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.


  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!

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