Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gluten Free, Vegan Yellow Cupcakes with Kiwis & Sultanas

Gluten Free, Vegan Yellow Cupcakes with Kiwi & Sultanas

From childhood until just a few years ago, green desserts have had a special place in my heart/mouth/stomach.  Now wouldn't it be great if I was referring to energy efficiency or sustainable food practices?  [sigh]  Alas, what I'm talking about are unnaturally green desserts like pistachio pudding, lime-flavored jello, and grasshopper pie.  Sweets so unabashedly green that we name smelly markers and designer paints after them.

Nowadays, I don't eat or drink anything artificially colored or flavored.  Rather than see what flavors I'm eating, I'm perfectly happy with simply tasting them.  But with St. Patrick's Day upon us and the color of lucky clovers everywhere, I still felt compelled to bake something green.

Enter kiwi cupcakes.

Did I just say "kiwi"?  Yup, sure did.  In my efforts to become a better food-sensitive baker, I've been doing more than my fair share of research on how to achieve crumb, lift, and flavor without gluten, dairy, or eggs.  My latest experiments have involved using pureed fruits to lend baked goods moisture, binding, and sweetness.  A common practice in vegan baking, the usual suspects are bananas, apples, and prunes, and I've found eye-opening success with all three.  But with my goal of green in mind, I wondered if kiwis would work.  I had never heard of anyone using them before, but in my commitment to taking more risks and allowing myself to make mistakes, I thought, "Why not?"  The worse thing that could happen would be learning exactly why I had never heard of anyone baking with kiwis.

When I took them out of the oven, I did my best to give them space and allow them to cool.  But if you were there, smelling that amazingly comforting aroma, you would understand why I couldn't help myself.  As the more-than-warm, crumbly cupcake disappeared into my mouth, several thoughts began to swirl through my head.  Of course, one of them was, "I will for sure be baking with kiwis again," but rewinding a few milliseconds past "wow, that was hot," my main thought was, "I have to share these cupcakes."

So here is the recipe for my "green" dessert featuring kiwis and green raisins.  You may not be able to see the green, but you can definitely taste it.

Yellow Cupcakes with Kiwis & Sultanas
Gluten-Free & Vegan

Active Prep Time: 10-15 minutes total
Inactive Prep Time: at least 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes
Yield: 8-12 cupcakes

1/3 c + 2 teaspoons (42g) non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon GF apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons (28g) softened vegan butter
1 tablespoon (14g) extra virgin olive oil
scant 1/3 c (42g) coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon ground flax
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 kiwi, mashed/pureed
approx. 1/3 c (56g) GF all-purpose flour, sifted

scant 1/2 c (28g) almond meal/flour
1/4 c (28g) millet flour
2 tablespoons (14g) quinoa flakes
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2/3 kiwi, diced
heaping 1/4 c rehydrated sultanas

1.  Combine non-dairy milk and vinegar, stir, and allow to sit and curdle for a few minutes to make a non-dairy "buttermilk."  I found best results for this recipe using unsweetened coconut milk beverage.
2.  Cream softened butter, sugar, and oil using a mixer or whisking by hand.  As it becomes lighter in both color and texture, add your buttermilk, ground flax, salt, and mashed kiwi.
3.  Once combined, fold in gluten-free all purpose flour to make a smooth, caramel-colored batter.  Cover and set aside for at least 30 minutes.  My aim with this step is to allow the flax and flours and starches in the all-purpose flour to hydrate/bloom, which will contribute to both binding and structure.  I didn't do this in my first trial, and the cake, while delicious, was too delicate to hold.
4.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
6.  Whisk remaining dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
7. When oven is nearly at temp, proceed with gradually folding the dry mixture into the rested batter.
8.  Once combined, add diced kiwi and rehydrated sultanas.  If you don't have sultanas, feel free to use any type of raisin or currant.  And to rehydrate mine, I used just enough orange juice to cover a scant 1/4 cup of sultanas and let them sit for a few minutes before draining off the liquid.
9.  Fill cupcake liner 1/2 to 2/3 full, place in center of oven, and bake for 15-20 minutes.

The green and greenish ingredients that inspired me.

A fork works nicely.  A few chunks are fine.

Only filled the liners 1/3 full for this batch.  Baked in 12 minutes.

Now, you're probably wondering, "How exactly do kiwis taste in a cupcake?"  And my general answer is, "Nothing like a fresh kiwi." It was actually really interesting trying to pinpoint what the kiwi tasted like once baked into the cupcakes.  I detected flavors similar to plums, persimmons, some grapiness that didn't seem to come from the raisins, and a raspberry-like tart finish.    And to add to the complex and alluring flavors, the texture and crumb on this cupcake is beautiful.  Moist, delicate, soft, while still holding together.  Now, the thought did cross my mind to dress up the cupcakes with some frosting or whipped cream for the photos.  How else could it be called a cupcake?  But, beyond my own bias for 'naked' or minimal desserts, I honestly think that this cupcake holds its own perfectly well.

SO good.

Have a Safe and Happy St. Patrick's Day Weekend, and as always, Thank You for visiting The Canary Files.


  1. What an interesting combination for a cupcake, and they look so scrumptious! And kiwi in a baked good is a stroke of genius.

    1. Thank you, Morri! It turned out to be genius, but it all started with a streak of curiosity. So awesome when playing with ingredients and baking works out in such a delicious way.

  2. The green in these sounds great! I've stopped using or buying things with any kind of artificial food coloring. And, I love kiwis!

    1. So do I, Lisa! The crumb and texture on these was such a wonderful surprise, and what really made it awesome was tasting kiwis in a such a deliciously different way.

  3. These look good. It is a rarity for people to use Kiwi in baking other than for garnishing. I think it has something to do with the acidity or enzymes in Kiwis, but I think you just smacked all the disbelievers in the mouth with this recipe, hehe. I've never been one for frosting either; if a cake is good enough on its own, it doesn't need anything else. =)

    1. It is rare, but I suppose it's just because kiwi is so wonderful as it is. No need to cook it or alter it in any way. But, of course, that doesn't mean you can't...


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