Baby Smash Cake: Spiced Banana Date Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting + Zoella’s 1st Birthday


A gluten-free refined sugar-free banana date cake with maple cream cheese frosting that’s perfect for a baby’s first smash cake (with a naturally green dragon scale frosting option), but delicious enough for fancy dinner party! 

Baby Smash Cake: Banana Date Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten-free & refined sugar-free)

Have you ever seen someone hug a cake before? This spiced banana date cake is a truly hug-worthy cake. I’ve been working on the recipe since my friend’s son turned one about 3½ years ago. This final version that I made as Zoella’s first smash cake experience for her first birthday party this weekend is exactly perfect and she agrees (green frosting optional).

Dragon Cake - Baby Smash Cake (gluten-free and refined sugar-free)Dragon Cake - Baby Smash Cake (gluten-free and refined sugar-free)Dragon Cake - Baby Smash Cake (gluten-free and refined sugar-free)Dragon Cake - Baby Smash Cake (gluten-free and refined sugar-free)Dragon Cake - Baby Smash Cake (gluten-free and refined sugar-free)Dragon Cake - Baby Smash Cake (gluten-free and refined sugar-free)Dragon Cake - Baby Smash Cake (gluten-free and refined sugar-free)

She smushed and licked and grabbed fistfuls and fistfuls of cake until ultimately, with green frosted fingers, she lifted up a layer and hugged the cake. After shoving most of it in your face with intermittent “mmm”s  and frosting-filled grins, what else is there left to do but hug the cake? I mean, I too love cake so much I want to hug it. On a purely instinctual level, we can all relate. We all feel that way about cake, but when was the last time you hugged a cake?

What a way to welcome in the world of cake.

It was the vv best most perfect first cake experience for her and everyone watching it happen. Get it girl! (Special Thanks to Todd for taking the camera without warning and capturing these gooey green photos of Zo!)

Baby Smash Cake: Banana Date Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten-free & refined sugar-free)Baby Smash Cake: Banana Date Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten-free & refined sugar-free)Baby Smash Cake: Banana Date Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten-free & refined sugar-free)Baby Smash Cake: Banana Date Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten-free & refined sugar-free)Baby Smash Cake: Banana Date Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten-free & refined sugar-free)


Also, did you know that dragons love tacos? Well they do, so we threw a taco party for dragons (based on the popular book Dragons Love Tacos). We completely over-estimated how much taco meat we’d need – the book suggests getting a boat and filling the boat with tacos, which is approximately what I did, but we were a few dragons short of finishing. So…taco week?

Keeping with the theme, her party smash cake version had naturally green spirulina-tinted frosting, decorated as dragon scales. And, though they were certainly offered the mashed up remnants of her cake, the guests got my classic chocolate cupcakes with naturally-dyed hibiscus mango dragon flame frosting. And churro rice krispie treats because #tacoparty.

Dragon Cake - Baby Smash Cake (gluten-free and refined sugar-free) Dragon Cake - Baby Smash Cake (gluten-free and refined sugar-free)Naturally-dyed flame cupcakesDragons Love Tacos Party

Lucas and I spent an evening cutting out those papel picado streamers using Honestly Yum’s DIY, and I decorated the food table with a taco shell banner, which was so super cute, but also apparently confused a few guests who accidentally ate the stale decor. Oops.

Dragons Love Tacos PartyBaby Smash Cake: Banana Date Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten-free & refined sugar-free)

So this cake. It’s incredibly moist from the bananas and date paste, with a tender yet slightly chewy crumb. It’s so gently sweetened with fruit and a tiny bit of maple syrup, which in my book makes it breakfast food. With maple-sweetened cream cheese frosting, this cake tastes like banana bread and carrot cake had a baby. Like Zoella, I plan to eat an entire cake for my birthday next month.

Baby Smash Cake: Banana Date Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten-free & refined sugar-free)

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Baby Smash Cake: Spiced Banana Date Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (Gluten-free & Refined Sugar-free)
Yields: 6-inch 2-layer cake (6 servings)
Date Paste (*See Note)
  • ½ cup packed (120g) pitted medjool dates, about 6-8 large
  • ¼ cup boiling water
Spiced Banana Date Cake
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (107g) sweet rice flour
  • ½ cup (64g) gluten-free oat flour**
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoon (52g) millet flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup pureed bananas (from about 3 medium ripe bananas)
  • ¼ cup safflower or vegetable oil
  • ½ cup date paste (see above)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I use Rodelle)
  • 2 large eggs
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1-2 teaspoons spirulina
Date Paste
  1. In a heatproof bowl, pour boiling water over dates and use a spoon to press dates into the water. Let sit for 5 minutes to soften.
  2. Transfer into a small high-powered blender or a small food processor and blend until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. This may take several minutes, depending on the power of your blender. Make this up to a month in advance and store in the refrigerator in an air-tight jar. You will use ½ cup of the date paste for this cake.
Spiced Banana Date Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two 6-inch cake pans by lightly oiling them, lining them with a round of parchment paper, then lightly oiling and dusting the bottom and sides with oat flour.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sweet rice flour, oat flour, millet flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the banana purée, oil, date paste, maple syrup and vanilla until smooth. Add the eggs and beat until just combined.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined.
  5. Divide between prepared baking pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes (checking after 30 minutes) until a toothpick comes out clean and the top bounces pack when poked. Let cool for a few minutes in the pans, then flip onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. Make this up to a day in advance, wrap tightly in plastic, and store in the refrigerator.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter over medium speed.
  2. Add the cream cheese and beat until completely smooth.
  3. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  4. To frost, spread about ⅓ -1/2 cup of frosting between the two cooled cake layers (I piped this to make it easy!). Use a little bit of frosting to create a thin crumb coat on the sides of the cake, scraping it almost all off. Add more frosting to the top and smooth it out with an offset spatula. Chill for 10-15 minutes. When chilled, transfer the remaining frosting into a large piping bag with a large round tip. Pipe three large dots up the side then use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to flatten half the dot and repeat (see process pictures above). Slice and serve!
*Unless you have a small food processor or a small blender jar, I recommend doubling this recipe or there won't be enough dates to fill the jar to adequately blend into a paste.
**I make my own oat flour by grinding gluten-free oats in my blender until fine and sifting.


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  1. THOSE PICTURES!! Zoella could not possibly get any cuter. Do you think if I hugged a green cake and smashed it all over the table I would look as cute? I totally would right?

    PS I would have been the guest snarfing the stale taco shells.
    PPS I’m crashing your taco week. Be there soon. I hope you saved the stale shells.

  2. Zoella is my spirit animal. Hugging a cake sounds like a DREAM! Happy birthday to your little one, she’s such a cutie! I actually went to a one year old’s birthday party this past weekend and she was not interested in the cake at all. Looks like your babe took the opposite approach :)

  3. I just love how you decorated this cake and the cupcakes! Happy Birthday to your adorable Zoella! Thanks for sharing her first birthday with us!

  4. Ahh I love this all so much, that first shot of her smiling at her cake completely melted my heart. She’s the cutest, and this party is amazing! Happy birthday to Zoella! xo

  5. Janet says:

    Basically perishing from the cuteness over here. And wishing I could dial back to my kids’ first birthdays and up my game! Truly the cake smashing photo of my son, even without green icing (that song now stuck in my head for the day, thank you) is one of my favorite pictures of him ever. Congratulations!!

  6. sarah says:

    Wonderful! Such an adorable baby taking great delight in that amazing cake. Sweet photos and beautiful cupcakes!! Happy Birthday to Zoella

  7. Karlie says:

    She is so beautiful!!! What a lovely birthday, this cake is genius, saving it for the next opportunity.

  8. Happy Happy Birthday Zoella!!! That smile, that cake and that cake hug, what!!?? So cute!! Sending big hugs!

  9. Z is the luckiest girl in the world!! Blown away by you, and the dragon-level badassery of your mom skills. Happy one year!!

  10. I had never heard of smash cakes before but those pictures of Zoella are so damn cute! And um, can grown ups have smash cake too because this cake sounds amazinggg.

  11. I love this all so much! The pictures, that cake, your amazing decorating skills, and especially that bb face! I wish we all could party like a 1 year old!

  12. Alanna says:

    Aw, I’m so glad I didn’t miss this (and that I got to try a piece of un-smashed cake – yummmmm!)

  13. 2pots2cook says:

    Oh dear ! You are all so beautiful ! Will do the cake for my son’s birthday ! Thank you so much ! All the best to you and your family !

  14. Carla says:

    YOUR BABY IS ONE. That’s INSANE. She’s too little and tiny to be that old and also HUGE and BRILLIANT to be only one, so I’m a pile of contradictions. I’m sad I missed the stale taco banner though. :(

  15. Anja says:

    Your baby looks like she really enjoyed smashing the cake :) :) She’s so cute and so it the lovely metal cake holder. Where did you find it if I may ask?
    Use Your Noodles

  16. Alene says:

    Hi! I love those pictures. You are a great mom, in my estimation! Since there are no babies here, and no baby cake molds either, I was wondering if you/anyone, might be able to tell me how this might work in a regular cake pan with 2″ sides or even in a very small (8″) springform? Thank you!

    • Hi! Thank you so much! This cake actually uses a normal 6-inch cake pan with 2-inch sides – nothing special or fancy! When you’re asking about a “regular cake pan” what size are you referring to? I made a version of this where I used the same amount of batter for 3 6-inch layers and it baked up well, just taking a little less time to bake. That being said, I think you could similarly make this in 2 thinner 8-inch layers, checking for doneness after 25 minutes. Or else you could also make 1.5 times the recipe in two 8-inch layers!

  17. amanda paa says:

    gosh, this is a true testament to happiness. and unfiltered love and joy. both from zoella to that cake, and you both as parents. i’m so happy she’s brought you so much joy.

    this cake is just stunning. i’m not very good at cakes, and wow – with your last few posts, i think i’ll be hiring you if i’m ever in need. plus this has my favorite flavors. xo

  18. Sheri says:

    So glad to see you inherited my mad cake decorating skills (HAHAHAHA)…but where is the green shredded coconut :) :) :)

  19. What a cutie pie! This is the right way of celebrating a first birthday. You GO GIRL!

    And that cake.. I am pinning this to make it for my own birthday in April. I will make sure to hug it and eat it just like Zoe did.. Cause why not?

    Much love and hugs. <3

  20. That cake sounds SO delicious, and that party is perfect! Thank you so much for sharing!

  21. These are the literally the cutest cake pictures I’ve ever seen! Zoella is gorgeous – such a fun way to celebrate a birthday. and lol that people ate your taco decorations!!! also I am loving this cake – date paste is such a genius sweetener addition, and I love the sound of maple frosting. Cake for breakfast always!

  22. That is the cutest thing!! And the prettiest cake! I just found out that smash cakes were a thing and I can’t wait until my little one turns one so I can make him one! And in the meantime I might just have to make this cake for myself because it looks so dang good!! Happy first birthday to Zoella!

  23. Zakiya says:

    I would like to make this cake for my son’s 1st birthday. Is there another flour I can use in place of the sweet rice flour? If not, is there another four combo that will yield the same results? Thanks in advance!

    • I don’t have a good gluten-free blend that doesn’t use sweet rice flour – it’s stickiness lends to the soft chewy texture you want in a cake. Are you wanting to keep the recipe gluten-free? If not, I would replace all the flours with all-purpose flour to avoid the sweet rice flour. Sorry I’m not much more help!

  24. Zakiya says:

    *flour combo*

  25. Charlotte says:

    I wish I could hug a cake. It looks so good!

  26. OMG! These photos are so sweet!! Also, that cake is almost to pretty to smash!! Love everything about this post!

  27. Erika says:

    Hi! I’m a huge baking newbie but determined to make this awesome cake for my son this weekend. Can I ask, how far in advance can I make the cake and frost it?

    • Hi! You can make the cake up to two weeks in advance and freeze it. Just wrap it up really well in plastic wrap and when you’re ready to frost it, just pull it out and frost it and by the time you’re done, it’ll be defrosted (takes about 40 min to defrost). I recommend frosting it either the day before or the day you want to serve it (best the same day) and store it on the counter (not in the fridge, as that will dry it out). Best of luck!! Please let me know how it goes!

      • Erika says:

        Hi Sarah! Thanks for your reply. I decided to make the cake a day before, leave out, and frost the day of.
        It was so delicious! The cake was moist (surprising from a gluten free cake!) and the icing was fantastic. My son unfortunately didn’t hug the cake but he thought it was a great seat and I have had no problems eating the smashed remains. I will definitely repeat this recipe!

        • I’m so glad you loved it – thank you for coming back to let me know! I think this is one of my favorite cakes – not just for my toddler but for me too! Have you tried the chocolate cake on my site? It’s similarly moist and I think you’d love it!

          • Erika says:

            Hopefully I can find some chocolate extract (going to try tmr) I will absolutely try and make that with some peanut butter frosting (you mention it in the description as an iteration you have tried) for my sister in law’s birthday. Is there a PB frosting recipe you recommend?

          • If you can’t find chocolate extract – don’t let that stop you! The cake is still super delicious with just extra vanilla extract in place of the chocolate extract:)

  28. Annie Bunje says:

    Hi! Can you substitute all purpose flour for the rice flour and GF flour?? If so, is it a 1:1 substitution?

    • While I’ve never tested it this way, I think you could probably replace the sweet rice flour, millet, and oat flours with an all purpose flour! I would do a 1:1 substitution by weight (not volume) – 223g, which looks like approximately 1.75 cups all-purpose flour. Let me know how it turns out! (If you’re looking for a gluten-free all purpose flour – I’d recommend Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose blend for this!)

  29. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for this beautiful recipe. I made this yesterday for my son’s 1st birthday using just gluten free flour and it was lovely. The adults loved it and so did my little man! Do you have a suggestion to make this egg free as well? Would love to be able to accommodate the littlies that have allergies.

  30. Heather Reed says:

    This is delicious! I made it early so I could test it, and we all love it! This will be my little girls first birthday cake, and I appreciate so much that it is not a giant sugar bomb! I am not good with frosting – but even that turned out! Thank you!!

    Ps. Mine turned out a little crumbly. I’m thinking maybe cook a few minutes less or add a pinch of xanthan gum?

    • Yay I’m so glad you love it! Oh interesting – I’ve made this a few times and it’s definitely not crumbly for me. I have noticed that certain brands of sweet rice flour tend to influence the impact of the texture of cakes. Which brand did you use? For this cake, I recommend using Mochiko, which I get in the Asian section at my major grocery store or else it’s readily available at most Asian supermarkets. That being said, 3/4-1 tsp xanthan gum might fix the issue for you too!

  31. Tori Jarrard says:

    Can I double this and make cupcakes?

    • I actually just turned these into mini cupcakes for my daughter’s school birthday celebration! If you use the recipe above, you should get about 11 to 12 regular-sized cupcakes. You’ll need to adjust the baking time probably to just 18-24 minutes. This cake is pretty moist, so I tend to err on the side of overbaked and they still turn out delicious!

  32. Ashley says:

    That’s such an elegantly decorated cake. Which piping tip did you use?

  33. Smrity says:

    I absolutely love your cake recipe & the pics are adorable. I would love to make it for my son who is turning 1 this July. I’m a total noob in baking so would really appreciate you’re suggestion. I’m planning a minion themed party. I feel very stupid asking this question but is there any way I can make this cake miniony..!!! :P Please please let me know. Thanks in advance. :)

    • Thank you! I found this minion cake that is probably what I’d make a version of. First, instead of maple syrup, I’d use honey in the frosting. I’d set a little aside to dye blue/black/keep white. Then with the rest, instead of adding spirulina, I would add ground and sifted freeze-dried mangos to make it yellow. I’d use various piping tips with the colors to make the rest of the decorations (I would probably use a little bit of gel dye for the blue/black bc those are harder colors to get naturally)! Hope this helps!

      • Smrity says:

        Thank you so much. I really appreciate the quick response. I’ll definitely try this out. Fingers crossed it turns out like it’s supposed to. Thanks again. Cheers :)

  34. Ruby Lee says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I’m thinking of using your frosting recipe on some cupcakes from another recipe. I was wondering if you think I could make the frosting a night before I frost the cupcakes and store it in the fridge. Would the frosting become too solid from the cold fridge to pipe it the next day? Also would the frosting come together just as nicely with a hand mixer? Thanks for taking time to answer! Looking forward to using your recipe!

    • I hope I’m not too late to respond! I always recommend piping/spreading your frosting the day you’re going to use it. When you put it in the fridge, it does become quite solid and often will take several hours to soften to room temperature (especially with cream cheese!). I think a hand mixer should work just as well as a stand mixer!

  35. Jenn says:

    It’s too bad we already chose a Pooh Bear theme for my girls 1 year party next month cause I’m LOVINF that green spirulina frosting. Perhaps a Christmas cake is in order? Yep, it’s settled. Still going to use the recipe for her cupcakes and see how it turns out

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