When I was growing up my Mom would always make a shape cake for our birthday. My sisters and I loved it. We would pick the character we wanted and my Mom would turn it into a cake. We had everything from Strawberry Shortcake and Cinderella to Robin Hood and Darth Vader. It was amazing!
She would get my Dad to draw the picture for her to the size of the cake she wanted and then she would create the cake. We loved them so much that at 16 she had to ‘cut us off’; because even though they are super fun and look great when completed, they are a lot of work. My Mum was done.
But my sisters and I decided that we still wanted a shape cake for our birthdays, so we agreed to make each others (because we believe it is just wrong for you to have to make your own birthday cake).
This enthusiasm for shape cakes carried over when I had my kids and though my mother warned me not to start making shape cakes when they were small, I did anyway. Matthew’s first cake was a duck and Luke and Chloe’s teddy bears.
I’ve done everything from Spiderman and Pokemon to Raggedy Ann and Andy. I usually do the same thing my Mom did, let the kids choose what they want and then draw the pattern and make the cake. But sometimes I luck out and find a book with a pattern in it, or can get a pre-shaped cake pan – this makes it a lot easier. I enjoy making the cakes. I am so proud of myself when it is done and receive many compliments on my finished product. Even with our change to a sugar and dairy free household I am still able to do this for the kids.
This month Matthew celebrated his 9th birthday and he asked for a Grass Block cake, from the game Minecraft that he plays on the computer. This had to be the easiest cake I have ever made. I literally baked a chocolate square cake and put green icing on top. In fact, I was finishing the cake 20 minutes before his birthday party was about to start. And he was totally happy with it. Though I love doing the shape cakes for the kids, it was really nice to have something simple this year.
The cake was a hit! Yummy, moist and delicious. We had it with ice cream of course; we now buy Rice Dream for our ice cream, or make it ourselves in the ice cream maker (these are great dairy and sugar free alternatives for our ice cream fetishes).
Who says you have to feel denied all the things you are used to eating by eliminating sugar and dairy? And the kids who attended, they had no idea that it was sugar free, it was cake, it tasted good, so they ate it.
It really is easy to get around having sugar and/ or dairy and still enjoy all the ‘treats’ that we our used to in our lives. Here is the recipe for the chocolate cake and the icing that I used. Though I did use green food coloring to color the icing (and they say that food coloring for kids is not good really either – that’s a whole other post 🙂 There is a brand of food coloring out there now that is made from the pigment of fruits and vegetables, so if you are looking for an alternative you can purchase it at a health food store. I have seen it here in Calgary at Community Natural Foods and Planet Organic. Whatever you choose, enjoy the cake recipe and icing too!
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ c. agave nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ c. rice milk
½ c. Earth Balance, melted (vegan spread)
Preheat oven to 350 deg F (Gas mark 4 or 180 deg C). Grease a 9 inch (23 cm) cake tin. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, agave nectar and vanilla essence in a bowl. Melt Earth Balance at low heat and add to the dry ingredients. Also add milk and eggs. Mix everything together until smooth, either by hand or by using an electric mixer at slow speed.
Transfer to bake tin and bake at 350 degrees until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, approximately 35 to 45 minutes.
*recipe can easily be doubled to make a 9×13 cake or divided evenly into cupcake tins to make chocolate cupcakes
Coconut Buttercream Frosting
In a mixing bowl add:
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp coconut butter (Note: Coconut butter is NOT the same thing as coconut oil).
3/4 cup coconut cream**
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp honey
1.5 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp coconut flour, sifted
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
Optional: You can substitute Earth Balance soy-free Buttery Spread for some or all of the coconut cream. Add extra sifted coconut flour to thicken if necessary. Likewise, add extra coconut cream or Earth Balance to soften if necessary.
Mix with handheld mixer. You can easily add a drop of food coloring to this icing if you wish to create colored icing.
Makes enough icing for 12 cupcakes.