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Gluten-free Vanilla Cupcakes with Cherry Lime Swiss Meringue Buttercream…

January 10, 2011

Wow. That’s one long title. But it had to be said. You can’t leave out anything about these cupcakes.

Fresh cherries are a rarity that only come around once a year for us. They’re about excitement. Mixed in with the Christmas cheer you can’t help but anticipate the cherry season. Once when I was young my parents took us to a cherry farm two hours away from where we live. You can stand out in the blazing heat and pick cherries all day long. Who wouldn’t wanna do that? But seriously. It’s really fun. And for R40 per kilo it is way worth it.

G and I went this year with my sister N and our friends L and A. It was just as much fun as I had remembered. Except that N wasn’t in a baby carrier on my dad’s back. But I digress.

Purple stained hands, sunburnt shoulders and 11 kilos of cherries later, we left the cherry farm content. It’s one of those things you have to try. Picking your own fruit is immensely satisfying. If you like that kind of thing.

I do, and I love turning them into something even more satisfying. This cherry lime swiss meringue buttercream is a keeper. Swiss meringue buttercream is made by making a swiss meringue (that’s beating your egg whites with the sugar over a double boiler) and then beating softened butter into it. It is smooth, creamy and buttery. I like it coz it’s not super sweet like butter icing. I can eat the whole cupcake instead of scraping half of the frosting off. Is that wierd?

I was so stoked when I tasted these vanilla cupcakes. I’d been anxiously obsessing over what recipe to use to make a gluten-free cupcake that wasn’t dry and wierd tasting. Lets just say I’ve had a lot of flops in the vanilla cupcake department. No more. I ate far too many of these. I’m not ashamed.

The recipe came from a gluten-free baking cookbook I bought recently. I was skeptical at first, as the recipe uses glycerine. I hadn’t come across that in baking before so I wasn’t sure what it did or if it was ok to use. I’m kinda a purist so I don’t really like using too many additives. I did a bit of research and as far as I can tell, it’s natural. It’s a humectant, which means it absorbs water. That’s why it helps to keep moisture in cakes and other baked goods. Of course not all baked goods need added glycerine, but I found it helped with these cupcakes.

Gluten-free Vanilla Cupcakes:

(from Seriously Good! Gluten-Free Baking by Phil Vickery)

(makes 12 cupcakes)

  • 180 g castor sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp glycerine (can be found at your supermarket or pharmacy)
  • 175 g gluten-free flour mix (see below)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 130 ml canola oil
  • 130 ml whole milk

Flour Mix: (makes 1 kg)

  • 700 g rice flour
  • 200 g potato flour
  • 100 g tapioca flour

Whisk the flours together and store in an airtight container.

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C/350°F and place paper cases into a 12-hole muffin pan.

Whisk together the castor sugar, eggs, vanilla and glycerine in a large mixing bowl on high-speed for about 4-5 min until pale and thick.

While that’s mixing, sift together the flour, baking powder and xanthan gum and make sure they’re well combined.

Mix the oil and milk together in a jug.

Add the dry and wet mixtures to the egg mixture. I find that alternating works best to get them nicely combined.

Divide the mixture between the cases, fill about 2/3 of the way.

Bake for about 15 min-20 min, until well risen. My test is to press down lightly on the top of the cupcake, if it springs back from your touch then it’s ready to come out. If your fingers leave a dent then they need a little more time, about 5 min or so.

Remove the cakes from the pan as soon as possible and place on a wire rack to cool.

Cherry Lime Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

(Adapted from Annie’s Eats)

  • 225 g (1 1/2 cups/8 oz) fresh cherries, rinsed, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar (I found castor sugar worked better than normal white sugar)
  • 340 g (3 sticks/1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened

Place the cherries, lime juice and zest in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Place the egg whites and sugar into a heat proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk continuously until the sugar has dissolved. I suggest using an electric hand beater for this is it does take a while. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of your stand mixer and beat on high-speed with the whisk until the mixture has cooled to room temperature. You should have nice shiny, firm peaks at this point.

Reduce to medium speed and add the butter, about 2 tbsp at a time, making sure each addition is completely incorporated before adding the next. At this point the mixture may look curdled, don’t fret, just continue beating, about 3-5 minutes longer. (or longer – don’t worry, it will come together!)

Add the cherry lime puree and mix until combined. Scrape down the bowl and mix again.

Now, go wild. Eat it straight from the bowl or frost the cupcakes, what ever grabs your fancy. Both options sound yum to me.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Liz permalink
    January 10, 2011 9:11 pm

    yay! I am part of the chocswirl elite for appearing in your blog… Still deciding if I like the pic or not! Cuppy cakes look fantastic and I’m seriously regretting not having one when I had the chance. I think my tummy was full of sushi goodness and I was afraid it’ll burst with even one cupcake! Guess I’ll just have to wait for Dec 2011 for more cherries…and more delicious cherry creations. :)

  2. January 20, 2011 4:57 pm

    holy cow! those look gorgeous… I could do a bowl full of cherries right now!

    great job and thanks again for sharing the recipe!

  3. February 3, 2011 4:57 pm

    My oh my those cupcakes look good!

  4. June 14, 2012 9:20 am

    Thanks so much for the recipe. I have made a few vanilla cupcakes to date, but nothing to match this one. Delicious and so very moist. No cherries here at present, winter, but will be doing my favourite flour frosting. Best wishes from Melbourne, Australia.

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