Monday, 23 January 2012

Year of the Cupcake #7: Gluten Free Chai Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting

I started thinking about different ways to cook with tea after the Daring Kitchen's Cooking With Tea challenge. I had also come across this recipe from a fellow DK participant Jenni @The Gingered Whisk, and it got me thinking - I have a bit of a thing for chai (but with no milk. There is nothing worse than milk in tea *shudders*), and I have a bit of a thing for, you know, baking(!), so it should come as no surprise to anyone that I wanted to make chai cupcakes for my next installment of Year of the Cupcake.

I made them gluten free again, because otherwise mum whinges intolerably about there being baked goods in the house that she can't eat (even though I bought the ingredients). Hopefully this recipe comes in handy for someone. It's from the blog of the National Baking Industry Association, so I guess these guys must know what they are doing...

When I used this recipe, something very odd happened. Let me see if you can figure out what that was:

Haven't figured it out yet? Here, I'll give you another hint:

I'll be jiggered - the buggers rose! They actually, really and truly rose! What the what??!?!!

I eyeballed the recipe to figure out where the magic came from, and, combined with a clue I picked up on a Basco GF flour box, I think it's because there are 3 eggs in the mix and not 2 as is called for in many cake batters. I presume that this means that when the mixture rises, the third egg "catches" it and sets it in a pleasing dome before the cupcakes are removed from the oven and the mixture slumps. I think also that there is less liquid (milk) added because of the extra egg, so it turns out quite cakey (but not squeaky! Yay! That will make more sense if you've eaten a fair amount of GF baked goods) rather than smooshy and unstable and flat.

Like these ones, from when I made GF pumpkin cupcakes:

I probably should have thought earlier on in the peice to either investigate the science of it, or just follow a proper GF recipe instead of simply substituting GF flour and xanthan gum and hoping for the best, hey...

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS (makes approx. 10 cupcakes):

80mL milk
2 tea bags (I used plain black tea)
180g butter
1/2c castor sugar
3 eggs
1+1/3c plain gluten free flour
1+1/2tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1tsp xanthan gum
1tsp ginger
1tsp ground cardamom seeds
1tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp ground cloves

(at this point I begin to question whether I put in the correct quantities of all the ingredients measured in teaspoons, because this is a halved version of the original recipe, and I may have halved it again... hmm... oh well, looks like I'll have to bake them again to check. Dang!)

Preheat oven to 200oC.

Bring milk to the boil. Infuse 1 teabag in it for 10 minutes and the other for 6-7 minutes (if you think that's a weird direction it's cos the original called for 3 teabags, and that's the only way I could figure out to halve the recipe!). At the end of the alotted time squeeze the teabag into the milk to get all the goodies out and discard teabags.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, until well mixed.

Sift all dry ingredients together and add in 4 or so batches, alternating with milk mixture, ensuring batter is well mixed between each addition. Do not over-mix (I have the feeling GF recipes are particularly delicate).

Fill cupcake wrappers half to 2/3 full (after reading many a blogger bang on about how awesome ice cream scoops are for filling cupcake wrappers, I finally used one and it worked amazingly well! Perhaps I should have paid heed sooner...) and bake 15-20 minutes (I baked for 15 minutes).

I judged the cupcakes to be done when a skewer came out clean, but in hindsight I should have focused on the cupcake springing back when pressed because 2 or 3 of them were a little squishy on top once cooled.

140g butter
1+1/4c densely packed brown sugar
1/3c milk

Heat milk and a little under half the sugar until homogenous. Do not become distracted and allow to boil as it will become all chunky and gross and you will need to blend it up and use it anyway because you ran out of brown sugar and couldn't start again!

Whip butter until light and white and fluffy. Slowly add the rest of the sugar and mix until combined. Add the milk/sugar mix 1 spoon at a time, ensuring it is completely mixed between each addition. Keep a close eye on it because apparently it can all go horribly wrong if you add too much liquid too quickly, but the mix should take all the liquid if you're patient.


Ahem. Anyway, I refrigerated the icing for a while after I whipped it because it was a warm day and it was a little bit **too** soft.

Pipe with a star tip of some sort.

Ta-dah! (yeah, I need a fatter star tip)

(these are part of the reason my pants are tight today, the other part of the reason being the fourth Christmas dinner I had eaten in under a month and the frozen Christmas pudding I made for it, which I will post about once someone who was there has sent me a photo of the finished product)

One last note - the original recipe is listed in grams not cups. I used the table in this book (which I got for Christmas) to convert the measurements:

Here's the table:
Actually, that's the table I used on the day. The table I used **today** as I write this post is the one from I'm not dedicated enough to see whether the two match up.

For you purists/people who don't trust my maths (and really, who can blame you!), here's the original and you can jolly well use a set of scales ;)


  1. They look utterly delicious and I am highly tempted to try them myself (by which I mean "give the recipe to my Chef). I always find chai tea to be way too sweet for my tastes but it would definitely be perfect for a cupcake.

    1. Yeah, I didn't realise how sweet proper chai tea is until I ordered one from Gloria Jean's last night while I was bumming around the airport. **I** make it black with no sugar which I think is WAY better :)

  2. I'm glad you've figured out a way to make GF 'work' in a cake - you've done the hard yards to find out, so that we can all benefit ;-)

    1. Yep, and now I'm going to have to revisit all those GF recipes and "improve" them. Dang ;)

  3. These look lovely. I'll be mentioning them at our Twitter chat on Tuesday night and sharing on a group on Facebook.

    1. Thanks Suzie :) I'll also have a post coming in the next week or so about vanilla cupcakes that I somewhat more successfully adapted from a non-GF recipe than some of my past efforts. If you have any GF baking tips let me know!


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