October marks that time of year again… I’m talking about apples, cinnamon spice, and everything pumpkin. It’s one of my favorite times of year!
With apple orchard season in full swing, I’m always looking for ways to use those one or two leftover apples. A few weeks ago, my grandpa celebrated his 90th birthday. I made a huge three layer vanilla cake for his special day, and we had everyone over to help celebrate. The following weekend, one of my brother’s came to visit and we figured a 90th birthday deserved a second birthday party! So, with fall in full swing, I thought it was only fitting to make a fall cake recipe for his second batch of birthday desserts.
Insert these gluten free apple spice cupcakes.
These gluten free apple spice cupcakes are light yet moist. The apple cake is flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg, and the batter is filled with tiny dices of Macoun apples. If you haven’t tried a Macoun apple yet, they are wonderful to bake with in the fall (that’s generally when you find them available). These apples are sweet, yet slightly tart! So if you can’t decide between a Granny Smith or a Honeycrisp, Macoun’s are the best of both worlds (at least they are in my opinion). If you can’t find Macoun, you can also use Granny Smith, Haralson, or Gala apples.
The frosting for these cupcakes is a twist on a classic cream cheese frosting. Instead of using cream cheese, I topped these cupcakes with a cinnamon mascarpone frosting. The recipe makes just enough to frost all of the cupcakes, so you won’t have a huge batch left over. In other words, you won’t have any leftovers to eat with a spoon. Sorry in advance.
By the way, this recipe is for my cookbook adaption series, where I try to adapt a new gluten free recipe every month from a cookbook I find in my kitchen. Last time, I made these decedent caramel coffee brownies. I’m STILL drooling over them. This month, I went for something little bit different. Instead of using a cookbook, I’ll talk through adapting a recipe from one of my favorite online blogs, Sally’s Baking Addiction.
Here’s how I adapted it:
One of the reasons I picked this recipe is because it’s a great one to convert to gluten free. I’ve found that even though 1:1 flours say you can substitute cup for cup, you still need to make additional modifications. I generally add additional moisture and additional leavening, since gluten free flours can be heavy and can absorb more liquid that regular flour.
The original recipe calls for melted butter and brown sugar, a great indicator for adapting a recipe to be gluten free. Brown sugar contains molasses and can add great moisture to gluten free baked goods, so I just increased the amount and adjusted the granulated sugar to compensate for the increase. I also prefer to use oil in my cupcakes instead of creaming butter and sugar, as I find my cupcakes are more moist and slightly lighter in texture. For this recipe, I simply swapped the melted butter for a neutral oil (I used sunflower oil). To add just a bit of extra moisture, I then swapped a few Tablespoons of the oil for plain yogurt.
When it comes to flavor, I always like to increase the spices and extracts in gluten free baked goods. I also increase the leavening to help the cake rise with a heavier flour mixture…my favorite flour so far is Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten free flour, but I always measure by weight to ensure I’m not using too much flour! I also spoon and level my flour, rather than scoop, before measuring by weight. Scooping flour out of the bag might result in using way too much flour.
Tips for making the frosting:
- Room temperature butter and mascarpone cheese are very important! If they are too cold, your frosting won’t combine right and may break…trust me on this one, it’s no fun to have lumpy frosting.
- Don’t over mix or you will have runny frosting! I start by whipping the butter for 2-3 minutes until it becomes lighter and paler in color. I then add the mascarpone cheese and whip just until it combines with the butter – the timing here will depend on the consistency of the mascarpone you purchase.
- Add in the vanilla, then slowly add in ½ cup of confectioner’s sugar at a time with your mixer on low speed. I mix in the sugar just until it’s combined, then I stop the mixer and add the next ½ cup. If I let the mixer continue to run on too high of speed for too long, I end up with a runnier frosting.
Once all the sugar has been added, add the cinnamon and turn your mixer up medium-low speed to beat in 1-2 Tablespoons of heavy whipping cream, just until it all comes together! I usually beat it for about 10-15 seconds, because I like my frosting very thick like buttercream. Feel free to beat it a little bit longer if you want a thinner or fluffier frosting!
Gluten Free Apple Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Mascarpone Frosting
For the Cupcakes:
- 1 ¼ cup + 1 Tbsp Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten free flour (193g), spooned and leveled
- 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ⅓ cup oil (I used sunflower oil)
- 3 Tbsp plain yogurt
- ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- ⅓ cup milk
- 2 tsp gluten free vanilla extract
- 1 medium-large apple such as Macoun, peeled and finely chopped or diced (about 1 ¾ cup)*
For the Frosting:
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 - 3 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon, more to taste
- 1-2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream*
- Pinch of salt, if needed
Make the Cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350℉. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners, and line a second muffin tin with 2-4 cupcake liners in the center. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I like to whisk several times at a faster speed to aerate the flour a bit (this will help create a slightly lighter cupcake). Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bow, whisk together oil, yogurt, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until combined. Whisk in the eggs until smooth, then whisk in the vanilla extract and milk until everything is totally combined.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, slowly mixing together until smooth and combined. Fold in the chopped apples.
- Fill each of the cupcake liners about ¾ full and bake for 24-26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let them cool for 5-10 minutes before removing onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. The cupcakes will rise quite a bit while cooking, but they will deflate some while cooling.
Make the Frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a large bowl and a hand mixer), whip the butter on medium-high speed until lighter and paler in color, about 2-3 minutes. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times in between.
- Add in the mascarpone cheese and vanilla extract and mix on medium speed just until it has incorporated with the butter, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- With your mixer running on low speed, add in ½ cup of confectioner’s sugar at a time until combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. If you want a little thicker frosting, add the extra ½ cup.
- Add in the cinnamon and 1 Tablespoon of heavy whipping cream*, and increase your mixer to medium-low speed for just 10-15 seconds. Do not over-mix, or you will have runny frosting! If your frosting is too thick, add the additional Tablespoon of heavy whipping cream. Taste and add a small pinch of salt or more cinnamon if desired.
- Frost your cupcakes and enjoy
- You can use any type of apple you’d like for the cupcake. If you can’t find something similar to Macoun, I would recommend Granny Smith, Haralson, or Gala apples.
- If your frosting seems a little too thin to pipe, place the bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes - 1 hour before frosting. I prefer refrigerating my frosting before using.
- If not using the frosting immediately, refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use. Once ready, let it come to room temperature for 5-10 minutes and re-beat a few times until smooth again.
- For the best frosting results, use heavy whipping cream. If you don’t have heavy whipping cream on hand, you can simply leave it out. If you leave it out and your frosting it too thick, try beating the frosting a little bit longer on medium-low speed.
- I only use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten free baking flour, which already contains xanthan gum, so I cannot guarantee that your cupcakes will turn out the same if using a different flour mixture. If using a gluten free all purpose flour mix, I recommend using a 1:1 mix that contains xanthan gum and measure by weight.
Author: Zest and Lemons
This recipe was adapted from Sally’s Baking Addition
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