It’s back to school time! Are you excited? I believe I have mentioned that I am. Grocery shopping just won’t be the same without him… and that’s a good thing.
But with the return of school comes the return of social events, and parties and extracurriculars can of course be a nightmare for a GFCF parent. Our school has actually put in a complete no-food policy for all class parties, thanks to skyrocketing food allergies, but there are still plenty of other opportunities for disaster. The short answer is always, you bring your own. These days you will very likely find that you are not the only parent having to do so.
But really, who in their right mind would whip up a whole batch of cupcakes every time you have a birthday party to go to? If you find a parent with that kind of time on their hands, send them over to my house; I’ve got some chores they can do. No, the trick is to make one batch, and cleverly dole them out one at a time as necessary. First, we start with 2 cups of almond flour, and 1/4 cup of tapioca starch.
(Note that tapioca flour and tapioca starch are the same thing, while potato flour and potato starch are not the same thing. Just another one of those illogical facts you’ve got to memorize.) Now add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and blend together evenly.
In another bowl, mix your wet ingredients. First, 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil.
Next, 1/2 cup of agave nectar. You can also use honey instead if you don’t have agave nectar available at your health food store, and you don’t want to order it online.
And finally, 1/3 cup of unsweetened plain applesauce.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix everything into a sticky batter.
Glop spoonfuls of the batter into muffin cups, leaving each one about 2/3 full. No need to smooth out the tops, the bumps will melt out in the oven. I’m not sure where I found these cupcake papers that have an outer foil wrapper so they will stand up on their own, but they’re kind of handy if your muffin tin is dirty, or already filled with batter.
Bake your cupcakes at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden. Make sure to let them cool completely before trying to pull them out of the muffin tin. Then put them in a Ziplock bag in the freezer for future use. You’ll probably want to taste-test one, though. Or three.
Fast-forward several weeks or months, when your beloved offspring has been invited to celebrate the longevity of someone else’s beloved offspring. Pull one frozen cupcake out of the freezer, and while it’s thawing (or very gently microwaving up to room temperature, if you’re running behind schedule,) mix up a single serving of icing.
That’s 2 Tablespoons of powdered sugar, 1/2 Tablespoon of grapeseed oil, and 1/4 teaspoon of almond milk. You may notice that this is basically just our standard buttercream frosting recipe, scaled way down. Math is your friend! Granted, the one thing that won’t scale down well from the original recipe is the vanilla. If you’ve got an eyedropper available, feel free to put 6 and 1/4 drops of McCormick vanilla extract in as well. But honestly, it’s gonna taste just fine even if you skip it.
As you whip everything vigorously with a fork, you will likely end up with this kind of mealy-textured mess. Now is the time to add tiny, tiny smidges of almond milk until you achieve a smooth texture. It shouldn’t be more than 1/4 teaspoon extra. If you go overboard and it gets too runny (or if it was too runny from the start,) sprinkle in more powdered sugar a pinch at a time until it’s right.
I don’t know what was up with my lighting in this shot, but I promise you my icing was white, not gray. And my cupcake wasn’t burnt to a crisp either. Golden cupcake, white icing, that’s what you should be seeing here. Do not adjust your monitors.
For the record, it is in theory possible to make a full batch of frosting and freeze the cupcakes in an already-decorated state. But there are two potential problems with this approach. One, you will have to freeze them standing upright in a single layer rather than crammed in a plastic baggie, and you may or may not have the freezer space for this. And two, you will not be able to warm up the cupcake you need on the day of the party any faster than thawing at room temperature, because any added heat will make the frosting melt and break down.
Pop it in a little tupperware container, and you’re ready to go! Don’t feel like you have to be limited to the cake portion of the birthday party, either. Just ask the birthday party hostess what she’ll be serving — chances are 99% it’s either pizza, or hamburgers and hot dogs, and you can easily bring along your own version of those for your child as well. Being GFCF doesn’t mean you have to be left out, not even for a moment.
Almond Flour Cupcakes
2 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup agave nectar (or honey)
1/3 cup plain applesauce
Single Serving of Frosting
2 Tbs powdered sugar
1/2 Tbs grapeseed oil
1/4 tsp almond milk, up to 1/4 tsp more