Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Yellow Birthday Cake

Why is it that every allergy free birthday cake recipe I find that uses "normal" ingredients also has chocolate? We don't do chocolate here. So birthday cake recipes start to get a bit creative.

I personally do not mind creative so much. The end result is tasty. And healthy. But.

When people who have very big hearts and good intentions ask for a recipe they can use to make a treat that will be safe for my allergic kiddo...yep. I've got nothin'. Why? Because I have tremendous guilt asking some sweetheart of a mom to go spend mega bucks on specialty items that she is only going to use one time.

The other big drawback to using unique ingredients? Unique flavor. We love it, but we're used to eating this way. For the average person who has an unrestricted diet? Passable flavor, but still just off the mark.

No more. I have combined and tweaked several recipes to come up with a birthday cake that is The One. It uses only one ingredient that the average pantry would not have. Just one. The flavor is of mom-made goodness. The crumb is moist, bursting with flavor. It holds together like a cake should, none of the crumbly softness that cakes without eggs can have. Nor did it rise beautifully only to deflate upon cooling. This cake stood proudly, refusing to fall in the middle.

Can you tell how excited I am? To have a cake that I can serve to children and adults alike without ever offering a disclaimer about being allergy friendly. I love it.

Try it. Tell me what you think.

(This cake is dairy free, egg free, nut free, soy free, apology free, and vegan.)

Yellow Birthday Cake

2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c sugar
1/2 c So Delicious coconut milk, or milk of your choice
1/2 c safflower oil
2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp bourbon vanilla
1/2 c water

Preheat oven to 350. (You might want to give it a head start, this will whip together before the oven is ready!) Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl and whisk to combine. In a medium bowl whisk together the wet ingredients. Add wet to dry mix on medium speed to combine. Pour into a greased 9" pan and bake 40-45 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool and frost as desired.

*Note: If you increase the sugar by 1-2 tbsp, and decrease the water by almost 1/4 c the batter will be quite thick and the end result will be a moist cake with a delightfully crispy crunchy top. This is a bonus because you won't need frosting, just a quick dusting of powdered sugar for decoration and it's done. Yum.

Need allergy free frosting to go with this? I used this recipe and it was incredible! Of course, I replaced the butter with Earth Balance soy free margarine, used Spectrum palm shortening, and used SoDelicious coconut milk coffee creamer in place of the heavy cream. It was light and fluffy, like the whipped icings you would get from a bakery. Mmmm.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lunchbox Tidbit

These little things occur to me while I am going through my day, and I always plan to compile them into an incredibly comprehensive list of sage wisdom. Ha! The truer wisdom would be me admitting that I tend to be scattered, and making (and keeping track of) notes to create such a superpost is not likely.

So here is a tidbit of wisdom, brought to you by the experience of my young student.

When purchasing a lunchbox for your allergic child, do not let the character on the front be the key decision maker. Look closely at the overall design. While my daughter loves her princess lunchbox with the functional design of a brown bag, she found it is not easy to use. You know the kind, with a velcro type faster along the top of the bag, and a bag design that really does look like, well, a brown paper lunch bag. My daughter found that it is not easy to get foods in and out of her lunch box. She can not eat over the lunch box, meaning if she drops a bite (or half her sandwich) on the table she needs to throw it away. Also, we do not use many plastic baggies, and we found that once we put in a drink bottle, a sandwich container, and a napkin...we run out of room for the other yummy parts of a healthy lunch.

Before buying, consider how much room packing a healthy lunch will take. Also, consider whether you will be sending a place mat, or if you like your child to eat over their open lunchbox to avoid accidental contamination. The ease of choosing what food they want to eat first and taking out just that food is also important. Lunchtime goes fast, these kiddos don't want to waste any time trying to struggle with their lunchbox.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Green Tea Muffins

I really thought I had already posted this recipe, but when I went to pull it up this morning surprise! It is not here. Luckily, I have it written down in my handy recipe notebook. And I have to share this with you because it is so darn versatile. The original recipe is marvelous just as it is. Everyone in the family loves them. Everyone. My favorite part? It is effortless to throw together. One bowl. Stir. Done! Love it.

I rarely follow a recipe exactly. I am always tweaking, trying to improve the nutritional content, the flavor, the texture....something. So, here is the version I use as my base recipe, obviously touched up from the original. Feel free to adapt it. I haven't had it come out badly yet.

Green Tea Muffins

1 1/4 c flour (white and wheat both work, I use a mixture of both)
1/4 c Bob's Red Mill GF Garbanzo and Fava flour (to up the protein content)
1/2 c brown sugar (sometimes I use only 1/3)
1/2 c white sugar (again, sometimes only 1/3)
3/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp hemp protein powder (or protein powder of choice- optional)
3/4 c strongly brewed green tea (3 bags in 3/4 c water- I use decaf)
1/4 c safflower oil

Preheat oven to 400. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add tea (hot or cooled.) and oil and mix until combined well. Spoon into muffin cups and bake 25 minutes. Fill muffin cups just about 1/2 full in order to make all 12. They rise nicely.

If you use the full amount of sugar these muffins get a crunchy, crispy top that is mmmm. I have been known to use different flavors of tea, though green tea is my favorite in this recipe. I have stirred in pomegranate arils (WOW!), cranberries, apricots, currants, you name it. Haven't ruined them yet. So, feel free to play with this and make it your recipe. You'll enjoy every bite.

*Edited to note: I have just discovered my favorite modification so far. I used lemon tea in place of green tea, and stirred in blueberries. Top with a little crumb topping or a sprinkle of raw sugar and bake. Oh. My.