Thursday, May 7, 2009

Solving a Food Allergy Dilemma

When my youngest son was six months old, we found out he suffered from multiple food allergies. This would explain his extreme case of cradle cap, which developed into horrible eczema. When we started giving him milk-based formula, it got much worse. When we finally had him tested, he showed a strong sensitivity to dairy products. He is also allergic to eggs, nuts, and peanuts; as well as very mild allergies to shellfish and soy. Which means it's OK for him to eat crabs in the summer, as long as it's not too many; and since just about everything you buy in the grocery store contains soy, that's not a problem either. (We just don't give him straight soy milk to drink, for example; or at least very rarely.)

Over the years I've learned to prepare foods for the family that he can eat, and when I do cook something with eggs or anything else he's allergic to, I make sure there's an alternative for him to eat. (Now that I'm getting fresh local organic eggs from the farmer's market again, we have omelets for dinner at least every other week.) So when we were making plans for his first communion party last weekend, I decided to make a cake that everyone would enjoy, and that he could also eat.

I happened to find this recipe online a few years ago when I was planning a birthday party for him. Everyone raved and said it was delicious! It's very hard to find a milk- and egg-free cake that actually tastes good, but thanks to, this is no longer a problem. I usually double or triple the recipe, and the cake is easy to work with if you want to cut it into shapes, because it isn't crumbly.

Milk-Free, Egg-Free Cake with Vanilla Frosting
4 Tbsp. Margarine
1/3 c. sugar
1 cup soy milk (I use Better Than Milk soy powder and water)
1 tsp. vanilla*
1 very ripe banana, mashed*
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (fully preheated before baking). Cream margarine and sugar. Add soy milk, vanilla, and banana.*

In a separate large mixing bowl mix together all the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients--mix quickly, but thoroughly. Spread evenly into greased and floured 8 x 8 baking pan or cupcake pan (with liners). Bake in 400 degree oven for approx. 25 minutes (turn pan around halfway through baking). Cool, frost, eat, or freeze. This recipe freezes very well.

*The recipe calls for 1 tsp vanilla OR 1 ripe banana OR 1/2 c. carrot and 1/2 c. zucchini, finely shredded. I've always used vanilla AND banana.

Vanilla icing

1 lb. confectioner's sugar
1/2 lbs. margarine
1 tsp. vanilla, or less to taste
2-3 T. soy milk (a bit more if needed)

Cream margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla. Add just enough soymilk to make spread-able. Spread on COOLED cake/cupcakes.

I've made the frosting before, but this time around I just bought some. It's pretty easy to find pre-made icing without any milk.

Here's how it turned out! (As you can see, I will never make a career out of my cake decorating skills, but it's fun anyhow.)

I saw this cake on EWTN, believe it or not. I tripled the recipe, put the batter into three rectangular loaf pans, and placed two of them end to end. I cut the third one in half, and placed the two pieces on either side to make the cross.

I used the same recipe for a birthday cake when we had a Pokemon theme:

This one is a no-brainer; just double the recipe and make it in two round cake pans. (Come to think of it, I think I might have used the homemade frosting for this cake. Much better than store-bought.)

I also have made a wizard hat for a Harry Potter party by baking the cake in a 9 x 13 pan, and cutting a triangle with the bottom part of the triangle as the short side of the cake. I used the other two pieces to make the bottom part of the hat. It turned out pretty cute; unfortunately I can't seem to find a picture of it.

Speaking of zucchini and carrots, I have a great bread that I adapted from a couple of recipes from my favorite Southern Living cookbook; Allergy Boy loves it, and he's the pickiest eater in our family. I haven't made it in a long time; once zucchinis are in season, I'll make it again and post the recipe here. It's delicious.

Happy Baking!


  1. I have a recipe for a yummy chocolate cake that has no eggs or milk. It's super easy to make, and is very moist. I usually just top it with powdered sugar.

  2. Those cakes came out great. You're a lot braver than me in attempting those cakes! congrats!

  3. Hi,

    I saw your post for dairy free, egg free, nut free cake. It sounds delicious and the first communion cake is so pretty! You should give your decorating skills more credit. :-) I thought you might be interested in reading Michele Fellows' story, mom of two children allergic to the same allergens as your children. She also has a great chocolate cake and cookies that tast homemade, all dairy, egg, nut, and peanut free.

    I work with her helping to further awareness and education of food allergies. Best of luck to you!

  4. Thanks for the comments! Aimee, I'll check out that article. Thanks for the link! I also have a chocolate cupcake recipe that I found on the outside of a Hershey's baking cocoa box. No eggs or milk; it's baking soda and white vinegar that makes them rise.

  5. Hello,

    I was wondering if anyone has had issues with their children making their First Communion. My 7 year old son is allergic to dairy, peanuts, tree nuts and beef. He has tremendous anxiety about making his first communion this year, asking me what the host is made out of, if it is made on equipment that processes foods that aren't safe for him. He is worried about drinking the wine after others have drank from the cup, asking me what if they had a peanut butter sandwich or a glass of milk. He worries about if the Priest, Deacon or Eucharist Ministers hands have touched someone or something that is not safe for him. He will not shake peoples hands during the SIgn of Peace. I am looking for anyone who can give me advice, I sooooooo need help! Thanks!

  6. Anonymous,

    Have you talked to your parish priest about your son's allergies? He would probably know or be able to find out where the host is processed. As far as I know, they are only made with wheat flour and water, but as or whether anything else is processed in the same facility, I think that would depend on who your supplier is. I am sure if you talked to the priest about your son's other anxieties also(washing his hands before handling the host, drinking from the cup, etc.) he would be able to address those issues. These aren't things we have ever worried too much about. Hopefully if everyone has fasted for 1 hour before communion like they're supposed to, there wouldn't be a problem with people eating peanut butter or whatever before drinking from the cup! :D Good luck and God bless you!



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