These orange cream cupcakes are making my brain explode. Or my mouth? Nope, it’s both.
I’ve pretty much made it my life goal to make gluten-free baked goods taste as un-gluten-free and “normal” as possible. The best compliment I could ever receive is for someone to say, “I would never have guessed these were gluten-free!”
When it comes to cake this goal is really tricky. Gluten-free cake can so easily turn gummy, dry, crumbly, and/or chewy. The worst is when the cake has an aftertaste (I’ve found this happens when chickpea flour is used.).
I’ve made a few cakes in the past that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed (and you all have seemed to as well!) but they were all quite dense (in the best way possible).
So for these cupcakes I set out to make them lighter, fluffier, and with a more traditional cake texture.
I started with my usual combination of oat flour and almond flour but needed to incorporate another flour to lighten them up. At first I tried white rice flour but it made the cupcakes sort of paste-like in your mouth as you chewed. So those were an immediate NO. I then tried a flour I rarely use, sorghum flour.
The first trial was a little too airy, but I knew sorghum flour was the answer. After a few more trials changing the flour ratios (and using only baking powder instead of powder + soda) I got it figured out. This was exactly what I was looking for. Fluffy and moist with just the right denseness and crumb.
And then there’s the frosting.
I decided to go a little more traditional with this frosting, using a stick of butter and a block of cream cheese. It’s basically impossible to not have a good outcome when those two ingredients are involved.
For flavor (okay, and some Valentine’s Day flair) and color I used ground, freeze-dried strawberries! Such an easy and natural way to dye frosting. The added sweetness and mild strawberry flavor was an added bonus.
And let’s not forget the vanilla beans. Ever. Seriously, don’t ever leave them out of frosting.
The cupcakes have a bit of creaminess to them from the full-fat Greek yogurt and whole milk, hence the whole “orange cream cupcake” thing.
I’m just a whee bit excited for you guys to try out this recipe.
I think you’re going to dig it.
Orange Cream Cupcakes with Strawberry Vanilla Frosting gluten-free // yields 14-16 standard cupcakes
- 1 cup pure cane sugar
- 3/4 cup oat flour (gluten-free if needed)
- 3/4 cup blanched almond flour
- 3/4 cup sorghum flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 2/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup full fat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract (optional)
- 1/3 cup melted (and lightly cooled) unrefined coconut oil (or other baking oil)
frosting: *Allow cream cheese + butter to come to room temp before making.
- 8oz cream cheese
- 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1+ cups powdered sugar
- 2 cups freeze dried strawberries
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla beans (scraped from 1-2 pods)
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line muffin tin(s) with liners.
In a large bowl stir together the sugar, three flours, baking powder, and salt.
In another bowl whisk the eggs. Then whisk in the orange juice, milk, yogurt, zest, vanilla, and orange extract (if using) until fully combined. Whisk in the melted coconut oil, then pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Whisk/stir until fully combined and you no longer see dry flour.
Pour batter equally into muffin liners leaving 1/4-inch space from the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes then place on a cooling rack until fully cooled (at least 1 hour). Texture firms as they cool.
While cooling, place freeze-dried strawberries in your food processor. Process until ground into powder (there will be some small strawberry crumbs left). Sift through a fine-mesh strainer, reserving the crumbs to use as sprinkles. Set both aside.
With a hand or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and turn on low (to avoid a sugar dust cloud) working to high until fluffy and smooth. Add in 3/4 cup of the strawberry powder, the vanilla extract, and vanilla beans. Beat until fully combined and smooth. Taste and add more sugar if desired or more strawberry powder for a darker color.
Frost fully cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with the strawberry crumbs. Serve.
- For the best possible texture, do not sub any flours.
- To pipe the frosting scoop into a quart-sized bag. Squeeze air out and seal. Cut 1/4-inch from one bottom corner and pipe onto each cupcake. I like to start in the middle and work to the outside in a swirl pattern, then work back to the middle to finish.
- Frosting can be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge in a sealed container.
- Cupcakes should be refrigerated to maintain freshness and taken out 1 hour before serving.
- My best guess to make these dairy free (haven’t yet tried): Sub 2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk instead of whole milk and yogurt. Make sure your can of coconut milk has been whisked well before measuring. Sub cashew cream frosting (orange maple – chocolate) instead of cream cheese frosting.
- Do not use “dried” strawberries. They must be “freeze-dried.” Freeze-dried raspberries would also work.
Here’s to a great start to the week!