I love making cakes.
Actually, to be more accurate, I love creating decorated cakes for my children’s birthdays, but I’ve never been keen, or really that good, at the baking part. Even when I was allowed to bake “normal” cakes, I could never get them to rise.
When I had to adapt to wheat and dairy-free cakes to allow for G’s allergies, I managed, but still failed to get the things to rise. Over the years, my cakes have more resembled flat pancakes than respectable sponges. I have been known to suffer “sponge-envy” when seeing the beautifully rounded Victoria sponges made by friends and colleagues.
Ironically, cupcakes have never been a problem. Whilst my sponge mixes have never made the perfect sponge, they have always made beautiful cupcakes and one year I even resorted to a cupcake tower for G’s birthday cake as something I could be proud to present to the world.
Then came along the ultimate challenge. Not only did my cakes need to be wheat- and dairy-free, but I also had to remove the soya and the eggs. I’ve tried out very many recipes* for cakes in the last 2 years and have met with varying success. I’ve attempted baking with baking powder, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda, oil and water and even a mix of cider vinegar, oil, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda…and still those cakes won’t rise.
I’ve tried Doves Farm Gluten free self-raising flour, which is a blend of rice, potato, tapioca, maize and buckwheat flours and comes with helpful recipes on the side of the packet and met reasonable success. I’ve tested Innovative Solutions pure brown rice flour, which works okay, but can taste a little granular as a sponge. Guess what? Still my cakes won’t rise.
This year, for M’s 7th birthday, I came to my final conclusion. If my cakes won’t rise naturally, then I will just have to create the height I crave by stacking layers. The end result more than exceeded my expectations and what’s more, I had a lot of fun by creating a rainbow inside to wow the group of 6 and 7 year-olds who got to eat it.
I will continue my search for the perfect M-friendly sponge cake recipe that not only tastes good, but would convince even the harshest critics that cakes can be made to meet any dietary requirements. I will continue to create masterpieces that look pretty good, even if they don’t quite make the taste grade. And I promise this: that if I find that right combination of ingredients and technique in my quest, I won’t hesitate to communicate it, especially if I finally manage to achieve that elusive thing – a sponge cake that rises!
*all cake recipes attempted are included on my Everything free Recipes page