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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Chocolate Cake

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I like to think of this cake as a Super Cake, not a ‘naughty chocolate cake’. With brown rice flour and cacao powder, it has good protein levels and a rich array anti-oxidants and essential nutrients such as potassium and magnesium. Not to mention smuggling apple into the cake!  This is a very versatile cake, which can be made into a cake size or into cup cakes. I have made lots of birthday cakes for the children with this mixture. I also bake a double batch of this each week, making about 40 small cupcakes and freezing them for snacks and lunchboxes.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium apples (green or red)
  • ¾ cup potato flour
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ cup cacao powder
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 tsp guar gum
  • 4 eggs of ‘no-egg’ egg replacer and rice or coconut milk as the liquid to make up the ‘no-eggs’ (so, for example: for ‘no-egg’ it is 4 heaped tsp of ‘no-egg’ and 8 Tbs of milk of choice)
  • 1 cup sunflower oil (or your oil of choice)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Icing optional (I only ice on special occasions; my children eat these without icing in cupcake size for a lunchbox snack)

  • 1 cup icing sugar mixture or pure icing sugar that is well sifted, or make your own icing sugar in the Thermomix!
  • 1 Tb cacao or cocoa powder (sifted)
  • 2 Tbs apple juice (Nudie – Australia, Innocent – UK, or juice your own apples)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (200 degrees if making cupcakes)
  2. Grease and line cake tin of choice. For cupcakes, either grease tin or line with cupcake papers
  3. Sift all dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Add sugar and egg replacer powder into the dry mixture
  4. Peel, core and grate apples, add to the dry mixture
  5. Add oil, vanilla and milk and stir all ingredients together
  6. Leave to settle and absorb for 10 minutes. I find this settling time helps all the flour properly absorb the flour
  7. Pour into cake tin or spoon into cupcake tray/ papers
  8. Bake cake for 45 minutes. Bake cupcakes for 12 minutes
  9. Test cake and turn out onto a wire rack to cool
  10. The cake or cupcakes freeze well

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This is my box of cakes in the freezer.  I like to keep it well stocked so I can pull extras out if other children come over for a snack or a cake needs to be sent to school for special occasions.

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This is a castle cake that I whipped up quickly on the day of my daughter’s birthday (after a full day out doing fun things). I used a silicone castle cake mould and it was decorated with strawberries and sprinkled with pure icing sugar (fairy magical dust)

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 to your family’s sensitivities.

Good Friday Hot Cross Buns

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Today, we started an exciting tradition in our house – Good Friday Hot Cross Bun making and eating! I’ve always found Hot Cross Buns too scary to try on our restrictive diets, but this year I was brave (while holding my breath that it would all turn out and be delicious). I took inspiration from several recipes, tweaked, re-adjusted and came up with a final working mixture. I have just sat down and had a bun myself with a nice cup of green tea, and it was all I’d hoped it would be to get our annual Good Friday Hot Cross Bun bake session off to a great start. I have written the ingredients list using grams so that either the regular method or Thermomix method can be used.

Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 310 g warm water
  • 1 Tb yeast
  • 1 tsp honey (can use golden syrup, rice syrup or maple syrup)
  • 2 Tb honey (can use golden syrup, rice syrup or maple syrup)
  • 270 g white rice flour
  • 120 g brown rice flour
  • 120 g tapioca/arrowroot flour
  • 1.5 tsp guar gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tb sunflower oil (your choice of oil)

Crosses

  • 1/4 cup white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup water

Glaze

  • 1/4 cup sugar (or honey, maple syrup golden syrup, or rice syrup)
  • 1/4 cup water

Method:

  1. I  pre-heat oven to 150 degrees then turn off (ready for dough to rise in a nice warm place)
  2. Oil a square cake tin
  3. Combine warm water, yeast and 1 tsp honey and let the yeast froth up (set aside about 10min)
  4. Meanwhile, measure the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine together.
  5. Mix the crosses mixture together. I placed this in a zip-lock bag ready to pipe when ready
  6. When yeast has frothed, add the 2 Tbs honey and the sunflower oil into the yeast and water mixture.
  7. Then pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, stir until combined.
  8. Turn out onto a floured mat or chopping board to knead (I use white rice flour to flour the board)
  9. Knead the dough until it has combined nicely, I add extra rice flour to get it to a nice dough consistency.
  10. Roll into balls (I made 9 buns that I laid side by side in the square tin, then pressed down gently)
  11. Pipe a cross on each bun (I cut a small amount of the corner of the zip-lock bag and used it to pipe with)
  12. Place in the pre-warmed oven to rise until the balls have doubled
  13. Bake on 200 degrees for 40 minutes
  14. Make sugar glaze up when there is 10 minutes baking time left. To make glaze, place ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to the boil (while stirring), then reduce to simmer for 5 minutes
  15. Cool on wire rack. Glaze while still hot. Once cooled enough to pull apart into buns, you can glazed the sides of each bun too for extra sweetness!

Thermomix Method:

  1. I  pre-heat oven to 150 degrees then turn off (ready for dough to rise in a nice warm place)
  2. Oil a square cake tin
  3. You can grind your rice into flour or use flour you have already ground. To grind flour place brown and white rice into the bowl for 1 minute on speed 9. Set flour aside.
  4. Place water and the 1 tsp of honey into the bowl. Combine at 37 degrees, speed 1 for 5 minutes to heat the water
  5. Add the yeast, mix on speed 1 for 30 seconds.
  6. Leave 10 minutes for the yeast to proof and froth up
  7. Add the oil and the 2 Tb of honey, then place all dry ingredients into the bowl. Mix on speed 1 for 20 seconds, scrap down and repeat
  8. Knead with closed lid for 2 minutes
  9. Turn out onto a floured mat or chopping board (I use white rice flour to flour the board)
  10. I sprinkled the dough with flour and gave it a quick knead
  11. Roll into balls (I made 9 buns that I laid side by side in the square tin, then pressed down gently)
  12. Pipe a cross on each bun (I cut a small amount of the corner of the zip-lock bag and used it to pipe with)
  13. Place in the pre-warmed oven to rise until the balls have doubled
  14. Bake on 200 degrees for 40 minutes
  15. Make sugar glaze up when there is 10 minutes baking time left. To make glaze, place ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to the boil (while stirring), then reduce to simmer for 5 minutes
  16. Cool on wire rack. Glaze while still hot. Once cooled enough to pull apart into buns, you can glazed the sides of each bun too for extra sweetness!

This recipe is very pure in its ingredients as my children are very sensitive. However, I am hoping to try and make a more adult version of this recipe tomorrow (for us grown ups who are less sensitive). I will be adding a sprinkle of mixed spice and some chopped up mixed dried fruit.

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 to your family’s sensitivities. For example, if your family doesn’t tolerate rice, then other flours could be tried, such as: millet, sorghum or quinoa. If the arrowroot isn’t suitable, another starchy flour is potato.