Carrot Ginger Cupcakes (Gluten-Free or Not/ Dairy-Free or Not)

This gluten free carrot cake recipe was inspired by the classic carrot cake recipe that I grew up eating in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  My family favoured the super moist carrot cake topped with a not very sweet creme cheese icing (or no icing at all) from Susan Mendelson’s excellent cookbook Mama Never Cooked Like This.  Aunty Mona gave me her copy when I went to college. I recently learned that Mona missed it after she gave it to me and went out and got another one for herself.  I will include the original recipe for anyone who can eat wheat flour at the bottom of this post.

I have a very clear memory of Mona scoffing at people who ate carrot cake instead of regular cake because they thought it was more healthy than regular cake.  The original recipe uses A LOT of oil and every drop of it is worth it, because the cake turns out so rich and wonderful.   You should eat this cake because it is delicious, not as some sort of misguided dieting effort.  That said, it does  happen to have a good amount of vegetables and nuts in it, and therefore probably does in fact deliver a little bit more actual nutrition than your average cake.  Also, as it turns out, gluten-free flours do not hold onto oil the same way that wheat does, so the gluten-free version of this cake has a full third less oil than the original.  This is also a very good recipe to make for folks who do not eat diary products.  It uses eggs but no butter or milk and  it does not really need the cream cheese icing icing.  However, f you really want  a diary free icing for this cake, you can use the coconut lemon icing found in the Blackberry Lemon Wedding Cake recipe.

I started adding candied ginger to my carrot cake when I first became friends with the man who is now my husband.  I made this cake for his birthday, and we all ate it on our break during rehearsal.  I had recently made a ton of candied ginger to give away as Christmas gifts and I threw some into the cake.  I have added it to the batter ever since although these days I use store bought ginger.

For the gluten-free version of this cake I use a Teff  and Buckwheat flour mix that is lightened with some tapioca, potato and arrowroot starch.  I have been mixing up big batched of this stuff and using it to make Gluten-Free Dark Sourdough Bread and Gluten-Free Sourdough Gingerbread Pancakes.  Here is the recipe for that mix.

BUCKWHEAT TEFF MIX

  • 4 ounces Teff flour
  • 4 ounces Buckwheat flour
  • 4 ounces arrowroot starch (corn starch would be an acceptable substitute)
  • 4 ounces potato starch (not potato flour!)
  • 4 ounces tapioca starch

Mix them all together!  This will make 20 ounces, so you will have a some leftover.  Use the leftover mix in place of regular flour to make delicious pancakes.

Despite it’s name, Buckwheat is not a variety of wheat.  It is not even a grain, so it is totally gluten-free.  It is actually the seed of a plant that is distantly related to rhubarb, which just makes me love it more!  When you add liquid to buckwheat flour, it becomes slippery and a little gooey.  This quality is very useful in gluten-free baking.  If you are using a bit of buckwheat flour in your gluten-free baking you will not need to add any xanthan gum and the finished product will never have that horrible crumbly stale quality that gluten-free baking sometimes has.  Buckwheat has a very strong earthy flavour though, so it does not work for everything.  Carrot cake already has an earthy flavour (from the carrots) balanced with sweet warm spices, so it works well here.

Before I gave up gluten, I used to make this carrot cake in my bundt pan.  My gluten-free version works better as cupcakes than a bundt cake, because the dough is bit more tender than the original.  You could also try dividing the batter between two small, round spring form pans lined with parchment paper to make a layer cake.

CARROT GINGER CUPCAKES (GLUTEN-FREE)

Inspired by Susan Mendelson’s Mama Never cooked Like This

Produces 18 cupcakes

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar (demerara if you have it)
  • 1 cup mild oil
  • 2 cups Buckwheat/ Teff Mix (recipe above)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  •  1 cup drained, crushed pineapple
  •  1 cup candied ginger minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts (pecans would work as well)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs, sugars and oil until they are frothy.
  3. Sift together 2 cups of the flour mix along with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Add to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  4. Add the grated carrots, crushed pineapple, minced candied ginger, chopped nuts and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  5. Divide the batter between 18 muffin tins lined with cupcake liners.  Each cupcake will take about 1/4 cup of batter.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes then check to see if they are done.  A cake tester or bamboo inserted into the cake should come out clean.
  7. Let the cupcakes cool completely before icing

NOT TOO SWEET CREAM CHEESE ICING

Note- If you ice your cupcakes as lavishly as I have done in these photos you will need to multiply this recipe by FOUR.    The cupcakes do not really need that much icing.  It just looked so pretty that I had a hard time controlling myself.  For a Dairy Free Coconut Lemon Icing recipe click here.  For cream cheese icing, whip the following ingredients together.

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 Tablespoons icing sugar
  •  1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

SUSAN MENDELSON’S CLASSIC CARROT CAKE

from Mama Never Cooked Like This

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups mild oil
  • 2 cups all purpose white flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  •  1 cup drained, crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and lightly flour a bundt pan or 9 x 13 baking pan.
  3. In a large mixing bowl eat the eggs, sugars and oil until they are frothy.
  4. Sift together 2 cups of the flour mix along with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Add to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  5. Add the grated carrots, crushed pineapple, minced candied ginger, chopped nuts and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  6. Pour the batter in to the prepared pan and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  7. Let the cake cool before icing.

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About Big Sis Little Dish

This is a blog run by two sisters. Erin is the big sister who lives in New York, and Silvi is the little sister who lives in Vancouver. They both love to cook! They created this blog to share and store recipes for the food they make.

7 comments

  1. Looks great! I’ll try making this one for my mum who is dairy free. Thanks!

  2. Yummmmmm. These look great!

  3. Wish I had one of these right now!

  4. Pingback: Sourdough Blini (Gluten-Free) « Big Sis Little Dish

  5. Pingback: Pineapple Brown Betty (A good topping for gluten-free coconut pancakes) « Big Sis Little Dish

  6. was looking for traditional christmas cake to bake… and ran into this recipe! how cool is that!

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