Dairy egg and nut-free chocolate birthday cake tutorial
Having talked to a bunch of allergy Mums lately, it seems that one of the things people need help with most is how to make a birthday party special for a child with one or more allergies..whether its their own party or attending someone else’s. It is absolutely horrible seeing your child excluded because of their allergies….but it doesn’t have to be that way!
My precious baby girl turned one last week and we had a Teddy Bears Picnic party in the weekend for her. An inside one as we got rained out. AAAAARRGGGGHHH. My first concern was making the party allergy friendly for her, she is allergic to dairy, egg (although can tolerate a bit of baked egg), peanuts, corn and citrus. My biggest problem was providing for my 3 year old who has many and severe allergies. Anyway, we made the cake dairy, egg and nut free..and everything else dairy free and had a range of safe foods on supply for my 3 year old, although honestly she would live on sushi and jelly if I would let her so she was more than happy with those two things. Lots of people have been asking how to make the cake, so I’m going to show that here and then do separate posts with some of the other yummy food 🙂
The base recipe for the cake is a slight adaptation on an old vinegar chocolate cake which has been around for years and years, but it’s a really lovely moist cake that lasts well for a few days so you can easily make it the day before, ice it that night and have it tasting fresh the next day for the party.
- 3 cups standard/plain flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 6 tablespoons cocoa powder (I use the darkest one possible)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract (you can use plain vanilla but its nicer with the extract)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2/3 cup olive oil (or any other oil really)
- 2 cups water
- Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt together into a large bowl. Make 3 holes and place the vanilla in one, the vinegar in another and the oil in the last hole. Then pour over the water and stir quickly. It is important not to over mix but sometimes I need to give it a quick whisk to get any flour lumps out. Place into a cake tin lined with paper or greased and floured (this means rubbing with butter/dairy free margarine and then tossing flour around the base and sides to cover the margarine). You have two options for cooking: Bake at around 170 degrees until cooked (20-30 mins) although I sometimes have problems with the top/bottoms getting dark and quite crunchy. The second option which gets around this problem is to cook it at 170 degrees for around 15 minutes until it is starting to set around the outside of the cake, then turning the oven off at the wall (to make sure the fan isn't trying to cool the oven down) and leaving the cake inside for half an hour or so. This is slightly riskier as you need to make sure the cake is cooked in the middle, but every time I've done this, the cake has been really moist.
Next, place the top of the cake upside down on a cake board then spread a good amount of the buttercream (thats the icing you have just made) over it. Then place the other piece of cake on the top so what was the bottom of the cake is now facing up on top of the cake. This is so you are not trying to ice a crumb part of the cake.
Then you are going to spread a really thick layer of icing all over the cake. Don’t try and use just a little bit as you’ll dredge up all the crumbs from the cake and make a big mess! I ice the top first then spread it down the sides after that. Once the cake is covered with a thick layer of icing, you can dip the palette knife or spatula in very hot water and make it all really smooth.
If you are covering your cake with another layer of fondant like I have for his cake, then iced like the pic on the left is fine, so long as its all semi-even. If you were leaving it like this, then you would probably want a thicker and smoother layer around the outside.
Now for the fondant layer: I use Satin Ice, but there are lots of different ones on the market that are fine: I just find that brand is good for not cracking when it starts to dry out. You can also make your own from marshmallow, there are lots of recipes on Google or Pinterest for that.
You need to have a good amount of space on a really clean kitchen bench. I then put equal quantities of cornflour and icing sugar (you may wonder about this given my daughters corn allergy, she is growing out of her allergies at the moment so I wasn’t too concerned, but I certainly wouldn’t do this for my severe 3 year old..you could just use gluten free icing sugar.) in a sieve and sprinkle some over the work surface. Then knead the white fondant until it is quite pliable, and add a few drops of food colouring. I used Wilton Cornflower Blue for this cake. Knead it on the bench until the colour is completely mixed in. If it gets sticky, just dust your hands with the icing sugar/cornflour mix. Then place it on the bench, dust with the sugar mix and roll out carefully (move it around often and dust underneath so it doesn’t stick) until it is quite thin. Mine was probably 2-3 mm thick. Then lift it up carefully with both hands underneath and lay over the cake. If you have never done this before, I recommend looking up a youtube tutorial as there is a particular way to ease icing onto the side of the cake that I can’t really explain in words..but basically you flatten the top carefully first then try and ease the icing around the sides so there are no creases. I sort of push upwards from the bottom of the sides if that makes any sense at all!.
Next I wrapped a red ribbon around the base of the cake and pinned it into the cake at the back. My daughter and I had made some of the decorations several days in advance so they had dried out. We used a youtube tutorial for the teddy bears, and for the blanket I just cut squares of red and white fondant out and ‘glued’ them together with a bit of water, then left it to dry. The mini cake is just layers of fondant sandwiched together with a bit of the chocolate icing.
For the bunting with my daughters name on, I just cut lots of triangles out of red and white fondant then left them to dry for a while. Then I melted dairy free chocolate and piped the letters on ( I use paper piping bags for that and just cut a very small hole at the tip). Then I stuck them on to the cake with the same melted chocolate and piped the string with the chocolate as well. Then I just placed all the decorations on the cake, I stuck the teddies on by placing a toothpick through the middle and sliding the other half of the toothpick into the cake.
Then I made some little flowers to go around the cake with the white fondant. You need a little flower cutter for that. I dry them over the little knobbly bits in an egg carton so they get a rounded shape. When they are dry, I placed a little ball of red icing inside them. And then I was DONE!