Dietary intolerances can seem a nightmare to work around, but a good friend (and customer) of mine recently planned a big celebration in honour of her well deserved graduation as a mature student at UWE Bristol. As she was bringing together friends and family from all walks of life it became clear that some dietary needs would need to be met.
Luckily for myself I can eat any kind of cake I please, but the thought of anyone being deprived of lovely freshly made cakes is far too miserable to bear. So, I embraced the challenge of a celebration in need of cake - catering for people that were both gluten-intolerant AND vegan.
Ensuring the cupcakes would be gluten-free was incredibly simple as there's great availability of gluten-free flour in the shops these days. I also double checked the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda labels as some brands do contain gluten, but the Dr Oetker range were 100% safe. The vegan/dairy-free side of it seemed more challenging, but after researching several recipes for vegan and dairy free mixtures I decided on a simple mix requiring soya milk, lemon juice and vegetable/sunflower oil.
The method of mixing it seemed much more important than regular cupcakes - I normally use an 'all in one' no nonsense method where you essentially throw everything into a bowl and mix. These vegan gluten-free cupcakes need much more attention than that!
As with all recipes, carefully measuring the ingredients is vital. Here I sifted the dry ingredients together and then in a seperate bowl I whisked the wet ingredients together. THEN, add it all together and mix.
The mixture definitely had me unsure of the upcoming results - it's VERY runny compared to normal cake mix! However, go with it (I've done my research and moisture is super important with gluten-free substitutions).
When they come out of the oven they do look peculiar if you're used to standard cakes, but let them cool fully and handle carefully as they feel quite fragile. I did a couple of test batches and taste tested them on a few large groups and while I personally disliked them (because I dislike soya milk) they gained many fans and made a few gluten-intolerant samplers very happy!
Moving onto the buttercream - my favourite kind of icing which usually consists of BUTTER, icing sugar and MILK. Initially, making a dairy-free version sounded insane and impossible. However, there are lots of dairy free spreads available and with soya milk thrown into the mix, buttercream CAN be enjoyed by all!
The process of making the vegan friendly buttercream is not too unusual - it's important to beat the margarine and you would always gradually add the icing sugar rather than throw the whole amount in at once.
Of course, give the mixture a quick taste test before you go ahead and cover your cakes in it - and then spread or pipe however you please! Piece of cake huh...