Tag Archives: dairy free buttercream icing

Battle of the Birthday cakes

December is always a busy month for our family, what with birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas to celebrate and squeeze in alongside the end of term and all the added demands that that almost always inevitably brings. As well as the last-minute rush to make sure cards have been written (and sent) and that presents have been bought (and wrapped), I also have to make sure I have time to bake the perfect cake to help us celebrate G’s birthday in style.

Over the years I have tried my hand at all sorts of cakes and I love spending the time to let my creative side really come out, though Mike might disagree as some of my more complicated masterpieces have kept us up into the early hours as I strive to get every detail just right. Last year I attempted a gluten- and dairy-free red velvet cake for G, which tasted great, but didn’t look as appealing as I’d have liked and so this year I was determined to create her a special treat that looked and tasted the part. G is a definite chocolate lover, something that can be a little tricky when you’re dairy-free, but there are lots of great dairy-free options available and I was determined to use a mix of them to make G a cake that the whole family, including M, could enjoy.

The obvious starting point was the beautiful chocolate mayonnaise cupcakes that I had perfected for Mike’s birthday and which I knew I could turn into a fantastic 2 layer cake. I wanted to create a really sumptuous filling and to my delight discovered this salted caramel flavoured icing mix as I wandered around our local supermarket. Mixed with our regular dairy-free spread, this made the perfect buttercream filling and topping for G’s cake. I finished it off with handfuls of Freedom mallows, shavings of Moo-free chocolate and sprinkles of Sainsbury’s Free From White chocolate chips. The final cake was a huge success: gooey, delicious and everything my chocolate-lover could have wanted for her 15th birthday.

Once G’s birthday celebrations finally came to an end, I was then on to my next birthday cake project, which was to bake a cake for my Aunt for her birthday on December 23. This year was her first celebrating without my Uncle, who sadly passed away earlier in 2018 and the plan was for a family gathering at my Mum’s house to mark the day. Mum was keen for me to bake some more of the chocolate cake that I had made for G’s birthday, but I wanted to do something a little different, especially with Christmas right around the corner, and instead settled on one of M’s firm favourites, banana bread.

When it came to making the cake, G was a huge help and offered to bake a dozen cupcakes, whilst I decided how to decorate them. She did a great job and by the time I’d found the perfect design and all the necessary ingredients, there were 12 wonderful looking cupcakes waiting and ready to go. I took inspiration from the front cover of a fantastic cupcakes cookery book that I’ve used before and gave a nod to my Welsh heritage with a plateful of sheep cupcakes. Safe buttercream icing, a small supply of Freedom mallows, safe cocoa powder and a little fondant icing was all that was needed to create these fun birthday treats,which were not only enjoyed on the 23rd, but saw G and M through Christmas too.

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A Birthday Treat – Lemon Meringue cupcakes

This time last year, M was admitted into GOSH for scopes and he and I spent Mike’s birthday away from the birthday boy himself, leaving him to celebrate at home with the rest of the family.  There was a point this year when I thought history was about to repeat itself as we’re once again waiting for an admission date for M, who needs further testing to try to sort out the games his body is currently playing.  However, Mike’s birthday came, and went, with no sign of a phone-call from GOSH and I finally had a chance to make a long-awaited attempt at the Lemon Meringue cake I’d been dreaming of making last year. lemonmeringue

Lemon Meringue pie is Mike’s favourite dessert and there was a time, many eons ago, when I’d actually make him one from scratch for his birthday treat.  With the arrival of G and M, the general busyness of work and juggling the school-run alongside business meetings and the general day-to-day running of the household, I don’t think I’ve turned my hand to such a dish for at least a decade.  Add into the mix, the newer challenges of egg-free meringues and MEWS-free pastry and it’s not been the easiest pudding to make.  I attempted a cheesecake version for Fathers’ Day this year, but that didn’t quite go as planned, so I put my thinking cap on to see if I could figure out an alternative format for this popular dessert.

I settled on lemon drizzle cupcakes topped with vanilla butter-cream icing and small meringues.  I’ve made Lemon drizzle cake before, but found that the rice flour made the sponge taste very granular and I was keen to see if I could improve the texture.  I found a lovely recipe for vegan lemon drizzle cake and read around the options for replacing the flour to make the cake both gluten- and potato-flour-free. 20141015_194117 My final recipe included gram flour – an ingredient that’s been lurking in my cupboard for a while, but which I had yet to brave using – rice flour and tapioca flour and the end result was infinitely better than the last time, though some further tweaking to create the perfect lemon drizzle cupcake is needed.

I whipped up a small batch of my vanilla butter-cream icing and used it to secure the mini egg-free meringues to the top of each cupcake.  I was delighted with how these cakes looked and M spent most of the day, and evening, before Mike got home from work, begging to try one to “just check it’s okay for Daddy!”  I am assured by the family that the cupcakes were a huge success and so that’s another recipe added to my ever-increasing repertoire.

 

60 birthday wishes!

My Uncle's amazing cake - and delicious too

My Uncle’s amazing cake – and delicious too

This time last year I discovered the recipe for the best chocolate cake in the world and all in the name of baking an amazing cake for my Uncle’s birthday.  This year I was given the weekend off as my Aunt arranged for an old friend, who is also a fantastic cake decorator, to bake the birthday boy a special cake.  However, I couldn’t let my uncle’s extra-special birthday pass without preparing some sort of treat for the whole family to enjoy together, so I instead decided to revisit an old favourite, egg-free meringues.

My original thought had been to use the meringues plus a great new product I’ve discovered to make a M-friendly Eton Mess dessert.  I read about Soyatoo! Rice Whip on the fantastic Lucy’s Friendly Foods blog and had immediately ordered both the rice and coconut whipping cream to keep at home.  I’m always looking for easy alternatives to use for desserts other than just cakes or biscuits and the rice whip fitted the bill.  A couple of weekends ago, I had whipped it to serve with some home-made apple and blackberry crumble and both children had cleared their bowls – a sure sign of a big culinary success.

However, inspired by the prospect of the new Great British Baker series starting next week, I thought I’d give a nod to macarons instead.  I didn’t venture into completely new territory by attempting to add ground almonds to the mix (that’s for another day), but did colour my meringue mixture before baking and paired them into sandwiches for serving.  I made flavoured buttercream icings to sandwich my meringues together and used M and G as taste-testers for the final product.  I had mixed success.  The yellow and pink meringues turned out beautifully, but the orange ones were an unmitigated disaster and ended up in the bin.  I made lemon and strawberry flavoured icing, filled the meringues and served the “macarons” in a dish. I would love to show you how they looked, but I forgot to take a “before” photo and this is all that’s left for the “after” one!

A single, solitary strawberry macaron left

A single, solitary strawberry macaron left

HAPPY 60th BIRTHDAY UNCLE R!