October 26 was my birthday. During the weeks leading up to my favorite day of the year, I began to feel dread. This was not because I was afraid to be a year older or because I could not figure out how I wanted to mark the occasion — it was because I wanted a birthday cake. Sounds easy ... but not so much when you are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.
I wanted a double-chocolate cake guaranteed nut-free … but not dairy-free, egg-free, soy free, or gluten-free. Because I am not allergic to those things (and I 100% sympathize with and feel for those who are), there is no need for my yummy and, admittedly, unhealthy birthday cake to be absent of these ingredients.
I started by calling a variety of bakeries around the city. They were either not able to guarantee that there would be no cross-contamination or they were free of everything. (Note: Beware of gluten-free bakeries if you are allergic to tree nuts. Many of them use almond flour as a substitute.) Then I cast my net a little wider, searching neighboring cities — same problem. Then I started calling bakeries in other states to see if they could not only fulfill my request, but also ship it to me. Again, no luck.
After all of these let downs, the advice started rolling in: “What about cookies instead?” “Bake your own cake.” “I’ll bake you a cake, but what are you allergic to again?” “You don’t need a cake.” “Don’t be picky; it will taste the same.” The list goes on. While I recognize that these suggestions were meant to help and out of love, I wanted what I wanted. But I soon had to realize this birthday wish was one that just could not be fulfilled in LA, so I settled for everything-free cupcakes, which, I will admit, were not quite as bad as I thought they would be.
There is always next year.