Friday, September 14, 2012

Diving into unfamiliar territory

10 rubber ducks overboard! 10 rubber ducks overboard! I love that Eric Carle book!  In fact, I think I love all Eric Carle books! Well, I haven't exactly read all of them yet, but so far I love all the ones I've read. Right now we've been reading "Pancakes, Pancakes!" a lot because my daughter, Izzie, loves it. By the way, for those of you who are not parents or unfamiliar with Eric Carle, he's a children's book author (if you haven't figured it out already). Famous for a lot of children's book including "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?", just to name a few.  An Eric Carle book is very distinguishable by its artwork/illustrations. Pick one up and you'll see what I'm talking about. If you'd like to learn more about Eric Carle, visit this blog:
They have videos of some books in there (Izzie loves them!) and also a link to Eric Carle's blog and website.  Just thought I'd share it :)

So I made a cake for a friend of mine whose son turned one yesterday.  The design is based on the book pictured above.  This was a very special cake.  Aside from the fact that the design is based on one of my favorite kids' book, I dove into a very unfamiliar territory making this.  This cake was gluten-free, lactose-free, and soy-free. 
I didn't really get to take a lot of pictures because I ran out of memory! I wish I could have taken a more detailed picture(and better ones!) so you can see that I attempted to copy Eric Carle's "painting" technique. 
You might be able to see a little bit of "streaks" on the ducks,  kind of like the illustrations in the book
The ship and the boxes going overboard.  One thing I like about creating a design based on a children's book is that I can get by with things! didn't have to be perfect because the pictures are "cartoonish".
So going back to the gluten-free, lactose-free, and soy-free topic, this was a very scary thing to make. My first thoughts were  "how in the world could I make a cake without all these things?" and "I sure do hope I don't kill anybody!".  I had to make a test run first to see if I could make it without making it taste like its cardboard!  I've never used "special" ingredients before and I didn't know how it would turn out.  After a trip to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, I was able to find the ingredients that would work.  The tedius part was to read every single ingredient in the list, making sure there is no gluten, no soy, and no milk product.  I never knew there was a gluten-free all purpose flour! And there are so many substitute for cow's milk and butter! Meet my new friends: coconut cream, coconut butter, and almond milk :) I was very glad I could use eggs because I wouldn't know what substitute for that!
The interesting and surprising thing about this cake is that it actually turned out well. I tend to frown when I start seeing foods with"gluten-free" or whatever "-free" labels on it.  It baked as well as the "regular" cake and it was moist too.  It tasted pretty close to what a "regular" cake tastes like.  My friend and her son liked it.  And so did my husband and he even said that he wouldn't have known it was "gluten-free" if I didn't tell him.  They're either all just being nice or actually honest about it, but hey, as long as I didn't kill anybody!

The cake baked really well.  To be honest, I think it bakes better than "regular" cake! By that I meant, it browned evenly, it didn't sink-it rose pretty well,  and came off the pan perfectly and it was pretty moist.  I was very surprised!
So after the cake was baked, the next problem I had was frosting.  How do I make it without using milk?  Well thank goodness for 7 minute frosting!! And I like said previously, I am so glad I could use eggs!! Seven minute frosting only requires eggs, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla! But the thing I had to be careful about this is that the eggs were not completely cooked so I made sure I had to use pasteurized eggs so it's safer even when eaten raw.  I love this frosting!
The cake was only 6" diameter so I cut them in half to make more layers and to add a little more height.


My original design was to do the "ombre" effect and leave it as is.  But then it looked so plain so I decided to do the 10 Little rubber ducks theme.  This is where I started to panic again because I didn't know what to use for decorations at first.  I was gonna make modeling chocolate but then the white chocolate had milk product in it so I couldn't use that.  Then I thought, oh I can use fondant! Before I made it, I had to call my friend to make sure that marshmallows (my fondants are marshmallow based) are ok to use! And it was, whew!

Here are my fondant decorations.  I didn't get to do much since I only had about 5 hours to make this cake! Yes, I was amazed myself! I made this cake from start to finish--all from scratch in 5 hours!! Well, considering it's a small cake too :)
So this was my adventure with a dietary restricted cake! It was hard, it was fun, it was a learning experience.  I give those parents who have kids with food allergies a double thumbs up for all the careful and hard work they do in picking the right foods.  There's so much work and education involved.  I am just so grateful that my kids do not have any food allergy. 

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