Guest Blogger Sheila Ray shares how she and her husband’s first child, who has food allergies, prompted Sheila to return to her baking passion—but with a whole new style and allergy free recipes, all recorded on her simply beautiful blog. Thanks for sharing your story—and these delicious recipes!
“I have always loved baking. I pin recipes on Pinterest and actually make them,” says Sheila Ray, who blogs at CupcakeLoveBlog. “I tear out magazine pages and make those recipes, too. I read cookbooks like other people read books. I love the process of baking and seeing and tasting the finished product.”
“But at one point, I stopped. I pulled out my stand mixer less frequently and didn’t buy the good vanilla because there was no need.”
Savannah changed all that.
We found out our daughter Savannah had multiple severe food allergies when she was six months old. She is allergic to milk, eggs and peanuts. I don’t recall any specific feelings at the time. Maybe it was just a matter of fact feeling, “Oh, this sucks.” Or maybe I was relieved that at least we knew what was causing her face to break out in hives. But I do recall thinking “This is what life just handed to me, now deal with it.” So I did.
Change, change and more change
When she was first diagnosed with food allergies, the only thing Savannah was eating was breast milk and formula. I bought yucky-smelling soy formula and spent a week or two trying to get her to eat it. I changed my own diet: I gave up cake, cookies, milk, ice cream, cheese, chocolate, pizza, butter, Reese’s candy and anything else that was a life-threatening allergen so I could safely continue to nurse Savannah until age one.
Deciphering food labels
I learned a lot reading food labels to deal with food allergies. For example, there are several uncommon words out there for common allergens, like “albumin” for eggs or “casein” for milk. Also, “May contain” and “Manufactured on shared equipment” pretty much mean the same thing. I also found out you can contact several manufacturers and get very good information about their allergen-safe practices. And that some manufacturers that you contact may never call you back. I read the labels on Enjoy Life and SunButter products and knew those were two brands that my family could trust.
First allergen-free cake for first birthday
For Savannah’s first birthday, I experimented with my first dairy-free, egg-free cakes. I remember the one I actually gave her on her birthday didn’t taste very good, but she still ate it. After that, I researched high and low for vegan recipes and learned all about eggs and milk and allergen-free baking.
I bought Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book by Kelly Rudnicki and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero and tried out their recipes (many were successful!).
I watched vegan Chef Chloe win on Cupcake Wars on the Food Network, and I searched the internet for her winning recipes. I remember thinking that it was so exciting to see that vegan baking could be so good! It was then that I knew I could bake again with the same passion.
An allergen-free baking blog is born
After a few years of baking experiments, a month of cake decorating classes and many, many tubs of dairy-free margarine, I decided to start my blog, Cupcake Love, and share my allergen-free baking adventures. I’ll continue to try new recipes, and I’ll continue to have my successes and failures. And I’ll share it all with my readers.
A recent screen shot from Sheila Ray’s simply beautiful blog.
Savannah is now five years old. Together, we bake like peanut-free vegans. We’ve learned to bake without gluten for when we entertain guests with a wheat allergy. When Savannah sees me pulling ingredients from the pantry, she immediately asks to put on her apron so she can help. She sneaks dairy-free chocolate chips straight from the bag (I secretly love that!). She has the recipe for vanilla cupcakes memorized (“Don’t forget the baking soda, Mommy!”). And the Sunbutter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins we made for breakfast…well, she ate three of them today!
SunButter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or 2 cups all-purpose flour)
1 1/3 cup dry quick oats
12 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups dairy-free mini chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli or Enjoy Life brand)
½ cup non-dairy yogurt (for a soy-free option, use coconut or rice yogurt)
1 cup canola oil
2 cups natural applesauce or natural cinnamon applesauce
½ cup SunButter (any variety)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 24 muffin cups with baking cups and spray with allergen-free baking spray. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, 6 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and chocolate chips.
In another bowl, mix together yogurt, oil, applesauce, SunButter, vanilla, apple cider vinegar and remaining 6 Tablespoons sugar.
Combine wet and dry ingredients together and stir just until moistened.
Distribute batter evenly among prepared muffin cups, about 3/4 full (I like to use an ice cream scoop for this step).
Bake 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the tops are slightly browned.
Baker’s notes: I came up with this recipe in my quest to find a way to boost the protein and flavor in a breakfast treat. I started with one of our favorite muffin recipes, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins. Adding SunButter worked perfectly! Now I’m inspired to find more recipes where I can simply just add SunButter.
Visit Sheila Ray’s blog for more gorgeous photos and allergen-free baking inspiration.