So yesterday I promised you guys a recipe for gluten-free cupcakes, and look at me delivering today! Last year, Jason and I briefly lived with my best friend Rachael in California. She is gluten intolerant, we are vegan, and we all love baked goods. So, I set out to perfect some vegan, gluten-free baked goods. I bought a couple of gluten-free vegan cookbooks (including one put out by a pretty famous bakery, ahem), and found them really, really lacking. They both seemed to call for a whole lot of incredibly expensive ingredients (like whole cups of agave and maple syrup and coconut oil). And while I’m certainly not rolling in money, I am totally willing to spend it if it means making great food. But, these recipes, even with all of their expensive ingredients, left us all with a bad taste in our mouths. Groan.
So, through lots of trial and error, buying and discarding many very expensive flours, and making several batches of cupcakes that were so rubbery they literally bounced, we finally came upon an alternative flour combination we think works really well. We basically shoot for 2/3 or so of the total flour mixture coming from white rice flour, and the remaining being chickpea flour. So, with that in mind, here is our recipe.
Gluten-Free Meyer Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream
You’re gonna need:
3/4 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon meyer lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pure orange extract
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
So then, you:
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line your muffin tin with subtle, classy type liners. We got ours from Bake it Pretty.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, xanthan gum, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk this mixture together for about thirty seconds, to make sure it’s evenly mixed.
3. Pour the almond milk into a glass measuring cup and add the vinegar to it. Let this mixture sit a few minutes, until the almond milk looks slightly curdled.
4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar until very well combined. Add the extracts and meyer lemon zest. Now beat in the curdled almond milk.
5. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and beat with a whisk for one minute. As the xanthan gum starts to really activate, it’ll really thicken your batter. So make sure you beat it until it starts to look much thicker.
6. Fill your baking cups two-thirds of the way full with batter (usually about a scant quarter cup of batter per cupcake).
7. Bake at 350ºF for twenty minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the biggest cupcake comes out totally clean. Gluten-free batter tastes gross until it is fully baked, so make sure that your cupcakes are totally done.
8. As your cupcakes are cooling, place about 1/4 cup of strawberry preserves in a bowl and beat with a fork until the preserves are really smooth. Place in a small Ziploc bag.
8. When your cupcakes are totally cooled, use the handle of a wooden spoon to create a well in the center of each cupcake. Cut the tip off the Ziploc and use that to pipe a little of the preserves into the well in each cupcake. Wipe the tops of your cupcakes to make sure you have a smooth, flat surface for icing.
Now let’s make icing!
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
You’re gonna need:
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated margarine
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons nondairy milk (coconut milk is nice here)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean pod
So you’re gonna:
1. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the margarine and shortening until thoroughly combined and fluffy.
2. Sift in 1/3 of the total powdered sugar. Add 1 tablespoon of milk, and beat until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides as needed.
3. Repeat this process twice more, once with milk and once with vanilla; beat until fully incorporated after each addition.
4. Now for the vanilla bean! Take 1/2 the vanilla bean pod and cut it lengthwise into two pieces with a sharp knife or kitchen scissors. Then, with a spoon or dull butter knife, scrape the entire contents of the pod into your frosting. It should look like a whole bunch of little tiny black specks.
4. OK, so now you want to beat the whole magilla for 3-5 minutes until thoroughly combined and fluffy. Please make sure you beat it for at least three minutes, as it really does get softer and fluffier the longer you beat it. And this frosting really wants to be fluffy. So beat.
We piped ours with a jumbo round tip, as described here. We then placed a candy violet and some fresh thyme on top of each one. We thought they came out pretty cute.
But, since the candy and the thyme are both pretty much for garnish, you can totally get away with not including them. Maybe cover the top with some fondant flowers, some pretty sprinkles, or a jumbo candy pearl. Just try to keep the overall look classy. Like you, you classy lassie. Or laddie. Or whatever.
So, like I said yesterday, these cupcakes were a big hit (not to mention winning 2nd place) at the Cupcakes for Cures competition last Saturday. So you can be sure that they are good. And, other than using some alternative flours, they are a pretty painless introduction into the world of Gluten-Free baking! Go bake!