Your baby's first birthday cake can be delicious without being full of sugar. This recipe replaces traditional sugar with light agave nectar, a natural sweetener. Shaping the cake like an apple eliminates the need for extra toppings like sprinkles or candy, and the cream cheese frosting has less sugar than most recipes, too.
This recipe allows you to create a miniature cake just for your baby while leaving you with plenty of bites for everyone else.”
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans, or one 9 x 13" baking pan.
Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. Combine the milk and vanilla and set aside as well.
Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides if necessary, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly pour in the agave syrup. Stop to scrape down the sides when necessary until it is evenly incorporated and smooth again. On low speed, add the eggs one at a time until combined.
On low speed, add one half of the dry ingredients and mix until barely incorporated. Add the milk and vanilla mixture on low speed again, scraping down the sides to incorporate. Finish by adding the last half of the dry ingredients and mixing on low speed just until smooth, about 15-20 seconds. (Over-mixing will lead to a tough cake.) Pour the batter into the prepared pan or pans.
Bake the cakes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted of the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and allowing them to cool completely.
Using a 4" round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut three circle of cake out of the cooled cake. (At this point you can cut the rest of the cake into smaller circles or squares for other people to enjoy.) Place one of the pieces of cake on a small saucer, then frost with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting. Stack another layer, frost it, and place the third layer on top. Using a small serrated knife, cut the cake into the shape of an apple. Dust off the crumbs.
Color the rest of the frosting with food coloring until the desired color is reached. Frost the cake, making sure to leave a small “hole” in one of the sides to resemble the space for the caterpillar. Top with the decorative marzipan or candy for the leaf and stem.
Frost the other pieces of cake and decorate as desired.
Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until combined and smooth, scraping down the sides if necessary. On low speed, add the confectioner's sugar and beat until combined.
Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the vanilla, milk and a generous pinch of salt. Mix again until the frosting is well combined and smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 week.
If refrigerating the frosting, make sure to allow the frosting to come to room temperature for one to two hours before frosting your cake or cupcakes.