Now living in a smaller city, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find local, gluten and dairy free cupcakes. I did find one local cupcake bakery who sometimes makes gluten-free cupcakes, but they never even returned my calls and emails to see if they could do gluten and dairy free (annoyed face).
So I decided to think bigger. People are always having fancy wedding cakes flown in from out of state these days, so I asked around on the Twittersphere and figured that at least shipping gluten/dairy free cupcakes should cost much less than a cake!
I originally thought of ordering from famed NYC cupcakery Babycakes, but as our wedding plans changed, and our budget diminished, the $49.50 per dozen (plus shipping!) seemed a bit unrealistic. Fortunately, the fabulous Sara Boswell recommended gluten and dairy free, St. Louis, MO bakery Free Range Cookies. Owner Linda Daniels was amazing to work with, she even sent me some delectable samples of her (AMAZING!) cookies and cupcakes to try. Fortunately, Linda and I had also worked out that she would send some of the cupcakes iced, and some with icing on the side, to be iced after arrival.
The iced cupcakes didn’t look gorgeous when they arrived, poor things! But WOW. What more can I say, but WOW, did they taste fantastic! I have never fully understood the whole “cupcake craze,” to be honest. But these cupcakes could convert anyone–and they were gluten and dairy free! The icing was creamy, the cake was light and fluffy, and the flavor actually resembled a wedding cake, but was SO, SO much better! I couldn’t believe that I had found my gluten-free, dairy-free cupcakes!! And the price was SO much more affordable than Babycakes!
I was so excited to have found our wedding cupcakes! And was all set to order dozens of them in the Fall for our wedding. But when the plans changed and our wedding moved up to June 1st, Linda and I both realized that it had become too hot to get the cupcakes to us in Wilmington. Darn! I didn’t know what I’d do! I even bought four different brands of gluten-free cupcake mixes to try making and freezing them myself ahead of time. I’ll share the results in a second, but first let me tell you just how wonderful Linda Daniels is–after we realized it was a bit risky to be shipping wedding cupcakes to the South in May, Linda sent me this link: Free Range Cookies’ Fav. Basic Cupcake Recipe. Can you believe how wonderful she is? What bakery gives away bunches of their favorite recipes on their blog–this one, and that is why I LOVE them!!
In the end, I had bought all of these mixes, so I decided I’d do a cupcake-bake-off. I then made Linda’s recipe, and guess who’s mix won–duh, Free Range Cookies’!
- Bob’s Red Mill’s Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix–These took 20 minutes to bake on the top rack of our oven. This was one the favorite of the store-bought mixes, as it was light, fluffy, and everyone swore it tasted like coconut. I did use coconut as the oil, but for some reason, only this one tasted slightly coconutty.
- Pamela’s Products Classic Vanilla Cake Mix–These baked for 18 minutes on the top rack. They were also creamier than the Betty Crocker and rose much more. These were really good, but still not as good as Free Range Cookies cupcakes!
- Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix–These baked for 18 minutes on the top rack. I had read some bloggers’ claims that this was the best gluten-free cake mix, but I don’t think that fact that all others surpassed this one was even a matter of opinion. They weren’t light, fluffy and creamy like the others. they were kind of depressing to be honest. I really did expect more from Betty.
- King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix–These were also very good. I would have been happy with them on their own. But even though the ingredients were very similar to those used in the recipe Free Range Cookies gave us, they weren’t as scrumptious as Bob’s and Pamela’s.
- Very Basic Cupcakes: A Favorite Recipe provided by Free Range Cookies–The winner! Even made by me, a pretty good baker, but I certainly do not have Linda Daniels’ magic touch–these won, hands down! The hemp milk really does something amazing to them, though I did also use coconut oil in these, as it’s my preferred oil. For the g/f flour blend, I used the combination Linda provided which is I think one of Bette Hagman’s fav’s as well (it seems like a lot of extra ingreds. to buy, but it’s really only three flours which are good to have for frying and such).
So finally I had found THE cupcake recipe, so I baked away, dipped them in a chocolate ganache that I made from Elana’s Pantry’s Vegan Chocolate Frosting Recipe, but switched out the agave for honey, as agave hurts my tummy. So I made this icing and tried to “ice” the cupcakes, but it was a disaster, so I wound up keeping the mixture warm and dipping the tops of the cupcakes into the frosting so it coated them like a ganache.
I think that before May even began I had my cupcakes baked, frosted and frozen, though I have to admit, one, two, and three weeks before the wedding they still tasted great. But by the actual wedding, they had gotten a bit tougher from being frozen too long. Still they got eaten, but we found that if warmed for just a few seconds in the microwave, you had a dream on your plate–soft, creamy, cakey goodness with melty chocolate on top, YUM!