Coffee and Salted Caramel Gluten Free Cupcakes Recipe

I love cake. You love cake too, right? 
I made a really lovely batch of Gluten Free cupcakes the other day and a few people on Twitter gave the thumbs up for a baking-themed blog post. So, if you want a soft, fluffy, coffee (or vanilla) gluten free sponge cupcake, topped with decadent and rich salted caramel frosting, then look no further my friend, for I have provided…(hungry yet?) baking post collage
Essential baking kit… obviously the Orla Kiely apron is mandatory. At least, that is what you tell your bank manager.

First, a word about Gluten Free baking: it often goes horribly wrong. Due to the lack of ‘normal’ (i.e. wheat) flour, it often ends up in a flat, rubbery, smeg-pellet of a ‘cake’.  I’ve tried SO many recipes that just haven’t ticked the boxes. So, I decided to roll up my sleeves and give it a go myself.  Essentially, I adapted a ‘normal’ cake recipe to suit my needs, and it worked (YES!).

Secondly: you can make this recipe the ‘normal’ way if you don’t want to make it gluten/wheat free, and you want a lovely, easy cupcake recipe. Ask me in the comments if you want any more information on this.

A few notes on the recipe:

– the key to getting a good crumb texture and rise on these cakes, is the method. Don’t be tempted to ‘chuck it all in’ the bowl and use the all in one method. By doing each part as described, you’ll be getting air into the mix – this is crucial.

– the flour is important. The best I have found so far, is a gluten-free self raising flour by Doves Farm
– golden caster sugar is used to impart a slight honeyed taste to the cakes, but you can use regular caster sugar instead if you only have that.
– I am reeling with the fact that I use margarine (Stork) in this recipe. I have always been a butter-only baker, partly from not wanting such processed ingredients in food I make or eat, and partly because you cannot get a better tasting cake than when you use butter.  So, er…I know you’re thinking ‘why is she using Stork then?’. Well, it creates a much better rise and texture in a gluten free cake. I’ve read that this may be due to the steam it creates. It just works.
– this recipe yields 12 decent sized cupcakes. You can use exactly the same recipe to make one layer of a larger sponge cake (e.g. victoria sponge). This fills one 20″ tin perfectly. Don’t scale it up. If you want two layers, make two separate batches…trust me.
– if you choose to make the vanilla variant of this recipe, then make sure you use a good quality vanilla extract. I recommend the Nielsen Massey one (linked here for information). If you use a cheap, synthetic flavouring here it will taste cheap and synthetic. You may as well leave it out! It is expensive, but it will last for ages.

Okay, eyes down:


For the cakes:
125g Gluten-free self raising flour
125g Golden caster sugar
125g Stork margarine
2 medium eggs
Few drops of vanilla extract* or up to 6 tablespoons cooled strong coffee (Espresso is good)
a splash of milk (*up to a tablespoon, but only if you are following the Vanilla version)
generous teaspoon of Xantham Gum

1 tablespoon (okay, maybe 2) Tia Maria or Kaluha (coffee liqueur).
This is not essential, but it’s very, very nice. GF Cupcake recipe ingredients
My bundle of ingredients to make my gorgeous (if I do say so myself) Coffee and Salted Caramel Gluten Free Cupcakes

For the Salted Caramel Frosting:
250g light soft brown sugar
150ml double cream
140g salted butter
1/2 tsp sea salt


Preheat your oven to gas mark 5 and line a 12-hole muffin/cupcake tin with cases

1. Cream together the caster sugar and margarine in a large bowl. 

I use a handheld electric whisk on low to make this quicker but I wouldn’t really recommend making this cake in a mixer or food processor, as I have always had better results by hand.
Once this is pale, soft and almost fluffy, give it a final few stirs with a wooden spoon and scrape down the side of the bowl.

2. Crack one egg into the mix and sift a few tablespoons of the flour into it also. 

Hold the sieve up high to get loads of air into your flour.  Combine the egg and flour into the margarine and sugar mix by using folding and cutting movements. 
Don’t use the electric whisk, do this using a wooden spoon. It’s important you don’t knock air out the mixture.

3. Repeat step 2 (with your second egg and another 2 tablespoons of the flour).

4. Sift in the remaining flour and Xantham Gum.

Combine into the mixture by cutting and folding it in. I use a silicone paddle spatula for this.

5. Add either your coffee or vanilla extract, and combine.
If using vanilla, you may want to add a little milk here to loosen the batter slightly.

6. Once your mixture is fully combined with no lumps, it’ll be quite gluey in texture. Not what you’d expect from a ‘normal’ cake, and not quite as wet as most gluten free cake recipes (joy!). Go with it.

7. Spoon the batter equally into your lined muffin tin. I find that using 2 tablespoons each will give you 12 good sized cupcakes.

8. Pop the tin into the centre of the oven (already preheated to gas mark 5). Bake for 20-22 minutes.
Don’t open the oven door before 20 minutes are up. Your cakes will collapse if you do this. If you have a fan oven, be wary that this can affect the bake – but you’ll already know this!

9. When the time is up, insert a skewer or knife into one of the cakes. If it comes out clean, you’re ready. If not, leave them a few minutes more before checking again.
When the cakes are cooked, take them out the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Once you’re able to handle them, pop them onto a cooling rack.

10. When the cakes are cool, prick them several times to halfway through with a thin skewer or cocktail stick and then drizzle over a few drops of your coffee liqueur if using. Less is more, or you’ll get a soggy bottom.

Now it’s time to get on with the frosting

1. In a saucepan, heat the soft light brown sugar and sea salt gently for a few minutes, then add in the cream.
Leave (stirring occasionally) it to dissolve completely.  Once dissolved, leave it to simmer/bubble for five minutes.

2. Remove from the heat and transfer into a bowl to cool completely.

3. In a separate bowl, use your electric whisk (or wooden spoon) and beat the butter until soft and smooth.

4. Once the caramel is cooled completely, pour it into your butter, and carry on beating until it’s a lovely whipped consistency.  
*don’t be tempted to pour your caramel in if it’s not completely cold. It will ruin your frosting!

5. Leave the frosting in a cool place ready to use, and simply pipe onto the cakes. I also use some bronzed sugar pieces at the end to try and make them look a bit jazzy (jazzy/hide my bad piping…same difference). 

You’ll notice I haven’t put a photo of my finished cakes on here? Well, that’s for two reasons. Firstly, I may be good at baking, but I am dreadful (truly) at decorating small cakes and piping. As a result, my cupcakes often look like they have been made by a small child.  
Secondly, not only did my poor cakes have the humiliation of my piping skills thrust upon them, but my kitchen was ridiculously warm this day, and well, my frosting melted while I was piping. I’m not going to lie to you, it wasn’t pretty.

But, it really didn’t matter, ‘cos they still all got eaten. Quite quickly. With many a ‘yum’ sound from the tasting panel.  

Sharing:  I’m happy for my recipe to be shared, but please link back to this original blog post and give credit appropriately.

Please share your favourite recipes in the comments, I’m always curious to see if there’s other ‘Free From’ bakers who are adapting or creating their own recipes.
Happy baking!


1 Comment

  1. February 13, 2014 / 5:13 pm

    oh these sound so good!im so glad they are gluten free….would love to give this a try chick:)xx