I find myself in a league of parents who are dealing with the ever-expanding problem of food allergies. Seriously, I feel like food allergies barely existed when I was a kid, and now it seems like more kids have them than not.
My 13-month- old son’s particular allergies are to milk and eggs. And since so many foods include milk and/or eggs, the thought of starting him on table food left me…overwhelmed. So for months, he ate (almost exclusively) fruits, veggies and some meats. Then with his first birthday looming on the horizon, I started to wonder: what about his birthday cake? I mean, the kid deserves to have a cake for his first birthday. It was at that point I decided that I needed to find egg- and dairy-free equivalents to what all the other kids his age were eating. Including birthday cake.
As it relates to creating an allergen-free cake, it seems you have a few options: you can follow a vegan (and gluten free, if applicable) recipe; you can use your grandmother’s much loved cake recipe and just use some substitutions; or you can use an allergen-free cake mix. I tried a couple of vegan cake recipes, but to me they tasted more like cornbread than birthday cake. This may have something to do with my baking abilities. So I scoured my local food store and found Cherrybrook Kitchen’s Yellow Cake mix. All of their products are dairy, egg and nut-free and some products are also gluten-free. This particular mix I used does contain wheat ingredients, but since my son isn’t allergic to wheat, this worked for us.
I used a vegan margarine instead of regular margarine and I frosted the cake with Cherrybrook Kitchen’s Vanilla Frosting, substituting a little rice milk for regular milk in the baking instructions. Know what? It all tasted good, like a regular cake. Which, frankly, was a little more than I was expecting. Even the frosting was super-creamy, with just the right amount of sweetness.
Being able to produce a good-tasting allergen-free cake will cost you though. I justify this as an occasional purchase that gives me some peace of mind: my kid can have a cake just like all the other kids. Plus, since it’s produced in a factory that prohibits the use of nuts, I can use the mix to make cupcakes to bring to my son’s nut-free school. The cake mixes run about $5.30 a box and the frostings are about a dollar less.