My first efforts at wheat free baking were pretty woeful, all crumbling sponge and disintegrating cookies and salty tears of frustration. Since then, I’ve worked and worked on the technique and it’s paid off. If you check in often you’ll have seen lots of wheat free baking, like these mint chocolate biscuits and cupcakes, this green tea cake and this courgette, lemon and basil loaf. I pride myself now on being able to make an undetectable wheat free cupcake, and today I will be recording the secrets for posterity. This is a post with far more words than pictures, you can always skip to the end if a treatise on wheat-free baking isn’t your idea of a good time.
The first thing is to get a good wheat free flour mix. The one I use is a brand called Doves Farm. Their plain flour mix contains rice, potato, tapioca, maize and buckwheat flours, and I find it reliable and easy to work with. Discovering the right flour blend was a massive step in the right direction but it’s not the whole battle, there are still some points if technique to master. Wheat free flour is more absorbent than normal flour, so you need to add more liquid to your recipe to avoid that dry, crumbly finish. I also find that baking more gently, at a lower temperature, helps avoid drying the cakes out. Finally, make sure you use enough raising agent to encourage the cakes into pretty, golden domes instead of flat little cake islands.
So, all that preamble aside, here is my recipe for the perfect, wheat-free, vanilla cupcake. These amounts make 24 – though of course this will depend on the size of your cases.
- 350g wheat-free flour blend
- 350g golden caster sugar
- 350g margarine
- 3 eggs
- 4 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp vanilla essence
Heat the oven to 170C.
Measure all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix with a hand held mixer until just combined. Don’t over mix, once there is no dry flour visible you’re ready.
Scoop the batter into 24 baking cases and bake for ten minutes. After this time, turn the baking trays so that the cakes that were at the front are now at the back. If your trays are split over two shelves, swap them around so they each get a shot in the centre of the oven. Bake for a further seven minutes and check. They should smell wonderfully sweet and be risen, golden and springy to the touch. Be careful not to over bake, this will dry them out.
I combined this batch of cupcakes with a chocolate mousse and a mini Twirl to make cute afternoon snacks. You can find a simple but effective recipe for a chocolate mousse here. I fitted a piping bag with a long icing tip, pushed it down into the middle of each cake and gave a good squeeze. This left a little puddle of mousse in the centre of the cake, waiting to surprise and delight. Then I changed the icing tip for a narrow circular shape, piped a wave of mousse across each cupcake and topped off with a Cadbury’s Twirl Bite. Other chocolate is available.
The vanilla sponge was really allowed to shine without this simple decoration, rather than being overwhelmed with a mountain of frosting. The chocolate mousse was a nice, rich counterpoint to the soft sponge and the wee drop on the middle was a surprising bonus. Sometimes it’s good to keep things simple, eh?