Behold, the Cupcake. The Gluten Free Cupcake. The Gluten Free, Dairy Free Cupcake. Dude. Now, bear with me, I'm going to wax a bit...well, dreamy. The Cupcake, you see, may very well represent all that is good and decent and pure in the world. Stay with me. A handful of delight, a perfect serving of sweetness, that little touch of love at the end of the day. We're not talking about some clunky piece of cake here. Not some layered monstrosity of mousse and cream and hardened icing rosettes. Never a hunk of gooey sludge you must squish down with a cool glass of milk to slick the way. But rather, the very symbol of simple satisfaction, a diminutive delight, a nod to your sugar craving without completely losing your head. An homage to the art of satiation. In a world of excess, waste, instant and overwhelming gratification, inflated serving sizes and general disproportion, we still have the noble little Cupcake to remind us, "slow down, take a breath, savor each bite, moment, smile".
Or maybe it's just so fucking good that I've completely lost it and moved into Nutberg. I've been craving cupcakes for, well, about 22 years so this week seemed as good a time as any to make some treats. To be honest, I've been a bit turned off to Pamela's products (aside from the GF Bread Mix) because of their use of milk, almond flour and chocolate chips which may contain milk. I just feel that it's a bit irresponsible to use dairy in a GF product when about 50% of Celiacs can't consume dairy. Also, nuts? Why? Hello allergen, nice to meet you in my Gluten Free product. It just doesn't make sense to me to use known allergens in a product made specifically for people who are already hyper-sensitive to a variety of foods.
In any case, I picked up a bag of Pamela's Classic Vanilla Cake Mix in the hopes that it would live up to my deepest and wildest Cupcake Dreams. I conjured visions of fluffy, delightfully - yet not too - sweet, soft, dewy, golden, perfectly rounded single serving puffs of joy. Is that so much to ask?
What I got was so very close to my sugar coated visions - the amazement was heard throughout my building. They rose and plumped up perfectly, had a perky golden color, and represented the Cupcake community - GF or otherwise - most admirably. When nibbling on these sweet little noms it's like sinking into a pillow of win. Perfectly soft, delectably light, fluffy, oh so fluffy. That awesome, airy softness gluten provides so nicely? Mimicked awesomely in these GF counterparts. They're like little Cupcake ninjas, as if they're truly Glutened Cakes waltzing around incognito.
I have but one qualm with these GF cupcakes, and I'm really wrestling with myself on this one. I did feel that the taste...left a tad bit to be desired. Don't get me wrong - they were yummy. I just can't help but feel that maybe adding a little vanilla next time...or something might kick them up a notch. It must also be noted that they chose a Tapioca Starch/White Rice Flour/Potato Flour combo which - frankly - will just by nature leave the flavor caboose behind. White rice? Potato? Are there any two things in flour form with less flavor on the planet? I firmly believe that anything will taste better with a selection of Buckwheat/Millet/Quinoa flour backing it up. Maybe Pamela's configuration makes for the super fluffiness, who knows, I'm not a big time baker. I've seen more manufactured products using Buckwheat flour lately, I hope more chime in.
Tips for more fully enjoying your GF Cupcakes
- The directions suggest an additional egg to make a fluffier Cupcake (that makes four eggs!) which I definitely added. I would suggest doing the same.
- Straight from the oven were certainly best but unless you plan on eating them in one sitting (not recommended) you have to store them. I put all my Cupcakes (unfrosted) into plastic containers and kept them in the fridge. They held up great.
- When I wanted to eat one I would take my frosting out of the fridge and let it soften up at room temperature for maybe 10 minutes.
- To achieve the awesome softness I speak of at length even after refrigeration: microwave your Cupcake for about 5-7 seconds. Allow your Cupcake to cool a bit before applying your frosting, otherwise the frosting will melt and that is annoying, trying to catch dripping frosting greatly reduces your enjoyment/slow savoring of said Cupcake. (Note: Please observe if you have used the foil type of Cupcake tins. If so, please do not microwave without removing :) )
- I would seriously consider making your own frosting over buying the ones you will see in your local GF aisle. Paying 6 or 7 bucks for a mix and then the same amount for frosting is just ludicrous. Plus, making it yourself means you can have a whole plethora of flavors.
This really isn't a measuring thing.
- Spectrum Naturals Organic Shortening (or butter of your choice)
- Confectioner's Sugar
- Milk (Cow, Rice, Coconut, or a variety of your choice)
- Unsweetened Coco Powder
- Optional: Peppermint Oil, Orange Extract, Coffee, Vanilla, puree fruit, amaretto etc.