Along with four easy and delicious variations so you can have cupcakes for days…
Cupcakes are like a mini-vacation that doesn’t break the bank or require a passport. Baking a vegan cupcake is relatively easy, but a few simple hacks will ensure that you have success with every bake. The recipe I’m sharing is both the easiest and the best cupcake recipe that I’ve developed, and I’ve included variations for sugar-free, chocolate, strawberry, and jam-filled flavors if you’re after something a little different. This recipe is featured in my new vegan cookbook, “ Bake Vegan Stuff, Easy Recipes for Kids (and Adults).”
Let’s break this down into three sections: your oven, your ingredients, and your method.
- Your Oven
Every recipe asks that you preheat your oven, but surprisingly, a lot of people skip this step, even though it will affect how well your cupcakes rise and how evenly they bake. You should allow at least 20 minutes for your oven to heat up, and check that it’s at the correct temperature before you mix your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients. Investing in an oven thermometer will help with this step because your oven temperature dial is never correct. Placing a heatproof bowl filled with water at the bottom of your oven will help distribute heat evenly, improving your bake. Cupcakes generally bake best on the top rack of your oven. Be sure there are no other baking trays in the oven during the baking process, and if you have a convection oven, turn off the fan function when baking cupcakes.
2. Your Ingredients
All the ingredients in my cupcake recipe can be purchased from your local supermarket. My motto is to make it easy and quick. I’m not going to make you go to three different health food stores for ingredients that didn’t exist in the ’90s. But there is one ingredient in this recipe that is the most important and that is your vanilla bean extract. Vegan baking tends to require extra vanilla to enhance flavors and balance out nut- or seed-based ingredients that you might add, and the type of vanilla you buy is important. The imitation vanilla may be the most cost-effective option, but it doesn’t enhance your baking as a true vanilla bean paste will. I highly recommend buying a vanilla bean paste or extract.
Your baking powder and baking soda are also crucial to your cupcake’s success. Baking powder stays active for approximately 3 months from when it was first opened. Baking powder and baking soda are chemical leavening agents that cause batters to rise when baked. In this recipe, the baking powder and soda are one of the main reasons these cupcakes become light and fluffy. These agents can go off and become “inactive” without warning. Here are 2 simple ways to test.
For Baking Powder: Test your baking powder by adding half a teaspoon to warm water. If it fizzes, then it’s all good! If it’s dead in the water you need new baking powder.
For Baking Soda: Put a few teaspoons of white distilled vinegar in a cup and add ½ teaspoon of baking soda. If it fizzes, then it’s all good! If it’s dead in the water you need new baking soda.
3. Your Method
This cupcake recipe has a very simple method called a “one bowl method.” The most important step in this method is when you combine your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients. The trick here is to never over-stir your batter, otherwise you will overdevelop your gluten, which will make your cupcakes dense.
To ensure that your cupcakes rise well, you want to put them in the oven as soon as you have spooned your batter into the cases. Line your cupcake trays with the cases at the very beginning so that your batter isn’t deflating while you do this step.
Only fill your cupcake cases ¾ full. Otherwise, they will spill over the case and you won’t achieve that classic dome top. Once your cupcakes are out of the oven, place them on a cooling rack as soon as possible so that the cases don’t brown and harden.
Now that you know all my secret vegan baking hacks for cupcakes, let’s get baking!
- 1 tbsp flaxseed meal (ground raw flaxseed)
- 2½ tbsp boiling hot water
- 1½ cup plain all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornflour or corn starch
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ⅛ tsp sea salt
- 1⅓ cups soy milk
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 356°F/180°C.
- Fill your cupcake trays with cupcake liners for 12-15 cupcakes.
- Make your flaxseed egg by mixing flaxseed and water together and set aside to thicken.
- In a large mixing bowl, sieve flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar together and give it a quick whisk to combine ingredients.
- In a large jug, mix vinegar with soy milk until it becomes thick; then add oil and vanilla and mix. Add thickened flax egg and stir.
- Pour liquid into flour bowl and gently fold ingredients together with a whisk until just combined.
- Spoon the cupcake batter into each cupcake hole, filling it ¾ full.
- Place cupcakes in the oven on the top rack and bake cupcakes for 14-16 minutes.
- The tops should bounce back once baked so ask your helper to check and remove from oven.
- Let cupcakes completely cool down and ice with your favourite vegan buttercream.
4 Simple Vegan Cupcake Variations
For a simple sugar-free version, replace sugar with ⅓ cup of date paste and 4 tbsp of powdered baking stevia. Mix these ingredients into your wet ingredients before you mix them into your dry ingredients.
Add ¾ cup of dark dutch cocoa powder and 1 tsp of cinnamon to your dry ingredients and add ½ cup of water to your wet ingredients. Bake for an extra 4-5 mins.
Add ⅓ cup of crushed freeze-dried strawberry pieces to your flour mix and ½ tsp of rosewater to your wet ingredients.
Add 1 tsp of your favourite jam to the center of each cupcake before you put them into the oven.
Watch Professional Race Car Driver Jono Lester smash out this recipe for SPCA Cupcake Day on November 2nd in New Zealand.