A friend of mine who recently had a birthday has a twin sister who is gluten-intolerant, so when the invite for the potluck party was made, it was pretty clear that I was going to make gluten-free cupcakes.
Since it is finally summer in this city, it seemed like a citrus-combo cupcake was a best-fit for the weather and a backyard barbeque.
The basic gluten-free recipes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World uses quinoa flour to help give it structure, which is great for the chocolate cupcakes. However, for other kinda of cupcakes (that is, non-chocolate cupcakes) the quinoa flour leaves a bitter and jarring aftertaste that I am very much not a fan of. Instead, I used almond meal for the protein and texture. (In retrospect, I definitely should have used some xanthan gum to help create a better suspension, but hey, learning is happening).
This recipe is in beta-testing so I can figure out how to get the texture right, but I’m a fan anyhow.
1 cup almond milk (for the flavor, and one of the party-goers has a mild soy allergy)
2/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2-4 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
1/4 cup tapioca flour
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/3 cup almond flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup gluten-free flour (like this kind from Bob’s Red Mill, which is certified gluten-free and is batch-tested to have a reliable guarantee)
1 teaspoon of xanthan gum, probably
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line the tin with liners.
In a large bowl, combine the almond milk, canola oil, sugar and extracts (this was the point I added the zest as well, but it’s not vital to do so) and mix to combine.
Add the tapioca flour and flax seed and mix enthusiastically until the tapioca flour is dissolved and the flax seeds look like they are evenly distributed.
From here, you add the corn flour, white rice flour, almond meal, gluten-free all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda, and the salt. Mix very enthusiastically for a couple minutes–the texture of these cupcakes (and whether or not they rise) is totally dependent on getting a very even distribution of ingredients. On the bright side, no worries about over-mixing, since there is no gluten!
Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 and a smidgen full, and bake for at least 23 minutes, possibly more. The lack of gluten means they have a slightly more difficult time setting up when baking, so be patient and pull them out when a knife or toothpick comes out of the center clean.
I made a fairly standard lemon buttercream frosting with an added splash of almond extract for flavor. I also bought some raw slivered almond and toasted them for a few minutes on medium heat to add on the top of the cupcakes for flavor and garnish (toasted walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc are incredibly delicious; I feel like they add a gentle earthy note to the sweet and the tart of the cupcakes).
I then arranged the slivers in what seemed like appealing patterns, and tried one. Even with the fallen centers my cupcakes had, the flavor was really delicious and received very good reviews from the gluten-free and gluten-eating folk at the party. The trick now is to figure out how to keep the center from falling, or figuring out a good way of adding a filling without just filling the cavity with frosting.