The Search For The Perfect GF Vanilla Cupcake.

I've made a few yummy gluten free cakes in my time (Persian Orange & Almond, and Chocolate Almond are my favourites) but I have struggled to find the perfect GF vanilla cupcake.   Almond meal produces a lovely moist cake, but they are quite heavy and dense.  I want a light, fluffy vanilla cupcake.   Please wait a moment whilst I don my lab coat and embark on the search for the perfect GF Vanilla Cupcake! 

Feeling brave I march into town and buy a range of GF flours; coconut, banana, and a mixture of maize starch, tapioca flour, rice flour and guar gum (made from guar beans).  

The trials have been a bit of a giggle for me, so I thought I would share my GF baking adventures with you.  I hope you enjoy reading about my experiments:

 

TRIAL ONE:

Coconut Flour:  Paleo Vanilla Cupcakes.

The ingredients:

coconut flour, eggs, agave syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, baking soda, and salt.  Looking good! 

 Paleo vanilla cupcakes made with coconut flour.

Paleo vanilla cupcakes made with coconut flour.

I separate the eggs and make stiff peaks with the egg whites.  The rest of the ingredients are combined and mixed well, then incorporated with the whites.  At this point I am feeling quite chuffed with myself.  The batter is a gorgeous pale yellow colour and is so light and velvety, like a vanilla mousse.  How could this go wrong?!  Into the oven at 180°C for 20 minutes.  I am awesome! 

Fourteen minutes later I take a sneaky peek into the oven.  Yikes!  The tops are dark brown so I quickly take them out and test with a skewer.  The skewer comes out clean.  They are done!  Apart from the over-baked appearance, they look good (sort of).  Nice rounded cupcakes.  I break one open and they are lovely and moist with a fluffy texture.  Maybe I can salvage this recipe?  I set them aside to cool.  A few minutes later I return and find they have shrivelled up and are not recognisable as a cupcake.  My heart (and previous feelings of awesomeness) now resemble the deflated cupcakes before me.

I have a taste test of the failed cuppies.  Alas, they taste bad too.  Blando and eggy.  Back to the drawing board.  Funnily enough, my kids loved them.

 Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes with coconut flour - Paleo: FAIL

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes with coconut flour - Paleo: FAIL

TRIAL TWO

Coconut Flour:  Vanilla Cupcakes - not paleo

The ingredients:

Coconut flour, butter, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, GF baking powder, baking soda, salt.

 Vanilla Cupcakes made with Coconut Flour (not paleo).

Vanilla Cupcakes made with Coconut Flour (not paleo).

This recipe is based on my original vanilla cupcake recipe, so I’m feeling confident that this will work.  I reduce the amount of coconut flour as my research has taught me that coconut flour is very thirsty and much is less is required.   I also increase the amount of eggs and buttermilk but otherwise proceed as normal.

The batter is not fluffy but rather like Spakfilla.  Still hopeful, I scoop the batter into the cupcake papers and bake at 180°C and set the timer for 18 minutes.  After 18 minutes they are not done and set the timer for another 5 minutes… then another 5, and another 5, and another 5.  Eventually they are baked!  They smell divine and, although they don’t resemble my gluten filled version, they look pretty good. 

The taste test reveals that they also taste pretty good!  But then my perfectionist steps in.  They have an element that gives the coconut flour away; there is a texture reminiscent of coconut (crunchy) and they are VERY crumbly.  This is not the cupcake I am after.  I officially give up on coconut flour.  I am lucky that today I have a friend, the lovely Jules Galloway (local naturopath and gluten free guru) visiting my house, and she gives me some advice and much needed encouragement.  She reckons banana flour is the way to go!

 Vanilla Cupcakes made with Coconut Flour: FAIL.

Vanilla Cupcakes made with Coconut Flour: FAIL.

TRIAL THREE

Banana Flour:  Vanilla Cupcakes.

The ingredients:

Mount Uncle's Banana Flour, butter, sugar, eggs, buttermilk, gf baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla extract.

This is a new product on the market and I have heard wonderful things!  This has to be it!!  Mt Uncle's Banana Flour!  Apparently you just use it in place of regular flour, but use less.  It sounds too easy!

The flour is not white, but rather a beige colour.  It has an earthy smell; not sweet as you would expect from a flour made of bananas.  I make this cupcake the same as the previous trial - with my original vanilla cupcake recipe, only using less of the banana flour (2/3 of what the recipe states).  The batter is wonderful and I have high hopes for this one!  I am a little worried about the colour, however, as it's quite dark.  Not like a vanilla cupcake at all.

Into the oven, and twenty minutes later I have some gorgeous cupcakes... but not quite vanilla.  I didn't think the cupcakes tasted of banana, but my husband assured me they do.  They are moist and delicious, but not what I am looking for.  I think I will use this flour for perhaps another GF option down the track.  I'm thinking caramelised pecans, that sort of thing.

 Vanilla Cupcakes made with Banana Flour... not a fail, but not what I am looking for.

Vanilla Cupcakes made with Banana Flour... not a fail, but not what I am looking for.

TRIAL FOUR

Gluten Free Flour Mixture:  Vanilla Cupcakes

The ingredients:

GF flour mixture (see below for components), GF baking powder, caster sugar, butter, milk, eggs and vanilla extract.

The flour I am using for this trial is a mixture of maize starch, tapioca flour, rice flour and guar gum (made from guar beans).  

I cream the butter first of all, then add the rest of the ingredients.  I beat with my trusty stand mixer (Betty White) for twice as long as I usually would with normal wheat flour.  The batter is a lovely fluffy, thick, pale yellow.  Perfect!  Fingers crossed!

They rise perfectly.  They smell divine.  They look amazing when they come out of the oven.  Why didn't I try this one first?!  I taste a cupcake.  They are great!  I have found them!  Woohoo!  They don't taste exactly like my original vanilla cupcakes but considering they are made from completely different ingredients (maize, tapioca & rice instead of wheat), there is going to be a comparable difference.  However, they are light and fluffy, moist and delicious.  What more could I ask for?  I am happy and am proud to offer these to my clients on my menu!

 The Perfect GF Vanilla Cupcakes!

The Perfect GF Vanilla Cupcakes!