One of the things that happened when my child was diagnosed with food allergies was I had to learn how to bake birthday cakes. Admittedly, before the diagnosis, I ordered birthday cakes from a bakery and didn’t think twice about it. I wish I still could, but pretty much every commercial bakery is going to have cross-contamination issues with allergens such as milk, eggs and peanuts. It’s much safer to do it myself and feel confident I don’t have to worry.

There are not many cake mixes on the market I’d feel comfortable using, however there is a special brand Cherrybrook Kitchen that makes awesome cake mixes that are egg, milk and peanut free. They come in vanilla and chocolate and can be used to bake cupcakes as well. I always keep at least two boxes of each flavor in my pantry so I’m ready on a moment’s notice.

Of course, there are a number of safe cake recipes – and that’s great for people who keep those ingredients on hand and don’t mind the few extra steps. This cake recipe from Linda Coss looks simple and easy – her cookbooks are great so I’m guessing this is good, too. I’m always surprised when people rave about how much they love the cakes and cupcakes I make. I’m sure part of it is because the mix bakes well and stays really moist. However, nothing… and I mean nothing… beats homemade buttercream icing.

I use the Wilton buttercream icing recipe and substitute safe ingredients (like safe margarine, shortening and rice, soy or coconut milk products). It tastes amazing. I have the basic primary colors of food coloring so I can mix up most colors for a variety of designs.

The first cake I baked and decorated myself was the Spider-Man one at the top of this post. It was a two-layer round cake. I had no idea how to get the cakes out of the pan without them breaking! I was running back and forth to the computer to read instructions every time I had a question. That cake was the most impressive creation I’ve ever made. And I don’t think I could put myself through that much stress again…

When Alex asked for an Iron Man cake for his 5th birthday, I knew there was no way I could try to draw an Iron Man face on his cake myself. So, at the suggestion of friends, I bought an Iron Man toy from the store and stuck it in the cake. He loved it! Sometimes simple is better and far less stressful.
Learning how to make the icing, spread it and then make designs with piping was more time consuming. I bought a small piping kit at a cake decorating store that had various size tips to use. An awesome friend gave me some tips and introduced me to the frosting spatula (I had no idea there was such a thing). I read a few articles online and then practiced on wax paper (so I could scrape it back up and keep using it).

I picked it up rather quickly ~ although I’m not making super fancy cakes, I can write names well (enough) and a second color of icing to the top and bottom of the layers to look like the bakery cakes. I also taught myself how to make fancy cupcakes making the icing swirl upwards. But I rarely have that much time and opt instead to spread the icing flat across the top. The benefit of this option is you can write names or numbers or other designs on them.

The putting-toys-on-cakes idea works well… for this cake Avery wanted to include reindeer animals. I washed them first, of course! 🙂

And this year, when Alex wanted superhero cupcake rings placed a top his cupcakes. Works for me! 🙂

Avery wanted a Skylanders theme for this latest birthday. Rather than drawing actual characters, we agreed that I would outline the designs of two of the elements from the game – water and fire. It turned out fairly well and he was ecstatic!

You can find more of my food allergy posts, tips & recipes on my Food Allergy page. I’d also love to connect with you on my Marketing Mama facebook page and twitter. This post, and all posts on this blog, are written from my experiences as a parent of a child with food allergies. I am not a medical expert and encourage you to consult with a doctor on your personal medical situation.


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7 Responses to “Birthday cakes (and cupcakes) for food allergies”

  1. trishatfox says:

    Dang, woman, you are an artiste. Is there anything you can't do?

  2. Emma says:

    Lovely cakes! I'm finding that it's almost MORE difficult when it's someone else's birthday party! I've started bringing along my daughter's own peanut-free treets or asking the hosts ahead of time about the cake, but I still feel a little awkward about it!

  3. Gina says:

    Thanks for the tips. I've already been worrying about this for my L's bday, which is in March!

  4. Ruby Leigh says:

    I just love this article, your cakes are precious… your passion behind them makes it even better.

    couple thoughts on getting cakes out of pans. 1)use a silicone baking pan – such as this one:
    Wilton Easy Flex Silicone 9 Inch Round Pan
    or 2) cut a round circle of wax paper to place at the bottom, it will peel right off when you are done and the cake will plop easily out of the pan

  5. Allergy Mum says:

    I love the cakes you made. We always make homemade birthday cakes as well for our son with MFA allergies. My Mum always made ours growing up & it always made me feel special that she took the time to make the perfect cake for me.
    Allergy Mum – http://allergymum.blogspot.com/

  6. Anonymous says:

    nice post. thanks.

  7. […] was free of egg, peanuts and milk, like all the birthday cakes in our family, to accommodate those with these food […]



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