Talk to me about gluten free

January 13, 2009 at 6:55 AM | Posted in cupcakes | 26 Comments

I need some reader help, please…

My friend’s daughter’s best friend’s mom (did you get that?) asked me if I could bake cupcakes for her daughter’s birthday next month but the catch is that she has celiac disease so she needs gluten-free cupcakes. I am always up for a challenge and just think its wrong that you don’t have cupcakes for your birthday so I said yes. Since I get many emails from IHC readers about how to change a recipe on my blog to gluten free I thought I’d pose the question here.

To be honest besides changing the flour to gluten free flour I wasn’t sure if there were other things that needed to be substituted so… edumacate me people!

Mucho appreciate cupcake homies.



  1. One of my very best friends has celiac disease, and like me, she also loves to cook and bake. She is very talented and has done a lot of experimenting, but she will be the first to tell you that the best results come from Pamela’s Gluten Free Chocolate Cake mix. This stuff is so good, she served it at her wedding and I can attest to it’s chocolatey goodness. Unfortunately gluten free baking is not as simple as just substituting a gluten free flour (which is typically a blend of different gluten free flours) – cakes are pretty tricky and require a lot of experimenting with different types of gf flours to get the combination right. I’m sure there are a lot of resources out there if you want to find a gluten free cake recipe, but often times you will then be required to purchase several different gf products, and unless you are going to use them all the time, it might not be worth it. If you can stand using a mix, the Pamela’s is the way to go!

  2. This is the one time you have my permission to use a boxed mix. I can not believe I’m saying that, but GF is tricky and I don’t think you should experiment when a child’s bday cupcakes are at stake

  3. Ditto to the above comments. I make wedding cakes, and have not been able to make a “from scratch” gluten free cake that is of high quality. When asked to do gluten-free, I ask the bride or groom what their favorite mix is – they always have a preferred brand – and make that for one layer.

  4. I can’t really help, but good luck and let us know how it goes!

  5. heyya…. i work for starbucks in the uk…we have this cake that is wheat and gluten free … it is made with ground almonds instead of flour…helpfull?

  6. I have two friends with Celiac and I know they always go with mixes since it is so hard to bake gluten-free. As another commenter said, its not as easy to sub in a different kind of flour because they don’t all react the same.

    I read another foody blog called Dinner and Desert. The author of that blog recently was diagnosed with Celiac and posted a recipe for a divine looking flour-less chocolate cake. I’m not 100% certain its gluten free, since I know gluten sometimes shows up in unexpected places, but I think if you left her a comment and asked she would know. Here’s the link:

  7. Bob’s Red Mill GF all-purpose baking flour can be substituted straight for regular flour. it’s completely gluten-free.

    you can also experiment with different combinations of alternative flours, like soy, garbanzo, rice, etc. also get some helpful tips from bloggers like Karina’s Gluten-Free Kitchen or Gluten-Free Goddess.

    hope this helps!

  8. First of all, I love your blog. You are so inspiring!!
    I found the coolest gift for her. It is the Girl Gourmet cupcake maker. All of the mixes are Gluten-Free. The one concern that I have is that the mixes may contain peanuts and tree nuts (if she has other allergies).
    I am a Registered Dietitian, so I asked my officemates about your question. The one concern we have is cross-contamination. It is recommended that you use separate ovens, bowls, knives, etc for truly gluten free foods. If you want to make the cupcakes yourself, I would recommend that you ask your friend more questions about her child’s disease as she may not be this severe (especially if she asked you to make them). Also, she may have a recipe that the child likes that you would be able to use. If you want to take the easy way out, you could order them from a gluten-free bakery. I have heard great things about (and I think they will ship).
    Feel free to e-mail me if you have my more questions about gluten free diets. I will be glad to help out.

  9. Check out Gluten Free Girl and cupcake bakeshop. I am sure you can find something.

  10. I made a flourless chocolate cake that is amazing.

    I’d just leave out the chili powder and up the cinnamon, don’t want to singe the kids! :) Then do a normal frosting on top and you’re good to go :)

  11. It’s deja vu! I had a similar situation not too long ago. I ended up going for Pamela’s chocolate cake mix is the way to go. I’ve gone the mix your own gluten free flour route. Yikes! What a nightmare. So many different flours to mix together plus they are hard to find. I did make this vanilla cupcake from Elana’s Pantry Blog

    Its made with coconut flour. 6 eggs sound scary, but I used egg subsitute and it worked out fine.

  12. You can go to this website:

    It includes a recipe for frosting
    Hope it helps!!

  13. I have no idea. But yes, everyone should have cupcakes for their birthday. My birthday is next Tuesday and I’ll be baking about 8 billion cupcakes this weekend to take to the 4 classes I teach and the 1 class I go to on my birthday.

    And the school had a nice list of allergic kids in the office that they let me look at. As long as I don’t spike the cupcakes with motrin I’m good. :)

  14. Flourless Coc cupcakes

    300g plain choc chips
    225g unsalted butter
    4 med eggs
    4 egg yolks
    115g caster sugar
    2 tbsp cocoa powder(nice stuff)
    2 tbsp ground almonds
    1 tsp vanilla essence

    oven- 190c, 375f, gas 5

    – Melt butter and choc chips in bowl over pan of boiling water
    – set aside to cool
    -in the meantime, cream eggs, yolks and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer till pale and think
    -gently put remaining ingredients into egg bowl, followed by chocolate mix, and fold it all in
    -put batter(its quite runny) into cupcake cases and bake for 20 mins.

    I topped these with chocolate ganache (150g dark choc, 150g double cream, melt in bowl over pan of water, put in fridge till it gets to the consistency you want), but obv any icing is fine really!

  15. I have no idea why my post came out all big and smushed up! oops!

  16. There are quite a few GF recipes that are good. There are a lot of mixes that are NOT good. Make sure to avoid anything with garbanzo bean flour in it…yuck! A combination of three or four different flours/starches will make for a much better texture. If they like chocolate, that’s nice to do since cocoa powder can cover up the strange tastes of some of the GF flours. I think chocolate recipes are more forgiving. I like the Namaste brand of GF mixes if you decide to go that way instead.

    However, I think you need to find out how celiac this person is. Some people are so sensitive that just by using your regular mixer & pans (even after washing) the cross contamination could make them sick.

  17. CARA, Wow! Thanks so much for the GF chocolate cake mix suggestion. That would make it much easier. Appreciate the review on the flavor too.

    NIKKI, YOU? suggest cake mix? Dang. Thats really saying something…

    JULIE, Thanks for confirming the GF mix route.

    JEN, You’re so cute. Thanks for the comment love!

    HELEN. Almond flour? Interesting. I’ll have to ask the little girl’s mom and see if there’s something that I could substitute. Thanks!

    LINDSEY, Thanks for link!

    SOPHIE, Thanks for GF AP flour rec! I’ll definitely ahve to check out the other blogger’s you suggested too.

    SARAH, Aaawww thanks for sweet compliments! So awesome of you to ask your fellow CWs for their opinions. The little girl’s mom explained about cross contamination so I am baking the cupcakes at her house to prevent contaminating with my own bowls, etc. I’ll have to give her mom the heads up about the Girl Gourment cupcake maker! How cute is that?? Thanks!

    LORIE, Great links! thanks!

    STEPHCHOWS, Awesome! I’ve had your flourless chocolate cake starred for a while. What a great occasion to bust out the recipe, no? ;)

    LINDA, Glad to hear another rave for Pamela’s chocolate mix. I’ll have to check out the link too. Thanks!

    ALYSSA, Will check out link! Appreciate a frosting one. Thanks!

    MARY, HAPPY HAPPY (early) Birthday!! 21 right? ;)

    LISA-MARIE, Thanks for the recipe! You rock!

    DAWN, No on the garbanzo beans! Good to know. I have the cross contamination thing covered. I will be baking the cupcakes at her house so that my stuff doesn’t contaminate the cupcakes. How are you doing on your GF lifestyle? I hope some of the comments were helpful for you too.

  18. 1-1/3 cup semisweet chocolate morsels – Nestle*
    3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    Six large eggs, separated
    1/2 cup sugar, divided
    2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla extract*
    Sweetened whipped cream
    Mini chocolate chips — Nestle*

    Heat oven to 350-degrees. Line 18 muffin cups with baking liners. Coat liners with vegetable cooking spray. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy saucepan over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm.

    In large bowl, with electric mixer on high, mix egg yolks and 1/4-cup sugar until very thick and pale, about three minutes. Fold in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites and remaining 1/4-cup sugar in bowl until stiff but not dry, about two minutes. Fold egg-white mixture into chocolate mixture until combined. Divide batter among baking liners. Bake 28-30 minutes. Cool completely

    1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar

    1/3 cup shortening

    2 teaspoons vanilla

    1/3 cup boiling water

    pinch of salt (to taste)

    In a chilled bowl, whip the confectioners’ sugar, shortening and vanilla. Add enough boiling water to make the icing fluffy and smooth. Beat well. Makes about 1 1/2 cups icing. Recipe taken from Bette Hagman’s The Gluten-Free Gourmet Makes Dessert

  19. CHRISTA, Thanks for recipe!

  20. doves farm make a wheat and gluten free flour that works fine for baking, i dont know if you can get it in the states though.

  21. Hi CB!!! You never had matcha.. oh it is sure delish.. especially if you want to incorporate into a cupcake recipe.. (btw- I added you the blog roll) and you are SO BOOKMARKED…

  22. My girls were diagnosed a year ago with Celiac Disease. We were given a recipe that makes the most Fabulous cupcakes! You would never know they were gluten free. Moist, yummy and they cooked up very well. The recipe comes from I have posted a picture on our blog if you would like to check it out. (under cupcakes)

    Yellow cake
    6 TBS butter or ¼ C oil
    1 C sugar
    2 large eggs
    1 TBS grated lemon peel
    1 C white or brown rice flour
    6 TBS potato starch
    2 TBS tapioca flour
    1 tsp xanthan gum
    ¼ tsp baking powder
    ¼ tsp baking soda
    1/3 tsp salt
    ¾ C buttermilk or 2 tsp lemon juice or cider vinegar with enough milk ( cow, rice or soy) to = 3/4 C
    1 tsp vanilla
    Cooking spray

    • Preheat oven to 325°. Coat a 9×5 inch loaf pan or two 5×2 ½ inch pans with cooking spray. (The cake rises better in smaller pans) Set aside.
    • Using an electric mixer, cream together oil, sugar and eggs on medium speed until thoroughly blended. Add grated lemon peel.
    • In medium bowl combine flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, soda and salt.
    • In another bowl combine buttermilk and vanilla.
    • On low speed, beat the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Beginning with the dry ingredients and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined.
    • Spoon batter into pan(s). Bake in preheated oven until top is golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. For 9×5 pan, cook 50-55 minutes. For 5×2 ½ pan, bake for 35-45 minutes.
    • Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Then remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

    To make cupcakes, bake 12 cupcakes for 20-25 minutes or until done. To make a layer cake, bake two 8-inch round pans for 30 minutes. Line the pans with parchment paper and lightly spray with oil for easy cake removal.

    **For a white cake, substitute 3 large egg whites for the two eggs.

  23. RANDI, I am not sure I can get that in the states but the recipes tab was really helpful! Thank you!

    WESTERNGIRL, I know! Can you believe it?? haha. You’ve got my interest peaked now though. Might have to give it a try one of these days in a cupcake. w00t for bookmarking! I put you in my GR too!

    HEIDI, Oh wow! You totally rock. Thanks for posting the recipe for me! Honestly I don’t mind baking from a mix but it will be fun to bake these cupcakes from scratch so I appreciate it. Do you have any tips for the frosting? Also thanks for the links too!

  24. I just used Pillsbury Cream Cheese flavor and added food coloring. If you choose to use store boughten frosting, spinkles or food coloring, always read the labels to verify it is safe.
    Good Luck!

  25. Cupcakes are my weakness and I am gluten free! I get raves for my gluten free cupcakes, because I believe that gluten free should taste just as good as regular wheat flour cupcakes! I have substituted Pamela’s Ultimate Baking Mix in standard recipes (because I am too lazy to mix my own flours) 1:1 (omitting other leaveners, as it is already leavened) with great flavor results, but not always great looking results. Gluten-free batters have to be thicker than regular batters, because they don’t rise the same. Thicker batters=better rise. So, sometimes with thinner batters, I have gotten cupcakes with dents in the tops…but the flavor was still great. If you are mixing your own flours you HAVE to add xanthan gum to make up for the missing gluten, or you will have dense hard results. You don’t need much and it’s kinda expensive, which is another reason I use the baking mix.

    Pamela’s Vanilla cake mix isn’t my favorite, but the chocolate one is great…especially if you add some instant espresso powder dissolved in boiling water…I think the instructions for this variation are right on the package. Mmmmmm…I made this with my own home made coconut pecan frosting for a German Chocolate Cake that no one knew was gluten free!

    Flavors I have made gluten free:
    Red Velvet (i got the highest raves for this one)
    Maple bacon
    Chocolate Stout (with Guinness!)
    Chocolate Buttermilk
    And I keep adding more….

  26. CUPPIEGIRL, Thanks so much for all the gluten free tips! I ended up using Pamela’s chocolate cake mix and it got RAVE reviews from all the party go-ers and birthday girl! Definitely will have to try the instant espresso version next time ;)

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