Today was Liam’s 8th birthday party. Here is the battle that was assumed between me, myself and I surrounding his cake. I wanted him to have a specially decorated cake. But… I really didn’t want him to have all the additives, chemicals, and food dyes that would come in a commercially baked cake. But… it is his birthday and if there is an appropriate time for junk food it is special occasions. But… we’re doing so well with not eating the crap that it could be a slippery slope backwards if we bring some things into our home. But… moderation is key and it’s his birthday for heavens sake!
I came to a middle ground and totally stuck to using real food in the cake and broke all my rules for the decorations. I baked a whole wheat chocolate zucchini cake, and frosted it with a thin layer of icing sugar and lemon juice. Then I added the decorations – Bring on the additives, chemicals, and food dyes. Liam wanted a Nascar themed birthday cake, so we cut two round cakes into a figure eight race track. For the road I used Oreo cookie crumbs and for the “grass” I used artificially colored tree decorations (really wasn’t comfortable with those, but ran out of time and ideas). And then halved some Oreos and put a few around the outside of the cake.
The cake was a complete successs. I thought it looked great. Liam loved it. And the kids ate it.
Still…after it was all said and done I haven’t come to a place of complete comfort with “breaking the rules.” Though I do feel that I did pretty well, and I can make myself feel better by thinking that the nutritous cake “balanced out” the little bit of crap that they got from the decorations. I also think about how much worse it could have been, like buying a Dairy Queen ice cream cake (in case you’re wondering here are the ingredients in the Chocolate Cold Fudge Ice Cream Cake: High fructose corn syrup, condensed nonfat milk, partially hydrogenated coconut oil, fructose, water, cocoa (processed with alkali) and cocoa, algin, salt, mono and diglycerides, potassium sorbate (a preservative), dextrin, sodium phosphate, disodium phosphate, soy lecithin and artificial and natural flavors. This list does not include any icing, gels or edibles!)
I have discovered that holidays and celebrations for kids are a completely new ball game. One which I am getting prepared to play.
- 2.5 C whole wheat flour
- 1/2 C cocoa
- 2 1/2 t baking powder
- 1 1/2 t soda
- 1 t salt
- 1 t cinnamon
- 3/4 C soft butter
- 1 C sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 t vanilla
- 2 t grated orange peal
- 2 C coarsely shredded zucchini
- 1/2 C milk
- 1 C chopped nuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Combine first 6 ingredients. Set aside.
- Beat together butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Stir in vanilla, orange peel and zucchini. Alternately stir in the dry ingredients and milk into zucchini mixture. Include the nuts in the last addition.
- Pour into two greased, flour dusted 9″ round cake pans.
- Bake 1 hour. Cool in pan 15 mins. then turn out onto rack to cool thooughly. Drizzle icing sugar glaze over cake before serving.
- Glaze: Mix until smooth 2 C powdered sugar and 3 T lemon juice.