Monday, 20 September 2010

Cake Balls for E (egg free, dairy free, gluten free)

The more you ignore a ticking biological clock, the louder it gets. Six years ago mine went something like this.

TICK! I want another baby.

TOCK! Ridiculous! No-one has four.

TICK! But I really want one.

TOCK! How would you fit it in the car?

TICK! babybabybabybabybaby

TOCK! Ugh! You’d have to drive a people carrier...

In the end I bored myself shitless. It got to the point where either we had to do it, or I had to shut up about it.

A year later, my fourth child – my third girl – was born.

With four children, maternal guilt goes into overdrive. I didn’t have to wonder whether I had enough time for her, it was clear that I didn’t.

But I made some interesting discoveries.

Like, it is possible to make breakfast for three young children and breastfeed a fourth at the same time.

Or, by parking a baby on the knees of her TV-watching siblings and telling them not to move, you can get an awful lot done.

And, if your 4 year old goes to nursery with no knickers and is word perfect to Nickelback, (“Everybody’s got a drug dealer on speed dial...”) it really isn’t the end of the world.

You won’t find that in a parenting manual, will you? Consider it a Pig in the Kitchen exclusive.

But here’s the thing; my youngest girl has not suffered. She is the most chilled, independent, confident child I own. From day one she has been cherished, loved, adored and had plenty of ‘me time’ (some might call it benign neglect). No wonder she’s happy.

But it hasn’t all been smiles. Chest infections, eczema and ‘failing to thrive’ were hallmarks of her early months. When her allergies to eggs, cow’s milk, nuts, mustard and about a million pollens were diagnosed, I wasn’t really surprised. It’s often the parents that work it out long before the doctors will agree, don’t you find?

She’s been on a strict exclusion diet ever since.

We moved to France four years ago and the specialists told me that if her allergies hadn’t improved by the time she was three that was it; they were ‘set’. I ignored them because an English specialist told me that she would almost certainly grow out of them by the time she was five.

By the time you read this, my girlie will be five years old. She’s still on an exclusion diet, still having horrible reactions to milk and eggs if she ingests them by mistake and, well, still allergic.

But it’s not the end of the world, is it? We’ve never let her be defined by her allergies; they are just a small part of who she is. Life drops plenty of crap on us and the trick is working out which crap is serious and which crap is just inconvenient.

For my girl’s first birthday, I had no idea how I would bake her a cake. Four years on, she has choice.

She thought long and hard about the cake she wanted. In the end she opted for these –omigod-those-are-good - cake bites rather than one large cake.

Once I’d made them, she changed her mind and wanted a giant-sized cupcake with yellow butter cream icing and pretty sprinkles. Being a soft touch, I obliged. Well, when you have allergies, you can never have enough cake, right?

Sweet E - with your infectious giggle and your ability to light up a room - these bad boys are for you. Without you, this blog and those cake bites wouldn’t exist.

Happy egg free, dairy free, nut free (and gluten free because, why not?) birthday!

You are fab x

Cake Bites (makes about 40)

You remember those Cosmo blog awards in the summer when I asked you to vote for me? Well, thanks if you did, but I didn’t win. Not even a snifter at the shortlist. However, every cloud and all that, because Bakerella did make it onto the shortlist.

I stared jealously at her perfect creations, her perfect recipe book and all sorts of other things more perfect than mine.  Seriously, the women takes amazing photos and makes beautiful, beautiful cakes and she writes well and she...*Pig reaches for Stanley knife to apply to veins...*

 Then I gave myself a little beating with a mini whisk and thought, ‘You know what? I reckon I can make those to suit my allergic lovelies.’ And so I did. But without the - er - finesse of Bakerella.  I think that makes me more, um, approachable.  It means I don't overwhelm you with my brilliance and you secretly think 'yeh well, I can make them look better than Pig's...' (it's ok, I don't mind).

 Enjoy dahlings!

All versions will need:

130g dairy free spread/margarine

120g sugar

110g golden syrup or honey

60g GF, DF cocoa powder

150 ml rice milk / dairy milk (for GF versions, remember liquid measurements are approximate. Always add liquid gradually, using less or more as you see fit)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

GF version:

50g cornflour

100g brown rice flour

25g chickpea / gram flour
¾ tsp xanthan gum

1½ tsp GF baking powder

Egg version / Egg free version

1 egg OR:

1 heaped tsp of Orgran no egg Egg Replacer

1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds

⅛ tsp xanthan gum (that’s half a ¼ if you’re as thick as me...)

2 tbsps vegetable oil

4 tbsps rice milk/dairy milk/

To make these with wheat flour:

Use 175g wholemeal, self-raising flour

To bind the cake balls:

3-4 tbsps gluten free apple sauce (a GF apple sauce for weaning babies would do)

(If you can’t find a jar of apple sauce, use 2 eating apples, 2-3 tbsps sugar, squeeze of lemon juice. Peel, core, chop apples and put them in a saucepan, add sugar, lemon juice and a tbsp of water. Cover and simmer until apple is cooked. Blend with a hand blender, add a tsp of cornflour to bind it all together, blend again to remove any lumps)

To coat:

150-200g dark DF chocolate or couverture (but couverture is the best)

GF pretty decorations, like Carnival Sprinkelz, or yay! The Jelly Bean Factory gourmet beans, gelatine, gluten & nut free. Love it, love it!
About 12 Bamboo skewers/metal skewers for applying the chocolate (you’ll see)

  • For egg free versions: mix the Orgran no egg powder, ground linseeds, xanthan gum, oil and rice milk together using a mini whisk. Set aside

  • Grease and line two 20cm sandwich tins with baking parchment

  • Pre-heat oven to 170˚celsius

  • Put the fat and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat together (use your boysenberry KitchenAid if you have one)

  • Add either the egg or the egg replacing mixture and beat again

  • Add the flour (GF or wheat), baking powder, xanthan gum (GF versions) and cocoa powder to the bowl and beat until incorporated

  • Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the warmed 150ml of rice milk/dairy milk and gradually stir in to the mixture. For GF versions you may need to add more milk to get a soft, dropping consistency

  • Divide the mixture evenly between the two cake tins and bake for about 20-25 minutes until risen and springy. Remove and leave to cool completely

  • When the cakes are cool, crumble them into a large mixing bowl. Add the apple sauce and combine until you are able to squidge the mixture into balls, you may need more apple sauce

  • Lovingly roll little balls of cake in your hands and set them onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Repeat until all the mixture is used up. Place the baking tray in the fridge for up to four hours, or at least 30 minutes (or you could whack them in the freezer to speed things along)

  • When you are ready to coat your cake bites, place them in the freezer on the baking tray (for 20 minutes maximum). Then melt the chocolate or couverture over a very low heat in a bain marie. When it has just melted, turn off the heat

  • Skewer one of the cake balls and holding it over the bain marie, use a spoon to drop the chocolate onto the ball. Rotate the ball until covered in chocolate. Keep rotating to allow excess chocolate to drip off. Then place the skewer into a jug/tall thing so that the cake bite is upright. If you have some oasis for flower arranging, put them in that, it works a treat. Put baking parchment over the work surface to catch any dripping chocolate. Decorate with pretty things if you wish

  • Continue coating the cake bites. When you run out of skewers, use a fork to gently remove the first cake bite you covered and place it onto baking parchment to dry fully. Repeat until all the cake balls are coated and drying on the baking parchment. I do hope that makes sense. They can be chilled in the fridge to finish them off

  • These can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for ages, at least a week. But really, why wait a week? These babies are good, get them down you!

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved


Expat mum said...

Lovely post and lovely photos. You won't mind if I don't attempt the recipe. I am SO crap at baking that even a recipe with slightly different ingredients makes me want to lie down.

Iota said...

I did vote for you, actually.

I think you're onto something with the benign neglect. Trouble is, as parents, that would mean that we had to acknowledge that our role is not all-sufficient, all-singing, all-dancing. Heck, we'd lose control. This is dangerous subversive stuff, Pig.

We might even have to admit that sometimes we get in the way of our own child's development. We could stop beating ourselves up for not spending enough time doing all that stuff you're meant to do. Less guilt. Pig, this is really dodgy territory you're in...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Thanks Expat Mum. You are completely forgiven for not trying this recipe, it is very yumptious, but fairly time consuming. And if you're not familiar with the weirdo ingredients, well, you are exonerated! Thanks for visiting.

Iota, merci for the vote. When I saw Bakerella's site I did have to laugh in a slightly hollow manner; what was I thinking trying to compete??!

I did wonder who would spot my underground, anti-parenting methods. I'm the advocate of the school of useless parenting.

Take teatime for example, I'm supposed to be making polite chit chat with my kids, but the combination of chewing with mouths open, shouting, interrupting and scowling made me want to cry.

So i've turned to my laptop and miraculously there is no more squabbling, the older kids are serving the younger kids dessert and really, I am superfluous to requirements.

Oh, hold on, I have to grill another sausage for one of them.


Thought I'd clocked off for the evening...

Feel free to join me in the slack parenting department!

Pig x

Mimi said...

I'll certainly join you, I agree with Iota that we can get in the way of our childrens' development, so the best way to avoid that is to stay out of the way.
This recipe looks great, Pig, I've given myself a (new) challenge of trying to make a little cake every Friday, ready for when they get in from school. This usually involves making two, a vegan and a non-vegan version, but with Pig's help, I might even have time for a cuppa too before they arrive.
Good to see you back, and I did vote for you too, a couple of times, so sorry you didn't win.
Any news on the book? can I put it on my Christmas list?

Alayssa said...

I recently saw your post and it really struck me.. wonderful and such informative post.. I just wish I am as good as you when it comes to baking.. I might try the recipe for myself if I have time.. I am pretty sure you'll forgive me if I can't perfect the recipe with the first try, right? lolz..

thanks again.. and pretty sure I'll visit your post every time I got time.. :)

Elsie Button said...

what a lovely lovely post,and happy birthday to E - hope she enjoyed all her cakes! x

Marianne said...

Give it time PITK, my boys were pretty much clear of their allergies by the time they were 7, but it's brilliant how you have reacted to the challenge - your wonderful blog and hopefully a book.

fordfocusmom said...

Hello again, Pig! I keep your blog in my 'bookmarks' and love the writing and the upbeat attitude to allergies. My son has (just) a nut allergy and that is bad enough. I run around trying to make sure he doesn't feel he's missing out too much. Consequently, he has developed a very sweet tooth but, hey, that's just 'inconvenient crap', isn't it?

As the eldest of four, I'd say being the youngest has a lot going for it ...