Party Time!!

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My son’s 4th birthday party this year was inspired by Thomas Trainsformers…a crazy mash up of Thomas the Tank Engine and Transformers (check out the cartoon on YouTube). I decided to make a cake for the party based on the symbol for Trainsformers. My son and I did some sketches to plan the cake.

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I made the cake two days ahead and decorated the cake the day before the party. I decided for the party to do a mix of Thomas, train, vehicles and robot type things to pad out the theme.

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I used a train-shaped biscuit cutter to make shortbread and chocolate shortbread biscuits, as well as melon trains cut from watermelon and rockmelon. I used lots of primary colours for decorating, as these colours match both the Thomas and Transformers themes. I made a craft area with wooden robots and trains to decorate, colouring in pictures that were both Thomas and Transformers themed, and stickers for decorating.

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Birthday Cake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 440g white rice flour
  • 220g tapioca/arrowroot flour
  • 10 Tbs Cacao powder
  • 440g caster sugar
  • 3 tsp bicarb soda
  • 2 tsp guar gum
  • 580ml rice milk (or other suitable milk)
  • 220g margarine, I used nuttelex (melted)
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Method:

  1. Line and spray oil a deep round spring base tin (I used rice bran oil)
  2. Sift together in a large bowl the flour, cacao, guar gum, and bicarb
  3. Stir in the sugar
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, melted margarine, and vanilla
  5. Gently fold and mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix gently until well combined. If you think the mixture is too dry add more milk or melted margarine until it is a cake batter consistency (I find different milks and flours absorb differently)
  6. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a wooden sewer comes out clean
  7. Cool in the cake tin
  8. I turned the cake upside-down and stored in a cake box until it was time to decorate

Buttercream Icing

Ingredients:

  • 155g margarine
  • 90g icing sugar or icing sugar mixture- sifted. Most icing sugars in Australia are suitable but I have only found ‘Bundaberg Icing Sugar Mixture’ to be top 8 & corn free

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until smooth

Fondant Icing

Ingredients:

  • 4 ½ cups of icing sugar or icing sugar mixture- sifted. Most icing sugars in Australia are suitable but I have only found ‘Bundaberg Icing Sugar Mixture’ to be top 8 & corn free
  • 1 level tsp gelatine
  • 2 Tbs golden syrup or honey
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • Vanilla paste to flavour (if desired)
  • Food dyes to colour (I used Hopper food dyes) http://www.hopperfoods.com.au/Products/NaturalColours.aspx
  • Extra sifted icing sugar to use when kneading

Method:

  1. Sift icing sugar into a medium sized mixing bowl
  2. Dissolve gelatine in the boiling water, add golden syrup and stir
  3. Add wet mixture to the icing sugar
  4. I sifted extra icing sugar onto a plastic chopping board and then kneaded the fondant and added the colourings slowly during the kneading process until the desired colour was achieved.  Because Hopper dyes are natural and chemical free the colours are different to commercial dyes. I did a test run and divided the mixture into four portions and did a test dye to decide what colours I would work with.
  5. Fondant can be stored wrapped in baking paper in zip-lock plastic bags at room temperature (I covered them with icing sugar before wrapping them to store).
  6. When ready to roll and decorate knead again on a mat with icing sugar (to prevent sticking). Use to decorate as you would regular fondant

Putting the cake together

I covered the cake with a layer of buttercream, then froze the cake to get the buttercream to set. I then rolled out the green fondant into a large circle and covered the cake, trimming the edges and smoothing the fondant until I was happy. I made a stencil of the Trainsformers symbol and cut it out of baking paper. I rolled out the blue fondant and cut the stencil shapes out. I kept a master copy of the design so I would know where to place the shapes. I arranged the shapes to make the symbol. To finish the cake I made lots of little balls of fondant and arranged them around the base of the cake, alternating blue and green the whole way around.

I was really pleased that the cake was adored by the birthday boy! Young and old said it was delicious and the mini balls were a big hit with the kids. I sent some home in party bags and we got to enjoy it for a few days after the party as well.

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Salt Dough

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From being very young my children have always loved play dough. But with each subsequent allergy or other diagnosis the ability to let them play with ‘regular’ play dough (even homemade) became impossible. After the Coeliac Disease diagnosis, I used to make my own gluten free play dough, and they loved that. Then came the corn allergy news…all gluten free flours and regular play dough, shop bought or homemade has gluten and corn and maybe even soya in them. So, I tried really hard to make a workable play dough that could be stored and re-used…sadly, without the corn it just never worked or stored well. So, I changed direction and tweaked salt dough recipes and now we have a recipe that we use. It stores well between uses and as a bonus you can bake and keep what you make if desired! Great for making things like medallions to give away at birthday parties, Christmas decorations, or even homemade Mothers or Fathers Day gifts. My children’s daycare make this throughout the centre so all children, no matter what sensitivities they have, can use dough together. When they first made the change I talked them through cross-contamination of old cutters and rollers and even the bowl for mixing it in. They’ve been very willing to ensure everything was put through a dishwasher and cleaned thoroughly, and threw out any wooden rollers and replaced with plastic (the porousness of wooden rollers and chopping boards can retain allergens even after thorough cleaning). I hope this recipe brings you and your children the creative freedom it gave our family.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca/arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp guar gum

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and stir well. Add additional rice flour until a non-sticky dough consistency is reached. I flour the surface the dough is  being used on with rice flour also. You could add food dye to the water before combining all the ingredients; Hopper food dyes are great for food allergy sufferers.
  2. If desired bake on a tray lined with baking paper for 1-3 hours at 150 degrees Celsius (baking time depends on thickness and size of the project you are baking). Bake until hard.
  3. Cool on a wire rack. They can be painted if desired.

If you give this recipe a try please let me know how it turns out. I’m happy to troubleshoot or discuss how you could substitute these ingredients if some of the ones I’ve used aren’t suitable for your family’s sensitivities. I can be contacted through this blog or via email: freefromfamily@gmail.com