05 September 2013

Gluten-Free Vanilla Mini Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Not too many people seem to make cakes by hand these days; and yet sometimes it's quicker and easier (when you count set-up and clean-up) than doing it with a mixer. Next time you're making a small cake or small batch of cupcakes, please try my method and let me know if you don't agree. 

Didn't intend to do mini cupcakes two consecutive weeks on the blog, but a gluten-free friend came to town and I whipped up a batch of these for her. Though she was the only gluten-free person, everyone else loved them as well. I don't know about you, but I'm not satisfied that something is merely "good, for gluten-free;" I want it to be good, period!

If you do a lot of gluten-free baking and like a particular blend, it's easier just to mix up a whole canister. If you're still experimenting with the wide range of gluten-free flours and starches, keep them separate. One gluten-free flour I've tried to like, but just don't, is quinoa. I like quinoa in salads, but quinoa flour has too strong a flavor for baked goods. 

As I've said before, I hate waste and so develop all my recipes for a specific pan size or quantity. If you measure exactly as I say in the recipe, you will come out with exactly 24 mini cupcakes and no extra batter. And my no-muss-no-fuss mixing method is so easy. I hope you'll try it.

Gluten-Free Vanilla Mini Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

(Makes 24)

The Cupcakes

1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

The Frosting

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 packed cups powdered sugar, unsifted
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons strawberry jam

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put two 12-cup mini-muffin tins on a
15x10x1-inch rimmed baking sheet, and put paper baking cups in the tins. (Or I could break down and finally replace those two tins with a 24-Cup Mini Muffin Tin, since I never make just 12 mini muffins or cupcakes!)

2 In medium mixing bowl, whisk together flours and starches, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt. Whisking for about 30 seconds sort of sifts the dry ingredients. With pastry blender,large fork or your fingers, cut softened butter into the flour mixture until it is thoroughly combined and looks rather like cornmeal.

3 In 2-cup glass measure, combine milk, vinegar, egg and vanilla extract. With your favorite mixing spoon, gradually beat in the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. (A wooden spoon works perfectly well, but I use an English cake whisk, a kind of stainless steel wire spoon that has been made in Britain for over a hundred years.)

4 Using measuring spoons, spoon just one tablespoonful of batter into each cup; then spoon just one-half teaspoonful into each cup. Bake at 350 for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place baking sheet on wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes before removing cupcakes from tins. Cool completely before frosting.

Note: Since it's such a tiny amount of batter, I want to be really clear about how I measured. It's a thin-ish batter, so it is a level tablespoon and half teaspoon. And, most important, I don't scrape every bit of batter out of the spoon. If I did, perhaps I wouldn't need the additional teaspoon of batter. But it's a lot faster to just dump the spoonful of batter in the cup and move onto the next and then come back with the half teaspoon.

5 In bowl of stand mixer, or with a hand mixer (I love my
KitchenAid hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the powdered sugar and salt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and jam; beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. You will likely have to add the liquid ingredients before adding all the powdered sugar.

6 With a pastry bag fitted with a
2D tip or a 1M tip, pipe frosting on cupcakes by simply placing tip in the center and squeezing. You don't even have to know what you're doing; it'll look pretty!


Angie's Recipes said...

I love these are prepared with sorghum flour...and the frosting looks so pretty!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Angie! Don't you just love sorghum flour!

Amy at love made my home said...

Never tried sorghum flour, not sure if you can get it in England. I will have to have a look as these cupcakes look divine. I love things that are "naturally" GF and that everyone would enjoy. It is much easier and being the GF one it makes me feel more normal if we all eat the same, I hate being singled out as different! Also love the idea of the jam in the frosting, that is an idea I can easily try!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Amy, thank you! I hope you will try them soon, and do let me know how they turn out for you AND whether you were able to find sorghum flour in England. If not, maybe substitute brown rice flour or gluten-free oat flour. I don't recommend quinoa flour or any of the bean flours for cupcakes.

Unknown said...

I actually enjoy making cakes by hand from time to time... it's actually sort of relaxing and therapeutic :)
Love these mini cupcakes too... can't go wrong with buttercream frosting!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Jenn! And you're right about the "relaxing." But so many people think they have to fire up their big heavy-duty standing mixers for every little thing.

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

Cupcakes are pretty. Take a bite out of one, and it’s no longer pretty. It’s brutalized, truncated, amputated. Ergo, I do my best to save the world’s cupcakes for art. You are certainly an artist – gluten or not. I applaud your attention to detail. It’s delicious! Eye candy delicious. I bear no grudges on those who eat cupcakes, but I shall stick to my strict diet of carrots and broccoli.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Sully! If only you *were* on a strict diet of carrots and broccoli!

Charles said...

I've never made "non by-hand" cakes. I can't stand cake mix packets... it's especially annoying when you see a lovely looking cake... the author gets lauded for coming up with something so amazing, and then you read the ingredients and it's like "1x instant cake mix packet".

Come on...!!

These look lovely Jean - so dainty!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Charles, thank you! I especially like dainty little cakes for the tea table! Actually, I was thinking here of people using electric mixers instead of stirring/beating with a spoon, but good point about the packets. I wholeheartedly agree with you about them!

yummychunklet said...

Sweet looking cupcakes!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, yummychunklet!

Anonymous said...

I'm confused as to where the cider vinegar goes in the recipe. Thanks! -Brie

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Brie, good catch! I listed it with the ingredients but didn't mention it in the directions. The vinegar goes in with the milk, egg and vanilla. I'll have to fix that!