Friday 21 October 2011

Amazing gluten free vegan chocolate cupcakes

Baking both vegan and gluten free is a challenge.  To do both is like baking without a safety net.  Wheat props up vegan baking and eggs prop up gluten free baking.  Quite some time ago I stumbled across a recipe for vegan gluten free chocolate cupcakes on My Real Food Life.  I was excited.  I keep my eye out for such recipes.  This one was different to any others I had seen.

It had both strawberries and banana in the mixture as background flavours.  Far more unusual was the use of agar powder to help bind the cupcakes.  I have only used my agar powder once before.  It made a horrid firm jelly.  Yet I am curious to experiment more.  I really liked the advice on substituting for eggs and binding agents on My Real Food Life.  I was pleased to read that Alea is not a fan of processed foods like xanthan gum.  You can also read more about agar on Vegangela.

I misread a few things in the recipe.  My excuse is that Sylvia was yelling out to me from her cot while she was meant to be sleeping.  Not great for concentrating on an unusual recipe.  I didn't read that I needed to puree the fruit but I don't think it mattered too much.  I also wasn't sure if the banana should have been added to the strawberries when they were being reduced to a syrup.  I was very pleased however that I had so many of the unusual ingredients required by the recipe.

You only have to look at the above picture to see how good the texture was.  When I have tried vegan gf baking before, the texture can be too moist or gooey.  When I took the cupcakes out of the oven they held together really well and I noticed quite a bit of oil on the cupcake papers.  I could barely taste the fruit.  My only reservation was the slight grainy texture that I find in baking with rice flour.  I might try reducing the rice flour in the recipe.  My preference would be some soy or chickpea flour.  Though these might not be suitable if you are making the cupcakes for people with allergies.

The next day, Sylvia and I ate the cupcakes on the front verandah.  I photographed them out the front.  Of course a neighbour happened to walk by when I was doing it.  I don't know him well.  We just say hello when we pass.  I was a little embarrassed but I had a child with me.  Everyone knows you have to take lots of pics of kids.  It is not so well known that you have to take lots of pics of great cupcakes.

I am sending these muffins to Ricki's Wellness Weekends.

Other successful vegan gluten free baking on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Apricot Muffins
Chickpea crackers
Gingerbread cut out cookies
Zimsterne (Cinnamon Stars)

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted slightly from Alea of My Real Food Life
Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 1 generous cup chopped strawberries 
  • 1 small mashed banana (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 cup apple juice (I used a half jar of applesauce and topped it up with water)
  • 1 tbsp agar agar powder
  • 2/3 cup olive oil 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup white rice flour
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar 
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch (or any other starch)
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp aluminum free baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
Cook strawberries in a small saucepan over medium heat until a syrupy consistency (it took me 25 minutes but only 15 for Alea).  They should reduce down to about 1/4 cup of syrup.  Set aside to cool to room temperature (or place in the freezer to cool it quicker).

Meanwhile mix the remaining wet ingredients in a medium bowl to give the agar a chance to absorb the liquids and swell.  Add the strawberry syrup once it has cooled.  Alea pureed this mixture in the food processor but I didn't.

Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir in the wet ingredients.  Mix thoroughly.  Spoon the mixture into lined muffin tins.  Bake at 180 C (350 F) until the tops are dry.  Alea said 15-20 minutes but I let mine bake 25 minutes and they were still quite moist.  Cool on a wire rack.  The muffins should be eaten within a few days.  They do not freeze well (I tried it with one and threw it out).

On the Stereo:
I've never seen a straight banana: rare moments, vol 1 - Tiny Tim

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2011.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more Vegan MoFo posts.


    1. We use agar-agar a lot in Asia - if your jelly turned out too firm, you're using too much... ;)

      Good to know you've found a use for it in these cupcakes though! They sound delicious.

    2. Oh that looks so yummy! I love the idea of REAL strawberries in a cupcake! YUM!

    3. Wow these look delicious and very healthy with all the added fruit. Try using Buckwheat flour if you can find it. Its my favourite for GF baking as it acts like normal flour in texture. Its got a slight grassy note, but this would be fine in cupcakes. I think my family have got used to me photographing everything I bake :)

    4. This makes me very happy :) I have never experimented with GF baking because I don't personally have a problem with gluten or know anyone who does (a selfish approach, I know!) but I love the look of this recipe regardless. The inclusion of strawberries and banana is genius.

    5. Oh! I've had nothing but an apple since 11am; I want these so badly right now! :(

    6. Well done making a great gluten free and vegan cupcake! Oh and I have some not very fond memories of using agar too-it was a texture not unlike the one you described! :)

    7. You definitely got the texture just perfect with these babies, and that is no easy feat! I love the chocolate/strawberry's a classic for a reason!

    8. They look fantastic! I just started experimenting with agar in my gf baking and wasn't too happy. . .maybe I didn't use enough, but my baked goods totally fell apart. Yours looks so moist and yummy! Love the idea of strawberries in a muffin. Thanks for submitting to Wellness Weekend, too! :)

    9. I get embarrassed about taking foodie photos too! Great looking cupcakes though, I will need to keep this in mind for when my GF pals pop by.

    10. Those cupcakes sound quite good - and healthy even!

    11. Thanks Leaf - the amount of agar in the jelly was definitely wrong but I just haven't had time to experiment - am sure if you use it all the time you would have a good feel for it - which I surely don't

      thanks in her grace - I love strawberries in a cupcake too - interesting that they are used more as a flavour enhancer here

      Thanks Katie - I love buckwheat flour - used it a lot for a while and then let it linger - good advice - probably would create some interesting flavour in the cupcakes

      Thanks Kari - I have done a bit of experimenting with GF due to some family and friends but once you do you find that it gives you a great insight into flours and baking

      Thanks Hannah - I don't know how you can go so long without food and, more to the point, if you do, how can you bear to look at food blogs - hope you had a good dinner!

      Thanks Lorraine - you too! it is quite different reading about an agar and using it - all a learning process :-)

      Thanks Joanne - I was so pleased with the texture after some of my attempts!

      Thanks Ricki - had never even considered agar in cupcakes until I read My Real Food Life - but am not surprised to hear you are already onto it

      Thanks Chele - it is so much nicer to take food photos without an audience

      Thanks Cakelaw - yes, the cupcakes are full of good healthy ingredients

    12. Love the idea of putting so much fresh fruit in these lovely cakes - they have turned out so beautifully, that crumb looks amazing. I bet you are really pleased to have created such a great recipe!

    13. Hurray for vegan gf baking success!!


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