Baking for the Allergic Eater

Cooking / Eating In

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?

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Anni
    January 2, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Ooh, that looks gorgeous! He's lucky to have such an awesome aunt to bake him a birthday cake. 🙂 I'm consistently amazed at how do-able egg- and dairy-free baking are. My favorite birthday cake recipe is 100% vegan! I'm still working on the perfect choc. chip cookie recipe, though.

  • Reply
    Sandra
    January 3, 2011 at 1:34 am

    That is one good looking cake…finished or not!:)
    Awesome tips! I don't have anybody with allergies but it is always good to know these important steps!!!

  • Reply
    baking.serendipity
    January 3, 2011 at 2:53 am

    I love the looks of that cake and all your tips 🙂

  • Reply
    Mo
    January 3, 2011 at 2:59 am

    What a lucky nephew. 🙂
    I'm love this post because I have some allergies to fruit, and for my birthday one year my friends made "Mo Fruit Salad" which had all the fruits that didn't give me an allergic reaction. Allergy sufferers thank you!

  • Reply
    San Jose Love
    January 3, 2011 at 4:48 am

    I went to school with a girl who was so allergic to peanuts, just being in a room with an open jar of peanut butter started giving her hives. Eggs and nuts are the worst combo of allergies to have. Your poor nephew…but luckily he has an aunt such as yourself!

  • Reply
    honey my heart
    January 3, 2011 at 6:28 am

    thanks for the tips! there is definitely a lot to keep in mind regarding allergies.

  • Reply
    lobster
    January 3, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    you are a loving aunt to bake such a tasty sounding allergen-free cake for your nephew 🙂

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    January 4, 2011 at 3:31 am

    That cake looks great – love the beautiful pink color from the raspberries. These are some great tips and it's so sweet of you to go the extra mile for your nephew.

  • Reply
    D. Marie
    January 4, 2011 at 5:10 am

    I feel so bad for kids who have allergies and want to eat something but can't. He is so lucky to have an awesome aunt like you. These are great tips for others to follow.

    On Halloween I had a little girl knock on the door and I gave her a tootsie roll and she said, "Oh, I'm allergic to chocolate." AWW!! So sweet…she had to be only 3 years old. <3

  • Reply
    butter
    January 5, 2011 at 1:30 am

    It's true, my baby is one lucky guy to have you as his Yee-Yee! Thanks for posting about this topic! Every person you reach is a friend to the millions of allergic folks out there.

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