A beautiful Rose Cake made with gluten free chocolate cake and decorated with piped butter icing roses. A perfect cake for any celebration. Can also be made dairy free.
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A Rose Cake to say ‘thank you’
This Rose Cake marks Coeliac Awareness Week. It is also a special birthday cake, made with thanks.
For the last 3 years, I have had the privilege of being asked to make gluten free birthday cake for a close friend of my daughter. The child for whom the cake is being made is not Coeliac or gluten free however. So why ask for a gluten free chocolate cake?
Party Stigma and the Coeliac child
When you have a Coeliac child (particularly one of primary school age), you quickly get used to experiencing their pain of ‘feeling different’. It’s not that there is anything that overtly marks them out from the crowd. There’s no obvious disability or need to carry medications to protect them. But there is still a stigma when mum calls ahead of the party to explain they can’t eat ‘normal’ party food… Or when they join all their friends, ‘gluten free party pack’ in hand, in the hope that this helps them to ‘fit in’.
Who are we kidding? Sure… it means they can sit down and eat party food with their friends. But the other children naturally ask questions and ‘notice’ they have different party food. And that immediately highlights something ‘other’.
Some children (and their parents) will even seem cruel. Their ignorance creating ripples of pain that will stay with your child long beyond childhood. Party invites diminish, as your child watches from the side-lines feeling rejected and hurt.
Going the extra mile… Coeliac Awareness at its best
But sometimes, all that negative expectation gets turned on its head. A parent in the crowd totally ‘gets it’ and goes the extra mile to help your child fit in. This Rose Cake is part of that alternative story…
It is made for a friend who’s mum is understanding of the impact of Coeliac… Who is ultra-aware of the dietary needs of my daughter. And who always makes a special, non-complaining effort to make sure she is safely catered for at teas, sleep-overs and parties… Where ALL the food is made gluten free!
Whilst always more than happy to send Miss GF to parties with a packed party tea, the fact that this mum does it automatically, makes a huge difference to my daughter feeling the same as all her friends. And for that I am truly grateful.
So when asked to bake a cake, of course I say ‘yes’. Making it as special as possible is my way of saying ‘thank you’.
The Rose Cake and Coeliac Awareness Week…
By coincidence, this Rose Cake was also timed to mark Coeliac Awareness Week.
Sharing great gluten free cake is always a fantastic way to raise awareness. If you give someone delicious cake, they will often tell you how good it is. Tell them it’s gluten free and it will usually open an opportunity to talk not only about cake, but about Coeliac Disease.
You see, people expect gluten free cake to be dry and unpleasant (and to be fair, many are). But a really good gluten free cake (like this Rose Cake made with my Gluten Free Chocolate Cake recipe) shows the sceptical that gluten free can also be decadent, delicious and beautiful. The conversation that ensues with each mouthful of yumminess, hopefully helps someone else to be aware of Coeliac Disease.
Coeliac Awareness Week 2014
Coeliac Awareness Week is organised each year by Coeliac UK, usually in May. Designated to raise the profile of the disease amongst public, professionals and with businesses, it also supports campaigning for better understanding and facilities for its sufferers. In the USA, a similarly-focussed Celiac Awareness Month is held annually (also in May).
The 2014 Coeliac Awareness Week (UK) was focussed on getting supermarkets to better serve customers requiring gluten free produce. Encouraging them to sign up to the ‘Gluten Free Guarantee‘ it hoped to ensure a basic range of gluten free staples (breads, flour, cereals, crackers, pasta and cereal bars) would always be in stock and available. But why is this important?
The impact of eating gluten for Coeliacs
Many people think that for Coeliacs, eating gluten free is a choice, or that Coeliac Disease is an allergy to gluten. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Coeliac Disease is a life-long auto-immune condition. For sufferers, eating gluten causes the production of an unwanted antibody which attacks the lining of the gut. Once attacked, it can no longer absorb nutrients needed by the body to grow, develop, repair and function.
Although Coeliac Disease is well-controlled by avoiding all gluten in the diet, it is essential that abstinence is total. Any gluten, however small the amount, can lead to a significant reaction within hours (bloating, tiredness, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, sickness and headaches (to name a few)). In the long term, eating gluten regularly can result in serious health problems, including osteoporosis, infertility and cancer.
Mistakes are easily made
I recently made a single, very guilty mistake with my daughter when we visited Sainsburys at Easter. At the entrance, a promotional pile of eggs was on display… And a smiley assistant was generously offering small pots of sample sweets to eager young customers. My then 8 year old daughter made a beeline for them. Of course, I (responsibly) asked ‘are they gluten free?’ The assistant wasn’t sure, but willingly handed me a box to check ingredients. ‘No gluten here’ I thought. Wrong!
I hadn’t realised there were in fact three or four different eggs on display. The samples were a mix of all of them and I had checked just one (non-glutenous) box.
The sweets given to my daughter contained a single offending ‘Jazzie’. Jazzies are chocolate coated in hundreds and thousands, most of which contain wheat. I knew that, but my brain didn’t connect in time to realise that Jazzies were not in the contents of the box I’d checked. I watched as my daughter consumed the offending sweet. Just the one!
The result was three days of diarrhoea and stomach pain. Lesson learned. Cock-ups are not allowed.
The reality of shopping when you are Coeliac…
I digress… The focus of this year’s campaign for Coeliac Awareness Week is absolutely to be welcomed. Knowing what is safe for Coeliacs to eat is an art in itself. So I get totally hacked off when I find gluten free shelves that are empty. Or worse still, that the store doesn’t even stock gluten free. Traipsing from one supermarket to the next is tedious, time-consuming and expensive.
Whilst you quickly learn who stocks what in your home area, things get harder and even less reliable when away. This usually means suitcases packed with staples so you don’t ‘starve’. Staying in hotels (and even with friends), can mean taking a stash of bread and toaster bags (to avoid cross-contamination). You can find out more about how we travel Coeliac on my Gluten Free Travel Tips and Planning page.
To be fair, the range of gluten free produce has increased massively. It is truly a growth industry. But Coeliacs still don’t always have reliable access. Anything Coeliac UK can do to make things better and ensure finding what we need, when we need it and anywhere we may be, has got to be a step in the right direction. Fingers crossed the supermarkets take note and not just for the short term!
Gluten free Chocolate Rose Cake – home-baked and delicious
Gluten free celebration cakes are really hard to find. Especially ones that are as delicious or as beautiful as the Rose Cake. This cake is to be highly recommended.
The chocolate sponge made with my trusty Gluten Free Chocolate Cake recipe, is one which I turn to again and again. Why? Because it is rich, dark, very moist and perfectly textured to hold up to a good dose of decoration.
The Rose Cake is made extra special with pretty butter-icing (frosting) roses. And honestly, the piped roses are easier than they look. This rose tutorial found on You Tube may be helpful. Although I was a little concerned that it ended up looking like a wedding cake, the young recipient was thrilled with it.
More inspired gluten free chocolate cakes…
If roses aren’t your thing however, this is a gluten free sponge which is as versatile as you want to make it. If you are looking for inspiration, look no further… Check out these yummy cakes made with the same gluten free chocolate cake on Gluten Free Alchemist:
- The Chocolate Kiss Cake
- The 60th Birthday Cake
- The Golden Egg Cake for Easter
- The stunning 70th Birthday Cake
- The ‘Rosy-Swirl’ Cake
- Gluten Free Easter Cupcakes
What is the Recipe for gluten free Rose Cake?
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
The Rose Cake has been made with my Gluten Free Chocolate Cake recipe. Simply make two 8 inch (20 cm) layers of sponge and leave cool completely before decorating.
Make butter icing (frosting) using instructions from the same recipe, but with the following quantities and decorate as described below :
Butter Icing (Frosting) – enough to pipe roses
- 350g unsalted butter (or dairy free alternative)– softened
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Approx 700g icing sugar (sifted)
- Dairy or dairy free milk (approximately 3 to 4 tablespoons)
- red food colouring
- Sprinkles (optional)
- After you have made the butter icing to a soft spreading/piping consistency, but before adding any colour, sandwich together the two cake layers with a thick layer of icing. NOTE : The sponge cakes should be level. If they are not, level off with a sharp knife before sandwiching together.
- Completely cover the sandwiched cake with a thin layer of vanilla icing, using a palette knife to spread evenly. Smooth the sides until you are happy with its appearance.
- Split the remaining icing in half and add a couple of drops of food colouring to tint one half to the desired shade.
- Using an appropriate flower nozzle (I used 2x Wilton 2D nozzles and 2 bags to work two colours at once), split your mixture into separate piping bags. Starting from the centre of the cake, pipe icing roses, working your way out to the edge of the cake and beyond (as far as you wish to go, either randomly or with the design you choose). To pipe roses, start from the centre of the rose and swirl in circles (piping bag vertical) outwards. A straight forward tutorial can be found here.
- Finish off your decoration with a few sprinkles (optional).