Monday, August 9, 2010

My first gluten-free cupcakes

Gluten-free cupcakes
Yep. Forgot to photograph these until I was at work. iPhone photos it is.

One of the evening nurses in the ICU has celiac disease, which means that she cannot have foods with gluten.  I thought that it would be nice to make her some gluten-free cupcakes.  It seemed so easy when I told her that I would make some cupcakes that she would enjoy.  I didn't realize that there are SO many flour substitutes to choose from.  Quinoa flour.  Brown rice flour.  Almond flour.  Coconut four. 

I decided to stick with a recipe that just used corn starch, potato starch, and guar gum as the substitute for flour.  It seemed weird to me that one could use corn starch and potato starch could combine to make a substance that would be similar to flour, but according to Bob's Red Mill, they are commonly used in gluten-free baking.  The guar gum is: "a white flour-like substance made from an East Indian seed."  It's used as a binder so that the corn and potato starches stick together.

Cupcake at work

These cupcakes have anise extract in them.  A whole tablespoon worth.  I didn't mess with it because I didn't know what kind of flavor the starches and guar gum would impart on the cupcake.  Heck, maybe they taste gross and needed the strong licorice flavor to hide it.  The cupcakes have a strong anise taste, which isn't bad.  But I would either not use an entire tablespoon, or just use some vanilla.

Anise Gluten-free Cupcakes - Adapted from Kate Speach - Makes 12 cupcakes
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup corn starch
  • 2/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp guar gum
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon anise extract
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, add 2/3 cup sugar, corn starch, and potato starch.  Whisk together.
  3. Add the baking soda, guar gum, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together.
  4. Add the egg and beat with an electric mixer on medium-low speed. 
  5. Add the milk and beat on medium-low speed.
  6. Add the anise extract and milk.  Beat on medium speed until well combined, but do not over mix.
  7. Add the oil and the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and beat until ingredients are just combined.  The batter will be more viscous than glutenous cake batter.
  8. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 cupcake liners.
  9. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean
  10. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then transfer to cool completely on a cooling rack.
My only complaint with these cuppies is that they sort of look like popovers after they bake.  The tops are not smooth, so just take some extra care to smooth the top before you put them in the oven.  Several people on my team said that they didn't think that they would have known that they weren't regular glutenous cupcakes except for the fact that I had warned them first.

I just topped these with some vanilla buttercream and sprinkles.  I really piled the frosting on to sweeten the anise flavor.  It was totally worth the effort of gathering the ingredients and trying somethign very new in order to see the nurse enjoy a cupcake!

Do you know of any good gluten-free cake recipes?


  1. Mmmm. Anise. Though a whole tablespoon does sound pretty intense...oh well, buttercream fixes everything! :D

  2. i use a pre-mixed flour blend in my baking for my family. I just substitute out the regular flour for the GF baking flour and add some guar guar or Xanthum gum... (I am on a Xanthum gum kick right now). Anyway, I think Pamela's is the best GF flour mix. You could probably make many of your glutenous recipes this way and it would be GF and I bet nobody wold know the difference. I'm glad you wanted to bring something that everybody can eat, my poor little one is always left out!

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