Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cupcake Project

I was given a project recently to research and come up with recipes for gluten free and organic cupcakes. Organic was easy. Just replace all your ingredients with certified organic ingredients. Certified being the key word. Or it will say USDA certified. But I've never made anything 100% organic and never tasted a cake or cupcake that was made with all organic ingredients. Let me just say that when you taste it organic does make a difference. There's nothing overwhelmingly different about it, but it definitely doesn't taste chemically at all. And the color is very earthy and beautiful. I loved it!
When I started this project though I started with the gluten free recipes. In the research I did I found a lot of people saying that you just have to play around with different gluten free products. I bought almond flour, white rice flour and quinoa flour. The quinoa flour was a total mistake. I've had quinoa before and didn't notice anything strong about it. So, I thought I'd give it a try. Oh-my-God! Quinoa stinks to high heaven! I gave the raw batter a taste despite the smell but didn't really taste anything weird or off. But as they were baking the smell got worse and I couldn't bring myself to taste the final product. I don't know what quinoa flour would be good for because if it smells like that for anything, even bread, I wouldn't be able to eat it. If you have any suggestions I'm willing to take them. I have a practically full bag of the stuff and nothing to do with it.
The very very first batch I did was with just rice flour. I took my basic yellow cake recipe and converted it for rice flour (I'll give you the links I found for this research at the end of this entry). The final cupcake came out fine but not great, kinda dry.
The raw rice cupcake.
The next batch I did was with just almond flour. That didn't work out too well. The batter seemed to be doing fine halfway through its baking. But then ten minutes after I checked it the first time it appeared to have bunt but was still liquidy-ish. So then I split it and my next batch was half almond, half rice. Those came out great. The only thing I would do differently is add more buttermilk since they came out slightly dry.
Then I started in on my chocolate cupcakes. I kept with the same idea half rice flour and half nut flour. I happened to have hazelnuts in the house doing nothing so I ground those up into a flour and used that in a batch of chocolate. They are so good. The hazelnut adds a very distinct flavor. Those cupcakes would be great with orange meringue buttercream. Yummmmm...
The other chocolate batch I did was with almond flour and rice flour and they were also very good. They taste just like a chocolate cupcake and they got the little girl approval and the mom approval.
The thing about cooking gluten free is that you have to make up for the elasticity you give up when you take out the gluten. So, sources suggested to use xanthan gum to replace it safely for a gluten free diet. All the recipes I used were half recipes so I used only half a teaspoon since the package suggests to add 1 teasppon. The other thing I noticed, and I've heard about this before, was that potato starch helps create a "tender, moist crumb" (per Bob's Red Mill). So, I added a 1/2 teaspoon of that to each recipe too.
Now, it's time to plug a couple things. When making the organic cupcakes I used Simply Organic vanilla extract. I usually use it anyways because it is my preferred vanilla extract. And it's amazinly cheap for being organic. But when you open the bottle it smells like vanilla. It doesn't smell like alcohol. And you can actually put some of this stuff on the tip of your finger and taste it and not get a buzz. So, I figure if it smells good and tastes good before you even use it in a recipe then it's good enough to go into the recipe. The next thing isn't really a plug so much as I want to show you what sugar looks like when it hasn't been manhandled and mutilated. It kinda looks like the sugar you know but it's not super white. It's a nice off white color. Ever since taking a couple classes at school where some of the chefs get really heated up about the subject of organic food I always give my unorganic food a second thought. I can't afford to eat all organic right now but I prefer it over manhandled and processed any day.
See? Isn't it so pretty?
So, I've learned that gluten free can be yummy. Very yummy indeed. And organic cupcakes are soooooo yummy. (Yes yes, I know I use yummy a lot) Now go out there and play around in your kitchen!

Wheat-Free Gluten-Free Baking Flour Conversions and Binding Agents Simplify Recipes

1 comment:

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

I really liked the yellow cupcake with the almond flour. I loved the texture! And the organic vanilla cupcake was totally my fave! I could've eaten like five of them without frosting... which btw was awesome too! :D