Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gluten-free Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with Celiac disease. For those who may not know, it's a genetic autoimmune disorder of the small intestine caused by a reaction to a gluten protein found primarily in wheat, rye, and barley (but also, in smaller amounts, in oats and spelt) (Wikipedia). Symptoms of this can include diarrhea, malnutrition, bloating, and fatigue.

Many of us have only recently heard about Celiac disease (and many still haven't), but it's by no means a new or rare disorder. Approximately 1 in 133 people in America suffer from Celiac disease according to this article. Yet Shauna of Gluten-Free Girl writes that only about 3% of those have been diagnosed. That's a big problem since, left untreated, it can do very serious damage to your body. And the only treatment that works is to cut gluten out of your diet completely and permanently. Fortunately, awareness of Celiac and other types of wheat sensitivity is growing. Especially through the internet, there's now a wide variety of gluten-free (GF) products, information, and support available.

Now all of this comes back to my friend, whose birthday was last week. See, she'd requested pumpkin cupcakes months ago. But that was before her diagnosis. My old (all purpose flour) recipe was no good now! Luckily, this recipe was only a Google search away. These cuppin' cakes rose really well and tasted surprisingly good. The bean flours in the GF mix I used did leave a slight aftertaste though, so next time I'll play around with making a bean-free mix.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
[Printable Recipe]
Adapted from Simply Recipes
Makes 16-17 cupcakes

XIAOLU'S NOTE: I omitted the raisins and nuts called and STILL got 1 more cupcake than Elise said I would. Either my wrappers are tiny, or you should expect to get at least 20.

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp honey
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin purée
2 cups Bob's Red Mill's gluten-free flour
(I replaced 1/4 cup with tapioca starch to try to minimize the "beany" taste as much as possible but Elise used all GF mix)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional, but recommended on the GF flour package)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest)
1/2 cup buttermilk (see note below)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (omitted)
1 cup raisins (omitted)
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup maple syrup (I only used 1 Tbsp cause that's all I had)
1 cup confectioner's powdered sugar, sifted

ELISE'S NOTE: To make your own buttermilk, combine 1/2 cup of milk with 1/2 Tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice. Stir and let stand 10 minutes before using.

Preheat oven to 350°F, and place rack in the center of the oven.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses and honey, until as light and fluffy as it will be, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the pumpkin purée and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, sift together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the pumpkin batter, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Set paper cupcake holders in a muffin tin. Spoon the batter into the cupcake paper cups, close to the top of the cups. Bake approximately 18 minutes (mine took exactly 22 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

Using an electric mixer, mix together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add maple syrup and confectioners' sugar and mix to combine. Once cupcakes have cooled, apply frosting.


  1. Wow, I LOVE your blog! I can't believe I've never seen it before. These muffins look amazing. I can't wait to try them and the pumpkin pancakes!
    Those cupcake liners are damn cute as well..

  2. I also bake gluten free most of the time. I'll have to give that flour a try and make these cupcakes!

  3. Kylie - Thanks a lot! I've only just started actively blogging but it's been lots of fun so far. I got the liners here:

    Erin - I definitely want to experiment more with GF baking, especially since I have a lot of this mix and xanthan gum left. Please let me know how you like these cupcakes if you try them!

  4. I've seen some people say that this flour mix taste bad because of the bean flour and others say it's definitely the tapioca starch, and some said that non of Bob's products taste good.

    And then some people report no problems at all!

    Did you have an aftertaste issue with your cupcakes? I might make them this Saturday.

  5. Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. I did detect some beany taste and wanted to experiment with making my own GF flour. But I obviously knew it was GF and tend to be sensitive to these differences. I still found these to be delicious overall since the pumpkin flavor is dominant and the frosting has a strong flavor too.

  6. This is a fantastic recipe, mine turned out delicious. I used my own mix of gluten free flowers (rice, tapioca starch and potato flour), used agave nectar and a bit of maple syrup instead of sugar, molasses and honey (to keep it free of refined sugars), omitted xantham gum, pecans and raisins, and used coconut milk instead.

    And for the frosting I used a variation of this recipe and another of the tofutti cream cheese, vegan margarine, vanilla extract and a bit of lemon. Then I sprinkled cinnamon on top.

    So delicious!

  7. I'm so glad these still turned out with your modifications :). Thanks for the feedback!


I love hearing from you all! Please leave me a message if you have questions, advice, or just to let me know you stopped by. Your feedback is always very much appreciated. Thanks! <3 Xiaolu