Last week I threw a birthday party for my now-5-year-old son. Goldilocks is a gorgeous thing who is on a strict gluten and casein free diet, so as you can imagine, the food took quite a bit of thought and consideration. No wheat, no cream, no butter, no milk. So, I threw out my other imposed restriction – no processed sugar’ and had a free-for all.
The Pièce de résistance was the cake. Goldilocks can eat eggs, and so I wanted to add his all-time favourite and now banned sweet treat, meringue. The name “Crumplestiltskin” was given by my other son, as he helped me attach the crumbled meringue around the cake. I think it’s a little more like an iceberg, but Lion insisted to all the guests that the name was definitely one out of a fairytale – almost. I completely cheated and used store-bought meringues and a gluten free self raising flour mix. But, you know how it goes – when you are baking for a party, any shortcut is taken.
for the cake:
- 5 cups Gluten Free Self Raising Flour Mix
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup vegetable ghee
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 3/4 cups rice milk
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp natural red food dye (or a few drops of the synthetic stuff)
- a few drops of strawberry flavouring (optional)
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder (good quality)
- Beat sugar and ghee until they resemble bread crumbs. Add eggs and vanilla and blend. Add in alternating amounts of dry mixture and rice milk, adding more milk if necessary to create a thick but paste-like mix (different flour and rice milk brands have different densities. If your hand-held beater struggles, add more milk)
- Separate into three equal portions. Place one in tin one as is (in a paper-lined 22cm tin), add red colouring (and strawberry flavour) to the second until it is pink, and to the third add cocoa, then place in two separate tins.
- Bake at 180°C (350F) until tops are lightly toasted and knife inserted comes out clean.
- 500g dairy free margarine
- pinch salt
- 500g icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- soy or rice milk to thin (about 1-2 tbsp)
- 12-14 meringues the diameter of a cup
- Using a hand beater, fluff margarine until pale and smooth. Then add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat. Add icing sugar in small portions, alternating with a dribble of milk when the beater begins to stick. The idea is to make a butter-frosting consistency.
- Apply thickly all over cake (top and sides and in-between layers)
- Arrange whole meringues on the top, then crumple the rest into almond-sized pieces, then crazy-pave all the space. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the rest of the party, and if you find yourself in a dillema like mine, some suggestions:
- A fruit-juice bar – I displayed large portions of watermelon (peeled), orange (peeled), apples, carrots, grapes, mango (peeled) and strawberries with a bucket of ice, and allowed the kids to choose their own cocktail. Much of the fruit was also eaten as it was. My elder son was barman.
- Gluten free chicken nuggets – Dipped in mayonnaise (ensure it is dairy-free), salt and cumin mix, then coated in gluten-free breadcrumbs. Then placed on a lined tray, sprayed with olive oil and baked at 180°C for about 30 minutes.
- Marshmallow and strawberry kebabs arranged in glassware
- Cumin poppadums (lentil flour)
- popcorn (organic, tossed in olive oil, salt and smoked paprika)
- Naturally flavoured corn chips with home-made salsa and tofu cream cheese for dipping.
I had a “painting party”, so the take-home gift was a pinwheel and balloon from the garden, and their own canvas. No candy bags, and nobody seemed to notice…