Recipe: Friendly Raspberry, Coconut and Lemon Marble Cakes

Tomorrow, my workplace is hosting Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea, a fundraiser for the Cancer Council.  Since a lot of my postdocs and PhD students are supported by the Cancer Council in one way or another (and because we are all obsessed with cake), we take this pretty seriously.

Because allergy-friendly cooking is what I do, and because several of my favourite colleagues have serious food allergies, I always make it my goal to bring something that is at a minimum egg-free and nut-free.  And often vegan.  Since last year, another colleague of mine has been diagnosed with coeliac disease, so this year’s cupcakes are nut-free, vegan and gluten-free. 

At this point, you might be wondering if they have anything in them at all.  Of course they do – they have sugar!!!!   (This is why I no longer work in the diabetes research lab.  They black-balled me…)   You might also be wondering if they taste of anything, so you might be reassured to know that other than sugar, they have all sorts of lovely things – raspberries, coconut milk, lemon zest, and my current preferred gluten-free flour mix, which is composed of rice flour, potato starch, tapioca and xanthum, and has the advantage of fading nicely into the background rather than singing loud songs of gluten-freedom and whole-graininess.  (There is a time and place for such songs, but I maintain that marble cake is not one of them).

Also, I have to comment that I am immensely proud of the icing.  It’s a variation on my lemon-coconut-buttercream, which is quite easy, but I’ve actually managed to marble it a little, which fills me with glee.  It’s not that difficult an effect to achieve, either, especially if you are competent with icing (I definitely am not).

Your Shopping List (for 24 cupcakes)

1 cup white rice flour (supermarket-friendly)
1 cup brown rice flour (supermarket or health-food shop)
1/2 cup potato starch (definitely health-food shop, but cornflour would work in a pinch)
1/4 cup tapioca flour (also in supermarket, frequently disguised as arrowroot)
1/4 cup cornflour (supermarket friendly)
1 tsp xanthum gum (health-food shop, no two ways about it)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb of soda
pinch of salt
2 cups coconut milk (I use light coconut milk, and it works fine)
2 tsp cider vinegar or lemon juice in a pinch
2/3 cup canola oil
1 cup caster sugar
zest of one lemon
100 g raspberries (defrosted frozen raspberries are actually better than fresh for this purpose), crushed well
optional red food colouring
For the icing
500 g icing sugar mixture (make sure it’s gluten free, or all your hard work will be undone!)
125 g coconut oil or coconut butter (back to the health-food shop with you!)
2 tbsp lemon juice
optional yellow food colouring
2 tbsp raspberry juice, or, more likely, about 60 g defrosted frozen raspberries, crushed up with a fork.

Now what will you do with it?

Preheat the oven to 180°C, and line 24 muffin tins with paper cups.

Mix together all your flours and starches with the xanthum gum, salt, bicarb and baking powder, and set aside.  Sift, if you are feeling all kitchen-goddessy.  If, like me, you are both lazy and coming down with a horrible cold, don’t bother (but do wear food-handling gloves – it’s nice to share, but not viruses).

Put the coconut milk and vinegar in a bowl and stand for a few minutes, to let curdle.  You could do this before mixing up the flours, of course, but I was much too stressed about the flours to wait, so I did them first.

Mix the sugar and oil into the coconut milk, and pour into the flour mixture (or sift the flour mixture into the milk mixture – I suspect this is the best way to do it, but it’s more annoying, and see above about feeling under the weather and lazy.

Mix everything together until there are no large lumps, then divide the batter in two.  At this point, you want to work fairly quickly, so that the bicarb doesn’t do too much of its chemical reaction out of the oven.  Mix the raspberries into one batch and the lemon zest into the other batch.  You can add food colouring to the raspberries if you like – if you don’t (maybe even if you do), the raspberry mixture will go bluish when cooked.  I work with scientists and they like blue food, so this isn’t a problem for me – you may be more conventional in your tastes, however.

Put a spoonful of lemon mixture and a spoonful of raspberry mixture into each muffin cup, and swirl briefly with a skewer to get a bit of a marble pattern (if you don’t bother, you will just have a stripey cake, and that’s fine too).

But marbled is very pretty if you do manage it…

Pop them in the oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes, swapping the trays around halfway through.  Take out of the tins and let cool on a rack.

Make the icing: Melt the coconut butter/oil in a large bowl, and sift in the icing sugar.  The mixture will be very stiff, not to say crumbly, and that’s OK.  Divide it in half, and add the lemon juice to one (and yellow colouring, if you like) and the raspberry juice to the other – you are aiming for something that is soft enough to pipe.  Bear in mind that the coconut will solidify at room temperature, and will do so quite fast.

Now for the fun part!  Put alternating spoonfuls of raspberry and lemon icing in a piping bag fitted with a star attachment.  Pipe little spirally mounds onto each cupcake – the icing will come out in adorable little marbley stripes!  Most amusing!  I could have done this all evening.  If, like me, you run out of lemon icing, you can always just spread raspberry icing onto the cakes and decorate them with highly un-allergy-friendly things like smarty and marshmallow flowers.  Or with something healthy like a dried raspberry, or even a fresh one.  The choice is yours!

Not quite so gluten- and dairy-free at this point. Curse you, evil confectionery!

Feed to everyone!

Anyone would think this was a breast cancer fundraiser… all they need is little ribbons…


I feel I have gone as far down the allergy-friendly route as one can well go with these cupcakes, but if fructose is your poison, why not substitute out the raspberries and lemon and make a classic chocolate and vanilla marble cake – a tablespoon or so of cocoa and a teaspoon of vanilla essence should do you nicely, flavour-wise.  If you aren’t partial to coconut, use soy milk instead.  And, for the icing, you could use cocoa butter instead of coconut butter for a very rich, chocolatey effect.

These are never, never, never going to be low GI.  One day I will try to make a low-GI cupcake, I promise.

I am submitting this post to Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love.  First submission, so hopefully I have it right!

See? They go in a box! Admittedly, that is not my lunchbox…


This time last year…

Adventures with Ingredients: Casa Iberica
Review: Less Meat, More Veg, by Rachel De Thample
Recipe: Chocolate for Breakfast
Recipe: Almond, Rosewater and Cardamom Cupcakes with Raspberry Icing
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