As far back as I can remember, birthdays meant getting a special cake, often one baked by my mom.
Over the years, my taste in cake has changed. For a couple of years, I wanted Friendly's orange sherbet ice cream cakes. Then there was the year I asked my mom to make a rusk pie, a challenging endeavor because you can no longer buy rusks at the store and have to make them from scratch. My first year in New York, I realized that my new friends would have no clue how much a birthday cake meant to me, so I went out and bought my own cake. Word to the wise? Never buy yourself a birthday cake. It just doesn't taste special when you buy your own!
On the other hand, baking your own cake can be wonderful. Last year, I made this cake from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen. I had to fight my little cousins to frost it!
Of course, it's not really the cake that matters so much. It's the idea of cake and what it represents for me. I have so many wonderful memories of being with my family on my birthday, but now that we're scattered, with my sisters in California and my parents in Massachusetts, birthdays take on a different tone. It never feels quite right without my mom singing happy birthday and making sure she gets a "blowing out the candles" shot. Perhaps this is why it's always been so important to me that no matter where I am or who I'm with on my birthday, I have a cake.
Maybe I can't take my mom with me everywhere I go, but at least I can have a pretty cake to remind me of all the birthday cakes she's made me.
Now, my birthday is not until June. But once I realized there was no way anyone else was going to be able to make me a cake for my birthday (unless you know someone who can make a gluten-free, peanut and tree nut-free, egg-free, sugar-free, chocolate-free cake), I decided I was going to have to come up with the perfect cake. Something that tastes like birthday cake. Not a "I guess it's good for a gluten and sugar free" cake, but a "savor every bite and go back for seconds" cake. So how does this benefit you? Not only do you get the final cake recipe once I come up with it, but you also get the recipes for all the cakes along the way that are tasty, but not birthday cake material.
Case in point? This orange zest cake. This was my first attempt, and while it was more dense than I had hoped, the flavor was delicious, especially with a dollop of coconut cream. The only problem was that this was also my first go at eating eggs in months, and my body did not appreciate it. Within minutes, I had a headache the likes of which I hadn't experienced in a long time, and while my housemates thought it was cute when they found me napping on the couch in the living room, it was really just my attempt to escape feeling so uncomfortable. Now here's the proof that this cake was really good. I ate not one, but two more slices today. Even knowing how bad it was going to make me feel, I did it anyway. When my housemates all raved too, I knew I had to post the recipe.
Now the challenge will be to replicate this cake without eggs and somehow make it fluffier. Can it be done? Well, according to Debi, who's got her own raw cake challenge going on, I'll find a way. I've already got two egg-free versions I want to attempt, one involving chocolate (which I know I'm not supposed to have), and the other a stronger orange flavor. I'll keep you posted, and any good recipes that come out of it will definitely be yours to enjoy. I wonder how many cakes I can make between now and June?
Orange Zest Cake (Adapted from this recipe)
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup sorghum flour
- 2/3 cup tapioca starch
- 1/3 cup potato starch
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. xanthan gum
- 8 Tbsp. Spectrum Organic Palm Shortening
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
- 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp. liquid stevia
- zest of 1 mandarin orange
- Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees. Grease an 8 in round cake pan.
- Whisk together dry ingredients. Cut in shortening with a fork.
- In a small bowl, beat egg whites and mandarin zest until stiff white peaks form
- In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks, soy milk, apple sauce, vanilla extract and stevia on low speed for one minute.
- Beat egg yolk mix into the dry mix. Fold in egg whites with a spatula until well combined.
- Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow to cool, and frost as desired (coconut cream with vanilla stevia makes a perfect frosting for this cake).