A Tale of Two Jars

I love glass jars.  They are perfect for storing the tons and tons of gluten-free flours necessary to be a real gluten-free baker.  I also keep things like pine nuts, chocolate chips, oats, lavender, and various rice pastas among their ranks.  Because there is such a range, my most important tool is my label maker.

CB thought I was crazy when I said I needed a label maker when I bought my first jars.  It soon became obvious just how necessary it really was.  I even have two jars which are not Celiac-friendly — regular oats and wheat flour.  Labeling has become more and more important as my kitchen and my skills grow.

And then there was this guy.

mystery jar
I had my mind set last night on a baking project.  It was part “I want to make it!”, part “This is a good excuse to put away some jars and get them out of boxes!”.  I fully admit it.  CB was helping me to get everything together, and he holds up one big, full jar.  “What is it?” he asks.  I suddenly realise that I have no freaking clue.

I do remember how it happened, though.  Several months ago, we were packing away all our earthly belongings for the great move that never transpired.  I saw an empty jar and a bag of flour.  I didn’t want the bag to burst open inside a box (Could you imagine the looks on the customs officers’ faces when they see a box covered in white powder?!), so I dumped it into the jar.  CB says, “But we’ve already packed your label maker?  How will we know what it is?” “Well,” I wisely explain, “We’ll know it’s X FLOUR because it’s the only one without a label.” “Good idea!” he says.

Good idea, my butt.  Months later, I’m sitting here trying to compare the weight, texture, and colour of the flour to fill in the blanks.  What are you?  There is the remnant of a label on the glass.  What did you used to be?  Why aren’t you that anymore?
 
At the end of the day, I am no more knowledgeable on what he is than what he is not (except almond flour.  He is not almond flour.).  It didn’t matter for my project, though.  Ruby and I went about our business and created a masterpiece anyway.

I got this recipe from Gluten-Free Goddess, which is a site I wish I had found ages ago.  I didn’t make my cupcakes vegan because, well, I’m not vegan, and vegan products are pretty expensive around here. I also played it pretty fast and loose with the smaller measurements.  I can’t say exactly why I did it, though.  It doesn’t sound like me.

Pumpkin Cupcakes


Ingredients:
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Hardware:
Ruby (okay, okay, a mixer of some sort)
mixing bowl (if you are using a stand mixer, you can use the bowl from it)
flexible spatula
cupcake liners
muffin tins
measuring cups and spoons
oven
wooden spoon
whisk

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Dump all the dry ingredients (sorghum flour, brown sugar, tapioca starch, sugar, almond flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg) into your mixing bowl.  Whisk by hand or with whisk attachment on mixer.  I suggest the whisk because, with so many dry ingredients, you want to make sure there aren’t any lumps and everything is well-combined.

Add in (melted! Always measure by melting! I can’t believe I haven’t said it earlier!  You can pop it in the microwave for a short time — watch continuously and stir every 10 seconds.) coconut oil a little at a time.  Switch to your wooden spoon and watch for it to completely combine before adding more.  The texture should be like wet sand when it’s all in the mixture.  Add your pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla extract.

Here’s where having a mixer saves the day.  Your end result is a thick and stretchy batter, so guess how it gets that way.  If you aren’t using a mixer, it gets there with hard work.  I let Ruby at it on Setting 8 (medium high) for about 2-3 minutes.  The original recipe said 1-2, but I found it wasn’t completely combined by then.  A hand mixer will probably take the same amount of time.  I don’t know how long if you’re just using a spoon, but I don’t envy you right now.

Fill your cupcake liners with your batter.  Since my oven broke two of my silicon muffin tins (I don’t know how; please don’t ask.), I’m down to only one muffin tin, so batches were in order.  I didn’t know how much the batter would rise, so, on my first batch, I filled the liners only halfway.  It didn’t rise very much, so the tops of the cupcakes were below the tops of the liners.  On the second batch, I filled them 3/4 to the top, and they were almost there.  Next time, I’m going to fill them nearly to the edge and cross my fingers.  The recipe also says to smooth the tops. I thought my batter looked pretty smooth and figured it would spread out when it got hot, so I didn’t bother.  It doesn’t affect the taste at all, but I wish I had listened because they rose unevenly.

Bake for 22-25 minutes.  Because I don’t yet have a good relationship with my ovens, I checked on them after 15 minutes.  20 minutes.  22 minutes.  I took the first, smaller batch out after 22, and I left the more full second batch in for the full 25. Watch carefully in these last minutes if you fill your liners higher and leave them in longer because I can’t guarantee any results.

Let them cool in the muffin tin until you can touch them without burning yourself. Move them to a wire rack to cool for an hour.

Time for your frosting!  I have to admit that I have never made frosting or used a piping bag.  It’s shameful, I know, and it’s not beautiful.  Again, I used a newly scrubbed Ruby to whip it all together.  If you don’t have a stand mixer, you’ll need to whisk it all together again.

Start with your powdered sugar and give it a good whisk before you add anything to it. Lumps will not be easy to get rid of once you add the other ingredients.  Alternatively, you could sift it into your bowl.  Add the cream cheese and maple syrup and whisk until thoroughly combined.  You can use a piping bag or spread it with a knife.

My icing was a bit too sweet for my tastes and didn’t taste enough like maple, so I will lower the amount of sugar and up the maple syrup next time.  It’s all to your taste. Give it a lick when you finish and you can decide what you need to do for your own.  I think I’ll just eyeball the sugar and go for 4 tablespoons of maple syrup next time.

Oh, there will be a next time.

pumpkin cupcake
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One response

  1. Pingback: One Flu over the Cuckoo’s Nest | sydney likes food

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