Celebrating your baby girl's first birthday is a cherished time for family and friends. A first birthday party gathers your loved ones to celebrate your baby's milestone, and a birthday cake is a traditional centrepiece of any birthday party. Homemade birthday cakes are charming and keep you in control of your baby's nourishment.
Themed Birthday Cakes
Your baby girl's first birthday cake should reflect something that she loves; create a themed cake around a favourite stuffed toy, doll, fictional character or game. Fun ideas for first birthday cakes include fairies, princess characters, mermaids, flower shapes and animal themes. You can decorate a sheet cake and place themed figurines on top, or get a little more intricate with a cut-out or shaped cake. For the latter, you can draw a template to place on the cake and use as a guide when shaping the cake. Use a small paring knife for intricate shapes.
If you have a time crunch, try working with pound cake and cutting the slices into interesting shapes. Stars, flowers, circles and squares are simple shapes that look very festive when decorated with frosting and candy or sprinkles.
Cupcakes: The Other Birthday Cake
Cupcakes present a variation on the birthday-cake theme and are more manageable for small hands than cake slices. Puppy- or kitty-themed cupcakes can be stylised to resemble a beloved family pet or cartoon character. Magic-wand cupcakes work well for princess-themed parties. Replace icing with a half teaspoon of icing sugar to create fairy dust, and place Pepperidge Farms pirouette cookies in the side to give them an authentic "wand" look.
For the best of both worlds--regular cake and cupcakes--try an ice cream cone design. Decorate cupcakes in different colours to look like different ice cream flavours and arrange them on a platter above a sheet cake that is cut and decorated to look like a cone.
Baking with Natural Sweeteners
Consider your one-year-old's nutritional needs, as most babies have not been exposed to many refined sugars and food dyes. Working with natural sweeteners when making your baby's cake is a healthy alternative to processed sugars. Natural sweeteners keep blood-sugar levels steady and prevent sugar spikes that can cause moodiness in young children. Healthy sweeteners such as raisins, date sugar, applesauce, maple syrup, brown rice syrup and unsweetened apple or pineapple juice concentrate can be used in traditional cake recipes to eliminate processed sugars.
Substitute an equal or lower amount of a natural sweetener for white sugar. If you are baking a cake with sweet ingredients (such as carrot cake, which already has raisins in it), try using half or one-third of the sweetener required. Fresh whipping cream mixed with maple syrup, pur�ed fruit or mashed bananas makes a delicious frosting.