Vegan Lemon Cupcakettes

I cook. By profession I’m a pastry cook. At home I’m the let’s-try-this-funky-recipe-for-dinner cook. One day I’d like to be a cook-beautiful-things-and-take-beautiful-pictures-of-them cook. I’m lucky that nearly every day I get to practice doing just that. Being a pastry cook, friends, co-workers and family often ask for cakes and desserts. Their tastes are as diverse and wide-ranging as they are which provides tons of opportunities for creativity with flavors and ingredients. In the past several months I’ve also had the opportunity to cook for friends with speciality diets including a gluten-free wedding, diabetic treats, and vegan cakes!

I had a tiny amount of batter and frosting left over from a recent vegan lemon cake, and even though I’m not vegan I was pretty excited about trying these little cupcakes. The original yellow cake and vanilla “buttercream” recipes come from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Baking cookbook by Donna Diegel, and were adapted as follows:

Lemony Cake – makes 2, 8″ round cakes and 12 mini cupcakes

3 cups cake flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup non-hydrogenated  vegan margarine (butter flavored, room temperature)
1-1/2 cups sugar
Egg substitute for 3 eggs (I used Ener-G powdered egg replacer)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups Almond Milk
Zest of 3 lemons

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a mini cupcake pan with paper liners, grease & flour cake pans with margarine and tap the excess flour out. Combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk together to incorporate and break up any clumps. In a mixer, beat margarine and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a minute. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add egg substitute in 2 portions, beating well in between. Scrape down the bowl once more and add the vanilla. Beat to incorporate. On low, add 1/3 of the dry mix, mixing till incorporated, then 1/3 of the almond milk. Alternate the dry mix and milk until well blended, taking care not to overmix the batter. remove mixing bowl from the mixer and fold in the lemon zest. Scoop about a tablespoon of batter into each cupcake, and divide the rest of the batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake! when the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched they are finished. Check the cake rounds for doneness after about 25-30 minutes.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting – Double this recipe to fill and frost both the cake and cupcakes.

1/2 cup of solid shortening
1/2 cup of  non-hydrogenated  vegan margarine (butter flavored, room temperature)
4 cups of confectioner’s sugar
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Vanilla beans scraped from the inside of 1 vanilla bean
1-2 Tbsp. almond milk

In a mixer beat shortening and margarine until soft and combined. Add confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time, scraping down the bowl between each cup. Beat frosting until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and vanilla beans. Beat in almond milk until frosting has a spreadable consistency.  Frost your cakes!

Each of these tasty little cupcakes were topped with a fresh berry and have been eaten a handful at a time. If you aren’t vegan or haven’t tried any vegan baked goods, these little treats might take you by surprise. They don’t take any extra effort to make and could easily fool your dairy eating friends.

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