to use. Decorate just before serving. The whipped cream is a great frosting if you’re using this for a smash cake. It can be tinted to any colour, and is much better for your baby then buttercream or fondant.

Smash Cake

*I prefer to use shredded coconut as I think it doesn’t catch in your throat the way desiccated coconut does, but feel free to use desiccated coconut if that’s what you have.

**I used a 6″ round tin and also make a few cupcakes with the extra mixture.

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  1. Chris says

    I was looking for sugar free cakes as I enjoy baking but lost interest when I was diagnosed with diabetes and couldn’t eat the things I wanted as easily as I used to. Having just made this cake I can honestly say it’s as good, if not better, than a carrot cake made with sugar!!!

  2. Stacie says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! I’ve been searching for a “baby friendly” cake recipe for my little guys’ 1st birthday coming up. Cannot wait to try it!

  3. Erin Johnson says

    This recipe sounds great! I’ve been looking for a sugar free birthday cake for my one year old. Are you using dried or fresh dates? I’m in Canada and I’m pretty sure what I bought are dried ones (the pit is already removed). Should I soak them first? Also, have you ever doubled this recipe and how did it turn out? I want to make a two layer cake.

    • abby says

      I used fresh dates, though I think dried ones would be fine. Soaking them in hot water for 15 minutes first would soften them up, but if you don’t have time they will still work. I haven’t tried doubling it. Because it’s a carrot cake and somewhat dense, I would mix up a double batch, but cook it in two separate tins. If it was all in one tin I would worry about the middle setting without drying out the edges. Hope that helps!

    • abby says

      it’s only about 1/2C of coconut, so I think it would probably be fine. Please let me know how it works out if you try it!

  4. apcro says

    Have you subbed coconut or almond flour for the white? We’re grain free here. But other than that, this looks great! I’m excited to try it.

    • abby says

      I haven’t tried using different flours. I would think if you’ve used coconut/almond flour as a substitute in other recipes without trouble, then it would work here. At worst, I think it will turn out flat, then you can just tell people it’s a slice 😉 It’ll still taste delicious.

      • APCro says

        I haven’t done subs just gone with recipes that are already made for alt flours. I’ve heard they can be tricky to work with. I’ll update you if/ when I try it.
        Thanks for getting back to me!

        • abby says

          you could also try the flour subsitution as cupcakes. They don’t take as long to cook so are less likely to be dry.

  5. Zarith says

    Hi, I just made a trial cake using this recipe for my son’s birthday in a couple of days. It tasted delicious but the only thing is it didn’t rise at all. I don’t know if I did anything wrong. Maybe too much mixing? I don’t bake much so really don’t have much experience or knowledge about baking. I did used a 9″ cake tin as that’s the only one I have but I will buy a 6″ tin tomorrow and hopefully that will work? you used a 6″ cake tin for the cake in the picture right? By the way your son is gorgeous!

    • abby says

      Overmixing may have been a problem. If your baking powder is very old it may have lots its rising power. Using a tin bigger than the recipe will also cause a cake to rise less. For the cake pictured I used a 6″ tin and I also make a couple of cupcakes with the extra mixture as the recipe is designed for an 8″ tin. I think with all those 3 things combined it may have been enough for your cake to not rise. Hopefully your second one will be perfect! Thanks, I think he’s pretty cute though my opinion is slightly biased 😉

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