It was time for a special celebration this weekend. Our first child, our daughter Mika, turned three. We are officially beyond the years of her learning to walk and talk, and now joining her as she becomes her own little person. A little person we can have a conversation with, learn and grow together, discover new things, and much more. Everyday is an adventure, and we are on this awesome adventure with her.
I planned a small party with her close friends (whose parents conveniently happen to be our close friends). To celebrate this milestone with the friends who have shared the last three years with us watching each one of our children grow. Friends who have been there to help when a child is sick, or a new sibling arrives. Someone to talk to about the trials and tribulations of becoming a new parent.
I suppose this celebration was as much about Mika turning three as it was for us as her parents. She is our first child and so we also experienced many ‘first’ in the last three years. However, this will probably be the last year we can include ourselves in what is really Mika’s day. And now she is three she will develop her own friendships quite possibly away from our close circle of friends. In fact, this inevitable.
It was possibly also the last year I could have total control over the food. I wanted a menu that reflects the food we eat while also being ‘child’ friendly. I wanted a cake that had WOW factor that was also nutritious. As I haven’t found a better cake yet I fell back to me all time favourite ‘Celebration Cake’ from my book Feeding Little Tummies (now out of print). It is moist and light, while dairy- and egg-free, low in sugar and boosted with the power of beetroot. (And can be made gluten-free.)
That last line may leave you thinking this cake is TOO healthy, but really this cake is worth making. It delivers all you want from a cake; flavour, sweetness, moistness. It is perfect for little ones birthday parties (and adults) and can be spruced up with icing and decorations to add extra flair and flavour. As I have recently been enjoying experimenting with raw cakes, spreads and desserts, a ‘cashew’ cream icing was the obvious choice for my cake. With my son being dairy intolerant I am often looking for alternative options for an often dairy-filled solution.
With a few drops of beetroot juice from our homegrown beetroot, the pink colour was achieved. And I came across this chocolate butterfly idea some time ago and have been saving it for the perfect occasion. And, well, I couldn’t really think of better time than my daughter’s birthday.
This recipe is for ONE cake, however, I made a double-decker cake by doubling the recipe below and baking in two tins.
1 1/2 cups white flour [GF: use 1 cup brown rice flour + 1/2 cup tapioca]
3 Tbsp cocoa powder (or carob)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp white or cider vinegar
5 Tbsp neutral oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup water
1 banana, mashed
1/3 cup finely grated beetroot
1 cup cashews
2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 tsp virgin coconut oil (optional)
approx. 1 tsp beetroot juice squeezed from finely grated beetroot.
- CAKE: Preheat the oven to 180C and lightly grease a 22cm cake tin.
- Combine the flour, cocoa, sugar and baking soda in a large bowl. Combine the liquids and pour over the dry ingredients, stirring to combine. Fold in the mashed banana and grated beetroot.
- Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a rack.
- ICING: Cover the cashews with water and soak for several hours. Drain well, then put into a food processor with the remaining ingredients. Process to combine. Add a splash of water if needed to make a smooth spreadable paste. (This will take about 1 minute with the machine going.) Use a knife to spread on the two layers of the cake.
*To make the chocolate butterfly I followed the directions from Emma’s cake. Except I melted the chocolate in a double boiler rather than microwave (as we don’t have one) then cooled it a little to thicken then poured it into a piping bag with a 3mm tip (a zip-lock bag with the corner cut off would work too). I drew a stencil of the butterfly parts (two wings and a body) then placed grease-proof paper over top. My lovely man held this in place while I quickly traced the lines with the runny melted chocolate. I then chilled the wings and body until set and once the icing was spread carefully arranged them on the cake. Honestly, I didn’t know if it would work but it did. I was a happy proud Mum. Not only of the cake but of my daughter turning three and being part of her beautiful life.
*Thanks to my lovely friend Michelle for the extra photos of cutting the cake, Mika holding the cake and the one above of my snapping away.
In the garden this week
This is a new section I will include each week, more for myself as a garden diary of what I have been planting, harvesting, pruning etc. It may be a little rambling at times and maybe of absolutely no interest at all if you don’t have a garden so please just scroll on past. If you do have a garden I would love to hear what you are planting/ doing in your garden each week too so please comment.
- Harvesting: green beans, coriander, parsley, beetroot, carrots, spinach, silver beet, pumpkins, squash plus last of tomatoes, zucchini, basil, chillis.
- Planted 6 x fennel and 20 x leek seedlings. Direct sowed coriander seed in top garden beds.
- Brassica’s (broccoli, kale, cavelo nero) are being eaten by caterpillars so sprayed with diluted neem oil (organic preparation) and have been inspecting plants daily to remove and squash caterpillars.
- Tidied up tomato plants, removing most of the plants except 3 plants still ripening. Saved tomato seed from ‘money maker’ and ‘cherry tomatoes’. Watch a short video I made of saving tomato seed. (it is really easy)
- Brought the pumpkins and squash inside now that the temperature has dropped.
- Pruned lime tree.