Food/ Recipes

1st Birthday Cake

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The 1st Birthday Party in South Korea is a big deal, it is somewhat comparable to a wedding, with reception halls, big buffets, etc. I didn’t plan very far in advance for Lily’s 1st birthday party; I waited until just a few weeks before to put things together. It was just a little bit stressful. I wasn’t sure what to do about the birthday cake. I wanted her to have a smash cake that was pretty and tasty, but I was pretty sure Lily was still sensitive to dairy, and I wanted to wait a while longer before introducing gluten into her diet. Eggs were also a potential problem. Not the egg yolks, (she ate them for breakfast all the time), but the egg whites. I didn’t think she was sensitive, but I really did not want her to break out in a rash or feel icky on her birthday. So I did what any modern day mom would do ….. I searched the internet for some allergen-free recipes.



There were many different recipes to choose from. I contemplated making an egg-free pumpkin cake that I had made many times before. But I didn’t think it was quite “pretty” enough. I had planned on baking the cake a week before Lily’s birthday, as sort of a trial run, but that didn’t work out. I didn’t give myself enough time, and I didn’t order enough ingredients from iherb. (Unfortunately, a lot of the specialty ingredients are not easy to find here in South Korea, so proper planning is essential). This lack of planning was not at all like me, I am a type A personality kind of woman. But being a first time mommy has almost cured me of that, (but that’s a story for another day).

I hate to brag, but I was pretty proud of this cake. The final cake was bigger than the “smash cake” I anticipated making for Lily. It worked out well because I ended up sharing it with some of my “health-conscious” friends. They loved it!! It was a bit crumbly because there were no eggs. I was O.K. with the mess though, that was part of the fun for my daughter.


The Cake Recipe

This is the recipe I used for the cake. I made a few of the suggested modifications.

2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup Sucanut organic sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce, heated until warm

I used a 22.9 x 3.81 cm cake pan I bought at E-mart, and baked two small cakes separately and put icing in between them to get the layered effect. My oven is really small so I had to bake the two cakes separately. I am pretty sure I just double the recipe to have enough for both layers.


– Preheat oven to 350°F.
– I made the applesauce from scratch. Well, it wasn’t really applesauce because there was no sugar or spices. I bascially peeled and chopped up some apples, (organic of course), and boiled them in a pot of water for around 25 minutes until they were mushy. I then pureed them in a small blender. This was before I found the unsweetened organic applesauce at E-mart. That is what I use now.
– Mix some of the dry ingredients together first; the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
– In a separate bowl, mix the coconut oil and and cane sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and the applesauce into the mix until everything is blended.
– Scoop the batter into the greased cake pan, (I used coconut oil), and bake for 20-25 minutes, (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean).
– Cool in the pan for five minutes before flipping it out onto a wire rack and let it cool completely.
– I had to repeat the process again, but if your oven is big enough you can obviously buy two cake pans and bake everything at once.

The Icing

What’s a cake without icing? I am sort of a health nut, but I wasn’t going to make icing with coconut oil and honey, (though I have used that combination in other recipes and it is pretty tasty). This a BIRTHDAY cake. I was O.K. with using sugar for the icing as long as it wasn’t derived from GMO beets. Again, google was my friend, and I found a dairy-free recipe that I thought would work. This is the recipe for “Allergy Free Icing” that I used. (Note: I just used her allergy free icing recipe, not the cupcake recipe).

1/2 cup Spectrum Organic Vegetable Shortening
pinch of sea salt
2 1/2 cups white powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons coconut milk (plus more as needed)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
Food coloring (optional)

– Use an electric mixer to blend the shortening and pinch of salt on medium speed, about 2 minutes.
– Add the powdered sugar in slowly, in three batches, mixing well after each addition. Add in the coconut milk, and vanilla extract (if using) and beat until the mixture becomes “fluffy”.

I don’t use “regular” food coloring in baking at all because many children are sensitive to it. If you want to use food coloring, the India Tree brand has good reviews and it made from food, not chemicals. (It is kind of pricey though). I didn’t use it for the birthday cake, (I had other plans for decorations).


My master plan was to use my fancy allergy-free icing to make little flowers all over the cake. As a back up plan, I also ordered some edible flowers from icoop, but has them too. (If you are new to fatbag, use my code 409716 to get a 2,000 won discount). I got the idea from a blog post I read while searching for recipes. I was sooooo glad I had the edible flowers because I did not have enough icing to use for decorations. I only had enough to layer the cake and cover it with icing. The limiting factor was the powdered sugar, I only ordered one bag and it wasn’t enough for any “extras”. It really didn’t matter because the edible flowers looked beautiful, and they were faster and easier than the icing flowers. It all worked out in the end.

Finding the cake box was quite the adventure. I tried to buy a box from a few of the local bakeries, but they would not sell just a box to me. Fortunately, my good friend Kiki found a beautiful box at the foreigner store “I Love Cookie”.  It fit PERFECTLY!!! The cake made it to the party in one piece. I also got a lot of compliments on how pretty it looked too. It was definitely worth all of the extra effort. In fact, writing this post makes me want to make it again!!



If you try out the recipe please let me know how it worked out for you. I have used this recipe to make cupcakes for Valentine’s Day too. It is my “go-to” recipe for this dairy/gluten free phase of my life. 😉





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