At the beginning of the year, my baby girl had her first birthday. Like a lot of first time mums, I went a little crazy planning a party for her. However, there were a few things that were really important to me: eco friendly partyware, no excessive decorations, good healthy food and a baby friendly birthday cake. By this age little one had not even tried any sweeties; I did not want her first experience to be a cake laden with sugar and colourings. However, I still really wanted a lovely cake. This obviously presented some dilemmas.
My first issue was to hunt down a tasty cake recipe, that could be turned into a pretty shape, but had no sugar. After hunting through a few recipes I finally found the perfect one; wheat free, sugar free and an option for dairy free. It was even firm enough to turn into an owl. Perfect!
Vanilla and Coconut Cake
195g white spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bi carb
45g desiccated coconut
2tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp natural vanilla extract
185ml maple syrup
125ml coconut milk
1 egg (option to use 60ml rice milk here, but the egg helps if building a themed cake)
80ml melted butter or macadamia oil
- Preheat the oven to 180C Grease the cake tin and line the bottom with baking paper
- Sift flour, baking powder and bicarb into a bowl. Whisk the coconut through
- In a separate bowl, mix the vinegar, vanilla, maple syrup, coconut, egg and butter/oil. Add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined
- Allow to stand for a couple of minutes. Spoon into tin
- Bake for 25-30minutes, or until skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin for 20 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool.
This recipe comes from an amazing book called Wholefood for Children by Jude Blearu. It has beautiful recipes that kids love and all of them healthy. I recommend you buy a copy (and try the fish pie; it’s a huge hit in this house)
To ice the cake I combined butter and maple syrup, and tried to beat some air into it. It did the job and people seemed to like it but I think next time I’d use rapadura sugar or coconut sugar with the butter, or make a cream cheese icing instead.
The hardest part was making some colours. I didn’t want to use any commercial colourings, even natural ones. The natural ones are still extremely strong compounds isolated from odd natural products like beetles. It’s not uncommon for people to still have adverse reactions to these natural colours. I needed two colours, pink and brown, so I had to think outside the box. For the brown I mixed coconut with cocoa powder and shook it really well. For the pink I made a strong cup of hibiscus tea and mixed that through the icing and the coconut. The hibiscus made more of a purple pink, but it looked lovely and did the trick.
I did have to use some licorice straps and a jube for the nose and eyebrows, but the eyes we made out of kiwi fruit. All in all, it looked super cute and tasted great. All the kids that tried it loved it, and most went back for second or thirds! For some reason the adults were more uncertain, but once tasted everyone agreed it was super yum!
So that was it, a healthy cake that looked amazing and tasted great. You can’t get better than that!
I have recently found a brand of natural colours made from real food ingredients. You can get more info on them here http://www.hopperfoods.com.au/Products/NaturalColours.aspx