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Lying in bed Sunday morning, I nursed my too-many-whiskey-gingers induced hangover with three pints of water, a french press of stumptown and an hour long phone call with mi mejor amiga in New York. She was telling me about her Saturday night, which involved friends, beer, and a karaoke birthday party complete with the most delicious banana cupcakes she had ever had in her life. Banana cupcakes? Of course! Why have I never attempted these at home?!

I did a little sneaking around the internet and found this recipe on Martha Stewart dot com. Honey cinnamon icing does sound interesting, but I think vanilla buttercream sounds a little bit better with banana cake. I’m curious to see if banana cupcakes are no different from banana bread? Perhaps a little lighter and sweeter? As soon as the bananas on my counter turn from canary yellow to soft and spotted, I’ll give it a go and report back!

the recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 ripe bananas)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Make a well in center of flour mixture. In well, mix together butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Stir to incorporate flour mixture taking care not to overmix. Spoon batter into muffin cups.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Frost generously.

Picture 15Vegan? Gluten free? This book will change your life. If your name happens to be Erin, as mine is, you will be totally stoked because this vegan and gluten free baking genius is also named Erin. I feel like its a good baker omen or something.

I first tested out the book over at my parents house a couple of months ago. My mother and I occasionally like to pull a quick vegan switch on my dad to see if he notices. Its an interesting experiment – try it out on a loved one sometime. We made him the carrot cake cupcakes which are ammmmmmazing. He loved them of course – thinking they were filled with eggs, butter and delicious gluten. I’ve been trying trying to cut out wheat and dairy for allergen reasons for awhile now, and flour substitutes have been tough, often giving a gritty residue to textures that have no business being gritty. Babycakes had me at the first bite.

I promptly *borrowed* the book from my mother so I might try out the vegan, gluten free cornbread. Last fall I tried my own substitutions on a favorite cornbread recipe and failed miserably – producing a rubbery, polenta-like substance. There was nothing bread-like about it. Since I’ve declared this month Wheat Free October, I tested out the Babycakes cornbread this weekend. It was so delicious, I burnt my mouth sneaking a slice (or three) before it had cooled. This cornbread has a lovely crumb people! My only qualm is that I find it a little sweet — so I may try to experiment a little to see what sort of savory cornbread I end up with!

My dear friend M is visiting from New York this week, and in honor of her visit, I’ve made her vegan chocolate cupcakes with (her favorite) lavender icing.

Now, I’ve had cupcakes with lavender icing, but I’ve never actually set out to make my very own before. I searched the web and found a couple of recipes, but nothing truly inspirational. It seemed to be more about the color than the flavor, and I prefer to skip the food coloring.

I decided to experiment.

Dried lavender in hand, I removed the buds and added them to a saucepan with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar. I brought this mixture to a boil, and allowed it to simmer for about 20 minutes. Ta-da! Lavender simple syrup!

On to the cake.

I’ve tested some pretty excellent vegan cake recipes in my day, my favorite thus far being one which uses both coconut milk and coconut oil.

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the wet ingredients. Mix the dry. Mix the wet into the dry. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a fork comes out clean!

Now that my lavender simple syrup has sufficiently cooled, I’m ready to make the frosting. Since I’m not really vegan, and neither is M, I’m going to use real butter and make a version of my mom’s amazing buttercream. If you are vegan, you can easily substitute margarine.

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • lavender simple syrup

At a low speed, mix butter and powdered sugar. Slowly add lavender simple syrup until your frosting reaches the desired consistency. The lavender came across stronger than I had anticipated, so I added a squeeze of lemon to brighten the flavors. Frost cupcakes with love, and enjoy!