After many requests, I’m sharing details of our birthday celebration traditions, including the recipe for our (now staple) gluten free, healthy, birthday cake. We used the same recipe for my sons birthday, in cupcake form. It was a huge hit both times, so I am happy to share! The cake itself is refined sugar free, however we did use regular powdered sugar in the buttercream frosting. The recipe will be down below! First, I’m going to chat about how we celebrate birthdays, as I’ve been asked in the past and thought it best to write it all out for curious minds.
We stopped doing big birthday parties after we moved from Washington. It wasn’t intentional at first, but after time, another babe joining us, hopefully more down the road, and lots of intentional choices over the last few years… we came to the conclusion that for us, big birthday parties are just not for us. We do celebrate, though! We sure love celebrating our children, so we do fuss over them lots on their day of birth. We do LOVE celebrating with, and enjoying our precious friends. However, we’ve simply decided to keep birthdays a family affair.
Our Birthday Traditions
We do gifts very purposefully. We were not always this way! Since selling many of our belongings, then the camper life two years ago, and then living in a small house as a family of six, we simply cannot have too much stuff. Any thing that comes into our home must serve a purpose. Sometimes that purpose is simply, JOY.
For birthday gifts, we prioritize: something needed, something to read, something to wear, and something wanted.
We always ask the kids how they want to celebrate. For Rudy’s birthday this year, he wanted all things farm, cowboy, tractors, and things of the like. So I decorated with a farm banner, and blue balloons, and he was gifted a cowboy hat, and wore his own hand-me-down cowboy boots with wrangler overalls. It was too cute. For Nora’s birthday, she wanted “flowers and butterflies,” and so I decorated with little flowers from Trader Joe’s, a butterfly banner, and lots of pink balloons. They both felt so loved!
My husband does his best to take the day off of work for them if it’s not on a weekend. So far, with how all of our kids’ birthdays fall… none are during school days for us. Each child’s birthday ends up being a special family day, and this makes for precious memories.
For “what we do” — we mainly leave it up to the child, within reason (although, no one has asked for anything we have’t been able to accomplish). For example, Rudy’s second birthday, we went to the aquarium and a splash pad (his birthday is in June), and Nora (July) wanted to go to a cute local coffee shop for treats, and also a water park (a glorified splash pad, not the big water slides-type-park). She wanted homemade mac and cheese for lunch, and we got pizza at our favorite pizzeria for dinner. For Mabel’s birthday in December, we will celebrate with a Nutcracker ballet show, and a fun homemade hot chocolate bar. If it’s snowing (it was last year), we may do something fun like build a mini snowman (this is still Oklahoma), and then for her birthday, it’s become tradition to go drive around and look at Christmas lights.
We keep things seasonally minded, and also aligning with each child’s interests and enjoyments.
Farm Birthday Details
Rudy has been our little farm boy since he could talk. He loves farm animals, tractors, all things cowboy… and naturally he wanted to celebrate his birthday with his favorite things. For his gifts, he got puzzles, a toy tractor, some new pajamas, and some books about cowboys and tractors. Some very dear friends-like-family met up with us on his birthday since they were in town and gifted him tractors and a toolset as well. It was so perfect for him!
Flowers & Butterflies Details
For Nora’s birthday, she wanted a sewing kit, a new bike her size without training wheels, chapter books to read, and a new dress. We did get those things, plus her very own “real” Bible and a few extras of each from the grandparents. My mom also got her her very own highlighters and she’s been using them to highlight her favorite verses. Absolutely precious! She felt so loved and celebrated, and adored doing so.
Dahlia’s birthday is a week before Mabel’s, both in December. Mabel loves ballet, and adored learning all about the Nutcracker last year. This year our plan is to begin a tradition of seeing the Nutcracker ballet. We will get all dolled up, in fancy dresses and maybe even some lipstick and will enjoy a lovely treat of hot cocoa. I’ll be sure to update with photos of both here 🙂
Gluten Free Birthday Cake Recipe
I initially used this recipe for Rudy’s birthday cupcakes, which is originally roughly half of this. Mabel and DJ made the cupcakes and they did a fantastic job! For the cake, we used what we had and this is my very best guess at what my mom and I threw into the bowl. It was dense, not like “normal” cake batter with regular flour/sugar, and we definitely PRAYED that it would bake well. Miraculously, it did! Here’s what we mixed together and then poured over parchment into two 8 inch round cake pans:
- 3 cups almond flour
- 1 cup coconut flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1.5 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 6 eggs
- 1.5 cup maple syrup
- 1 jar of applesauce
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (unless you know your oven runs extra hot, then 325), and line your muffins tins or cake pans
- Mix all dry ingredients in a big bowl
- Add in eggs, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until fully immersed
- Add milk until smooth-ish (ours was not completely smooth, but we got it to “pour”)
- Pour batter into parchment, and bake until golden, and fully baked inside.
- For cupcakes, this should be 15-20 minutes. For cakes, it will likely be 35-45 minutes, but be sure to check it frequently! Ovens vary!
- Use a toothpick or a fork to test. If it comes out without batter, then it’s done!
- For cakes, use a small spatula or butter knife to gently scrape the sides from the edge. Then, using a cooling rack, flip the cake GENTLY upside down. Use oven mitts, too 🙂
- Let the cakes or cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 2-3 cup salted softened butter
- 4-5 cups powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (or 1.5 teaspoons vanilla bean powder)
- Splash or so of heavy cream
(estimates because to be honest I just threw in “blips and blops” and didn’t measure!)
- Be sure your butter is entirely softened. I did for the cupcakes, did not for the cake. So if you pull butter straight from the fridge, it WILL work – it will simply be a bit more gritty like my cake.
- Cream the butter in the stand mixer until creamy
- SLOWLY add in your powdered sugar (taste testing is always a good idea)
- Add in your vanilla
- Plop some heavy cream in there
- Mix it well and just add things slowly until it looks and tastes heavenly!
When cakes are entirely cooled, frost! ENJOY!