Luke and Chloe’s 3rd Birthday

Chloe and Luke 1 week old

It is amazing how fast the kids grow up. It seems like yesterday that I was holding 2 little 5 pound babies in my arms and now they have just turned 3! Running, talking, and bouncing with personalities all their own. So much more aware of life, what’s going on and getting so big.

Both Luke and Chloe were very excited for their birthday this year. They ‘got’ what was happening and that it was their day. They knew that they would get presents and started asking for things for their birthday. Luke asked for a police car and his own Playmobil set, while Chloe wanted some jewelry and pretty dresses. They had decided what they wanted for birthday cakes before Christmas – Chloe asking for a kitty cat and Luke a train (which turned into Thomas the Tank Engine specifically).

They enjoyed the balloons and the streamers and knew that when everyone came over it was for their birthday and their party. Chloe dressed up in a pretty dress and Luke in a nice shirt and pants. They looked dapper for their big day!

Even though they were twins, when they were born I decided that it was important for them to be treated as individuals, so their own gifts (though sometimes they get joint ones depending on what it is), their own cards, their own cakes. Which in theory sounds like a lovely idea, except when it is 1 in the morning and Mom is still decorating the cakes!

The cakes themselves were not hard to make, I had made one chocolate, one vanilla; as over the last couple of years I found some good recipes that accommodate our no sugar and no dairy needs. Plus I was able to rent a shape pan from Stir Crazy Fun Center here in Calgary to make Thomas (only $5 to rent it and definitely worth it! I had never used a shape pan before and it is the cat’s meow let me tell you 🙂 It was the decorating that took the longest and this was because of the icing I was using. I have tried a couple of white sugar free icing recipes, which I can then color for decorating. I had found a great replacement for icing sugar, but the icing recipe itself I have not had much luck with. The icings I have found, though they taste great are not easy to work with as far as spreading or pumping through icing bags.

Chloe's 3rd Birthday

 

In the past I had made a coconut buttercream frosting but found that after a bit of time it got too hard and was extremely hard to work with. It was difficult to spread right from the beginning and only got worse. So this year I decided to try the Wilton icing recipe which uses shortening, butter, icing sugar and a bit of milk – all of which I had replacements for – but I found this icing also extremely hard to work with. Difficult to spread and very hard to pump through the icing bags. Also after time, it got greasy and hard in the icing bags, no longer mixed together. I found the whole experience very frustrating and though I managed to finish the cakes and they looked great I am sure that with the right icing I could cut my time in half and not be up til 1 in the morning decorating!

Luke's 3rd Birthday

Chloe’s cake, bless her, took me 20-30 minutes to cut out and decorate. This was because it was a simple design and I was able to use my sugar free chocolate icing, which is very easy to spread. Thomas was not so easy and it was not the detail it was the icing!

So I am on the search for a great sugar and dairy free, easy to work with, spreadable white icing recipe that I can color to decorate character cakes. I will keep looking and when I find a good one I will share it! In the meantime I will use what I have and see if I can modify them in some way.

If you know of or have any great sugar and dairy free white icing recipes please share them by commenting below.

The Easiest Birthday Cake Ever!

Darth Vader

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.

Chloe’s 1st Birthday

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.

Matthew’s 5th Birthday

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.

Grass Block from Minecraft

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.

Raggedy Andy on Luke’s 2nd Birthday

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!

 

 

Chocolate Cake

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)

2 eggs

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

Pokemon

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.