Monday, November 14, 2011

Paleo Pumpkin Cupcakes?

Aye! Sunday was filled with baking, and more baking, and more baking. Baking attempts, I should say. I spent days searching for any possible amazing paleo-inspired Thanksgiving dessert, but I was left underwhelmed by the results. So since I had a whole bunch of ingredients and nothing but time, I decided to experiment a bit.

I took my favorite pumpkin cake recipe and did some research on possible ingredient replacements. I was looking at almond flour, coconut flour, hazelnut flour, agave nectar, maple syrup, almond milk, coconut milk, etc. I read and read and read and came to the conclusion that I simply need to take some sort of cooking chemistry class so I can better understand what each ingredient does and how it does it.

But taking a class sounds like a lot of work so I just went along with a little trial-and-error. Mitch played the part of the blind taste tester.

I wanted to play around with coconut flour. I haven't really used it much, mainly because my first experience with it didn't leave much of an appealing texture. But I did a lot of reading about cooking with coconut flour - the fact that a little goes a long way. Coconut flour soaks up a ton of moisture and that's why it can't be a substitute straight across the board. (Elana's Pantry gives a nice explanation of her uses of coconut flour here.)

Anyway, I took my original recipe and attempted to tone it down. Instead of a whopping 2.5 cups of sugar the recipe calls for, I used 1 cup of agave nectar and 3/4 cups of maple syrup. I also added an extra egg, to work with the coconut flour a bit better. A good start, I felt. Then it was on to the flour . . .

The original recipe calls for 2.5 cups of flour. From what I had learned after a day of studying, I knew I needed to reduce the flour quite a bit. I started with a cup and a half of coconut flour with the intention of adding more if needed . . . .

It wasn't needed.


I made a few cupcakes with this batter. Mitch and I sat staring at the cupcakes, chewing, questioning, coming up with ideas of how we could make it better. The flavor was great, but that dang texture . . . .

We decided that I should try adding another egg. Batch number 2 went in the oven.

Batch number 3 saw a bit of almond flour and a bit more oil.

Batch number 4 added another egg and some more pumpkin puree.

Batch 2, 3 and 4 went in the oven at the same time. That's what is fabulous about cupcakes. They make for perfect baking experiments.

In the end we liked batch number 3 the best. The addition of the almond flour added a great texture - just a little more heft to it.

Now I have a container filled with a mixture of mini pumpkin cakes of different tastes and textures. Help me.

I came to the conclusion that nothing can really compare to the delicious, horrible-for-you, original pumpkin cake. These are great secondary options, but when it comes down to it, if I'm going to eat a pumpkin cake, I'm going all out.

I think this ended with a good paleo option, though, so if you are interested in trying it out, send me an email and I will attempt to put the last four hours on paper for you. I would love to now, but I am spent.

I love you all.

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