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So GoodApril/May 2010 Issue

Allergy-Friendly Happy Birthday Cakes

Celebrate with easy and delicious allergy-friendly desserts

When my doctor ordered me to cut out all wheat, eggs and dairy, it felt a little like I was drowning. “What?” I stammered. No more baking! No more cake!

Hailing from a family of food professionals, I’ve always considered baking much more than just a sweet pastime. It’s my hobby, my therapy, my passion.

To me, a moist and tender slice of cake piled high with fluffy buttercream frosting is a gorgeous sight. I love to bake cakes, decorate them, give them as gifts, serve them at parties—and best of all, savor every bite.

I couldn’t imagine my next birthday without a thick piece of cake covered with frosting. The thought of giving up my favorite dessert was almost painful. There was nothing else to do but stop sulking and start baking—without gluten, dairy and eggs.

It was 2004 and there was less allergy awareness and fewer gluten-free items on the market. Creating a cake without three key ingredients meant lots of trial and error and frustration in my kitchen. I ultimately proved, however, that no one (especially not me) should be forced to pass on a cupcake or a slice of devil’s food because of these particular food allergies or sensitivities. Everyone can partake and enjoy.

Looking back, I see that doctor’s visit as a life-defining moment. It propelled me into a career of allergy-friendly cooking.

Cake is the centerpiece of birthdays, weddings, going-away parties, baby showers, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day—you name it. It’s part of the American culture. Which makes these gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free recipes (no nuts, peanuts or soy either!) delicious reasons to celebrate, any way you slice it.

Photo by Jason Wyche

Moist Vanilla Cake

SERVES 8 TO 10

For those of us with food allergies, this is the quintessential birthday cake. It’s particularly scrumptious with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. Store the frosted cake, covered and refrigerated, for up to three days.

6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
1 cup well-shaken unsweetened coconut milk (not light)
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
3½ cups Betsy’s Baking Mix
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup organic palm oil shortening
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease three 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, combine the water and flaxseed meal and allow to thicken for 3 to 5 minutes. In another small bowl, make “buttermilk” by combining the coconut milk and cider vinegar. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour mix, baking powder, baking soda and xanthan gum. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar and shortening until they are light and fluffy. Then blend in the flaxseed mixture and the vanilla. Alternately stir in the dry ingredients and the “buttermilk” mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth it out with a knife or spatula. Bake the cakes for 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.

5. Let the cakes cool completely in the pans on a cooling rack. Turn the cake layers out and frost the tops of each layer with the frosting. Transfer 1 layer to a serving plate and stack the other layers on top. Frost the sides of the cake.

Each serving with frosting contains 1133 calories, 63g total fat, 31g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 571mg sodium, 151g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 5g protein.

 

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

This recipe makes enough to fill and frost one 8- or 9-inch layer cake or 24 cupcakes. It’s best spread on the cake just after it’s made.

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 recipe Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until it is smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes.

2. Place the frosting in the bowl of a stand mixer and pour in the cooled melted chocolate. Beat the chocolate and frosting together until frosting is fluffy and the chocolate is evenly mixed in.

 

Photo by Jason Wyche

Moist Carrot Cake

SERVES 8 TO 10

When I made this cake for the first time, I served it without telling anyone that it was gluten-, dairy-, soy-, nut- and egg-free. One friend still swears it’s the best carrot cake she’s ever had. Top it with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. Store the frosted cake, covered and refrigerated, for up to three days.

2 cups Betsy’s Baking Mix
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup water
¼ cup ground flaxseed meal
1½ cups granulated sugar
1⅓ cups canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups peeled grated carrots (about 4 large carrots)
1½ cups raisins
1 recipe Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease three 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Then lightly grease the parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the baking mix, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, xanthan gum and salt. In a small bowl, combine the water and flaxseed meal and allow to thicken for 3 to 5 minutes.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the sugar and oil. Add in the vanilla and then the flaxseed mixture and beat for 1 minute. Stir in the dry ingredients and then fold in the shredded carrots and the raisins.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the tops with a knife and bake for 30 minutes, or until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.

5. Let the cakes cool completely in their pans on a cooling rack. Turn the cakes out of the pans and remove the parchment paper. Frost the top of each cake layer with the frosting. Transfer 1 layer to a serving plate and stack the other layers on top. Frost the sides of the cake.

Each serving with frosting contains 1211 calories, 74g total fat, 22g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 645mg sodium, 147g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 4g protein.

 

Photo by Jason Wyche

Red Velvet Cake

SERVES 8 TO 10

The first time I ever heard of red velvet cake was in the movie, Steel Magnolias. When I tasted it, I loved it. This allergy-friendly version is great for kids’ birthday parties. Top it with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.

1 cup gluten-free vanilla rice milk
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2½ cups Betsy’s Baking Mix
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup organic palm oil shortening
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ounce red food coloring
¼ cup + 3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 recipe Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper and then lightly grease the parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, make “buttermilk” by combining the rice milk and cider vinegar.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the baking mix, salt, and xanthan gum.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the sugar and shortening. Meanwhile, in a separate small bowl, mix the cocoa powder and red food coloring to form a paste; set the paste aside. Add the applesauce and vanilla to the creamed shortening and sugar and blend until the mixture is light and creamy.

5. Add the cocoa paste and mix well. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the “buttermilk” mixture to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

6. Pour the white vinegar into a small cup and sprinkle the baking soda over it. Immediately pour the fizzing combination into the cake batter and thoroughly combine the two mixtures.

7. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake the cakes for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.

8. Let the cakes cool completely in their pans on a cooling rack. Turn the cakes out of their pans and remove the parchment paper. Frost the top of each cake layer. Transfer 1 layer to a serving plate and set the other layer on top. Forst the sides of the cake.

9. Store the frosted cake, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

Each serving with frosting contains 975 calories, 54g total fat, 24g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 258mg sodium, 132g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 3g protein.

 

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

This versatile recipe works for everything from a cake frosting to a decadent topping for cinnamon rolls. The frosting may be used immediately or stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to one week. Makes enough to generously frost and fill one 8- or 9-inch layer cake or 24 cupcakes.

2 cups organic palm oil shortening
2 cups Marshmallow Cream or commercial brand, if tolerated
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the shortening and the marshmallow cream on medium-high speed for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the confectioners’ sugar, and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

2. Blend in the vanilla and salt until thoroughly combined.

 

Party Cupcakes

MAKES 24 CUPCAKES

These cupcakes are the perfect way to celebrate. Living Without’s cupcakes, adapted from the Moist Vanilla Cake recipe, are ideal for a children’s party, a bridal shower or to simply celebrate spring. For egg-free cupcakes, prepare Moist Vanilla Cake. Bake in muffin tins for 18 to 20 minutes.

3½ cups Betsy’s Baking Mix
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
½ cup organic palm oil shortening
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1⅓ cups low fat buttermilk (or 1⅓ cups coconut milk with 1 teaspoon cider vinegar)

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour mix, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar and shortening until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add eggs and vanilla, beating to blend. Stir in alternating portions of dry ingredients and buttermilk, starting and ending with dry ingredients.

4. Scoop a scant ¼ cup of batter into each muffin cup. Bake cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.

5. Let the cupcakes cool completely in their pans on a cooling rack. Turn out onto rack and top with Easy Sugar Frosting. Decorate with candy flowers. Let frosting harden slightly before serving.

Easy Sugar Frosting

ENOUGH FOR 24 CUPCAKES

3 tablespoons butter or dairy-free margarine, softened (or tofu cream cheese)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼-½ cup cream or milk of choice (rice, soy, hemp, nut), divided
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, more as needed

1. Beat together butter, vanilla, 1 tablespoon cream, and 1 cup confectioner’s sugar. Add alternating portions of cream and sugar, beating after each addition until well blended.

2. Continue adding and beating in portions of cream then powdered sugar until frosting is smooth and spreadable. Add additional cream or powdered sugar, as necessary.

Each cupcake with frosting contains 253 calories, 7g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 23mg cholesterol, 151mg sodium, 46g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 3g protein.

TIP Decorative candy flowers are available from coolcupcakes.com and sugarcraft.com.

Marshmallow Cream

MAKES 4 CUPS

Marshmallow cream reminds me of ice cream sundaes and my mother’s homemade fudge, things that are now my dietary taboos. Finding out that it was made with eggs devastated me, so I was happy to create this alternative. I recommend using Lyle’s Golden syrup instead of corn syrup as a natural alternative, but it will yield an off-white color. If this bothers you, use corn syrup instead.

½ cup cold water
3 packages unflavored gelatin
2 cups Lyle’s Golden Syrup or corn syrup
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt

1. In a small saucepan, add the cold water and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add the Lyle’s Golden Syrup and heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes, or just until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

2. Pour the gelatin and syrup mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for 3 minutes on medium speed, and then for 12 minutes at medium-high speed. The mixture will become thick, fluffy and very sticky, just like commercial marshmallow cream.

3. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined, then beat on medium-high for another 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another minute. The longer it sits at room temperature, the stickier (more like a marshmallow) it will become.

4. Store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days. Or store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. To defrost the cream, just place it in the refrigerator for several hours, and then let it sit at room temperature for another hour.

Each tablespoon contains 45 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 25mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g protein. LW
Cake recipes excerpted with permission from Allergy-Free Desserts (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.) by Elizabeth Gordon. www.allergyfreedelights.com

 


Betsy’s Gluten-Free Baking Mix

MAKES 7½ CUPS

This flour blend is enough for about three cake recipes. Whisk it thoroughly each time before using.

3¾ cups garbanzo bean flour
2¼ cups potato starch
1½ cups tapioca starch/flour

1. Measure flours into a large container with an airtight lid. Stir very well with a wire whisk until evenly incorporated and no white spots remain. Then seal the container and shake it vigorously for 1 minute.

2. Store in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.

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