Call it the folly of a desperate woman – but I am hoping to pull off a modern-day miracle this week when I attempt to bake the best ever gluten-free car-shaped birthday cake.
It all began a fortnight ago when our birthday party season officially kicked off with a bang. A poolside party with one of our son’s best friends yielded a fabulous feast of lolly pops, marshmallows and hot chips – all things our little guy could eat.
Not only did he have a ball – but we didn’t have our usual heartbreak of him feeling like a party pariah – where he gets to watch all the other kids gobble down things he cannot.
Fortunately in this day and age - most party hosts are sensitive to our predicament and are happy to make a little concession here and there to make our little guy feel like one of the crowd.
We are also lucky in that most hardcore party fare – chips, lollies, chippolatas etc – are largely okay for him to eat – or at least we choose turn a blind eye to the possibilities of small quantities of wheat (I realise many other kids do not have this luxury).
But what happens when you are invited to a birthday bash with people you don’t know so well – and who may not even know that your child has a dietary issue?
I have on occasion watched in dismay as my poor little boy wanders from the fairy bread, to the cupcakes to the twisties, each time asking hopefully if it’s something he can eat. Of course I usually have some of his favourite treats tucked away in my bag but these rarely ease the pain of social exclusion as the other children devour the delicious and colourful things on the table.
While I realise our dietary intolerances are not the responsibility of our hosts – I am starting to dread the arrival of those party invitations. I am worried that if I consult with the host ahead of time to find out what is on the menu so I can produce gluten free equivalents – I risk relegating my boy to the too hard basket and casting myself as a party pooper.
And yet if I say nothing – then everyone feels uncomfortable when it becomes apparent most of the delicious foods they have prepared are out of bounds for my child.
To help walk this tightrope, I am going to try a slightly new strategy.
The first part of this this is to turn up a little after the party has started (so most of the kids have already gorged themselves and moved on to marauding the toys). I will also go armed with a goody bag that hopefully will trump anything on the table (based on personal favourites).
And because I don’t want my little fella to feel like he is sitting off in a corner eating ‘different stuff’ to the rest of the kids – I may even attempt to serve his yummy treats up to him in a way that looks like it came from the party table.
This may work for a couple of years until he twigs that he always gets jelly snakes and marshmallows at all the parties – but by that stage I figure he might be able to rationalise the whole thing a bit better. (More here on parties for older children).
Its not a foolproof approach – there is still the cutting of the birthday cake to survive – but hopefully my scheme will ease the pain a little.
Great big gluten-free car cake
And with his own party coming up – I will finally get to do everything on his terms. And as a result I am going way over the top to create a large blue car-shaped monstrosity of a cake.
I have invested a lot in this venture so if it is a disaster then I doubt my scoffing husband will ever let me live it down. Between the $30 car-shaped Milton cake pan, $59 pot of rollable blue fondant icing and the two gluten free mud cake mixes, I have most likely bitten off way more than I can chew – having never made a novelty cake in my life before.
However in the interests of true investigative journalism – I hereby solemnly p-r-o-m-i-s-e to chronicle my birthday cake experiences here in all their photographic glory – for better or worse!
In the meantime - if anyone has any baking tips for me as I attempt my greatest ever kitchen folly I would be most grateful . . .