On Aug. 16, 1977, Elvis Presley died at Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tenn., at age 42. As most people know, Elvis was an animal lover. Barely a day went by when he wasn’t busy giving gift hampers to disadvantaged hounds, sharing his hard earned beer with a thirsty furry friend, being creative with tulle to help smuggle puppies into the US to start a new life, teaching young chimps how to read or lending his time to the frustrating panda breeding program at his local zoo.
Elvis’ love of food is also known far and wide, with such heart-stoppingly impressive dishes as the Fool’s Gold Loaf (shown here on Spicks and Specks) part of his diet. Given these two great loves of Elvis’, it is no wonder that the 2010 Cupcake Day for the RSPCA fell on Monday 16 August this year. Across the country, amidst the gyration of hips and coiffing of hair, people also honoured the memory of the King by coming together in mass consumption of cupcakes to raise money for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
After the success of last year’s Cupcake Day for the RSPCA, when we raised around $230, I was excited about getting involved again this year and started the baking planning a few weeks ago. I decided to be a little more inclusive with my cupcakes this year and added a vegan and a gluten-free option to the cakes on offer. The vegan cupcake was a no-brainer after trying out the recipe in my last post and being blown away by how good it was. Making the gluten-free cupcakes was a great opportunity to use the Vitarium Gluten-Free Plain Flour that they recently sent me, and I decided to try out a gluten-free version (please see end of post for recipe) of my tried-and-true carrot cupcakes. Finally, I decided to make the non-vegan, glutony banana macadamia cupcakes that I made for last year’s sale as they were quite popular.
When designing the decorations for each of the cupcakes I discovered just how difficult it is to be either vegan or gluten intolerant, and God help you if you are both. For the vegan cupcakes I settled on icing them in a similar way to when I first made them, but with the addition of some fancy looking candied kumquats. After discovering to my joy that m&ms are gluten-free, and that it is possible to find gluten-free marshmallows, I settled on turning the carrot cupcakes into gluten-free chickens and pigs. The banana macadamia ones were destined to be monkeys, owls and pigs.
Although the sale itself was over far more quickly than I was expecting, much fun was had – there’s just something so great about seeing academics getting excited over cupcakes, particularly little animal ones. After two colleagues contributed their own baking creations I had over 80 cupcakes to sell and they were gone in around 15 minutes. Sadly many people had to be turned away, and I could probably have sold twice as many if I had them.
A number of people also gave very generous additional donations, and I was really happy when I counted the money after all was said and done, and found that $352.30 had been raised in total! For those of you who either came down to contribute, or sent money along with others, thank you so much for supporting this cause and I hope to see you all again next year. Oh and thanks to my photographer for the day, the cupcake loving Lil deVious.
RIP Elvis, I bet you could have polished off all 80.
Gluten-free Carrot Cupcakes
Adapted from The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook
Makes 24 (I only made half a batch for the sale)
- 2 cups gluten-free plain flour
- 4 tsp gluten-free baking powder (if you can’t find GF baking powder, you can make your own by using one of two standard suggestions: either [1 tsp bicarb soda and 2 1/2 tsp cream of tartar] OR [2 tsp cream of tartar and 1 tsp bicarb soda and 1 tsp rice flour])
- NOTE: if using gluten-free self-raising flour then omit the baking powder and just use the 2 cups of self-raising. You still need to add the following bicarb though.
- 1 tsp bicarb soda
- 0.5 Tb ground cinnamon
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/3 cup firmly packed soft brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2.5 cups firmly packed peeled grated carrot
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 0.5 cup sultanas
- zest of an orange
- zest of a lemon
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 12-hole muffin trays with cupcake papers.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, bicarb of soda and cinnamon.
- In a separate bowl, beat the vegetable oil, brown sugar and eggs using an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat for about 5 minutes until thick and creamy.
- Add the grated carrot, chopped walnuts, sultanas and zests. Beat on low speed until combined.
- Add the flour mixture and beat until thoroughly combined; do not overbeat as this will toughen the mixture.
- Spoon mixture into cupcake papers, filling until about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes immediately from the trays and cool on a cake rack for at least 30 minutes before icing them.
- The gluten-free flour is much more fine than normal flour so you might want to make sure you don’t have any fans blowing/sneezes brewing/nice black clothes on when using it;
- The cupcakes still rose nicely, had a good crumb and tasted as good as normal. They did sink just a little once cooled though, which I don’t recall the non-GF ones doing. Due to this, don’t be stingy when filling up the cupcake papers to 3/4.
- Overall I was really quite impressed with using the GF flour. I wasn’t sure at all how this recipe would work with the substitution, and the end product certainly didn’t seem to differ from the normal carrot cupcakes apart for the very slight sinking. All reports from the tasters were favourable.
- When decorating gluten-free cupcakes, you obviously have to be very careful with your selection of icing and topping ingredients – it really is amazing just how many things have wheat in them! It’s all fun and games until a guest comes down with a crook belly, so read your labels.
As pointed out by Agnes, this post was sorely lacking in technical drawings of the cupcakes. True to form, I actually had drawn up such plans but either totally forgot to post them, or thought I’d pretend I’m not quite the dork I am. I just can’t stand the look of disappointment on her face though so here ’tis: