I remember as a child, a few of my friends were into the pen-friend thing. Pen-friends apparently shared strong bonds. I often thought, as young children are wont to think when not convinced, that the stories were made-up, just to ‘show-off’, until I heard a real life incident. One of P’s friend actually traveled to Australia to meet his pen-friend after receiving an invitation and ended up working and living there for a long time! Incredible, isn’t it? The days of pen-friends through snail-mail mode is long gone. And these days we have online friends, chatroom-friends, flickr-friends, and well – blogger-friends! I have quite a few and I am sure you do! Many of you are already my friends, and God bless you all for enriching my life with your touch!
I make friends easily with most people, that I knew, but till the blog happened, my friends were always those whom I met in real life. I did not understand virtual friendships. Slowly it happened, and without my knowing it, I started getting into conversations with readers, fellow bloggers and they were some with whom I ‘connected’. We exchanged numbers and would meet up if we visited each other’s cities. At first I was cautious but so far all the people I have met have been really nice people, some with whom the friendship has gone from acquaintance to close friends.
Aparna is one of my closest friends amongst bloggers. We have met a few times, and I have stayed at her place. We converse a lot on phone. Jr.H and Aparna’s daughter Akshaya are buddies. We have a lot in common though as my daughter points out – “Ma, you both are so different!” That is what makes it special.
Today, it is my pleasure to invite Aparna over to my virtual home. Aparna writes a lacto-ovo, food blog called ‘My Diverse Kitchen’. As the name indicates, her recipes belong to diverse regions. She loves baking as much as I do.
Over to Aparna:
Sometimes the simplest of things can have you stumped. Sometime back, Harini came down to Goa with her family for a short vacation. We are good friends, and our daughters can spend a lot of time marvelling over how food and photography can turn their mothers in beings weirder than Martians might be!
So what does one food blogger take when meeting another one? Well, good food is always much appreciated, so I decided to bake some cupcakes for her kids. I don’t usually bake vegan but being vegetarian, I am now quite comfortable with it and only need to give my recipe of choice a bit of thought before I adapt it.
Harini’s daughter, whom she refers to in her posts as ‘Jr H’ also happens to be allergic to gluten and this, is what had me stumped as I have rarely done gluten-free baking! My native style of South Indian cooking is inherently gluten-free as it is mostly rice based, but gluten-free baking is something I have very little experience with.
One of my reference points for workable gluten-free recipes on the net is the Karina, the Gluten-free Goddess. She has an excellent variety of gluten-free recipes on her blog, which are vegetarian and many are vegan too. These gorgeous gluten-free cupcakes took my fancy but I didn’t have oranges or orange juice and some of the other ingredients in stock. But I did have lemons on hand, so adapted the recipe to suit my taste, make it vegan, and use whatever was in my kitchen cupboards.
And the result? Soft and delicious lemony cupcakes with a tangy lemon glaze. The softness and crumb texture is like that of a regular cupcake, and you wouldn’t even know there wasn’t all-purpose flour in it except for the somewhat nutty taste of sorghum flour. We liked them, and I remember Harini’s daughter telling me she liked them very much.
So when Harini asked me, a couple of months back, if I would do guest post for her, it seemed a perfect idea to make those very gluten-free cupcakes that I had originally for her daughter. So here’s my recipe.
One thing I would like to add, is that “xanthan gum” which is used in this recipe, is a corn-derived thickener and usually used in gluten-free bakes. It works by making the gluten-free batter thicker and the bakes like cakes less crumbly. I got my “xanthan gum” from the US, but if you don’t have it, you can substitute it with guar gum (if you can find it), or arrowroot starch or flax seed meal.
Might I also add that the lemon glaze really does make this cupcake special so don’t leave that out, or else you can use an icing/ buttercream of your choice.
Recipe: Vegan & Gluten-free Cupcakes With a Lime/ Lemon Glaze
(Adapted from the Gluten-free Goddess)
3/4 cup sorghum flour (jowar)
3/4 cup corn starch (corn flour in India)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp oil
1 cup water
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, xanthan gum and the lemon zest.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the oil, water, lemon juice and vanilla till mixed. Add this to the dry ingredients and beat with an electric mixer, on medium speed, for about 2 minutes till smooth and fluffy. This gluten-free batter is likely to climb up the beaters so it helps to beat in a “figure eight” motion while holding up the beaters a bit and at a slight angle while beating.
Let the batter sit a minute before spooning it into 10 medium sized cupcake lined cupcake tins. Bake the cupcakes at 180C (350F) for about 20 to 25 minutes till golden and firm to touch.
To make the lime/ lemon glaze, mix 1 cup icing sugar with about 1 to 2 tsp fresh lime/ lemon juice, or just enough to make a thick glaze. Drop a small teaspoonful of the glaze on the cool cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles if desired.
This recipe makes 10 medium sized cupcakes.