These cupcakes are amazing. I just wanted to start with that. You can’t tell that they’re gluten AND dairy free. My roommate’s eyes lit up when she took her first bite, and after her third she proclaimed it her favorite of my creations. Even I am wowed by how good this cupcake is. I can confidently say this is the best gluten-free red velvet cupcake recipe. AND the best dairy-free red velvet cupcake recipe. There. I said it. But I should know. I’ve eaten about 12 of these little guys. Including two this morning, before breakfast.
Three things contributed as inspiration for the best gluten-free red velvet cupcake I have ever eaten.
Brainstorming first came when I online-met Kelli of Ingested Read. I love her new blog, and her recipes are created for a specific book she’s pouring over. I’m a big fan of this idea, and this blog. So she opened up her site for guest-posts with Intercaketuality. Brilliant. I’m sending her a big high five across the pond.
I knew I wanted to make some sort of red-velvet cake. In my gluten-free food crawl with a few friends I learned that the three bakeries in the city that boast gluten-free offerings disappointed our taste buds in the red-velvet department. Either too dry or too moist, none contained that classic cocoa flavor.
A few months ago my cousin Daniella played Little Red Riding Hood in her high school production of Into the Woods and, as I predicted, was stellar, stealing the show. In this musical version Little Red has a slight obsession with baked goods, eating all the bread and sweets she is supposed to take through the woods to granny. Daniella herself is very allergic to dairy, so over the years we’ve commiserated at the dessert table as treats were passed around.
So when thinking about a new cake I wanted to work on, these three elements blended perfectly into The Little Red Velvet Riding Hood Cupcake!
But a few challenges arose when making this both gluten and dairy free.
First, how to replicate cake flour? According to my interweb research, cake flour is distinctive because (a) it is very finely milled, (b) it contains a low amount of protein which develops gluten and (c) it has a higher amount of starch as a result. So, how to make a gluten-free version of cake flour, which obviously lacks gluten to begin with?
- 3 cups brown rice flour
- 1 cup potato starch
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
I don’t really use potato starch, as it’s a nightshade and not good for people with arthritis and digestive issues, so instead I used arrowroot and crossed my fingers. I also used 2 cups of brown rice flour and 1 of white rice flour, and sifted twice. This worked wonderfully in the cake. I’ll have it on hand from now on.
I then had to replace buttermilk with a non-dairy ingredient. Normally I’d just use almond or soy milk, but as the consistency of buttermilk is a bit thicker and tangy, I had to improvise. So I used tofutti sour cream and diluted it with unsweetened almond milk, then threw in a tablespoon of white vinegar. It worked!
I can honestly say that this recipe is better than the two bakery ones we tried. The cakes are that perfect combination of being both moist and crumbly – they’re not dry at all, so they won’t fall under the pressure of a fork. The cocoa is definitely present, but in no way do they taste like chocolate. And I cut back the sugar aspect by a half a cup and substituted with 1/8 a cup of light agave syrup. I’m not at all a fan of using either of these things, but for experimentation purposes I had to go with it.
For a frosting I whipped up a tofutti / Earth Balance spread from Mama Sophia’s Soul Kitchen. It’s a very tasty recipe, tangy and sweet without being overpowering nor tasting like soy. But as you can see in this picture, it’s more like a pretty, thick glaze. It has a gorgeous sheen, but even when refrigerated overnight it was far too loose for piping. So I glazed the minis with these and then found an incredibly light and fluffy vegan frosting that I whopped on the big guys.
The Little Red Velvet Riding Hood Cupcake
Notes: Make sure you have all your ingredients are room temperature or slightly warm. Make sure your oven is properly heated. Don’t over-mix the dough when you’re stirring in the last batch of dry ingredients.
- 2 1/2 cups gluten-free cake flour
- 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/8 cup light agave syrup
- 1 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 3/4 tsp. red gel/paste food coloring
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 rounded tablespoons Tofutti “sour cream” – at room temp
- almond or soy milk (directions below)
- 1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp distilled white vinegar, separated
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda.
- Preheat oven to 350º
- Line 24 cupcake molds (I did an even 12 cupcakes and 24 minis)
- Add Tofutti cream cheese to a liquid measuring cup and fill to just shy of one cup with almond or soy milk. Whisk thoroughly with a fork until smooth. Heat in microwave until warm but not hot.
- Add 1 Tbsp white vinegar and stir in.
- In a small bowl, whisk flour, cocoa and salt thoroughly.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix sugar, agave and oil thoroughly on medium speed until thoroughly combined.
- Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions.
- Add vanilla and coloring and mix in.
- Turn speed down to low. Add the flour in three additions, alternating with 1/2 of the “buttermilk”. Make sure to mix thoroughly between additions.
- Mix baking soda and remaining 2 tsps vinegar until foamy. Add and beat for 10 seconds or until incorporated.
- Bake for 14 minutes (small) or 22 minutes (large), rotating pan halfway through.
- Cool in pan for at least 5 minutes before removing to cool on a rack, or cool completely in pans.
- Definitely cool completely before frosting.
These can be kept in a refrigerator for 3 days in an airtight container. Bring them down to room temperature before serving.
- Baked Potato Cakes – Gluten and Dairy Free Recipe Swap! (thedustybaker.com)
- Vintage Recipe Swap – Sweet and Spicy Blueberry Molasses Jam Cookies (thedustybaker.com)
- Gluten-Free Ebelskivers (thedustybaker.com)