There’s a delicate balancing act to be achieved when making gluten-free cupcakes – the cakes have to rise but remain moist. Because gluten-free flour substitutes lack the gluten bonds that give elasticity to Wheat Based Flours, they contain more raising agents such as baking powder, which give lift to the batter but also make it drier. Because cupcakes have a large surface area in their domed top, they also dissipate much of their moisture content out into the oven when they are cooking, which can make them drier still. The art is to add moisture during or after the cooking stage and to ice them in ways that trap the existing moistness in the cake, rather than letting it evaporate out into the atmosphere.
Simple Vanilla Gluten-Free Cupcakes
These cupcakes are a good way to start your gluten-free cupcake journey as they are very like the classic cupcake so you can compare your results in taste, texture and size, allowing you to adjust the quantities of ingredients to reach your desired effect.
- 125g (4½oz) melted butter
- 125g (4½oz) caster sugar
- 125g (4½oz) gluten-free self-raising flour
- 2 medium eggs
- ½ teaspoon glycerine
- 3 tablespoons milk
- Vanilla extract
Set the oven to gas mark 5 or 190°C. Put cupcake cases in a tray. Ensure you are using the middle shelves of the oven, as gluten-free small cakes can be more temperature sensitive than other cakes and quickly dry out if too hot.
Beat the cooled melted butter in a large bowl with the sugar, flour, eggs, milk, glycerine and vanilla extract. The mixture may look slightly runnier than your usual cake batter but this is a usual sponge-cake mixture. The glycerine adds to the silkiness of the mixture but also traps moisture in the cakes and keeps them soft and less likely to crack.
Bake for 18-20 minutes until risen and lightly golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tray for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
All powdered icing sugars should be gluten-free, but double check any ‘soft’ or ‘easy pour’ sugars or pre made icings as they may contain gluten-based flour improvers. A Buttercream Topping made with icing sugar, butter and a single flavouring adds moisture to the cakes. Be careful about liqueurs and spirits as many of them contain gluten too.
Double Chocolate Cupcakes
These are more adult cupcakes than the vanilla recipe, and require a little more forethought in preparation as you there is cooling time to factor in, but they are so delicious that many people will not realise there is no flour involved.
- 200g (7oz) unsalted butter
- 200g (7oz) soft brown sugar
- 250g (9oz) gluten-free plain chocolate, broken up
- 4 medium eggs, lightly whisked
- 200g (7oz) ground almonds
Heat your oven to gas mark 4 or 180°C and set 24 cupcake cases in trays. Melt the butter gently in a large saucepan and add the sugar, stirring gently until it melts. Immediately turn off the heat and add 200 grams of the gluten-free plain chocolate, stirring again until the chocolate is fully melted and everything is completely blended together.
Continue to stir as you pour in the whisked eggs, and then fold in the ground almonds with a large metal spoon, mixing thoroughly.
Divide the mixture, which will look quite granular, between the cases and bake for between 20 and 27 minutes – using a wooden toothpick to test whether the cakes are cooked right through.
Remove from oven and cool for ten minutes in the tin before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
- 50g (2oz) good quality gluten-free milk chocolate, broken into small pieces
- 50ml (2floz) whipping cream
Bring the cream to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pan and stir in the milk chocolate and remaining plain chocolate until completely melted, then spread over the top of the cakes.