They say the 1st birthday party is more to celebrate the parents making it through the first year than for the newly minted one-year-old. That may be true, but when child and parents all have birthdays in the same week – and they’re all milestone birthdays – that’s an even bigger reason to throw a no-holds-barred celebration.
The focus was certainly on Daniel’s Wild One, complete with wild forest animal theme and Little Groove music class (amazing!), but we had a few fun nods for the adults, too – premium OTTO pizza, good beer, and a dessert surprise!
Speaking of dessert, I’ve always been a baker. Ever since I was a little girl, fascinated by the hundreds of cookies my grandmother baked for Christmas every year, I’ve been infatuated with baking. I’ve baked everything from chocolate-salted caramel wedding cakes to rolled cannoli cakes, to hundreds of Christmas cookies of my own over the years. Given that, you’d think I would go all out for the birthday cake for my son’s first birthday. The thing is, we don’t feed him much sugar – so it seemed wrong to bake an over-the-top confection when I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him very much. And my kid LOVES to eat, so I couldn’t bear the thought of putting a miniscule bite of cake in front of him as a birthday “treat.” Instead, I set out to make a cake I knew he’d love AND I felt comfortable letting him really dig into. He absolutely loved it!
Now, that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a very special sweet treat for the trifecta birthday bash. As I mentioned, these weren’t just any birthdays. Within days of my son turning the big O-N-E, my husband turned 35 and I turned…40! I felt like that warranted a visit from my favorite ice cream truck – the Cookie Monstah! With 4 personally selected flavors to choose from, it was summer birthday party heaven! My choice was “The Cup-O-Joe” – double chocolate cookies with coffee-Oreo ice cream. For Brian, “The Dough Boy” – chocolate chip cookies surrounding cookie dough ice cream. And two selections in honor of the littlest birthday boy’s favorite fruits, “The PB&J” – peanut butter cookies with strawberry ice cream, and “The Blueberry Buckle” – oatmeal raisin cookies around blueberry pie ice cream. The ice cream was certainly delicious, but those cookies…HOLY CANNOLI…they were some of the best cookies I’ve ever had! It was really nice (and dangerous) that they let us keep all the leftovers.
My son is a big fan of spices and interesting flavors, so I went ahead and added the traditional cinnamon and nutmeg, but if you’re concerned about what your kid will like feel free to add just cinnamon or skip the spices altogether (just don’t skip the salt, it’s important for balance).
I wanted the cake to have a smooth consistency, so I used a blender to process the wet ingredients. This way the cake has a consistent crumb without chunks of mashed banana, but you can simply mash your banana into the pumpkin and whisk everything together – the resulting cake might take on a slightly more banana-bread-like consistency but will still be delicious.
This recipe can be used to make a layer cake or cupcakes, but the baking times will be different. In fact, the recipe is so adaptable that I baked bug cupcakes and a giant cupcake cake, and it worked great for both.
Daniel’s First Birthday Cake: Pumpkin Spice with Cream Cheese Frosting
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pumpkin
1 medium ripe banana
1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease desired cake pans (2 8-inch rounds or 1 standard cupcake tin).
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
- Place pumpkin, banana, yogurt, maple syrup, and eggs in blender and blend until smooth. Stir in vanilla.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan(s). Pans should be just over half full with the batter. Bake cakes for about 20-23 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. (Cupcakes will bake for about 14 minutes.) Rotate pans halfway through baking.
- Let cakes cool in the pans for 5 to 10 minutes on a wire rack, then gently turn cakes out onto wire rack, carefully running a knife around the edges if necessary, and let cool completely before frosting.
Whisk together cream cheese (at room temp) and maple syrup as needed, a couple of teaspoons at a time, to reach desired consistency. Spread on cooled cakes.