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Make it Natural: Cupcakes for Special Diets

Yvonne, one of our Whole Story readers, sent us this idea for a recipe makeover: My daughter used to love to bake. However, we recently found out from her naturopath's tests that she is gluten-, dairy- and egg-intolerant. Do you have any kid-friendly (cookies, cakes, muffins) baking recipes which are dairy, wheat and egg free? Thanks a million!

Yvonne, one of our Whole Story readers, sent us this idea for a recipe makeover:


My daughter used to love to bake. However, we recently found out from her naturopath's tests that she is gluten-, dairy- and egg-intolerant. Do you have any kid-friendly (cookies, cakes, muffins) baking recipes which are dairy, wheat and egg free? Thanks a million!

Frosted Spice Cupcake

We'd love to help! We thought cupcakes might be just the thing to get Yvonne and her daughter back in the kitchen in a hurry. Typically a cupcake batter might be made with wheat flour, eggs, milk and butter. So Yvonne's request does seem challenging, but the recipe I developed for Frosted Spice Cupcakes is a winner no one will be able to resist. These were a big hit in the test kitchen - even with tasters who normally don't eat special diet goodies. We hope you'll enjoy them as much as we did.Here's how I approached this cupcake recipe. Apply the techniques to your own home baking!

  • Replace wheat flour with gluten-free flour. The general substitution for gluten-free flours to wheat flours is 1:1. White rice flour is very commonly used, and that's what I went with in this cupcake batter. White rice flour does not contribute much flavor, so I added warm spices for greater depth. Another ingredient, xanthan gum, is added in small quantities to provide texture and volume. This powdered thickener helps keep your end product from falling apart. You can use other binders, such as guar gum, but xanthan is commonly used. Look for it on the baking aisle-it usually comes in a pouch. Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour for muffins and cakes, and more for chewy breads.

  • Replace dairy ingredients with non-dairy ingredients. I often substitute non dairy milk and yogurt for the "real stuff" in recipes. As with flours, the ratio is 1:1. I have found that unsweetened, plain almond milk is the closest thing to dairy milk out there. I have used it in quiches, puddings and hot cocoa. Coconut milk yogurt is a fairly new option, and it works well in these cupcakes to contribute a rich flavor and a moist texture. Try using it for buttermilk-just thin it with a little almond milk, coconut milk or water to make it the consistency of buttermilk, and use it in cornbread, pancakes, breads, muffins, etc. Many non dairy milk substitutes contain added sugar, and I avoid these by carefully reading labels. If I want something sweeter, I can add a little natural sweetener on my own.

  • Replace the eggs. Ener-G Egg Replacer is an egg substitute in powder form made from a leaving agent, potato starch and tapioca starch. There are added natural binders that make it perform as an egg would, for example binding ingredients and providing texture. It also helps your baked goods rise. To use, mix 1/2 tablespoon egg replacer with 2 tablespoons warm water to make the equivalent of one egg. You can use it in baked goods and for custards and pie fillings, but you can't scramble it like you would eggs.

  • Replace butter with vegan margarine. Vegan margarine is what I use when I need a substitute for pure butter in a recipe that is dairy-free. I could use oil such as canola or sunflower for some recipes, but when I want a buttery consistency and feel, I use the natural, non-hydrogenated (no trans-fats!) margarine. The margarine will soften like butter and can be used in frosting recipes, baked goods, melted butter recipes, etc. I look for margarine that is a blend of oils such as olive, palm, canola, etc., as this makes for a better spread and a wider assortment of fatty acids. If purchasing natural margarine at Whole Foods Market, you don't have to worry about trans fats, but otherwise, you must be a label reader to avoid products containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

I hope these tips help you with your baking projects. Happy baking!Send us Your Recipe Request!Do you have a recipe you'd like us to make natural? Post it in the comments section below! If we select your recipe for a healthy makeover and publish the improved version on our website, we'll send you a $25 Whole Foods Market gift card.

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