Gluten and Dairy Free Lemon Cupcakes

I hope you have all had a good winter break and I wish you all a good New Year. I thought I would start this year with a recipe that I promised you a while ago. My standard gluten and dairy free cupcakes.

This recipe is adapted from an ordinary ‘even mix’, one my Mother used to call a 4,4,4 & 2 mix (she measured in oz not grams in those days). This mix was used for all sorts of sponges and puddings and I still use it today for standard gluten free cakes and puddings as it works well (most of the time, there are a few exceptions). Here I’ve doubled it up to make a more substantial mix which actually works better when converted to gluten and dairy free ingredients.

Although here I’ve used lemon for the flavouring, just vanilla or orange works just as well. Chocolate works a little differently in gluten free cakes though, it usually makes them better, but if you want a chocolate cake it needs a little something different than this straightforward mix to make it work.


Makes 20 – 24 small cupcakes.


225g Dairy Free margarine  (I use Pure )
225g Caster Sugar
4 Eggs
Grated zest from an unwaxed lemon
225g Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
2 tsp GF Baking Powder, slightly rounded
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 tbsp of the lemon juice or a few drops of Sicilian Lemon Extract (check ingredients)

You will also need:

2 x 12 hole Cupcake pans (If you only have one, that’s fine. I bake mine in batches)
Small paper cupcake cases



Baking Ing


Pre-heat your oven to 200° C / 400 F / Gas 6

Soften the DF margarine together with the caster sugar until pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well. With a DF margarine it is really difficult not to have this mixture curdle, but don’t worry it all comes together once you add the flour and I don’t think it really affects the outcome.

Add in the grated lemon zest, and the lemon juice or extract if using, and mix to combine.

Next, sift together the flour, baking powder and xanthan gum straight into the bowl and give the whole lot a good beat.

The mixture should be fully mixed with no lumps. It should also be quite soft. If you find that it is holding together a little too much i.e. the whole mixture is moving almost as one around the bowl, add a tablespoon or two of DF milk just to loosen it up a little. The xanthan gum is vital for holding your GF ingredients together and holding in the air so that the cakes rise, but sometimes it can be, let’s say, a little over enthusiastic about it!

The mixture should look like this, holding up but still soft like a standard soft dropping consistency.


Divide the mixture evenly between the cases. The mixture should be enough for between 20 and 24 small cupcakes with the mixture filled three quarters to the top of the cases.

Mixing bowl

Pop them into the pre-heated oven, they should take about 15 minutes. They are cooked when well risen and slightly golden and a tooth pick inserted into the centre comes out clean.


You can of course ice these with an icing made from icing sugar and lemon juice, or pipe a swirl of DF buttercream flavoured with some more of the lemon juice; which I do if I am going to serve these to guests. But to be honest, most of the time we are pretty boring and just eat them the way they are. They are just sweet enough to satisfy and without the icing or butter cream it doesn’t interfere with my daily sugar intake, which means I can eat more of them!

If you want to make large cupcakes, the muffin sized ones, the mixture should make about 12 but you will need to bake them for a little longer, perhaps 20-25 minutes.

These will keep for several days in an airtight container.



February already?

It’s funny how January just slips away from you isn’t it? Perhaps really, every month is the same which is why we always find ourselves saying ‘where did the last year go’, or I know I do. Maybe though, with the early months in the year when the days are dark and dreary and the nights still far too long, we are glad for it to be gone.

The last week, or perhaps two really, has just got away from me. Some days I feel like a conductor. I’d like to say an orchestral conductor, far more glamorous, but I fear it is probably more like a bus conductor. Finding this, sorting that, cooking and washing; conducting the background to the lives of the people around me as they come and go through their day and mine.

Still, I have had time to take a few photo’s along the way.

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins

The blueberries are last years’ crop from the freezer. The recipe is an adaptation of the one I used to make with wheat flour.

Blueberry Muffins 2

Funny how your tastes change when you change your diet. Several years ago these would have been my absolute favourite muffin. It’s why I planted a blueberry bush in the garden, just for making muffins with. But, since I have changed my diet, they somehow just don’t cut it for me so much any more. Luckily, I’m the only one that feels that way so they do get eaten.

Bread 2Bread 1

Gluten, Dairy, Corn and Yeast free bread

I make a loaf of this bread most weeks.  It is a recipe from Celeste’s Best cookbook with several modifications of my own. Great bread which actually isn’t bread at all, technically. I find the original bread rises far too much, if you can believe that, and is a little too moist for my taste so over the last year or so I have gently modified the recipe to suit. It is brilliant and do recommend it if you need an allergen free ‘bread’.


Not really spring, but some of my plants thing it might be.  Our weather has been consistently miserable but mild and the plants are confused. The daffodils in my neighbours garden came up and bloomed in January.

Pizza Cheese DF

I finally got to try some Violife pizza cheese. My local supermarket stocks the ordinary sandwich cheese and the cream cheese (which is great in a sauce) but the pizza cheese has proved more elusive. I managed to track some down on line at I must say that their delivery was fantastic. I ordered one afternoon and it arrived the next morning in plenty of time for some melty cheese on toast for lunch and my first proper pizza in years for dinner. More on that another time.

As you can see, my week contained a fair amount of baking, which is nothing new. I have been writing up the new pattern, which has taken most of my spare time. I have something new on the needles which I will show you next time but now, I am off to cook some lunch.

Gluten and Dairy Free Flaky Pastry

I’ve been up to quite a lot lately, things have been a little hectic and I just don’t know where the time has gone, which is why it’s been nearly two weeks since I’ve been by.  I have several knitting projects on the needles, mostly gift knitting, but also something for myself which I could not resist.  I will post about all that later. However, I did promise a recipe for gluten and dairy free flaky pastry which I think probably deserves a post of its own, and I know that I have been a bit lacking since I showed pictures for it last time, so this post is about cooking not knitting. Feel free to skip it if allergy friendly cooking is not your thing.

I searched everywhere for a recipe for a gluten and dairy free pastry that behaved and tasted like its gluten equivalent.  For over ten years I have been making gluten and dairy free pastry, with varying results. I would get either a pastry dough that behaved well but cooked like concrete around the edges, or one that was a nightmare to roll but was passable once cooked.  For my son, I quite often resorted to pastry mixes such as Mrs Crimble’s that we get here.  It is quite good as they go and the results were consistently edible, but at a glance you could tell which pastry was the gluten free version and which the ‘normal’ and to be honest I was always glad that I didn’t have to eat it. Once I did have to eat it however the hunt became far more serious.  It’s not that I didn’t care what my boy was eating, don’t get me wrong, but the fact that he could not remember what wheat pastry tasted like made him much more accepting of the poor equivalents I dished up for him.  Me, however, I more than remember how a pastry should be. I craved a good pastry, and I actually stopped cooking things that required a crust for months because I just could not stomach something that was too different.  It’s like seeing a strawberry, even smelling that strawberry then taking a great big bite only to find out that it’s a gooseberry, and it’s hard.

What compounded the problem was the pastry I make also needs to be dairy free.  I’ve seen some mouthwatering pastries on the net., all gluten free, but with butter.  The butter give them the flaky, buttery goodness which turns the non wheat pastry into something good.  Without butter you have little option but to use a lesser (in my opinion) substitute such as a dairy free margarine. All this means that you are not only trying to replicate a wheat dough with a non wheat dough but also the properties of butter with an oily equivalent. Not an easy thing to do, which is why we end up with such a poor substitute.

I have two fats in my recipe, a dairy free margarine and lard.

Firstly -LARD!.  Now I know that a lot of people don’t like to use lard, but really it’s not the bad boy it’s made out to be. Do some homework and you will see that it is just the boy that was left in the yard when the window broke and all the other kids ran away. I would rather use lard, and do, in my cooking any day than the plastic equivalent that they promote today.  That said, if you really can’t get it or won’t use it you could try substituting with coconut oil.  It is solid at room temperature and a natural, stable fat. I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure if it will give you the same results.  I do keep it in my kitchen and use it a lot but I find it expensive and prefer to use lard when I’m making things that require any quantity of fat.  I may give it a go sometime and let you know.  Feel free to experiment.

Secondly – dairy free margarine.  Not all margarines were created equal.  Make sure you use a non hydrogenated brand such as Pure. I use the sunflower one. Check out the makers website.  If you find it near impossible to find the ingredient list as I have with some, (naming no names) then there is a reason for that and keep well away. Also quite a lot of them have things in that you either can’t pronounce or are just numbers. Be wary.

The only other things you will need is some rice flour, ordinary is fine, a mixture of white and brown seems to work well, some potato starch (the starch not the flour), eggs and a little salt and xanthan gum. That’s it. I think with this pastry it’s the way that you make it that makes the difference so I’ve put together a little picture tutorial for you. This quantity should give you enough for a double crusted pie.

If you flick through the instructions, it all seems very time consuming and involved.  Believe me, it is far quicker and easier than it looks.  I can whip up some in half an hour or so, on and off, while doing other things and once made, it will keep until the next day (probably slightly longer) in the fridge.

Firstly, in a bowl measure out

  • 150 g Rice flour
  • 50 g Potato Starch
  • 1 scant tsp xanthan gum
  • Large pinch of good quality salt

give it all a good mix then add

  • 50 g Dairy Free margarine
  • 50 g Lard

In a bowl beat together

  • Two large free range eggs


Now you take a knife, not your hands, and cut the fat into the flour. Keep going until the fat pieces are the size of peas. Pictures 1 & 2

Pastry 1
Pastry 1

Add the eggs, a little at a time, stirring the flour and fat mixture until it comes together.  You may need to add a tablespoon or two of water just to finish off.  The mixture will look crumbly but will basically stick together apart from perhaps some more resistant bits in the bottom of the bowl.  Finish off by bringing it all together with your hands gently. Then on a well floured surface and floured rolling pin, gently roll out into a rough rectangle. The pastry will be quite crumbly but don’t worry it gets much better as you go along. Pat with your hands to smooth it all down and shape a little. Picture 3.

Fold the top third down and the bottom third up in much the way that you would a puff pastry.  At this stage it is still very crumbly and will crack and break. Use your hands to bring it back into shape. Picture 4

Turn 90 degrees, either left or right, and again flour everything and roll out again into a rectangle.  Roll gently and make sure you have plenty of rice flour on the surface or the lumps of fat will stick.  You will notice that this time the pastry stays together a little better.  Bring into shape by patting it together and fold as you did before.

At this stage I like to put mine into a plastic bag and pop into the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes or so just to chill down.  I go off and do something else but leave the floured surface and rolling pin alone as you will need them again.

After a rest and a chill, bring the pastry out of the fridge.  Line it up so that the sides are towards you and repeat the rolling and folding twice more.  Each time you roll and fold, you will notice that the pastry is getting better and better behaved. It gets smoother and more elastic as you go and starts to look like, well, pastry. Pictures 5 & 6

Repeat the chilling and rolling once more.  It is at this point that I usually make the filling and get it ready while I am waiting.

Now your pastry is ready.  It should be smooth, elastic and very well behaved but be gentle when you roll it out. Just remember to be a little gentle with it and flour your surface well.

Pastry 2
Pastry 2

In pictures 1,2 & 3 above you can see how smooth and pliable it is.  If you want to use up the scraps and roll out again, pile them up as in picture 4.  This will preserve the layers, and as you can see by 5 & 6, even rolled out a second and third time it still doesn’t crack.

I made mini pasties with this just to show that it does bend without cracking in the slightest.

Rolled out ready to cook
Rolled out ready to cook

Once you have made your pie or whatever you are using it for, glaze with some beaten egg or milk and a dusting of sugar and bake in the oven at 200 deg C (approx. 400 deg. F or Gas mark 6) until slightly risen and golden brown.

Layers of pastry
Layers of pastry

You can see the layers in the pastry. I didn’t call this rough puff even though that is how it is made because it just doesn’t have quite the lift but is definitely flaky.

Flaky Layers
Flaky Layers

I’ve had hours of fun in the kitchen with this, now that after a long absence, pastry is back on our menu.

Mini Sausage Rolls
Mini Sausage Rolls
Apple Pie
Apple Pie

Also with this pastry, it tastes and feels so much like it’s gluten equivalent that I no longer have to make two pies, one regular wheat and one gluten and dairy free.  I make one for everyone. It saves so much time in the kitchen.

Just don’t tell my youngest as I haven’t told him that he is eating free from pastry!

I hope you enjoy it.

Knitting will resume shortly.