The perfect way to celebrate with this Gluten Free and Allergy Free Chocolate Birthday Cake. Light, fluffy, chocolatey cake with a whipped chocolate frosting.
So about a week ago I got a text message from my adorable next door neighbor that went a little something like this:
“Hey…lol…I was wondering if you might be able to make a birthday smash cake for my nephew who is allergic to dairy, eggs, oats…lol…and peanuts??? My sister can’t find anyone to make his cake and is having the hardest time finding a recipe.”
Now you would think my first response would be more along the lines of, “Well, uh, let me try to figure something out…I can’t promise anything…”
What was my first response???
“But, not gluten free? Like I can use REGULAR FLOUR?”
Hahaha! I guess altering recipes to accommodate allergies just doesn’t scare me all that much anymore. I’ve learned that I can make just about anything with a few tweaks here and there.
For a minute, just a minute, I was considering using regular flour just to make the process of making this birthday cake a tad bit easier. But then I thought, “Wait a second! If I’m going through all this work, Braelyn might as well be able to eat it, too.”
As well as ALL my lovely readers, right???
So I took it upon myself to throw in another wrench to the recipe. Gluten free.
That’s right, this is a gluten, dairy, egg, oat, and peanut free cake.
Let’s just do ourselves a favor and call it the ultimate Gluten Free and Allergy Free Chocolate Birthday Cake. Sounds good to me.
This little guy’s birthday isn’t for another month, but I just couldn’t get out of my head all the ingredient combinations I could use to make a stellar smash cake. I was literally thinking about it almost ever second. So the very next day I woke up and baked.
And guess what?
I NAILED IT!
On the very FIRST TRY. Holla!
Now’s the point where you start getting annoyed like, “Just tell us already! What did you use???”
Be patient my little internet friends. We’re getting there. Let me have my moment of egotistical self flattery. It doesn’t happen very often.
As I was saying…I nailed this baby on the first try. It was literally a miracle. That, or the fact that every little one year old deserves his very own cake for his first birthday party, inspired me to put just the right ingredients to create a super light, chocolatey, moist…PERFECT allergy free birthday cake.
Let me give you a little breakdown of all the ingredient replacements that I used.
How about we start with the most difficult. The EGGS.
Now I can replace flour all day long, but without eggs to give baked goods that tender rise, I’m kind of at a loss. The only time I’ve ever baked without eggs was when I made these Vegan Blueberry Banana Muffins. They turned out delicious, but I at least had the banana in the batter to give them structure.
I also used flaxseed “eggs” to build structure during the baking process and it was quite successful.
So that’s where I started with these chocolate cupcakes. I knew I would be using flaxseed “eggs” which is essentially just 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal + 3 tablespoons of water per egg. I’ve heard the outcome isn’t as good in recipes that call for more than 3 eggs, though. So, I knew I needed to use less “eggs” in this recipe.
No eggs = check
Now onto the dairy.
I was terrified that Braelyn would have a milk allergy in conjunction with her celiac since that combination seems to be pretty common. Luckily she doesn’t.
Using butter, creams, and milk products in my recipes is my saving grace to add richness, moisture, and flavor to my baked goods.
Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, better take my ice cream away!
So what did I use instead of butter and milk for the chocolate cake?
First of all, I used a mixture of shortening and applesauce in replacement of butter. Oil may also work, but I didn’t have any on hand and I’ve used applesauce in replacement of oil in recipes before. The shortening is important in achieving a light and fluffy texture as well as helping the cake hold it’s structure. Kind of like how cookies baked with shortening spread less than cookies baked with all butter.
Instead of adding melted chocolate (dairy) to the cake, I just added additional cocoa powder and sugar to achieve that intense chocolate flavor. You can also add a bit of coffee granules to the batter for a little extra zing.
And in replacement of milk, I added almond milk. Almond milk seems to always work just the same as regular milk when baking, as far as I’ve tested.
For the frosting, I created a smooth and fluffy “buttercream” without the butter. I used shortening as the butter replacement and added lots of cocoa powder and powdered sugar.
This frosting is delicious! It tastes almost like a whipped mouse, but it doesn’t leave that slimy film at the back of your tongue like most shortening based frostings do. The key is to go low on the shortening. You need just enough to give it structure.
No dairy = check
Now for the flour combo.
Potato starch is your friend when making cakes. This flour will give your baked goods a light texture. It is ground superfine and is not nearly as dense as some of the other flours. In conjunction with tapioca starch, this flour is essential in baking.
White rice flour and sorghum flour are the flours that will give the most structure to this cake. You don’t ever want to go to heavy on rice flour, though, because it can get gummy or chewy when used in large amounts.
Cocoa powder acts as a flour replacer in this recipe as well as adding flavor. Bonus!
No gluten (or oats) = check
And, well, I just avoided adding peanuts or anything that is manufactured with peanuts, for that matter. Easy peasy on that allergy.
No peanuts = check
Perfect Gluten Free and Allergy Free Chocolate Birthday Cake for a sweet little boy on his very special day = check
Okay, so there may be a temporary sad ending to this story after all this recipe development and baking was said and done.
My neighbor informed me that they just found out her nephew is ALSO allergic to ALMONDS.
There goes the almond milk.
Back to the drawing board…
…although that should be a relatively easy fix…I hope.
What have you done to accommodate for allergy free birthday parties?
- For the Chocolate Cake:
- 3 eggs (substitute 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal + 9 tablespoons water)*
- ½ cup shortening
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup potato starch
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ cup white rice flour
- ⅓ cup sweet sorghum flour
- 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1-2 teaspoons ground coffee granules (optional)
- ½ cup almond milk
- For the Chocolate Frosting:
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4-5 cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ½ cup almond milk
- pinch of salt
- Prepare flaxseed eggs by adding 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal and 9 tablespoons of water to a small bowl. Stir and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes until mixture is slightly gummy.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line mini muffin tins with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream together shortening, applesauce, and sugar on low speed until smooth. Add flaxseed eggs and mix until combined. Add vanilla extract and continue to mix until incorporated.
- In a separate smaller mixing bowl, sift together potato starch, cocoa powder, rice flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, xanthan gum, and coffee granules (if desired).
- Add half of the sifted mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on low until smooth and combined. Slowly add almond milk with mixer on low until smooth. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix on low until smooth. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Fill cupcake liners ⅔ way full and bake pans, one at a time, at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until tops spring back at touch of a finger and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.**
- Remove cupcakes from oven and cool slightly. Carefully and quickly remove cupcakes from pan and continue cooling on cooling rack. Continue with remaining pans until all batter is baked.
- While cupcakes are cooling, begin making frosting. Mix shortening on low speed until smooth and creamy. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and mix on low until combined and smooth. Add vanilla extract, almond milk, and cocoa powder and mix on low speed until smooth. Add pinch of salt and 2-3 more cups of powdered sugar until desired spreading consistency is reached.
- Frost cupcakes once completely cooled and decorate. Serve immediately.
- Cupcakes will stay fresh for 3 days at room temp, 5 days in fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer.
**This should make 24 regular sized cupcakes. Fill ½ to ⅔ way full and bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes. A 9X13 pan would take about 28-30 minutes to bake.