Saturday, August 6, 2011

Re-post: Banana Rum Cupcakes

These cupcakes look so spectacularly yummy I decided to include Claire's full post from This Gluten-free Life. If you try the recipe, let me know how it turns out! I think it's going to be awhile before I can experiment with something for just B. and me, and I seem to be getting a lot of teetotalers at the farmers' markets. (Several people objected to my Mojito Agave Sweets this week b/c of the inclusion of rum. Sheesh. Get a life, folks. You're talking to someone who thinks 3 glasses of wine in a week is heavy drinking, it's not like I'm out to turn your children into gutter drunks.)

Banana Rum Cupcakes with Rum Glaze for the Gluten-free Ratio Rally

Soft. Fluffy. Spongey. Moist. Tender. Crumbly. Cake-y. 

Sadly, those usually aren't the first words that that come to mind to describe many gluten-free cakes I've tried from the store.  But that, up there?  That is a cupcake.  A real cupcake.  It is all of those words, to a tee.  And what is behind all of those happy descriptors?

A ratio.  A beautifully simple ratio.

Our host for the Gluten-free Ratio Rally this month is Kate of Gluten-free Gobsmacked.  She's inspired us all to make some delicious variations on white and yellow cake.  Check out her blog for her recipe for Basic White Birthday Cake (I could have used this a few weeks ago for my own birthday!) and for links to all of the other fantastic recipes the members of the Rally came up with (which you can also find at the end of this post).

Sometimes the ratios that Ruhlman describes need a little tweaking.  A few adjustments; a little less flour here, a little more liquid there, an extra egg here, a dash more sugar there.  But for me, his ratio for sponge cake worked perfectly.  One equal part each of flour, butter, sugar, and egg gave me a cake with an incredibly tender crumb, and a beautifully brown and spongey top.  It tasted like real cake - the kind I remember from my gluten days (you know, the kind that made me sick, but was delicious - but that's beside the point.)

Of course, I had to do SOME kind of tweaking to make it my own.  One of my absolute favorite cakes ever is my great aunt Gene's rum cake. (Whenever I see the cover of the cookbook Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters, I always think of aunt Gene and rum cakes, for some reason - I think it makes me think of other, older times and places and scraps of paper tucked between the tattered pages of cookbooks, holding the keys to unlock the secrets of the most delicious things your family has passed down.)  I wanted to make a cake I could drizzle her rum glaze over, so I used some banana in place of half the butter to balance out the rum flavor (which also had the added advantage of making it a lower-fat cake).

The result was absolutely heavenly.  These are best served warm, so either drizzle the glaze over them while they're still cooling and consume right away, or store refrigerated and then reheat them in the microwave for 20 - 30 seconds before serving.  Cold, they are still pretty delicious, but they are a bit harder.  Warmed up, they practically melt in your mouth.  I was both sad and very, very glad that I had used the ratio to make only 4 cupcakes.  I shudder to think of myself in the alternate scenario, which would likely have resulted in my eating a full dozen of these.  That's another reason ratios are awesome - you can make as many - or as few - as you like.

Trust me, you will not be sorry you made these.  The commitment is minimal anyway - you can just make 4 to start and see how you like them.  It's perfect for girls living alone, or for you and just a few friends.  I'm pretty sure you'll want to get right back into your kitchen to make more, though.  It's hard to resist an old-fashioned favorite like rum cake.

Banana Rum Cupcakes with Rum Glaze
Makes 4 cupcakes - can easily be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled, get the idea.

For the cupcakes:
25 grams Earth Balance Buttery Spread
25 grams very ripe banana (about 1/4 medium banana)
50 grams white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. rum extract
20 grams potato starch
15 grams tapioca starch
15 grams sorghum flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. xanthan gum (probably optional, but I didn't try the recipe without it)

For the rum glaze:
1 tsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
2 tsp. water
1.5 tbsp. white sugar
1/2 tsp. rum extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Place 4 cupcake liners in a muffin/cupcake pan.

In a mixing bowl, combine the Earth Balance Buttery Spread and the banana.  Whisk together until smooth, then add the sugar and mix well.  Add the egg, vanilla, and rum extract and beat together.

In a separate small bowl, combine the tapioca starch, potato starch, sorghum flour, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum.  Add to the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour into the prepared cupcake liners and bake at 350 F for 15 - 17 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the cupcake comes out clean.  Mine took exactly 17 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit in the hot muffin pan for another 3 - 5 minutes (so they don't fall apart when you take them out).  Remove to a cooling rack and let cool the rest of the way, or until you can't stand it anymore and have to eat one.  When they are totally cool, poke a bunch of holes in the top with a fork and drizzle a good amount of rum glaze over the top so that it sinks into the cupcake.

Store in the fridge until ready to serve.  Microwave for a few seconds before serving.

To make rum glaze:  Combine the butter, water, sugar, and rum extract in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Continue to simmer for 1 - 3 minutes or until it just starts to get thick.  Drizzle over the cooled cupcakes immediately (or it will get too thick to drizzle). 

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