18 May 2009

Even Better Than at the Bakery -- Bakin' Gluten-Free, Vegan Babycakes at Home

From May 2009 photos

This lovely bit of dessert is a gluten-free vegan cupcake straight from the pages of the brand, spankin' new cookbook from Babycakes Bakery by Erin McKenna, Babycakes.

From May 2009 photos

I've never had such light and rich gluten-free cake in my life. Fresh out of the oven (OK, about 20 minutes out of the oven) the above cupcake was fantastic. It had a nutty flavor, most likely from the coconut oil, and a perfectly cakey texture.

The gluten-free flour used in the cupcakes was garbanzo-fava bean flour. I had never used it in baking, but was very satisfied with the results. The one thing that is a mystery to me is why they should be stored in the refrigerator. Doesn't putting baked goods in the refrigerator dry them out?

Notes on the frosting: It was a little sour for my liking. I probably would only use 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice next time. Also, I don't use vanilla extract, which is why you see the vanilla seeds in my foods. In the photo above, I used the frosting prior to it's full setting, so it would be more of a glaze than a thick frosting because I wanted to really taste the cupcake. However, I plan to use it thickly on cupcakes later in the week. I'd really like to make it a filling and frosting because I enjoy surprises. ;)

The publisher was kind enough to allow me to republish the recipes for the cupcakes and frosting, so please go try these. They're worth the effort.

Vanilla Cupcakes from Babycakes

Makes 24 cupcakes (my yield was 12 large cupcakes and 34 mini cupcakes)

2 cups garbanzo-fava bean flour
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup arrowroot
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup coconut oil
1 1/3 cups agave nectar
3/4 cup homemade applesauce (in the book on page 78) or store-bought unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup hot water
Vanilla frosting (recipe follows)

Directions: (in my style, not theirs, although the language is theirs completely)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, potato starch, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt.
3. Add the oil, agave nectar, applesauce, vanilla, and lemon zest to the dry ingredients and combine.
4. Stir in the hot water and mix until the batter is smooth.
5. Pour 1/3 cup batter into each prepared cup, almost filling it. Bake the cupcakes on the center rack for 22 minutes rotating the tins 180 degrees after 15 minutes (It took mine 27 minutes, and my oven temperature is accurate.) The finished cupcakes will be golden brown and will bounce back when pressure is applied gently to the center.
6. Let the cupcakes stand in the tins for 20 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely.
7. Using a frosting knife, gently spread 1 tablespoon vanilla frosting over each cupcake. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Vanilla Frosting/Vanilla Sauce

Frosts 24 cupcakes.


1 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk
3/4 cup dry soy milk powder (I used Better Than Milk.)
1 tablespoon coconut flour
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups coconut oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


1. In a blender or a food processor, combine the soy milk, soy powder, coconut flour, agave nectar and vanilla.
2. Blend the ingredients for 2 minutes.
3. With the machine running, slowly add the oil and lemon juice, alternating between the two until both are fully incorporated.
4. Pour the mixture into an airtight container and refrigerate for 6 hours or up to 1 month. (If you plan to use it as a sauce, store the miture at room temperature for up to 1 week.)

The preceding recipes are courtesy of Babycakes, by Erin McKenna and published by the wonderful Clarkson Potter/Publishers in New York.

Please let me know how yours turn out!


Ricki said...

They do look great! I once tried another of her recipes (the cinnamon toasties, I think) and found it to be yummy as well.

Vegetation said...

Yum! And how adorable are they?!?

Deb Schiff said...

Awwww. Thanks Ricki and Veg. Cute and tasty too!

angela@spinachtiger said...

Hi Deb,
Just because (not celiac) I am in day 5 of gluten free for one month. I'm going to try these. They look wonderful. I have never used these alternative flours. I'll revisit and let you know.

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, Angela! I'm not a celiac sufferer either, but definitely willing to try new things. :) Please let me know how it goes.

Alisa - Frugal Foodie said...

Fabulous review! I am going to feature the book, and would love to include your review on go dairy free reviews. Let me know if that is cool :)

Deb Schiff said...

Of course, Alisa. Rock on!

I'm sure you'll do this automatically because you're always very cool about it, but please just link back to this post and my blog. Thanks!


Cool. I just bought this book. They look delicious!

Deb Schiff said...

Great! Thanks.

Sharon GR said...

These ARE yummy. Thanks!

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, Sharon!

Anonymous said...

I'm still waiting for my copy to review (was supposed to arrive over a month ago!). Yours turned out just beautifully...

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, Shelly! Hope your copy arrives soon.

jh said...

This looks like such a healthy and sweet recipe. thanks! I have, though, always been curious about xantham gum. Is it okay for you? What does it do exactly?

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Deb Schiff said...

Hi Jen,
Thanks for stopping by!
That's a great question. I didn't know either until I looked it up here: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-xanthan-gum.htm. Food scientists feed corn sugar to the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris to yield a starchy product that can behave as a thickening agent.
Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Hi Deb,
Tried these out today but they did not work out for me - I have to use some different flours as I can't get all the recommended ones here in Ireland. The texture of your crumb looks way better- mine looks pretty bizarre! The strange thing is my flour substitutions have worked for 2 of recipes in her book and not for another 2.

Deb Schiff said...

Hi Mary,

Thanks for commenting! And, for your compliment.

The first time I made these, which I did not report, I used brown rice flour and followed the instructions for the substitutions. They were not as good as these at all.

I went to the Babycakes web site and there were a bunch of FAQs on why recipes sometimes didn't work. I get the feeling that they might not have had enough time to adequately test these in enough conditions (read: substitutions) prior to publishing. Also, they make thousands of cupcakes a day and may not have tested enough in small batches.

The reason I'm hypothesizing this way is that I've read a LOT of blogs and complaints on other blogs with the same issues. My next trial will be the blueberry coffee cake, since that's what I always order when I go to that bakery. It does require making cupcakes first though, so it's a bit of a long recipe. It will have to wait until July when I get a break from classes.

Hope this helps.

Ann said...

Those look beautiful! And very healthy, I love the ingredients that went into it.

Deb Schiff said...