Apple and Date Cupcakes with Coconut Yogurt Icing

Gluten Free, Vegan, Sugar Free

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Yesterday my beautiful friend Maddie had her twentieth birthday party. Last year I made her this lemon sponge birthday cake and covered it in sugar flowers and told you all how much I love Maddie, if you want to read that. This year I wanted to make the MOST EPIC CAKE OF ALL TIME.

Maddie loves banoffee pie so I decided to make a four-layer caramel mud cake with banana and cream filling and chocolate ganache covering the entire thing. So I got up early, went and bought all the ingredients, whipped up my cake feeling like a casual Masterchef, and as I was cleaning up I found the pound of sugar sitting on the counter. Not in the cake, like it was supposed to be, just relaxing on my counter.

Uuugh. Life’s struggles. I tried to fix it by covering every single layer in a thick layer of more caramel as well as the chocolate and bananas and cream, and it ended up pretty awesome. But I think it would probably have tasted better with you know, sugar in it.

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Lots of people tell me they’re too scared to bake or try my recipes because they might stuff up or they’re not “good enough.” To them I say, I stuff up all the time. Like literally every time I make something there’s a stage that goes wrong somewhere in there. But it doesn’t matter! Try it anyway, and if you have to go out and buy a jar of Dulce de Leche to smother on your sugar-free cake, that’s ok too.

You can never get any better if you don’t try in the first place. Which brings me to these cupcakes. Ever since I made these apple and cinnamon cream cheese cupcakes, I’ve been wanting to make a gluten free AND vegan version that’s just as good as the original.

I was waay too scared for ages because my memory of them was so perfect, I didn’t want a mediocre cupcake to replace it. But finally thought, geez Lil. Just go make the cupcakes already. With the help of My Darling Lemon Thyme‘s gluten free muffin recipe I finally cracked the apple cinnamon cupcake challenge.

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I’m going to go as far to say that these are better than the original muffins. And they happen to be way better for you too! There’s no eggs, dairy, gluten or refined sugar in them at all and they also happen to be super easy to make.

I’m always worried when I make gluten free cupcakes that the texture will be either super powdery, or gluggy, or dense. These weren’t any of these. My sister ate one not knowing they were gluten free and said they were crumbly but moist (mooooooist), like the perfect cupcake. So there you go, the Cake Kahuna has spoken. You can replace the apple with carrot or pear if you want! You could add chopped almonds or walnuts, sultanas instead of the dates, and you can even leave out the icing.

By the way, I am calling these cupcakes but they are technically muffins…But in my mind once it has icing it is a cupcake, so…yeah. They’re cupcake muffins. Have a great week guys!

One Year Ago: Lemon Berry Butter Cake

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Apple and Date Cupcakes with Coconut Icing
Recipe inspired from this book
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cup fine brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato flour
2 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 heaped tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 eggs, lightly beaten OR 2 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 4 tbsp water for vegan
3 apples, washed and grated
1/2 cup dates, chopped into chunks

1.5 cups (370g) coconut yogurt (or normal yogurt)
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp brown sugar (optional but awesome)
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Preheat the oven to 180C (356F) and line 10 muffin moulds with muffin cups. Whisk together in a bowl the dry ingredients well. In a separate bowl mix together the wet ingredients. Gently fold the wet into the dry and fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 17-22 minutes, until golden on top and cooked through. Leave to cool.

Drain the coconut or normal yogurt in a sieve lined with a teatowel for a few hours, to make Labneh. Mix with the maple syrup and brown sugar and pipe over the cupcakes. Once iced, keep the cupcakes in the fridge.
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Banana and Fig + Carrot and Cinnamon Cupcakes

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 As you can see I made cupcakes. Lots and lots of cupcakes. My Mum is having an art exhibition tonight and guess who got asked to make the cakes! Some professional baker called Susan. Well you know what I told Susan? I said shove your fancy tarts up your jumper! She’s my Mum and Imma gonna make her cakes and they’re going to RULE. 

Last time I baked for an art show, things got very *tense* in the kitchen. Namely the cupcakes came out as dry, flat pancakes burnt on to the bottom of the muffin pan. And don’t even get me started on the chocolate icing that split and became a greasy ball of brown slime. That was a very stressful day for me. 

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 So today I thought I’d do a post on good ideas for party catering! Or maybe more of what are not good ideas for party baking, because I have had far more of those and can happily share them with you for future avoidance. 

Ok: the big kahuna of don’t do it in the realm of catering is…don’t try a recipe you’ve never made before!! Obvious you say? Not so obvious to me! Why did you choose five recipes you’d never seen before you may ask? Because I am an idiot. This time I chose trusty old timers from the archives. You may recognise the banana and fig cupcakes from this recipe. Just replace 150g of the pureed banana with pureed fresh figs. 

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 Tip number two: Don’t choose recipes that are really involved and require lots of washing up. For example eton mess cups. Delicious in theory! But so messy you will be throwing blueberries at your dog in frustration. Also the cream will need to be in the fridge until you’re literally ready to serve, so as a handy hint number 3 make sure there is a fridge at the venue beforehand. 

Tip number four: Choose cakes and slices that are naturally moist and longlasting. Little sponge cupcakes are so cute in theory but so dry and crumbly 24 hours later when they’ve been sitting in an air-conditioned room. The little carrot cakes I made today are from this recipe. I think you could take it to the beach for a day in the sun and it would still come home sticky and dense and perfect. 

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 Tip number 5: Choose a few dishes rather than a whole heap. I was originally going to also make a rhubarb and coconut crumble slice and a caramel slice and at one point even fairy cakes! But no one wants to spend the end of the night trying to pack boxes of uneaten cakes and take them home and eat them by yourself. 

Today I made brownies, these two sets of cupcakes, and a friend made berry friands. Something for everyone! Everybody is happy and no one has food poisoning from the cream in the eton mess cups. Perfecto. 

I made the same icing for both cupcakes: 500g (just shy of 1 pound) cream cheese, 225g (1/2 pound) mascarpone, 4 limes zested and juiced, plus 125g (4.5 ounces) icing sugar. Blend it all together and dollop on the cupcakes! Either keep them in the fridge or only ice them half an hour before serving. 

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Orange and Poppyseed Ricotta Cupcakes

Gluten Free and Refined Sugar Free

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 The orange and poppy seed party continues! I think with these cupcakes I’ve officially won the yellow award. I mean seriously. Has anyone in the room seen a yellower cupcake? If so, shh. These still win because they are in gold cupcake cases!!! So there. Party cupcakes! 

These mini cheesecakes were actually birthday cupcakes for my beautiful friend Anna, way back in November! Anna means so much to this blog. She was the first subscriber! She was always the one to encourage me, and to send me helpful messages when I put up a post with no photos, or sometimes no words. She helped me so much with the photography! The reason your eyes aren’t bleeding right now is because of her. Serious. 

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Anna has been a bestie of mine for years now so I knew for her birthday I wanted to make something she’d really like. I knew she loved ricotta, because she eats it almost every day. And I knew she liked honey, because she eats her ricotta every day with honey. And she liked poppy seeds too! So these cupcakes seemed like the perfect idea. 

I based the recipe on David Lebovitz’ ricotta and orange cake, switching the double cream for yogurt and the sugar for honey. And adding a butt-load of poppy seeds.

The result was sweet and zesty little cupcakes that were crunchy from the poppy seeds, and slightly tangy from the yogurt. Feel free to sub back in the cream for a richer version, and the sugar too. Honey worked surprisingly well as a substitute. I was worried the extra liquid would change the consistency! I used raw honey though, which was slightly crystallised. So hopefully that wasn’t the only reason.

IMG_7894 If ever you try one of my recipes and something doesn’t work, please let me know in the comments! Sometimes ingredients can react super differently depending on the oven or brand, so it’s good to know which ones can cause problems. Also I often write up the recipes in about ten minutes just before switching my computer off and running out the door, so mistakes are bound to be included every now and then.

These little cakes are super light and delicate, perfect for those recovering from the holiday season. They will inevitably deflate a little, as is the nature of ricotta cheesecakes. Just cool them down slowly and fill the muffin cups more than you normally would.
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Orange and Poppyseed Cheesecakes: Adapted from this recipe
1kg (2.2 pounds, 35 ounces) ricotta cheese (full fat)
60g (1/2 cup) natural yogurt
zest of 1 orange
5 eggs, at room temperature
130ml honey
80g (1 cup) poppyseeds
1 tbsp gluten free flour (you could try corn, almond or oat flour)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
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Preheat the oven to 180C (355F) and line 12 muffin holes with large papers. Mix the ricotta, yogurt and eggs together well. Mix in the zest, vanilla extract, flour, salt, honey and poppyseeds. Stir to completely combine. Pour even spoonfuls into the muffin cups to 3/4 full. Bake in the middle of the oven for 17-20 minutes, until risen and golden on top. Cool with the oven off and the door open before taking them out.
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Apple, Cinnamon and Olive Oil Cupcakes with Honey Icing

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Cupcakes can be one of life’s biggest disappointments.

Sure they look amazing, so you figure they’ll taste even better. But the icing is too sweet and buttery, and the cake is a sad and flat little blob of devastation. Flavourless. Dry. Worthless. 

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These cupcakes are not like those evil party cupcakes. Cupcakes are pretty, and easy to share, so in theory they make so much sense. I wanted to use apples because they have just come in season and they’re so crunchy! I’ve never used a piping bag before which you can probably tell, it was so fun though!

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The hefty chunks of apple bake into soft little pockets of sweetness and the cinnamon smells so good! The olive oil makes the cakes delicate and really flavoursome. But the best part by far is the icing! It is a cream cheese icing made one thousand times better with the addition of honey and brown sugar. It brings these cupcakes to a whole new level. The recipe is adapted from Ottolenghi, which is just about the most useful cookbook ever. I’ve seriously made almost everything in it. 

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 Apple Cupcakes with Honey Icing: Adapted from this book

3 apples, peeled and chopped into 1cm pieces

120ml (1/2 cup, 4.1 ounces) olive oil

160g (5 oz, 2/3 cup) caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1.5 tsp baking powder

280g (2 cups + 3 tbsp) plain flour

2 eggs + 2 egg whites, kept separately

Icing:

250g (1/2 pound, 9 ounces) cream cheese

90ml (6 tbsp, 3 ounces) honey

100g (4 ounces, 1 stick) softened butter
100g (1/2 cup, 4 ounces) brown sugar

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 Method:

Preheat the oven to 170C (340F) and prepare 12 cupcake tins.

For the cupcakes: Beat together the vanilla, sugar and oil until smooth. Slowly add in the two whole eggs and beat until combined. Fold through the apple, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Sift in the baking powder and flour and stir to combine. Separately, beat the egg whites until tripled in size and fold gently through. If your batter is still very dry, try adding a pour of milk at this stage.

For the icing: Beat together the butter, sugar and honey until smooth. Add the cream cheese in chunks and beat until completely smooth and fluffy. Spread over the cupcakes once they are cool. 

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