Months before her first birthday we learned that Hope had severe allergies to nuts, eggs, dairy, wheat and soy. Such allergies eliminate the possibility for a normal birthday cake.
“But every one year-old I know always gets to eat cake on their birthday. It’s tradition!” I whined. So I embarked on a mission to find Hope a birthday cake.
I contacted a gluten-free bakery in Boston and ordered a gluten-free cake.
Then later it occurred to me that the bakery advertised buttercream frosting. Uh oh. (I was still learning to think in terms of what Hope could and could not eat). So I called back.
“Hi. I ordered a gluten free cake for my daughter. But she cannot have buttercream frosting because she has a dairy allergy.”
“O.K. No problem. We’ll use rice milk” The woman’s voice was jovial.
Then suddenly I was on a roll.
“Oh! And she’s extremely allergic to nuts… so can you clean down all of your baking surfaces?
“Um yeah.” Not as jovial.
“And of course I would need you to use organic vanilla and no food coloring in the frosting.”
“Oh! And no soy flour, please – she’s allergic. It must be rice flour.”
“That’s fine.” The woman seemed ready to get off the phone, so we hung up.
Then I remembered. I called back and said,
“I almost forgot! And NO EGGS!”
I think that was the first time someone ever told me that they didn’t want my business.
Finding a cake for Hope became an afternoon obsession. I finally found a baker in New Hampshire who would make Hope a cake. I think the cake cost more than our wedding cake.
On the morning of her birthday, Brandon drove to NH to pick up the cake. (New Hampshire is not that far away, but it sounds romantic to say that we traveled to another state for Hope’s birthday cake). A small gathering of family and friends waited at the house.
When he heroically arrived with Hope’s cake, I proudly announced,
“Here’s Hope’s gluten-free, casein-free, dye-free, nut-free, egg-free, soy-free birthday cake!”
“Otherwise known as sawdust,” muttered the husband.
The cake was served. To say that it tasted awful is an understatement. People’s faces changed colors. Kids spit it out. Hope would not touch it, her senses were thoroughly offended. My father commented that it tasted like a “good kind of sand.” My sister waxed philosophically about the definition of cake. Is a cake with no eggs and flour really a cake?
This year all Hope wants for her birthday is “happy birthday cake.” She recently saw episodes of Sid the Science Kid and Sesame Street in which the topic was birthday cake. (On today’s episode, Elmo literally talks to a birthday cake. Of course.) Her birthday cake is all Hope talks about.
So this year, (her b-day is tomorrow) I’m trying to make her birthday cake myself. What a joke. (Most of the gluten-free cake mixes call for eggs and the egg-free, dairy-free mixes have gluten). It’s pretty hilarious.
I am so not creative.
I have rice flour, sugar and a $9 bottle of gluten-free vanilla. What do I do now?