This recipe was one of many firsts for me. This was my first time working with coconut flour. It was also my second, third, and fourth. It was also my first time baking gluten free.
Coconut flour is made from dried coconut meat. As a result, it is very fragrant and flavorful. It is also very absorbent. It generally cannot be substituted one for one of wheat-based flour. The package I used recommends replacing only 20% of the amount of flour called for in the recipe with coconut flour plus using an equivalent amount of additional liquid.
In my first attempt, I started out with good intentions. I used honey as a sweetener instead of sugar, and I used coconut oil with some coconut milk to complement the coconut flavor. Even following the package instructions, I had to increase the amount of liquid in the recipe for the texture of the batter to be what it should (it was resembling that of dough rather than batter before I added more liquid).
That batch went in the trash. The baked cupcake tops looked like those of muffins and they tasted like coconut scones. For the second batch, I was scrambling around for more liquid ingredients and settled on orange juice (I was out of everything else). Instead of coconut cupcakes, they were orange-flavored cupcakes that were too dense. And my frosting had melted into goop at the same time. It was time to call it a day.
It was after the first two batches when I threw up my hands and made my Shrimp Fra Diavolo (because I was feeling rather devilish, and this was going to be our dinner anyway so I figured why not photograph it). But I couldn't let the cupcakes rest. So I made them again. On the second day, I decided if I was going to experiment anyway (I had let go of any expectations at that point), I would only use coconut flour and make these cupcakes gluten free.
I've heard that as a beginning gluten free baker, I should be prepared
to throw out a few batches. It took two more
tweaks to get the recipe I was completely satisfied with. The third
time, I added more eggs, I used canola oil instead of coconut oil and I
used about half a cup of coconut milk. The result was really tasty coconut muffins.
They were still a bit dry and didn't rise as much as I expected,
but they made a fantastic breakfast. For my fourth batch,
I doubled the amounts of coconut milk as well as the baking powder, and
the final result was perfect. The cakes were springy, fluffy, moist,
delicious and full of coconut flavor. And complemented perfectly by the
lime and cream cheese frosting.
Lessons: If you are replacing wheat flour with coconut flour, use about half the amount of coconut flour as the amount of wheat flour the recipe calls for. Use plenty of eggs (2 eggs per every 1/4 to 1/3 cup of coconut flour, depending on the remaining ingredients) for the cakes to rise properly and have a nice, cakey texture. In addition, use plenty of other liquids. In this recipe for 1/2 cup of coconut flour, the amount of liquid ingredients (consisting of canola oil, coconut milk, and honey, excluding the eggs) was 1 1/2 cups. With the eggs (assuming 1 large beaten egg = 1/4 cup), the total amount of liquid ingredients measured 2 1/2 cups.
Here is the final recipe.
Coconut Cupcakes (Gluten Free)
(Makes 12 cupcakes)
1/2 cup (70 g) coconut flour
1 tsp double-acting gluten free baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup (60 ml) honey
1/4 cup (60 ml) canola oil
1 cup (237 ml) coconut milk
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF/177ºC. Line a 12-muffin pan with fluted liners.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, vanilla, and honey, until well-blended, about 1 minute. Add oil and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add flour and coconut milk in batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until the mixture is even and there are no lumps.
3. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups. Bake 25-30 minutes, until cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in a center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool in pan slightly then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Lime and Cream Cheese Frosting
(Frosts 12 cupcakes)
8 oz (227 g) cream cheese
1 1/2 cup (180 g) confectioner's sugar
1 tsp lime zest
2 tsp lime juice
In a mixer bowl, beat cream cheese until softened slightly. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until well-blended, about 2 minutes. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes or cover and refrigerate until needed.