Monday, October 8, 2012

The Cupcake Adventures [Part I]

If you know me at all, you know I'm am obnoxious baker. I'm the person that will spend all day in the kitchen, tell you I spent all day in the kitchen, linger as you take a bite of whatever I spent all day in the kitchen making, and wait for you to tell me that I am your baking goddess, and this is the best [insert whatever it is I've crammed in front of you and expected to you eat] you've ever had.

But wait, pause for a moment - vegan baking is a whole new monster. No longer can I refer to my well-loved copy of Cook's Illustrated Best Recipe Cookbook, or spend hours poring over recipe reviews on to make sure I have the best possible [insert whatever it is I've crammed in front of you and expected to you eat]. I've been baking since the third grade, and I seriously feel like I'm starting from scratch.

Enter the CUPCAKES.

Felicity's first birthday is on December 1st. Being the obnoxious baker I am, I want to make cupcakes. I want to make the most amazing, delectable vegan cupcakes, like the ones from The Cupcake Station in Ann Arbor, Michigan (which can and should be held responsible for what is going on in my thighs). I want to make perfect cupcakes.

I started with Babycakes, the cookbook from the famed bakery in New York City (which I've yet to visit, because it involves one-too-many train transfers for my lazy self). Babycakes (the store) was apparently voted the #1 cupcake in NYC, despite the fact that they are vegan and gluten-free. Wow. Gotta try it, right?

I spent way too much at Whole Foods purchasing things I'd never even heard of, things like coconut flour, potato starch, and soy milk powder. My friend A., who was visiting for the weekend, and I got to work yesterday afternoon, doing the very tedious job of halving the recipe for two-dozen cupcakes in the actual cookbook. Good heavens - halving things like 1 Tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder called upon our very serious math skills, my baking conversion magnet on the fridge, and a calculator. It was intense, but A. and I were up for the challenge. It was only today I found a halved recipe online (doh!)

   Overall Grade: 6.75 (out of 10)
   Cupcake Flavor: 8.5
   Crumb: 7 at room temperature (4 when chilled, as suggested by the authors for storage)
   Frosting Flavor: 7.5
   Frosting Texture: 4

Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Babycakes
Makes 10-12 cupcakes

If I was to actually serve these at a party, which I might, I would make the frosting the day before to really let it set. I would make the cupcakes about 6 hours, before the party, let them cool completely, and frost the cupcakes 30-60 minutes before the guests arrive, so that the frosting didn't melt, but the cupcakes could avoid being chilled, which really does absolutely nothing for a cupcake. If you must serve these chilled, please let them sit out for an hour or so before serving, it really does make a big difference.


1/2 cup + 6 Tablespoons garbanzo-fava bean flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons arrowroot
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil
6 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
Chocolate Frosting (see below)


Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a regular-sized muffin tin with liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the coconut oil, applesauce, vanilla, and hot water until well blended, then incorporate into the dry mix until the batter is smooth.

Pour approximately 1/3 cup batter into each prepared cup, almost filling it. Bake the cupcakes for 15 minutes, then rotate the tin and cook for another 5-7 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the tin for twenty minutes, then move to a wire rack until cooled completely. Frost and enjoy!

Cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Chocolate Frosting

Adapted from Babycakes

I know the 6 hour chilling thing sounds crazy, but you really do need to wait this long, the texture is much more consistent and smooth, and the flavor is much better.

To make vanilla frosting, eliminate the cocoa powder, increase the dry soy milk powder by an additional 2 Tablespoons, and increase the coconut oil by an additional 1/4 cup.


3/4 cups plain soy milk
1/4 cup dry soy milk powder
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut flour
2 Tablespoons agave nectar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice


In a blender, combine the soymilk, soy powder, cocoa powder, coconut flour, agave nectar, and vanilla until smooth, then blend for an additional two minutes. With the machine still running, slowly add the oil and lemon juice, alternating between the two until both are fully incorporated.

Pour the mixture into an airtight container and refrigerate for at least six hours before using to frost the cupcakes.

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