Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lemon Cake

I seem to not be able to post as often as I'd like. Time gets away from me when I'm not feeling well. I haven't had any serious reactions lately, but I have been going through a holistic allergy treatment called BIE since August and have had several "healing crises". In short, I keep feeling like I have a flu, I'm completely exhausted, or I have migraines. It is pretty miserable, but I have to keep reminding myself that this will lead to a healthier, happier existence. Eventually. I was sceptical at first, and am not sure how much this will change my anaphylactic reactions but so far I am seeing results - I went a whole month without a single headache, which is big for me! My doctor has also been working on my moods, so I'm feeling more like my old self again :) Needless to say, I wish I could blog non-stop but until my good health is more consistent I will have to take what I can get.

Now, to my actual recipe! This past weekend was a special birthday for my father-in-law. I won't tell you which milestone but I will say that he asked us to wear black - we were to mourn his youth. We didn't abide. Because I have airborne food allergies, certain foods are restricted for the whole household. I hate affecting other people's lives like this, especially because my in-laws have welcomed us into their home. I feel especially guilty on special occasions, but I try my best to provide delicious allergy-friendly food. For dinner my husband and I made beef short ribs (recipe coming eventually), Roasted Cauliflower, Cumin-Spiced Lentils, and my new adaptation of a blooming onion (recipe also to come). It was a delicious dinner. This special occasion called for something other than my go-to Vanilla Layer Cake, and after requests from my husband, I decided to try my hand at a lemon cake. This cake is based upon my vanilla cake, but I added some special lemon flavours to it. To top it all off I made a lemon curd that I swirled into the icing. I was in lemon heaven. I probably could have sat there all night, cake in one hand, a fork in the get the picture. I hope you enjoy this cake as much as we did!

If you happen to have a pastry recipe, or can eat store-bought pastry, this lemon curd would make excellent lemon pies/tarts. My pastry recipe is pretty much non-existent, but I'll get there eventually.

I posted this recipe here for Allergy Friendly Friday. Check out the other recipes!

Lemon Cake

Compared to a conventional cake, this cake is free of gluten, wheat, eggs and dairy, and also does not have baking powder that generally includes corn or potato starch. This cake is also vegan.

1 1/2 cups/375 mls sorghum flour
1 cup/250 mls chickpea flour or white bean flour
1 cup/250 mls tapioca starch or white rice starch
2 tsps baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup/250 mls sugar

2 cups/500 mls rice milk
2 tsps lemon juice
2/3 cup/157 mls sunflower oil
2 tsps vanilla extract
Zest of two lemons

Preheat oven to 350˚F/176˚C.

If baking a cake, grease two 9''/23cm pans, line bottom and sides of pan with parchment, grease parchment.

If baking cupcakes, line cupcake pans with liners.

In a small bowl mix rice milk and lemon juice and set aside. In a large bowl sift together dry ingredients. Add oil and vanilla to rice milk/lemon juice mixture. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk just until combined.
If baking a cake, divide batter into cake pans and bake at 350˚F/176˚C for about 28-34 minutes, or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cool on racks in pans for about 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert onto a rack to cool completely.

If baking cupcakes, divide cupcake batter evenly into cupcake pans, you should have 24 cupcakes. Bake at 350˚F/176˚C for 16-20 minutes, or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cool on racks for a few minutes in the pan, remove cupcakes and cool completely on rack.

Ice with Vegan Lemon Buttercream icing, swirled with Lemon Curd (recipes below) or icing of your choice.

Vegan Lemon Buttercream Icing 

Compared to conventional icing this is free of dairy and corn starch, generally found in icing sugar.

1 1/2 cups/375 mls vegan butter (I prefer Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Flavoured Spread)
5 cups/1250 mls organic icing sugar (I prefer Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Icing Sugar)
2 tsps lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
About 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

In a medium bowl, cream vegan butter. Gradually work in sifted icing sugar. Add lemon juice and salt. Swirl with Lemon Curd and ice cake/cupcakes once cooled.

Lemon Curd

Compared to conventional lemon curd this is free of eggs and dairy. This recipe was altered from the Lemon Curd found here.

1/2 cup/125 mls lemon juice
1/4 cup/57 mls water
1/2 cup/125 mls sugar
4 Tbsps white rice flour
Zest of 2 lemons
3 Tbsps rice milk
1 Tbsp vegan butter

In a small saucepan whisk together lemon juice, water, sugar, white rice flour, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil on medium heat, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Remove from heat and whisk in rice milk and vegan butter. Cool to room temperature refrigerate for 8 hours, overnight, or until desired consistency is achieved.


- Even though I suggest using a sieve for the cake you may notice a few small lumps in your batter. These should dissipate during baking. Do not over-work your batter, as it will make your cake/cupcakes fall during baking.

- FYI, leave enough time for the Lemon Curd to set. I did not make mine far enough in advance so my icing was a little runny. It was still delicious, but a little messy!

-When purchasing icing sugar, be careful to read the label and double-check for potential allergens. Conventional icing sugar generally contains cornstarch. I noticed on Wholesome Sweeteners website that their icing sugar (sometimes labelled "powdered sugar" instead) can include cornstarch or tapioca starch.


- If you are allergic to chickpeas, as I have just found out I am, try using white bean flour in its place. I find that white bean flour gives a finer crumb, and is a closer taste/texture to wheat flour. Some people who are allergic to peanuts also have a legume allergy. If you suspect this, talk to your doctor before introducing. If you know you are allergic to legumes, or the other flours listed, try substituting your own favourite flour blend or ask me to try one for you.

- If you are allergic to sugar, or you are just avoiding it, substitute your sweetener of preference. For the cake I have used part sugar, part maple syrup before with decent results. Keep in mind that if your sweetener is in liquid form, you may want to reduce the rice milk in the recipes.

- You may substitute any other milk for the rice milk. For the cake you could also try replacing the milk/lemon juice combination for plain yogourt, but you will loose the extra lemony taste.

- I use sunflower oil in this recipe, but feel free to substitute your oil of preference.

- For the icing, if you are allergic to corn and tapioca, you may try making your own powdered sugar in your blender or food processor. You could also try adding a touch of white rice flour or other starch if your icing requires more stability. 


  1. I can totally relate to dealing with airborne allergens, and I know the guilt you feel. My daughter nearly went into anaphylaxis while we were grocery shopping because peanut butter cookies were baking in the bakery. I always bake a separate cake/cupcake for her when we go to parties. Your Lemon Cake looks delicious! And good luck with your allergy treatments!

  2. Hi Rebecca, thanks so much for your comment. I'm sorry to hear that your daughter also struggles with airborne allergies. I can't go to the grocery store because I have an airborne allergy to wheat, so I completely understand. It seems like every grocery store has a huge bakery now! I am OK at the local health food store, and that's where I have to do most of my shopping anyway. I always wonder how other people get along with airborne allergies. It's tough to go anywhere. I bring my own food everywhere too. This cake is so delicious, please let me know if you try it! Thanks again :)