Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Perfect Vegan Cupcake (high altitude)

I've adapted sea-level recipes for dairy-free, egg-free cupcakes before, but they usually end up sunken and stuck to the muffin tin (or stuck to the paper liners, even worse). So, I went on a hunt for a really good cupcake/muffin that would work at high altitude. (I'm not sure what separates a cupcake from a muffin. I've reduced the sugar from the original cupcake recipe, bringing these dangerously close to muffin territory.) These can be frosted for dessert, or filled with power ingredients like nuts and raisins to make a breakfast or snack. Most recently, with autumn on its way and apples falling from the trees, I made these with apple chunks and walnuts, cinnamon and allspice, and brown sugar instead of white. It tasted like fall and it was delicious.

I've used all whole wheat pastry flour in this recipe, and I find that it does very well here, even for the dessert version. You could swap out for all-purpose and I'm sure it would be great.

The optional frosting is coconut-oil based, which, as always, requires that you don't mind a bit of coconut flavor. I added a (tiny!) splash of peppermint extract to the frosting to go with a vanilla cupcake, and added a berry and mint leaf on each for decoration. The berries were from the garden, and I ran out of raspberries, but filled in a blackberry and some goji berries.

For all the trouble I went through to make these look attractive
(berry and mint on top, etc), I frosted them in an incredible hurry
because our friends were almost here. The coconut oil frosting
can have a perfectly lovely consistency and will make a beautiful
spread if you take the time to do so.
The unfrosted apple spice version.
Note: This recipe was made by me at about 7,000 ft in altitude. It will probably work great across a reasonable range of elevations above and below that, but may not turn out very well at sea level. If you are at low altitude and want to try the flavors in the recipe here, try adapting a normal sea level recipe to match this one.*


Adapted from here
Frosting is from here
Makes 11 to 12 cupcakes

1 cup soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable shortening (I like Spectrum Organic)
2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on desired sweetness)
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Add-ins for apple spice muffins: 1 cup chopped walnuts, 1 1/2 cup chopped apples, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp allspice, minus the vanilla

1/4 cup coconut oil
1+ cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp soy milk
1 tsp vanilla
Few drops peppermint extract
Berries and mint leaves for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a muffin tin with oil.

Measure 1 cup of soy milk and add the apple cider vinegar; let sit while you move on to the next step.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the vegetable shortening and sugar on medium-high speed with the paddle attachment. Meanwhile, sift the cornstarch, flour, baking powder and soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Reduce speed on the stand mixer and mix in the vanilla and soy milk/vinegar mixture. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients. Once all in there, mix for about 10-20 seconds more. Avoid overmixing.

Fold in any additional ingredients to make these more muffin-y (see apple spice options above), or leave as-is for a vanilla cupcake. Shovel the batter into the muffin tin, filling about 2/3 full. With no add-ins, I find this makes 11 cupcakes. With apple chunks and other goodness taking up volume, it makes 12.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Let cool before frosting, unless you want a runny glaze.

To make the frosting, switch to the whisk on your stand mixer and wipe the bowl clean. Start with 1/4 cup coconut oil and 1 cup powdered sugar, plus the other ingredients, and beat at a medium high speed on the mixer. If the consistency is too stiff, add soy milk by the teaspoon; if too wet, add powdered sugar by the 1/4 cup until the consistency is the perfect frosting. You should have enough frosting for the cupcakes plus a little extra.