Saturday, 3 December 2011

Year of the Cupcake #5 - Gluten Free Pumpkin Cupcakes with Vanilla Icecream Icing

It would appear that for the last couple of months when posting about Challenge #1 of my 101 Things I have neglected to use my awesome, official Year of the Cupcake heading. So I feel it to be my duty to (colourfully) announce that this is November's installment of....


Now that that's out of of the way, this month (November, that is *sweeps the fact it is December 3rd under the rug*) I was at a bit of a loss as to what kind of cupcake to make. In the end, I caved in to the Americanisation of the world and was swayed by all of the pumpkin/autumn/Thanksgiving-style recipes out there in the blogosphere, particularly following Aussie expat Tori's post on sweet potatoes, brown butter, yoghurt and seeds as a side-dish (ironic that an Aussie's blog was what convinced me to go down the path of American flavours...).

I figured my first port of call would be The Cupcake Project, because obviously the lovely Stef specialises in cupcakes. I trawled through call the cupcake recipes and all the frosting recipes, and finally decided on Pumpkin Cupcakes with Rum and Maple, and Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting. True to form, I bastardised the recipe a little so that mum could eat it ( =deglutinated it... it's a word now. Deal with it.), so I've given you the links to the original recipe. Below is my artistic interpretation, which is quite representative of the way I copy out recipes by hand (only with no arrows or flow charts, and, unless you're a real grub and cook with your computer on the kitchen bench, no smears of flour or cake batter on it!):

1 1/2c gluten free flour
1/3tsp xanthan gum
1tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp ginger
1/2tsp nutmeg
1/2tsp allspice
1tbsp baking soda*
1/2tsp salt

1 1/2c sugar
3/4c pumpkin puree
2 large eggs

1/4 dark rum
1/4c maple syrup
1/2c vegetable oil.

Whisk Group One ingredients together in a bowl that fits it all (this bowl will hold only these ingredients).

Beat Group Two ingredients in larger bowl until smooth (this is where everything ends up).

Mix Group Three ingredients into Group Two, then slowly add Group One ingredients until all incorporated.

Fill (this is where I diverge from the recipe... you know, besides the GF thing) 18+ cupcake liners 3/4 full of batter and bake at 180oC for 20-25mins.

NOTES - The original recipe said 12 regular cupcake liners. I guess a regular cupcake liner is a LOT bigger in America. Unless they meant those pretty ones you get that sometimes have the laser-cut patterns on the edges?? Who knows...

Also, being GF, these cupcakes did not really rise to the occasion. They were flat as tacks, and sprawled out of the wrappers. To remove them from the tray I actually had to get a large biscuit cutter to cut around each cup neatly and to get them out of the tray without ripping the tops off.

I probably overfilled the wrappers, maybe because I expected to make 12, stretched it to 18 and still had a bit left so I topped them up. Silly Nessie. So I guess if you're making them GF, try making 24 of them. And if you're not, well hopefully your cupcakes will rise up and not out!

Also, this is the instrument I used to over-fill the wrappers, and it's really handy. It's a sauce ladel. I think. I highly recommend it. It's easier to control than a spoon, and holds more.

Lastly, this is how much pumkin makes 3/4c of puree:

Okay, more to the point, imagine that the pumpkin is still in the skin. Each of these was a wedge of butternut pumpkin. I just thought I'd give you an idea of how much to cook (I steamed mine in the microwave, skin on). You're obviously better off cooking too much than too little. And I used one of those stick mixers to puree it.

Oh yes! One last note - True to form, I ate a cupcake while it was still hot and the rum taste was still quite prevalent. At this point I began to wonder whether I ought to have replaced the Square Bear with maple syrup, but once they cooled the alcohol seemed to have evaporated off quite well.

(For those who don't know, this is Square Bear - Bundy rum. Generally it comes in a larger, squareish bottle. I bought this flask of Bundy cos it was the smallest increment I could buy it in, and I'm only ever going to use it in cooking. So today, it's more of a curvy bear...)

*But wait! There's more notes, and this one is the really imporant one!!! Whilst editing this post I realised that I had written that there should be 1tsp of baking soda, but the original recipe has 1tbsp. BUT, I added 3tsp of baking powder to the flour out of habit because I am accustomed to adding it to cake and cupcake recipes at the rate of 2tsp per cup of flour. Theoretically that goes a little way to balancing out that error, sort of, because baking powder is 2 parts cream of tartar to 1 part of baking soda. So I was probably 1-2tsp down on the baking soda. No wonder they were so flat - it wasn't just the GF flour that did it!

Beat 1/2c (approx. 110g) butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add in 1 1/2c sifted icing sugar, beating all the while. Add 2tsp vanilla bean paste, and a little milk to soften (the original recipe says 1tbsp but I used less and I think a whole tablespoon would be too much). Spread onto cooled cupcakes.

Note that this quantity was just enough to spread on 18 cupcakes, including one (the one below) which I heaped the icing onto in order to make it pretty for the photo. It was pretty well flat on all the others, which, combined with a flat cupcake, made them not very pretty at all. But it does mean that they pack well! You can fit eight into one of those square Sistema plastic containers that you get at the supermarket - you know, the ones with the blue clicky things that hold the lids on and a blue rubber o-ring style seal around the inside of the lid, the size that looks like it would hold 2 decent sandwiches stacked on top of each other.



The cupcake itself was definitely a dessert food, which I had been a bit concerned about given that my previous pumpkin baked goods experience was a savoury pumkin loaf. That pumpkin lends itself well to sweet baked goods didn't really surprise me greatly, considering how sweet pumpkin is naturally (*cough*maplesyrupandrum*cough*).

Whilst they were cooling mum thought they smelt of caramelised onions (all I could smell was rum!) but once cooled, and with the vanilla icecream icing on them, they were just divine. They are sweet, in a complex way - there are three competing levels of sweetness in them, instead of one big WHAM of sugar, so you don't feel over-cupcaked quite so quickly (= you can go back for seconds). They were also light and fluffy, which was a pleasant surprise. Also, if you eat one hot, slather some icing on it. It melts deliciously and decadently, just like vanilla icecream does *drools*

(I don't need to be encouraging you to eat baked goods, do I...)

This has opened my mind to putting weird stuff in baked goods. I'm not sure what is next on the agenda, but I think I have chai cupcakes brewing (Ha! Ha! Geddit?), and maybe some Christmas-themed ones, and who knows what else.

Lastly, please excuse the cruddy exposure and composition and so forth - I took all the photos in mum's kitchen at about 10pm under a fluorescent light. Yecht.

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Grammar lesson (small segue, incited by editing this post): I have come across numerous instances on the interwebs over the last few months of the incorrect word used to describe gathering information or to search for something, and it drives me stark, raving bonkers. Until about seven minutes ago I was convinced that I was unequivocally correct about this - that it is TRAWL not TROLL. Example: I trawled the sales for the perfect pair of shoes. I trawled the for the right recipe.

At first I thought it was an accent thing - in an English or Australian accent, "trawl" and "troll" sound quite distinct from one another, but with an American accent the distinction is less marked. For example, just now I tried to come up with things that each rhymed with and realised that when you applied an American accent it just didn't work. But then I realised there is more to it.

As I am wont to do, I looked it up to make sure I wasn't going to make an arse of myself, and for a second I had a small crisis of faith, but then I was reassured that I am, in fact, correct. At least, tells me I am.

Trawling is a type of commercial fishing using a net that is dragged through the water behind a boat.

Trolling is also a type of fishing, sometimes commercial but often recreational, that involves dragging multiple baited hooks or lures through the water behind a boat (similar to, but apparently not the same as, long line fishing).

So, both imply fishing, but one is casting a net and one is actually using bait. I would imagine that if you apply this poetically to the English language, that if you're looking for something and know roughly what it is then you're trawling (examples as above), but if you're going out to get something in a very specific and baited manner then perhaps you are trolling (trolling for men at nightclubs, with a short skirt, cleavage and a slutty attitude as bait??). I don't know for sure. But I DO know that, in addition to being primarily about fishing,'s entry for "trawl" also applies to seeking information, and the entry for "troll" applies to scary monsters that lurk under Norwegian bridges and scare billy-goats.

So I think my first instinct was correct - if you're looking for something, you're trawling, not trolling. But it's a very easy mistake to make, and I for one didn't even know that trolling existed (and if asked, I would have presumed it was the act of leaving a series of mean comments on others' blogs; or having a really bad day that involved stomping around with PMS, unkempt hair, unshaven legs, some sort of conspicuous and unsightly wart or pimple and severe halitosis!). I'm also open to comments/information/suggestions on the whole trawl/troll thing because I really am quite interested in what other people use and why.

Over and out.


  1. I love sweet pumpkin goods too. Last weekend I made a pumpkin cheesecake pie, and it was good!

    Re: grammar... I also hate people substituting 'dribble' for 'drivel'. For example, "That man was speaking absolute dribble". No, he wasn't. No unless spit was coming out of his mouth.

    Rant over. Nice cupcakes!

  2. Yep, that one drives me nuts too! Also, one that gets under my skin is when people say "falling trees" instead of "felling trees". ARGH!!! *tears out hair*


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