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Thaddeus and an Allergy-friendly Chocolate Cake Recipe

Thaddeus, my baby, turned four today. Up until yesterday, he wanted a giant cookie cake decorated with frosting that said “Happy Birthday Thaddeus!” I planned to use my gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe, make some homemade “butter” cream frosting and dream about Great American Cookies’ cookie cakes from my pre-gf days. Yesterday, though, he changed to chocolate cake decorated with Dog Man.

Luckily, I have a one bowl chocolate cake recipe that is so easy there is no reason for boxed chocolate cake mix. It’s one that my mom made, my grandma made and I don’t know how many people before her. The original recipe used regular flour, so I substitute gluten free flour. It was already dairy free, nut-free and egg-free, so, as long as you’re careful with the toppings it is a handy dessert if you have those dietary restrictions. 

Decorating the cake was another matter. If you’re not familiar with the Dog Man book series, here’s what Dog Man and his sidekick Cat Kid look like:

Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild
Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild

 

He only wanted the heads on his cake, so that made it a little easier. They have that deceptively simple look, though, so I was still nervous. The end result was recognizable, even with constant interruptions and my never having painted on frosting before. I really couldn’t have hoped for anything more.

Chocolate Cake
Chocolate cake with Dog Man and Cat Kid frosting for Thadd’s fourth birthday.

Chocolate Cake Recipe

Chocolate Cake

This is a simple chocolate cake recipe that is super easy. It is dairy-free, egg-free, and if you swap the wheat flour for a gluten-free flour blend, it's gluten-free, too! To make it gluten free, I like Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten free blend because it already contains xanthan gum. If you use a different gluten-free flour without xanthan gum, I would add about 1-1.5 teaspoons of xanthan gum.
To top, make a simple buttercream (with shortening and non-dairy milk to keep it non-dairy) or use your favorite store bought frosting. You could also sprinkle the warm cake with dairy-free chocolate chips, let them melt a little, then spread across the top for a rich, chocolaty treat.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Course: Dessert
Keyword: 9 x 13, cake, chocolate, dairy free, easy, egg free, gluten free, one bowl, simple
Servings: 29 2x2 inch servings

Equipment

  • 9 x 13 rectangle pan

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups Flour see recipe summary for gluten-free adjustment
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil any light flavored liquid vegetable oil is fine
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Grease the 9 x 13 inch pan, either with shortening, butter, or cooking spray
  • Combine the first five (dry) ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix until evenly blended. Alternatively, sift them together into the bowl.
  • Add the remaining (wet) ingredients and mix until thoroughly blended. You can use a spoon or an electric mixer.
  • Pour the batter into the greased 9 x 13 inch pan.
  • Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean.

Notes

I frosted this cake with buttercream tinted blue, then used gel food coloring to paint the faces. I then piped buttercream for the eyes, facial features, outlines, writing and trim. I clearly am not a trained cake decorator, so I can't really say which tips I used or any other details.
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Weekend Fun

On Saturday a good friend of ours told us about a free, family friendly event happening in his neighborhood, so of course we went.

Beckett on the climbing wall.

Chris on the climbing wall.

Thadd really wanted to climb too, but he’s still too little.

Luckily there was plenty of other things for them to do.

Getting fishing poles.

Boys fishing.

Thaddeus was disappointed they didn’t catch anything. I prefer fish with an exoskeleton, so I’m just glad they had fun trying.

Outside the bounce house.

B and T in the bounce house.

Thadd in the bounce house.

Finn and I spent all are time behind the camera, but we had fun, too. 😀

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Thaddeus

Three years ago today this happened:

He was not very happy.

Now that little big unhappy baby is a big, mostly happy three year old. (Little big because he was born as big as some two month olds.)

My little tree hugger.

Happy Birthday Thaddeus!

On a different note, from now through the end of September, use coupon code “HELLOFALL18” to save 25% off of your entire order at the SubEarthan Cottage shop.

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Paw Patrol and Using My Brother SE-400 Embroidery Machine

Thaddeus turns three next week! When asked what he wants for his birthday, he exclaims, “Paw Patrol stuuuuuufff!” He is also constantly asking me to sew basically the entire cast of Paw Patrol for him. I may be crafty, but that is a bit beyond my skill set. So, since I have a lovely embroidery machine that doesn’t get used nearly enough, I thought I’d purchase a Paw Patrol design set for my machine.

The set came from Etsy seller OhMyArtDesigns. It comes with all the main pups, Rider, Robo Dog, and the Paw Patrol Logo. They also come in a few different sizes and file types to accommodate different brands and machines. So far, I love the designs. The stitch density is great, and they have a lot of detail. The only problems I’ve had fall completely in the “user error” category.

Color Charts Matter

My first mistake was using the thread colors displayed on the machine and my manual chart to choose my threads.

The thread colors and names used by different machine brands varies, so if a design is drafted using different colors than yours, the color suggestions can seem a bit off. I was in a hurry and didn’t pay attention to the color chart provided by the designer, so some of my color choices weren’t quite right.

Everest would be less blue if I had used the appropriate chart. Lesson learned. This also highlights the need to test run any new patterns before stitching them on your final product. Embroidery machine stitching is so dense that it’s almost impossible to remove without ruining the fabric.

Hoop Tightly

The other problem I encountered is also easily fixed. I just need to learn how to hoop my fabric properly. If you look closely, you can see the black outline on both Everest and Rider strays from the edge of the design on one side. I still have trouble getting the fabric and stabilizer drum-taut, so by the time the outline is stitched, the design stitches puckered the fabric in places. I have a magnetic hoop set on my wish list to see if that would help, but honestly it’s probably a case of needing more practice. Considering how many pups I have left to stitch, I may be an expert at hooping by the end of the week!

It is so fun to watch the designs being sewn. It’s like putting together a puzzle.

Everest after stitching the first color.


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One of Those Days Checklist for Parents

Yesterday, my well-behaved-two-year-old-at-the-library luck ran out. It could have been worse. We kept the chaos contained to the children’s section, and it was all of the noisy variety. Lately when we’ve gone to the library, Thadd has been content to read books and play with puzzles, so him not wanting to do much of anything but complain loudly was a little unexpected. I’m hoping it’s not an indication of what next week’s afternoon library activities will be like.

This photo was not taken yesterday.

It got me thinking about the days where you feel exhausted but like you haven’t actually done anything. Making a to-do list and checking things off, even if I only get a few things checked off makes me feel a little better. If you’re having one of those days and need something to show that you actually did something, here’s my “One of Those Days” checklist.

One of Those Days Checklist for Parents

  • Get out of bed
  • Get dressed (leggings, yoga pants, sweats, etc. count)
  • Eat something
  • Feed the little people
  • Feed the pets
  • Drink something
  • Hug the little people
  • Keep the little people alive
  • Referee an argument between little people
  • Answer the same question more than three times
  • Clean up a spill
  • Tell little people to sit down
  • Read a story to the little people
  • Put little people to bed

Feel free to print this out and use anytime you’re having a bad day and need to see that you’ve actually accomplished something. 🙂

 

 


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