Happy (allergen-free) Birthday!: Making the Cake

The cake is the centerpiece of the birthday celebration, so it’s important to get it right, if you can. And it’s worthwhile to make it as special as you can, too!

That’s why I practiced my Certain Little Someone’s cake 3 times before the actual day of his party, and it’s a good thing, too! The first cake was a total flop. The second two were perfect, so I knew what to do for the actual cake.

Of course, this being a fallen world, things do not always work out according to plan or desire! The actual cake was heavier and drier than my previous two practice cakes, due to some mishaps that occurred on baking day. However, it was edible and it held together, 2 very important things in my book! Also, the decorating aspect turned out better than I had expected, so I was glad I had the chance to test out my ideas beforehand.

I found the cake recipe I used in the Living Without magazine, but it was created by Elizabeth Gordon, owner and founder of an allergy-free baking company, Betsy and Claude. Her cookbook is full of recipes for some pretty amazing allergen-free baked goods, but I found that most of them called for ingredients that are either expensive or hard to find. However, her Moist Vanilla Cake uses ingredients I usually have (except the shortening, but I needed to have that for the frosting anyway) so I decided to give it a try.

I actually ended up tweaking it just a bit to fit my preferences, but for the most part, I followed the recipe exactly as she wrote it. It turned out so much better than other allergen-free baked goods I have tried, and I think it’s because it uses the optimal substitutes for each allergen (chickpea flour blend for wheat flour, coconut milk for milk, shortening for butter, and flaxseed for egg). She does specify to use regular coconut milk (not light) but I just used the coconut milk beverage because that’s what I had, and it worked very well. I don’t know if other milk substitutes would be thick enough or fatty enough to do the job quite as well, but they are certainly worth a try.

The chickpea flour blend she recommends is (bulk recipe): 3 3/4 cups garbanzo bean flour, 2 1/4 cups potato starch, and 1 1/2 cups tapioca starch. I used corn starch in place of the tapioca once with good success.

I always bake cakes with silicone pans, and I highly recommend them for this recipe, because the silicone makes it so easy to remove the cakes from the pans. Even at that, this recipe left more cake residue behind than I am used to seeing, so if you use a regular metal pan, consider lining it with parchment paper. Also, be sure cakes are fully cooked before removing them from the oven; that will make it easier to turn them out of the pans.

Here’s my version of the recipe:

Birthday Cake

3 1/2 cups chickpea flour blend

1 TBSP + 1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 1/2 cups raw sugar

1/2 cup palm oil shortening

6 TBSP hot water mixed with 2 TBSP ground flaxseed

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup coconut milk mixed with 1 tsp vinegar

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In an electric mixer, beat shortening and sugar until thoroughly blended. Add flax blend and vanilla; beat together. Alternately add dry ingredients and coconut milk mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, until blended. Divide batter equally between 3 round, greased cake pans. Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes or until top is lightly golden. Cool completely on a wire rack before removing from pans.

Because I used the silicone pans, and they had to be placed on a cookie sheet for baking, I could not cook all 3 layers at the same time. It didn’t seem to harm the one layer to set out while the others were baking. The 3 layers worked perfectly, though, for the Thomas cake I made for my Certain Little Someone. I had seen this picture and went from there to create this Thomas cake:

Just in case you want to know how I made it, check out my instructions here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Happy (allergen-free) Birthday! series. If you have, let me know… and share it with your food-allergic friends!

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7 Comments on “Happy (allergen-free) Birthday!: Making the Cake”

  1. I found you via your guest post on MSM (which was great, by the way). I’ve been clicking around and am in AWE of this cake. You are so very talented.

  2. Matt says:

    I don’t have the recipes with me right now, but I have 2 cake recipes that are free of egg and dairy that my family has consistently used for many years. They still have wheat flour… but I think that would be pretty easy to sub out? Let me know if you’re interested – they’re both easy (and delicious).

    Like others… I’m amazed by your decorating talent! Way to go! And… keep it up! Living with allergies can be tough (for both kid and parents), but I’m living proof it’s possible to raise a highly allergic child to adulthood :).

  3. Sheryl says:

    Oh, how I wish I’d found your site 3 days ago! My attempt at a gluten/dairy/egg free birthday cake was laughable – it had the texture and consistency of a sponge (we didn’t test it to see if it also had the water-absorption of a sponge). Your cake is gorgeous!!! Your little one is blessed to have such a talented Mommy.


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