Mommying BabyT

Mommy T's adventures; bringing up Baby T

BabyT’s homemade birthday cake – dairy-free, maida-free

BabyT just turned 2 over the weekend and this time around I started all planning a month in advance and I am rather proud to say everything fell into place quite well. We had two parties for him – a private celebration with close family on the actual day of his birthday and another big birthday bash with all our friends and extended family. For both these celebrations, I was quite chuffed that everything from the decor to the menu to the entertainment was just as I had pictured it and most of all it made babyT very happy. So much so that he wakes up every morning and asks if there is another birthday celebration lined up for the day. Most important of all he asks if there will be cake?

BabyT is sensitive to dairy and as a result, you will no longer find a can of milk, a square of butter or a tub of yoghurt or ice cream in our pantry. You will, however, find soy milk, coconut milk, tofu and dairy-free ice cream. Never biscuits, cakes or mithai too. Now that’s a problem when it comes to birthday cake because most diehard bakers who are proud of their trade will scorn at you when you ask for birthday cake minus butter, milk or cream. Well, these bakers need to really up their game because the need for dairy-free is not just a fad or lifestyle trend but something that will keep sufferers of allergies hale & hearty and in some cases even alive.

Anyway, let’s not get serious here, because we are talking about cake after all. The point here is that it is possible to bake cakes without dairy. So there was no doubt in my mind that for babyT’s birthday I would attempt to bake a cake and a dairy-free healthy one at that. Well, that attempt was pretty successful and babyT was super excited to watch this cake come out of the oven and onto the serving plate and to his playroom which converted to a party room for the evening. He couldn’t wait to catch the first bite of the cake when we cut it and that in itself is my big fat compliment for a job well done.

So here is my recipe for babyT’s birthday cake. Mind you I got a bit too ambitious with my plan to bake a healthy cake and so I went with wheat flour. This made the cake very dense and almost like a brownie. Feel free to replace this with plain flour (maida) if you would like an airy spungy cake.

Print Recipe
Dairy free Chocolate cake
Store bought cakes are out of the question for us, as they contain dairy products like butter, milk & cream. BabyT is allergic to dairy so cakes are a relatively rare phenomenon at our home. But for his birthday I wanted to make sure he had a cake which he could cut, and eat too. And to make it healthier I cut out the white flour and made it from wheat flour (aata) instead. This is a recipe from one of my favourite culinary artists - Nigella Lawson. Her recipe is for chocolate olive cake, but I modified this to make our dairy-free and white flour free cake.
Cuisine Cakes & baking
Prep Time 15 - 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Cuisine Cakes & baking
Prep Time 15 - 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
  1. Measure out the unsweetened cocoa powder and then add boiling hot water to it, making sure to whisk it well while pouring. I used a fork to blend in the water and cocoa. Keep blending in till there are no lumps and the mixture is all even and runny.
  2. Add vanilla essence to the cocoa mix and stir it in well. Leave this aside to cool. At this stage you can also preheat your oven to 180*
  3. Measure out the wheat flour and sift it out into a dry bowl. Sift in the salt and baking powder too. Mix them all with a dry fork or spoon and leave aside till we're ready to add this to the egg and sugar mix.
  4. Measure out the sugar in another dry bowl. Break in the eggs and add the olive oil too. Now whisk all these together either by hand whisk or with your electric whisk if you have one. I managed fine with just hand whisking with a balloon whisk.
  5. Add the cocoa mix to this egg mix and fold in with a large spoon or spatula.
  6. Add the flour mix bit by bit to the egg and cocoa mixture and fold in. There's no need to beat or whisk it at this stage. Keep adding some flour, fold it in and when fully incorporated into the egg mix, add more flour. Do this till all the flour has been added in.
  7. Line a spring form pan or regular cake tin with some of the olive oil. If using a spring form pan line it with baking sheet or grease proof paper. If a regular cake tin then dust the whole pan with some flour till all the inner surface is oiled and flour dusted. This helps prevent the cake from sticking to the sides of the pan.
  8. Pour the cake mix into the baking tin and spread it evenly by rotating the pan in your hands or tapping it. Don't bother too much with uniformity, the cake batter will slightly melt and cover the tin in the oven during baking.
  9. Put the cake tin into the oven to bake at 180* for about 40 minutes till a toothpick pricked in the centre comes out clean and dry. Avoid the temptation to open and prick the cake often. Ideally check around 35 to 40 minutes for this.
  10. Allow the cake to rest for about 10 minutes before you cut and eat it.
Recipe Notes

I did not decorate the cake as I was running short of time and couldn't think of any dairy free and healthy alternatives. But in hindsight, you can consider a light dusting of icing sugar, or use a stencil and then dust it with icing sugar or simply decorate the top with chopped seasonal fruits - strawberries go really well with chocolate.

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  1. Wow! I was just searching for a cake recipe (minus the dairy elements) for an upcoming birthday and came across your post! This looks doable and delicious too! Thanks for sharing!
    Kudos to you to manage celebrations, take care of stuff and most of all ensure the birthday boy is happy and enjoys his birthday party!
    Hugs to the little one!

    • mommyingbabyt

      December 23, 2017 at 12:38 am

      thank you. It did turn out lovely albeit a bit dense due to the wheat flour. You can replace the wheat flour with just plain flour (maida)

  2. I remember how you were struggling to get the right cake for him last year. Good to see you made it yourself this year and looks like it turned out really well. Looks yummy and most importantly T loved it! I hope I get to try this some day because I’m not much of a baker myself.

    • mommyingbabyt

      December 23, 2017 at 12:39 am

      Thank you Mahak. Yea he even got a mild rash in the birthday hall with the professional cake. I cant be careful enough with his dairy allergies. 🙁 So homemade is the best bet for us.

  3. Moms love!!! I could never think of so much really. You are an awesome mom!!! Loved the cake recipe. I should take some lessons on cooking from you. I just do it to feed my family , no particular love for cooking but after reading your post I understand how important it is for a mom to cook what a child loves. I should try learning some of Mishti’s favourite food now.

    • mommyingbabyt

      December 23, 2017 at 12:40 am

      Aww thanks Aesha. Its somewhat of a necessity for us with his allergies. But yes I do love cooking and baking. I did have a food blod once upon a time too. 🙂

  4. Wow. Such a sweet gesture. Most importantly that you figured out and learnt a way of serving him his favorite keeping in mind all the limitations as well. Awesome.

  5. Wow! I am just beginning to try dairy and grain free but it’s so difficult. Congratulations. Lovely cake!

  6. I have baked a dairy free fruit cake in the past and it turned out to be yum! Also you could consider dairy free whipped cream for dressing the cake.
    But your cake looks so cute in the heart shape.

  7. That looks yummy. My mom made an atta cake for me on my birthday. Similar to this recipe sans eggs. Will try this with eggs 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  8. Baking a cake without dairy can be challenging.Great that you substituted perfectly.Happy birthday to baby T!

  9. Kudos to you for trying a new recipe for your son. The cake looks great and yummy too. Moms are the best when it comes to well being of their child and you proved it.

  10. I love healthy baking.. and I always modify recipes using healthy ingredients.. the results are not always a hit though 🙂 i am glad to come across your recipe which is tried and tested – saved from one kitchen disaster atleast ? the cake looks smashing and I am drooling

  11. Wow! Well done momma. I am sure little one must have relished his birthday cake prepared by hard working mom.

  12. This looks super easy Tara. However if there was something I could supplement the eggs with, i’d love to know.

  13. I’m going to try this atta based cake very soon.. bookmarking this link. I see all the healthy ingredients here, including brown sugar.

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