A couple of years ago my daughter and her husband began to wonder if they would ever have a family. In their late 30s, they decided to stop buying tickets for the IVF rollercoaster. They braced themselves for the adoption process. When they were approved as adopters last spring, they asked for a sibling group. They were cautioned that it could take up to two years to find the right children. Miracle of miracles they were matched just a week later.
For my son-in-law’s 40th birthday last week I baked a gluten free cake (he’s coeliac). My new little grandchildren came over to our house. I let them spread on the icing, and they decorated the cake with jelly beans. And on the big day, they helped Daddy blow out the candles.
Vanilla birthday cake with chocolate icing
Adapted from Flavor Flours by Alice Medrich
400g white rice flour
50 oat flour
360g caster sugar
225g unsalted butter, very soft
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp xanthan gum
250ml plain full fat yoghurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF.
Butter two 20cm/8 inch tins and line the bottoms with baking parchment.
Combine the rice and oat flours, sugar, butter and salt until the mixture is the texture of brown sugar, about a minute. Add the baking power, baking soda, xanthan gum, yoghurt, eggs and vanilla. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes until the batter is smooth and fluffy. Spoon into the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean and dry. Set the pans on a rack to cool completely.
Notes: The original recipe calls for 9 inch tins. I wanted the cake to come out a bit taller so used 8 inch tins, that worked fine. It’s a delicate cake, so be careful not to overbake. Best eaten the day it is made.
French silk icing
From Smitten Kitchen
55g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
180g icing sugar
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
pinch of salt
1 tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla
Beat the butter, icing sugar and salt in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Pour in the chocolate, milk and vanilla, beat until combined, then one more minute to whip it further. Scoop the icing onto the cooled chocolate cake and swirl it around.