This year, my sweet angel Chiara turned five. She’s growing so fast into a lovely, funny, smart girl. I fall in love with her more and more each day. She’s filled with surprises and had one for me when she put in her formal birthday cake request. As she says, I’m “the cooker” in the family and each year, I ask the kids what cake and frosting they want for their birthdays. Her response was clearly composed:
“Chiara official birthday cake request: a vanilla cake with pink marshmallow frosting and hearts, butterflies and flowers.”
You may have read that Chiara was just diagnosed this June with gluten and dairy intolerances, just like her big brother, Isaiah. So I wanted to make this year’s cake extra special. I wanted a real cake showstopper—and that’s exactly what we had. As party guests walked into our house decorated with pink polka dot streamers and happy face balloons, the cake was the first thing they saw. Everyone’s eyes were open wide with excitement and a smiling Chiara said, “You should work at a bakery. You’re such a good cooker!”
“I guess that in the days of store-bought cakes, a homemade cake has become a rarity—especially a heart-shaped one!”
Eventually, I had to put the cake out of sight. Then, after Chiara made her birthday wish, chaos broke out with all the kids asking for a flower or a butterfly. Luckily, I had one for each of her friends.
“Here’s hoping Chiara’s birthday wish comes true—and for all of your kids, too!”
Gluten-free nonstick cooking spray
2 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
½ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup rice milk
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup or corn syrup
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
2 egg whites
1/2 cup store-bought marshmallow creme
Food coloring (optional)
Strawberry jam, beaten with a spoon
Sprinkles, for topping
- For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350º. Generously grease a 9-inch heart-shaped springform pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour mix, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, vanilla and milk until smooth. Add to the flour mixture and whisk until combined. Fill the prepared baking pan until about two-thirds full. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting: In a small saucepan, bring sugar, rice syrup, salt and water to 235º on a candy thermometer or until it forms a thick syrup. Remove from the heat.
- 4. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue beating on high speed and add the syrup in a slow, steady stream; beat for two minutes. Add the marshmallow creme and beat until thick and shiny, about 7 minutes. Beat in food coloring, if using.
- 5. To assemble a two-layer cake, peel off the paper from the cake and divide into two layers. Place 1 layer right side up on a cake platter and spread with jam, then about 3/4 cup frosting. Place the second cake layer upside down on top of the filling. Spread the sides and top of the cake evenly with the remaining frosting. (If you're making a four-layer cake, repeat the process with the additional 2 cake layers and frosting.) Top the cake with sprinkles and decorate. To serve, slice gently with a serrated bread knife.
I made a 4-layer cake. To do this, I just made the cake recipe twice (since I only had 1 heart-shaped springform pan; I used this one.) and doubled the frosting.