September always means "allergy" baking

Every year that my oldest son has been in school, he has come home with a note for signing in regards to a food allergy someone in his class has. How snacks with that food are life threatening and therefore we cannot send in snacks or lunches with that particular item. I think every class gets the note about peanuts and nuts. Which is easy enough to do, even if you don't bake. So many companies are using the peanut and nut free labels on their products.

For the second year in a row, though, my child has come home with a note saying that eggs, in their pure form, could also be life threatening to a child. It is very specific, how even eggs in homemade baked goods could be a problem.

Now my son would rather starve than eat an egg, be it scrambled or hard boiled and in a sandwich. (Meringue he will eat, but then that's mostly sugar.) So not putting eggs in his lunch is not a hardship for either of us. (Though sending in a lunch was going to be. Afterall, it is difficult to find even a commercial bread that does not have egg in it). While it was alright to send in a commercially made and packaged snack food, because it does not use eggs in its pure form, we parents were not allowed to send in a cookie that had been homemade if it had involved an egg in the recipe somewhere. One egg in a batch of cookies that made 36 cookies, and this could still be a problem. A bit of egg wash on the crust of a homemade loaf of bread, also a problem.

(Now we are talking about children in grade 3, who eat at their own desks, do not trade lunches or snacks, and are all old enough that they understand the problems with allergies.)

So "allergy" baking, for me at least, is what I would call baking that is safe to send to school. And having looked and tried a bunch of different recipes last year, I knew this was going to be difficult. Rather than pull my hair out in stress, I went to the Daring Baker's and put out a call for help. And help they did! (Thanks Daring Baker friends!)

They came back to me with a couple of vegan sites and cookbook suggestions, and a few recipes for me to try, among them a blueberry bread and a chocolate cake. Neither of which uses any eggs.

Now I wasn't thrilled with the blueberry bread. The flavor was okay, but the texture was weird. The recipe called for baking it for 45-50 minutes, with all the batter in one pan. I divided mine into two loaf pans and it was in the oven for well over an hour and was still soft in the center and never did brown up. The children enjoyed the flavor of it, but the bread itself went soggy and mushy really fast. Much faster than they could eat it.

If I were to try it again, I think I would try in muffins, maybe even mini muffins, and freeze them. They would fit nicely into a lunch box frozen, and would be ready to eat by lunch time.
I would also try it using the lime zest instead of the lemon - I had only lemon's on hand when I made it.

Now this chocolate cake from my fellow Daring Baker over at Beans and Caviar was great! It whipped up in minutes and baked up very nicely. I've been giving it to the children plain, but for their first slice, and for my picture, I prettied up a slice with an icing sugar glaze and some cocoa sprinkles. Perhaps a bit too much prettying, as it is hard to see the cake itself.

A look at the ingredients list for this shows nothing that is immediately perishable in it, so this cake has had a good shelf life so far. I've kept in the fridge for over a week and it is still moist and tender, no sogginess or odd texture, at all. (I've been slow in cutting it up and putting it into the freezer for future lunches - afterall, I don't want to send in a piece of cake as part of their lunches or snacks every day!)

I still have a few recipes I want to try, including the banana cake one on Beans and Caviar, if I can ever get enough ripe bananas to make up the 4 cups needed, but the urgency is no longer there. I sent in a question to the parents of the young lady with the allergy, through the teacher, and was eventually told that eggs in baked good were not a problem for her. I guess the school has to send out the letters for their own legal protection. While my youngest child is in a class that has the same egg free policy my oldest sons class had, he is only there for half a day and a snack of fruit or vegetables is more than sufficient for him.

And in the meantime, I have joined my children's school council this year and have put forth the suggestion that we create a cookbook as a fundraiser, one that includes a wide variety of different recipes that are egg free, some wheat free, some dairy free, so that next year, parents will know where to turn to when they are in a similar position.

Because not everyone can go running for help to the Daring Bakers!


BC said...

Thank you Quellia. We face the same challenges when it comes to healthy, yummy and safe snacks. It was a pleasure to be able to help.

Karen Baking Soda said...

The cookbook is such a great idea!! Consider going commercial with it...after all there must be loads of parents with that same problem.
Think I would like to give the chocolate cake a go..

evilforestgnome said...

Apple cider vinegar mixed with baking soda (as in the chocolate cake) can be substituted in almost all cake/muffin recipes instead of eggs. Use less salt. Silken tofu blended with yogurt or milk works too.

Jenny said...

Thanks, the baking soda and vinegar one I will keep in mind - tofu, on the other hand, I can't use because my son has personality changes when he eats soy, so we keep it out of his diet.

David T. Macknet said...

1 Tbsp flax seeds, ground in your coffee grinder, plus 1/3 C water. That will give you the equivalent of an egg, more or less, with the added bonus that you can't really overcook it. :)

At least, this works in baked goods for us.

I must say that I'm frightened of a world in which people are proscribed to such an extent, though.

ilingc said...

Hi Quellia,

I'm sorry the blueberry bread didn't turn out well for you. :(

I had a look again at the recipe and I think I might have figured out what the problem is. I made a mistake on the oven temperature. It should have been 180 deg C (which would be about 356F) of which I left out the key letter "C".

I bet that was why yours didn't brown on the top and it turned out soggy and mushy.

If you do attempt this again, I hope it turns out as well as it did for me :)

Anonymous said...

How refreshing to have a parent who is not immediately complaining about "this is not possible!" Surprisingly many do.

I love your idea for a "helpful" cookbook. Not to discourage, but, depending on the allergy, there may be hidden ingredients that supposed staples contain - flour with folic acid always has corn - as does milk, if enriched. I would put a major caveat on the cookbook that this is not a comprehnensive overview of what might be considered "safe."

Oh, and the numbers of people with multiple life-threatening food allergies just keeps growing, so avoiding one may not be sufficient in all cases.



Anonymous said...

I can't wait to try this recipe! I found your site by googling "allergy baking". This last week we found out that our 6-month old daughter has severe allergies to eggs, dairy, soy and nuts, which puts me on a strict elimination diet while we are still nursing. I hope and pray that she grows out of these before she starts school. But knowing that there are conscientious parents out there who are willing to take my child's allergies seriously makes me feel so much better. Thanks!