I’m a little excited, mostly because this is the first ever vegan recipe on this blog. You all know I like challenges and despise it when life becomes repetitive, so having a colleague with some peculiar food allergies proved to be just enough of a task for me. As it happens, she is coeliac and cannot eat dairy products or egg whites. For those of you who are not familiar with food disorders, coeliac people are particularly susceptible to gluten, which for them can lead to a wide range of ailments (I won’t go into the specifics, but have a look here for more information). Needless to say, gluten is not only found in baked goods such as bread and cakes, but is also present in pasta and in a whole variety of other foods, where it is used to thicken and provide body/bulk. Add to that she cannot have any dairy products whatsoever (eggs, cream cheese, butter and the like) or egg whites (which rules out meringues) and you can understand why it took me about 4 weeks to even come up with a suitable recipe.
I remembered having found the recipe for some vegan cupcakes in one of my baking magazines. As it happens, the original recipe comes from Ms Cupcake: The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes In Town, although I amended some of the ingredients and quantities to make it gluten-free and to adapt it to what I could easily find. It was extremely interesting to see you can bake without eggs! The greatest reward was, however, managing to make my colleague immensely happy: she had never had a cupcake before and I’m sure she’s still buzzing, if only because of the sugar rush from the icing. One small side note (and I hope our vegan friends will not hate me for this): despite finding soya milk very pleasant and nutty, I have to say soya cream cheese is not nice at all and, for my liking, has a horrible aftertaste. That said, I used it to make the icing and it worked wonders.
Ingredients (for the cupcakes)
- 200ml soya milk
- 20ml white wine vinegar
- 195g gluten-free flour
- 1 1/2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 200g caster sugar
- 20g cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 80ml vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Ingredients (for the icing)
- 100g vegetable fat/spread (dairy free)
- 125g soya cream cheese
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- approximately 2 tbsp soya milk
- 750g icing sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C and line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases.
- Mix the soya milk and vinegar together, then set aside for 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, caster sugar, raising agents, cocoa powder and salt, then add the soya milk mixture, the vegetable oil, the vanilla extract and, using a palette/rubber spatula, quickly mix everything together until just combined. Don’t worry if the batter is slightly lumpy.
- Tap the bowl onto the work surface to halt the raising agents, then transfer it to a jug (easier) and distribute it evenly among the muffin cases. Bake for 15 minutes, then set aside to cool completely and finally rest on a wire rack.
- To make the icing, in the bowl of a freestanding mixer whip together the cream cheese, vegetable spread and vanilla until combined. Add the icing sugar in two batches, mixing well between each addition (cover the bowl with a towel to prevent the icing sugar covering your whole kitchen) and adding the soya milk between the first and the second batch. Once the mixture has come together to a fairly smooth consistency, increase the speed to high and whip for a few seconds until light and fluffy.
- Transfer the icing to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe equal swirls onto the cupcakes. Enjoy!