Rice Crackle Dolly Varden Cake

The gluten free kids cake before cutting
The gluten free kids cake after cutting

This cake is gluten free, egg free and nut free

Celebration times for those with food allergies, coeliac disease and other food restrictions can often be stressful. A traditional cake nearly always contains wheat flour, egg and butter or milk. Gluten free cake options often contain soy or nut flours. If you are searching for a dairy free option, then soy or nut milks are often used as substitutes.

Parents of children with multiple food allergies are constantly running into one or more ingredients that are not suitable, or the product has a may contain statement on it.

You are searching for something that can be a centre piece of the party table, that kids WANT to eat.

I recently did a series of Instagram posts (@gluten.free.dieititian) with ideas for parents in this space. This rice crackle cake pictured is not dairy free, but if you hunt down the right products it could be. Making it soy free is a little more tricky.

I started with the notion that most kids love the Kellogg’s rice bubble chocolate crackle recipe, found on the side of the Australian rice bubble packs. This traditional recipe is dairy free, but the crackles can become quite soft when out of the fridge for a while. I did not think the Dolly Varden cake would be able to sit on the table for any length of time and maintain her shape.

If chocolate was added, it would strengthen the structure and hold the shape for longer, provided it was not in a lot of sunlight. Because I was wanting a pink dress, I went for the white chocolate, which has dairy milk as an ingredient. If you want a brown chocolate crackle skirt, search for a chocolate that has the right ingredients for you.

Ingredient Watch Points:

· Sweet Williams has a range of dairy free, nut free and gluten free chocolates. Their white and darker chocolates do contain soy. Please check the ingredients you require when you buy the product.

· IChoc is a white chocolate free of dairy and soy, but is NOT nut free.

· Coconut is not routinely avoided in children with nut allergies. This recipe contains both desiccated coconut and copha (coconut oil). If coconut is a problem, then this recipe is not for you.

· I used Freedom Foods rice puffs as they are gluten, nut and egg free, but might have trace dairy. There are a number of brands of rice puffs, so find the ones that suit your requirements.

· Cadbury and Nestle white melts (not the bars of cooking chocolate) contain dairy, but not gluten. Check the may contain statements for nuts.

· Coco powder is generally free of allergens… always check.

· Pure icing sugar is free from wheat starch, that could be used in icing mixtures.

· Cachous and 100’s & 1000’s baubles could contain wheat in the crispy outer coating. Be careful when reading the ingredients.

· Pre-made fondant is generally free from allergens, but always check this.

· Packet marshmallows might be dusted with wheat starch, so read the ingredients to find ones that use maize or other gluten free starches.

Read the allergen and may contain statements on each ingredient or product you buy, to ensure you have the combination that is right for your child.

You will need:

· 1 Dolly Varden cake tin

· 1 doll, remove her legs.

· Cake board or plate to serve it on

· Alfoil and baking paper


To almost fill the Dolly Varden tin you will need

· 250g rice puffs

· 150g copha

· 300g white chocolate

· 2 cups desiccated coconut

· ½ cup pure icing sugar

· 1 tbsp. coco powder

· Pink food colouring

Dress decorations:

· Small quantity of pink fondant icing

· Pink cachous

· 1 packet of pink and white marshmallows

· 3 tbsp Sprinkles or 100’s and 1000’s

· Icing to ‘glue’ on the decorations: ~½ cup pure icing sugar and drops of water


Prepare the Dolly Varden tin

Cut a long strip of baking paper that is about 4 cm wide. This strip is intended to help you pull the cake from the tin. It needs to be long enough to run from one opening edge up to the ‘waist’ end of the tin and down the other side, with enough overhang to be able to grab each side to ease it out of the tin. Grease only the narrow strip in the tin where the baking

paper will touch. If you grease the whole tin you will end up with margarine stuck to the outside of the crackle. You don’t want that.

Once this paper is in place, scrunch up some alfoil the size of the dolls hips, from her waist down. This needs to be placed in the narrow end of the tin and the cackle placed around this. When the crackle has set, there will be a hole for the doll to be placed in when you turn the crackle out.

Making the crackle

Place the rice puffs, coconut and sifted icing sugar into a large heat proof bowl and stir to combine.

In the microwave melt the combined white chocolate and copha together. Stop and stir the mixture every 30-40 seconds until it is melted together and smooth.

Pour this onto the cereal mixture and fold through until combined.

Working quickly scoop roughly 1/3 of the mixture into another bowl. To this add the sifted coco powder and stir in to combine.

Add some pink colouring to the remaining larger bowl of cereal and stir until combined and the colour you like.

· Take the pink mixture and place spoonfuls of it into the tip of the cake tin. Arrange it around the alfoil mound where the doll will sit. Press down to compress the rice cereal.

· Once you have covered the alfoil completely start to build the pink cereal around the edges of the tin. Keep it about 1-2 cm thick.

· Then start to place the chocolate cereal only on the inside of the pink barrier. You can build both colours in as you gradually add spoonfuls of mixture. Press carefully as you go to compact the cereal.

· When all the mixture is in, gently press the cereal to flatten and level the top surface and this will be the flat surface the whole cake sits on when turned out.

Refrigerate until set (at least 1 hour).

To turn it out

Wet a wash cloth in warm water and rub this over the outside of the tin. Pull gently on both ends the baking paper. If it does not move easily, then repeat the warm cloth rub on the outside of the tin. Pull on the baking paper and the crackle will come out of the tin.

Place this on your serving board or plate to decorate.

Decorating the doll

Take your doll and insert the body into the hole. If the hole is too big you can use some of the fondant to pad up the hole to make the doll fit at the right height. If its too small be very

careful sawing away some of the rice puffs to enlarge the hole. The fondant corset can be used to help anchor the doll to the cake.

Roll out the fondant into a rectangle that is about 7cm long and 4cm high. Cut the bottom long edge into a straight line because that will sit around the hips of the doll. Measure this up against your doll to determine how wide the rectangle needs to be to fit under her arms. I used one edge of a piping nozzle to create 2 rounded shapes (like the top of a heart) in the middle of the top edge of the rectangle, for the front of her dress.

With a pastry brush, brush some water over the surface of the doll. This will allow the fondant to stick to the doll. Place the heart cut out over her breasts and gently fit the rest of the fondant bodice to the doll. At the back, cut the fondant so that the 2 back edges of the rectangle meet together in the middle back, as if it was a zippered seam.

If you have made her the day before the party, at this stage she can be put in the fridge.

Something to note is that the colour on the cachous and 100’s and 1000’s can ‘run’ if they go into the fridge and then later sit on a bench when the condensation then starts. That moisture often makes those colours slide away.

You can prepare the marshmallows the day before and keep them in an air tight container out of the fridge.

· Line an air tight container with baking paper.

· Pour some 100’s and 1000’s into a saucer.

· Cut your marshmallows into 3 pieces with a pair of scissors.

· Place one of the sticky sides of the marshmallow into the 100’s and 1000’s to coat.

· Place each marshmallow on the baking paper to store until needed

Just before the guests arrive

Take the doll from the fridge and finish the decorations.

Mix your ½ cup of icing sugar with a few drops of water and beat into a thick icing. Use this icing to stick the cachous to the doll and the marshmallows to the bottom of the dress.

· Pick up the pink cachous balls with tweezers and dip them in the icing before attaching to the bottom of the bodice.

· Place some icing on the back of each marshmallow in order to stick it to the bottom of the skirt.

You can place some candles into some uncut marshmallows, which can sit on the cake board beside her. They may need a bit of icing to ’glue’ them to the board too.

Make sure your food table is out of the sun and then place your final crackle doll cake as the centre piece of your table.