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Birthday cake with natural sweetener, preferably banana?

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My sister-in-law is no baker so I volunteered to help her with her son's first birthday cake. Thing is, they want a cake without refined sugar. She was leaning towards a banana bread/cake type and I've found a couple of recipes, but I wanted to know if anyone had any that were tried and true.

Also what the heck do you do with frosting? To me, as far as cake decorating goes, frosting has to have loads of icing sugar. That part I'm really stuck on.

Any tips/recipes would be great.

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  1. If I may ask, why exactly do they want a birthday cake without any sugar?

    3 Replies
    1. re: ZephyrSeija

      For my first born daughter's first birthday I made the carrot cake in "What to Expect the First Year". I'm pretty sure you can google it. It is sweetened with raisins and apple juice. Of course for my second-born son's first birthday he got chocolate.

      1. re: ZephyrSeija

        For the one-year-old and all...I know...

        I said my two cents that honey, fruit juice etc are still sugar, but it's their call...It may prove to be disastrous but I have to try to help!

        1. re: 16crab

          Understood, and best of luck to you. The reality is that it's hard to make a true cake without sugar, because it's critical in the creaming process. You could definitely make some tasty cake-type bread with other ingredients, but honestly I've never understood why people are so afraid of "refined" sugar. Nothing is all that bad for you if you consume it wisely in moderation, but that's neither here nor there.

          Also, you absolutely should not feed honey to a baby under the age of two. The critters living in the goo could be extremely harmful to the baby's weak immune system.

      2. If refined sugar is the only problem, there's a world of other options. Like maple syrup, maple sugar, honey, palm sugar,coconut sugar and piloncillo. There are also a whole array of "raw sugars" that are considered "semirefined" (according to Alice Medrich in her book Pure Desserts). These include muscovado, turbinado and demerara. I gather that these are considered semirefined because some of the natural molasses is left in the sugar. It's all sugar, just some has more of natural flavorings in it.

        I would think you could find cake recipes using some of these sugars (banana cakes or other cakes). Or substitute some of these sugars for refined sugars in regular recipes. You would have to figure out how much to substitute.

        And you could make icings with some of these as well, I would think. Or a whipped cream made at the last minute with one of the forms of sugar above used for sweetening.

        1. One other thought. Brown sugars are refined sugars that have molasses added to them. If those aren't a problem, it would be even easier.

          1. Thanks for the suggestions. She decided to go with an apple-juice sweetened cake from the Whole Foods Website, but we're doing a traditional buttercream for the frosting because she really wants it decorated cute and I'm out of my league making decorator's icing without icing sugar. I really just don't want that pressure a day before the birthday. Compromise for dad, who was really the driving force behind this, is to make a cupcake with no icing for the little one.

            I was thinking, could I do a maple syrup sweetened whipped cream to top his cupcake, with some berries, just to get that '1st birthday cake smeared on the face' photo opportunity? Could I make it the day before or would I need to do it on the spot?
            Thanks!