As I mentioned in my last post, our Daddy was just away for over a week. He was in Quebec City for a hockey tournament, but this tournament happens to coincide with the Carnival de Quebec, which is a celebration held every year in the period before Lent. Similar celebrations occur around the world, primarily in Catholic countries and most famously in Rio de Janeiro. But nothing is quite like Carnival de Quebec, with the snow sculptures and parades (it’s 12 degrees below zero, people! on the thermometer! and there’s wind!), and the canoe races. Ah, the canoe races – please, do watch the video on You Tube. It has to be seen to be believed.
Anyway, in our own little secular New Jersey version of Carnival, we made cupcakes and talked about what Mardi Gras, Lent, and Easter signify for people who are Christian. Here is our cupcake recipe, which – like most of my baking – is an adaptation of a recipe found in the Babycakes cookbook:
- 3 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour Blend
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2/3 cup coconut oil
- 1 1/3 cups agave nectar
- 3/4 cup plain unsweetened applesauce (homemade if you have it!)
- 3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup hot water
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- powdered sugar
- milk of choice
- food coloring
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins with liners. (I have had the best results with aluminum liners and a stoneware baking pan.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Add the oil, agave nectar, applesauce, vanilla and lemon zest to the dry ingredients and combine. Stir in the hot water and mix until the batter is smooth.
In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon.
Pour two tablespoons of batter into each prepared cup. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of the sugar/cinnamon mixture over the batter in each cup. Then pour another two tablespoons into each cup so that they are almost filled. Bake the cupcakes on the center rack for 22 minutes, rotating the tins 180 degrees after 15 minutes. The finished cupcakes will be golden brown and will bounce back when pressure is applied gently to the center (and a toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean, if that’s your preferred method for determining the done-ness of baked goods).
Let the cupcakes stand in the tins for 20 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely.
We made green, yellow and purple icing – put about four or five tablespoons of powdered sugar into three bowls, and then add a splash of milk. And I mean a splash, a teeny-tiny bit, because you would be surprised how little it takes. You can always add more, and don’t forget that you will be adding more liquid in the form of food coloring.
I let the kids go crazy with the food coloring – you can sort of see from the pictures that the color was pretty vibrant, and that was from only about ten or twelve drops. I helped them with the purple, we found that the best ratio was about 2 red:1 blue, so we ended up doing maybe eight red and four blue. Then we just drizzled the icing over the cupcakes, and done!