Halal cake comes in many different shapes and flavors. It can be wedding cake or birthday cake, and is as varied and tasty as non-halal cake, including chocolate, lemon, fruit and rice cake. The only difference is that they are made in accordance with the Islamic tradition and law of halal. Haram, meaning unlawful, is the opposite of halal, which means lawful. Halal cake is made without alcohol or any haram products at all, such as certain ingredients like animal fat-based cake shortening.
Food derived from pigs, carnivorous animals, and animals that have been improperly slaughtered are all considered haram. Any grains, fruit or vegetables that have been untouched by haram products are considered halal and are permitted to be eaten. Blood products are also considered haram and because of this the animal’s jugular vein is cut during the slaughter process and allowed to drain completely. For a product to be considered halal, the animal it comes from needs to be slaughtered in the name of Allah. Haram and halal are terms applied to every aspect and action of Islamic life and are not simply related to food.
Many non-Halal cake recipes include alcohol to bring out flavor. Halal cake often uses fruit juice as a way of replacing the alcohol, as well as including flavoring from vanilla extract that is free from alcohol. Bakers typically use shortening made with pork fat, whereas halal bakers will substitute this product with solid fats made from fruit instead. Substitutes made from from apples, prunes, and bananas all work well and still make for a good flavor. Gelatin that is derived from a pig is also considered haram and excluded from halal cake baking.
When making halal cake, bakers will take care not to allow utensils to come into contact with haram foods or surfaces. There are times when ingredients are questionable and they are referred to as mushbooh. Usually these items tend to be gelatin and emulsifiers and should be thoroughly researched before they are included in the cake.
When purchasing ingredients to make a halal cake it is important to read labels carefully and check whether the are halal or haram. Each ingredient should be checked to see if it fits with the halal ethos. The product should not be used in the cake mixture if any items are found to be haram. It is recommended to discard the product if any ingredients fall under the mushbooh category, or to call the manufacturer to double-check.