Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sarah's Birthday Cake - Part I

Not every cake was created the same. These cupcakes I baked contained no eggs, no butter, no milk, no nuts and no chocolate…

They are for Sarah’s friends. Some of these little friends of hers are babies who are allergic to eggs and dairy products and have not been exposed to nuts and chocolate. My friends bought delicious vegan carob cupcakes from a local home baker for their babies’ birthday. But how can I not make my first child’s first birthday cake?! I am a big believer of using REAL butter, REAL cream and good quality chocolate in my baking. Therefore, finding a way to exclude all the wonderful building blocks from a cake recipe is quite difficult for me.

Vegan cupcakes
I had never been this serious. I rolled up my sleeves and started my cake experiment. I found a “moist vegan chocolate cake” recipe online and asked my friend and her 14 months old baby boy, Olivier, to come over to try out the recipe. I made it without chocolate but it didn’t turn out very well. I found it moist but too chewy. Most importantly, neither Sarah or Olivier liked it. Well, well. It was the first attempt.

Contingency plan
Since no one likes those chewy cakes, I have to have a back up plan: make an ordinary cake and apologize to everyone who has food allergies. So, I tried Billy Reece’s Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes. It was a very delicate and fluffy cake. However, I’m not crazy about his frosting. It’s very sugary. But his cupcake is a winner, perfect to be the back up plan.

Allergen Free Cupcakes
Well, well, well, I tried to search for other vegan cupcake recipes online. There are a number of recipes without eggs and dairy but they are all chocolate cakes. Oh, I forgot to mention that one of the guests is sensitive to soy… therefore, substituting milk with soymilk is not preferred.

Then, I gave up with my search. I went to the grocery store to buy egg replacer. I altered Billy Reece’s Vanilla Vanilla Cupcake recipe to make my own version of vegan cupcakes. Even he had stressed that you should always use whole milk in his recipe…When the cupcakes were done, I gave one to Frank to try. He didn’t like it. He said it was bland. (NICE!) But I don’t know what to do anymore, I frosted the cupcakes after they were cooled. Took a few pictures. At least they “looked” delicious.

I saved two cupcakes at home and gave all the rest to one of my guinea pigs. (Yes, Shirley, it was you.) I tried the leftover cupcake the next morning. Surprisingly, the cupcake was quite tasty, it’s soft and moist, not as sugary as it first came out from the oven. The frosting is still too sugary to my liking (It was still Billy Reece’s frosting) but my guinea pig called me and told me that she likes it a lot!

I think it's a winner.

Winnie’s Allergen Free Vanilla Cupcakes
12 cupcakes

1 cup cake and pastry flour
½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup margarine
2 eggs equivalent of egg substitute
½ cup water
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

1 Preheat oven at 350F and line cupcake pan with paper liners. Combine all dry ingredients in an electric stand-up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix well. With medium speed, add margarine and mix for 1 minute. Add egg replacer, water and vanilla extract to the batter, mix until all combined, about 2 minutes.

2 Fill cupcake lines with no more than 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack to cool

3 When the cupcakes are completely cooled, use an offset spatula to frost the cupcakes and decorate as desired. Serve at room temperature.

Winnie’s Allergen Free Vanilla Frosting

½ cup margarine
3½ cups icing sugar. sifted
¼ cup water
½ tsp vanilla

In the bowl of an electric stand-up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream margarine. With mixer on low speed, add icing sugar, water, and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. If necessary, gradually add extra 1/2 cup icing sugar to reach desired consistency.