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Cupcakes really are EASY to make. What’s more, they cook very quickly and the frosting doesn’t need to chill in the fridge – so they’re ready very quickly. (Something that Zoe appreciates hugely!) I’ve made these with cocoa powder in both the cupcakes and the frosting, instead of melting chocolate. And I’ve used a mixture of rice flour, ground almonds and buckwheat flour because it’s an excellent recipe to use buckwheat flour in (which is very nutritious). But you don’t need to use buckwheat flour, if you don’t have any to hand. (Just use 75g rice flour and 50g ground almonds, instead.)
I made these with a little helper – Zoe. She was excellent at helping to mix and at putting all the cupcake cases into the bun tin. She kindly licked the spoons to make them clean and helpfully tasted each stage to make sure that it tasted good. Unfortunately, though, once they were made, I heard a crash in the kitchen while I was having a bath. Cries of “Mummy” came from the kitchen, followed by Peter coming to explain that Zoe had tipped the container over and the cupcakes were now squashed. Luckily I’d already taken the picture – and I guess we’ll just have to eat the squashed ones quickly and make some new ones now for Easter day!
Happy Easter! x
gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free, citrus-free
Makes 10 Preparation time 15 minutes Cooking time 15 minutes
- 150g/5½oz dairy-free margarine, softened
- 150g/5½oz/heaped ¾ cup fruit sugar or caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 50g/1¾oz/heaped ¼ cup rice flour
- 20g/¾oz/scant ¼ cup buckwheat flour
- 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- scant ½ tsp xanthan gum
- 50g/1¾oz/scant ½ cup cocoa powder
- 55g/2oz/½ cup ground almonds
- 200g/7oz dairy-free margarine
- 400g/14oz/scant 3¼ cups icing sugar, or ground fruit sugar
- 120g/4¼oz/1 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and arrange 10 cupcake cases in a bun tin. Using an electric mixer, beat the dairy-free margarine and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well mixed.
- Sift the rice flour, buckwheat flour, gluten-free baking powder, xanthan gum and cocoa powder into the mixture. Quickly fold in the ground almonds, using a spoon and mix well, but take care not to overmix. Divide the mixture evenly into the cupcake cases.
- Bake for 15–18 minutes, until well risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting. Put the dairy-free margarine, icing sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl and beat, using a whisk or hand-held electric mixer, until smooth, light and fluffy. (I find that my electric mixer makes the icing sugar cloud up at the beginning, so I use a wooden spoon initially to blend the ingredients together and then I use the electric mixer. Some mixers, though, work fine if you simply add the icing sugar in slowly.)
- When the cupcakes are cooked, remove from the oven and turn out of the tin, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
- Spread or pipe a little of the frosting over each cupcake and serve.
These really are delicious. Unfortunately I didn’t get much as Peter polished off a couple and then Zoe ate not only hers, but most of mine, too!
I’ve used a lot of water in the pastry mixture because this makes it much easier to process it in a food processor, but it also means that it is malleable enough to work with it when you’re folding the pastry. If it’s fairly dry (like traditional pastry made with gluten) it will crack. Plus it cooks better when you add more liquid – without catching or burning. You’ll find it very sticky, but bear with me!
Spinach is an amazing food to cook with. It’s delicious, packed with nutrients (it contains 13 different antioxidants, it’s rich in lutein which helps to guard against eye disease and is bursting with calcium, magnesium and vitamin K) and it has a great texture when cooked – perfect for these pastries.
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, seed-free, citrus-free
- 120g/4¼oz/¾ cup rice flour
- 120g/4¼oz/1¼ cups gram flour
- 60g/2¼oz/scant ½ cup buckwheat flour
- 50g/1¾oz/⅓ cup maize flour
- ½ tsp dried active yeast
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- ½ tsp crushed sea salt
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 500g/1lb 2 oz baby spinach, thoroughly washed
- 3 tbsp sultanas
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- 100g soya cheese, grated or crumbled
- ½ tsp allspice
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To make the pastry, sift the flours, yeast, xanthan gum and salt into the bowl of a food processor with the dough blade attached and blend to mix together. Add the olive oil and blend again, then add 300ml/10½fl oz/1¼ cups warm water and process for 10 minutes to aerate the dough. It will be very sticky!
- Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, to make the filling, put the pine nuts in a frying pan over a medium-low heat and dry-fry for a 2–3 minutes, shaking the pan frequently, until the nuts have turned golden brown. Remove and leave to one side.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan or wok over a medium heat and add the garlic. Fry for about 30 seconds then add the spinach leaves, working in batches if necessary. Cook the spinach for 2–3 minutes until wilted. Remove and put into a fine sieve. Using the back of a metal spoon, push any excess liquid through. (Don’t discard the liquid, though, as it’s full of vitamins – drink it, instead!)
- Mix together the pine nuts, spinach, garlic and the sultanas and allspice and season lightly.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and put a sheet of baking paper onto a baking sheet. Liberally dust a large chopping board with rice flour. Transfer the dough to the board and roll it round gently, so that it can absorb enough rice flour for you to be able to work with it, sprinkling more rice flour onto the board whenever you need it. You want it to be dry enough that it won’t stick to the board. Divide the dough into quarters and gently roll out a piece of pastry to a rectangular shape, about 5mm/¼in thick. Working quickly, put a quarter of the mixture in a wide line in the middle of the pastry and cover with a quarter of the soya cheese. Turn the ends of the pastry up and then fold the sides over, making sure that the last side folds over the first side slightly. Turn the pastry over carefully, using a metal spatula to pick it up from the chopping board if you need to. Place on the baking paper and repeat with the other 3 pieces of dough.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Serve either hot or cold.
It’s well worth making the effort to use fruit sugar, or xylitol, for the crumble if you can get hold of it. Both have a much lower GI (refined sugar is usually at least 5x higher) making this a healthier version of crumble. Plums themselves are high in fibre so they’re a great fruit to eat – and this recipe makes them very moreish!
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, soya-free, nut-free, seed-free, egg-free, citrus-free
Preparation time 5 minutes cooking 20-25 minutes serves 4
- 50g dairy-free margarine
- 1kg plums, halved and and pitted
- 6-8 tbsp runny honey
- 4 star anise
- 150g rice flour
- 25g buckwheat flour
- 25g gram flour
- 100g chilled dairy-free margarine, cut into small cubes
- 75g fruit sugar or xylitol
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4.
- Heat the margarine in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the plums and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the honey, depending on the sweetness of the plums, and the star anise and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, make the crumble. Sift the flours into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. Add the butter and, using cold fingertips, rub it into the flours and sugar until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. You can also do this in a food processor: simply sift the flours into the bowl, add the sugar and the margarine and blend briefly until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Spoon the plum mixture in a 2.5-litre ovenproof dish, removing the star anise as you find them. Crumble the topping mixture over the plums, making sure all the plums are covered.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until browned on top. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.