A cake in the making!
I recently made a birthday cake for my nephew, who turned the big 2 (Heeeeey!). He is allergic to eggs and all nuts, so I needed to make sure there was no cross-contamination or ingredient snafus. I wanted to make a cake that was yummilicious for children and adults alike, pretty, and one that the birthday boy could enjoy – after all, what’s the point of having a birthday cake that the guest of honor can’t eat?
Here are some things to keep in mind when baking for those with food allergies:
1. Clean, clean, clean!
This sounds obvious, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Before starting any food project, I scrub down the counter top like a madwoman and wear a freshly laundered apron and side-towel . With food allergies, I also run the dishwasher on high heat for my baking utensils and supplies – I don’t think the heat does anything, allergen-wise, but I want everything to be spotless clean.
2. Cross-contamination is a no-no!
Don’t use the same utensils or bowls for different ingredients. For example, my nephew is allergic to raw eggs but can consume eggs in baked goods. I wouldn’t want to use a fork that touched a raw egg to touch another ingredient that won’t be baked. That would be bad news bears.
3. Beware of “hidden” allergens.
An astounding number of food products are manufactured in “a facility that process nuts” or eggs, or wheat, or soy, or any number of other foods that are not related to the product you’re using. Being vigilant about label checking is key. For example, a TON of chocolate items, such as unsweetened cocoa, chocolate chips and bittersweet chocolate are often processed in non-nut-free facilities. Seeking out the completely allergen-free items is a must.
4. Check with the expert.
That is, the person with the food allergy. In the case of my nephew, it was his mom. I have a very basic knowledge of allergies, but with her input my first idea (coconut cake with lemon and raspberry curd and a meringue shell) was transformed into the final product (coconut cake with raspberry buttercream and coconut cream cheese frosting). I wouldn’t have known that the yolks in the curds were a no-no and the meringue wasn’t baked long enough to de-nature the egg proteins. So when in doubt, ask!
Next up – the birthday cake recipe!
Do you or anyone you know have food allergies? Any tips?