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gluten-free apple streusel muffins | a recipe from frannycakes

Gluten-free Chai Apple Streusel Muffins

I haven’t gotten to do a whole lot of baking lately. There’s been so much to do at work and so many trips to the hospital that I was starting to fear that I was losing my baking mojo.

That would have been a terrible thing. Because baking just makes sense. It makes my world make sense.

gluten-free apple streusel muffins | a recipe from frannycakes

When life goes sideways, baking keeps the world in order. Combining flours and sugars with butter and eggs will almost always fix a bad day. They react in predictable, knowable ways. Whisking the liquids before adding them to the dry ingredients will turn out a tender muffin.

gluten-free apple streusel muffins | a recipe from frannycakes

And muffins are an excuse for a sweet treat at breakfast. Add in chai spices and a streusel topping and you have a winning breakfast.

You don’t need to bring out the mixer. Just a few bowls and 15 minutes. These are great warm and fresh from the oven, but if you can resist and save a few, they last for a couple days in a sealed container at room temperature.

Gluten-Free Chai Apple Streusel Muffins
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 12 muffins
  • Streusel Topping
  • 70 grams (1/2 cup) gluten-free all purpose flour
  • 105 grams (1/2 cup lightly packed) brown sugar
  • 70 grams (5 tablespoons) cold butter
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) sliced almonds (optional)
  • Muffins
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and diced into 1/4 inch dice
  • 280 + 10 grams (2 cups + 1 tablespoon) gluten-free all purpose flour*, divided
  • 70 grams (1/3 cup) sugar
  • 70 grams (1/3 cup lightly packed) brown sugar
  • 10 grams (1 tablespoon) baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 212 grams (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup strong chai tea, cooled**
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a standard muffin tin with papers or grease and flour the wells.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the diced apple with the tablespoon (10 grams) of gluten-free flour. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and brown sugar. Cut in the cold butter using a pastry blender (or pulse all the ingredients in a food processor). It will look like slightly clumpy sand. Mix in the almonds if using and then place in the fridge.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, spices and salt, making sure to remove lumps from the brown sugar.
  5. In a second bowl, whisk together the egg, butter, chai and vanilla. Stir the liquids into the flour mixture until well combined. Stir in the apple pieces.
  6. Divide the batter between the wells. Remove the streusel from the fridge and top each muffin.
  7. Place the muffins in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until cooked through.
*This recipe uses a gluten-free all purpose blend such as Cup4Cup or GF Jules that already includes xantham gum. If your blend does not already contain this, add 1/2 teaspoon.[br]**You could use plain black tea here, but I would increase the spices in the cake by adding some granulated ginger and possibly allspice.


In my gluten-free pantry: Spices

in my gluten-free pantry

When I talk to my friends about cooking, inevitably they talk about how much work it is to cook for themselves. And then they talk about how they have to follow a recipe to end up with food that tastes good reliably…which then ends with them complaining about how they never have the right spices on hand. I think that by keep a basic inventory of spices, you open up a world of flavor. You’ll be ready to handle just about any recipe and you will have more building blocks for delicious dinners.

Herbs vs. Spices

Even though they are mixed together at the grocery store, herbs and spices are different. Herbs are the leafy parts of the plant (think basil and sage) whereas spices are from just about any other part including roots and seeds. Here, I am focusing on spices – when it comes to herbs, I try to use fresh over dried whenever possible.


I am not usually one who goes for a lot of heat, but I think it is a great way to layer flavor. I like to keep a couple different chili powders on hand, rather than just generic chili powder because each pepper has its own unique flavor.

  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Ancho Chili Powder
  • Chipotle

There are other great spices for savory cooking that I couldn’t live without

  • Paprika
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Ground Mustard
  • Cumin
  • Turmeric
  • Coriander


Spices aren’t just for chili and stew – they add flavor in sweet applications as well. Pumpkin spice might be the most common application of these flavors in sweets, but they can power up everything from pie to cake. From pudding to muffins. Try adding a few cardamom pods in with your coffee next time you brew it – you can thank me later.

  • Cardamom (pods & powder)
  • Star Anise (whole)
  • Nutmeg (whole – it is so much better when you grate it yourself)
  • Cinnamon
  • Allspice
  • Cloves
  • Lemon Peel
  • Lavender
  • Ground Ginger

Mixes / Blends

I don’t keep too many pre-mixed blends around, simply because I like to mix and match depending on my mood and always using the same flavors would get boring to me. That said, there are a few blends that I keep around.

  • Curry Powder
  • Garam Masala
  • Herbes de Provence (Ok, this is technically herbs and not spices, this is the most traditional blend I keep in my pantry).

What are your favorite spices?

gluten-free pb&j whoopie pies | a recipe from frannycakes.com

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter & Jelly Whoopie Pies

Friends are good for a lot of things. Answering the phone when you need someone to talk to about your latest roommate troubles. Volunteering to drink a bottle of wine and “help” with your website. Enabling you to eat that pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Challenging you to make a creative peanut butter & jelly themed birthday treat…for the second year in a row.

And since our friendship was based on a mutual love of an obscure 1-hit wonder girl group (because how else do you know that your friendship is built to last?), I had to come up with something.

After some thought (and brain racking), I thought some peanut butter & jelly whoopie pies would do the trick. Peanut butter cake filled with peanut butter butter cream and jelly. It was just the kind of treat that my friend wanted.

So, turn up your girl power pop playlist and get to baking.

gluten-free pb&j whoopie pies | a recipe from frannycakes.com


Gluten-free PB & J Whoopie Pies
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 24
  • for the cake
  • 315 grams (2¼ cups) gluten-free all-purpose flour*
  • 1 gram (1 teaspoon) xanthan gum**
  • 10 grams (2 teaspoons) baking powder
  • 5 grams (1 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 3 grams (½ teaspoon) salt
  • 205 grams (3/4 cup) smooth peanut butter
  • 85 grams (6 tablespoons or ¾ stick) butter, softened
  • 100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
  • 110 grams (½ cup firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (265 ml) buttermilk
  • for the filling
  • 170 grams (1½ sticks) butter, softened
  • 65-130 grams (1/4-½ cup) smooth peanut butter
  • 675-900 grams (6-8 cups) confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (118 mls) milk
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ pint jar of your favorite jam or preserves
Make the cakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 C). Position one rack in the center and one in the top third of the oven. Grease 2 whoopie pie pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum (if using), baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the peanut butter, butter, sugar and brown sugar for 3-5 minutes. You want the mixture to be light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute on medium and scraping down the sides of the bowl before each addition.
  5. Add half the flour mixture and mix on low speed and slowly add the buttermilk.
  6. Scrape down the sides and add the rest of the flour mixture until the batter just starts to come together. Remove the bowl from the mixer and finish stirring with a spatula.
  7. Use a spring loaded ice cream scoop or spoon to add batter to each “well” of the pan.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes – they are done when they are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Make the peanut butter buttercream
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter, 65 grams (1/4 cup) of the peanut butter, 450 grams (4 cups) of the sugar, the milk and the vanilla.
  2. Beat on medium for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Gradually add the remaining sugar 1 cup (115 grams) at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition.
  4. When the frosting is firm enough to pipe, stop adding sugar and add the salt. If the frosting is too firm or not peanut butter-y enough you can add more peanut butter. I used ¼ cup and nearly the full amount of powdered sugar. Your results will depend on the humidity, the type of peanut butter and how soft your butter was.
  1. Pipe a ring of frosting around the flat side of half the cakes, leaving the center empty.
  2. Fill the center with a dollop of jam and top with one of the cake pieces without frosting on it.


NaBloPoMo November 2014

In my gluten-free pantry: gluten-free flour blends

in my gluten-free pantry

In the time since I have gone gluten-free, commercially available gluten-free flour blends have changed dramatically. 8 years ago, you could barely find bean-y, gritty blends that, although labeled “all-purpose”, were anything but. Some times I still blend my own flours, I find it simpler to use a blend that behaves the same way each and every time I use it.

C4C – $19.95/ 3lb bag

This is the flour blend that I use most often because it provides consistent results and is readily available from local Williams-Sonoma stores. This blend includes both milk powder and xantham gum. The milk powder promotes browning similar to regular flour and the already included xantham gum makes one less ingredient that you have to keep on your shelf. This blend was developed by Lena Kwak under the supervision of world-famous chef Thomas Keller.

How I’m spending my Friday night. #miseenplace #baking

A photo posted by Mary Fran Wiley (@frannycakes) on Oct 10, 2014 at 7:54pm PDT

GF Jules Flour – $19.95 / 4.5lb bag

Jules made the first AP blend that I could get consistent, delicious results from. Her blend in non-GMO and vegan (no milk powder here) and is made in a facility that is top-8 allergen free. On top of that, Jules is one pretty awesome lady.

King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free AP Blend – $7.95/ 1.5lb bag

This flour is the easiest to get – all the grocery stores in my area carry it and it is available from a variety of national retailers including Whole Foods. This blend comes free of gums so you can adjust the amount used on a per-recipe basis (or leave them out and use an alternative such as psyllium husks.

Other blends

The market is full of exciting new products, including use-specific blends from Karen at Blackbird Bakery or a kickstarter-backed blend from Gluten-Free Girl. it is a different market than what existed when I first went gluten-free and the options out there are incredible and growing.

What’s your favorite gluten-free flour blend?

NaBloPoMo November 2014

ginger whiskey 1-apple crisp | a gluten-free recipe from frannycakes.com

Ginger & Whiskey 1-Apple Crisp

I love pumpkin and pumpkin-spice everything. But for me, the real star of fall is the apple. Sure, you can get apples year round, but they are at their best right from the orchard in the fall here in the Midwest.

Sweet and tangy. Crisp and juicy. I mean, what’s not to like?

Throw in a trip to the orchard with some of your friends to pick some of your own, and apples are pretty much the best ever.

frannycakes and friends went apple picking

I can’t resist a bag full of my favorite fruit – my willpower is so poor that I came home with 10 pounds of Pink Lady apples. You know, to feed the gnomes I have hidden in the closet.

With a kitchen that is too small to make and can apple sauce or apple pie filling and a decidedly smaller number of gnomes to eat my food than I had thought, I had to get creative with how I used up those apples. One of my favorite easy desserts is apple crisp. I can whip one up without a recipe and can make it in any size from single serve to crowd-sized.

This time, I wanted to do something special. (And I wanted to do it in a way that didn’t involve a dessert for a crowd).

So, dear reader, meet my Ginger & Whiskey 1-Apple Crisp.

ginger whiskey 1-apple crisp | a gluten-free recipe from frannycakes.com

The whiskey is millet whiskey* from a local distillery along with some fresh ginger to spice things up.

Koval Millet Whiskey found at the Green City Market

To make this truly gluten-free, you need to make sure your oats are certified. Gluten-free oats are available from a variety of sources – recently I found some from Chex at the local super market, but they are available from Bob’s Red Mill as well. You could also use quinoa flakes if you are allergic to oats.

gluten-free apple crisp ingredients

Ginger & Whiskey 1-Apple Crisp
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 2 servings
Gluten-free oats are crucial to make sure that this dish is safe for gluten-free diets. The measurements here don’t need to be too precise. I make apple crisp regularly by measuring in handfuls – so no stressing about being perfect.
  • 1 large apple (or 2 small apples), tart baking apples such as Pink Ladies or Granny Smith are ideal, but any apple will work
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey*
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter, very soft or melted
  • 1 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Slice apple into even slices – I leave the skin on, but you can peel the apples if you want.
  3. In an oven-safe bowl or 5-6inch baking dish, toss the apple, the whiskey and half the ginger.
  4. If your butter is fresh from the fridge, go ahead and put it in the microwave for 20 seconds. It’s ok if it melts.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ginger, butter, oats, brown sugar and salt. I use my hands to mush it together.
  6. Crumble the topping over the apple slices in your bowl or baking dish.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the apples are soft and the topping is golden brown.
*Gluten does not survive distillation, so any high-quality whiskey without added colors or flavors should be safe for someone on a gluten-free diet. To be extra sure, I used a Millet Whiskey from Koval Distillery, a local Chicago company whose whiskey is available online.


*Gluten doesn’t survive distillation, so any whiskey that doesn’t have added colors or flavors should be safe on a gluten-free diet. It’s proven science. However, some people are sensitive to other parts of the grain that do survive distillation, so please don’t use it if it bothers you. The millet whiskey I used can be found online and through high-end liquor stores.  You can always leave out the whiskey or replace it with a dark or spiced rum.

This is not a sponsored post, and I did not receive any free items to cook with. Koval is a distillery that happens to be in my neighborhood and they make an awesome whiskey from Millet. The Chex Gluten-free Oats were the ones I just happened to have in my pantry.

NaBloPoMo November 2014

gluten-free panzanella with peaches and heirloom tomatoes | a recipe from frannycakes.com

Gluten-Free Panzanella with Peaches and Heirloom Tomatoes

August’s flavor of the month is Peach. Check back regularly for a new recipe highlighting this fantastic fruit!

Ok, technically, it is September, but I wanted to squeeze in one last recipe bursting with peaches. A recipe that can simply be multiplied by the number of servings you need.

It still certainly tastes like summer, and the farmer’s market does not disappoint. Particularly the Green City Market (Chicago’s largest farmer’s market which I had been wanting to hit up ever since I moved in). It was everything I had been hoping for. And more.

I mean, there was whiskey. Whiskey made from millet. (I won’t debate with you whether or not all whiskey is gluten-free – science says yes, TTB says maybe not). Whiskey that I can drink without thinking about the science. And it was distilled in Chicago, in my neighborhood. (Their bourbon is also wheat-free and made from corn & millet in case you are more of a bourbon person…)

Koval Millet Whiskey found at the Green City Market

There was local honey and preserves and a honey mint soda.

An abundance of flowers.

Flowers at the Green City Market | FrannyCakes

Melons that tasted like my trip to the South of France (12 years ago…I need to go back, but until I can, this melon will suffice 🙂 ).

French Cantaloupe from Green City Market | FrannyCakes

Heirloom tomatoes in more varieties than I could count.

Heirloom Tomatoes from Green City Market | FrannyCakes

Peaches bred to perfection.

It was as if all the best parts of summer produce converged in one place. And I didn’t want to leave.

The only downside to the market is the bus ride home. The bus ride where a peach and a tomato are damaged despite your efforts to be careful.

Summer flowers on the bus | frannycakes

So what do you do? You make them in to something. And a gluten-free panzanella sounds like what the doctor ordered. You open your freezer and discover all you have are the hot dog buns you bought for a memorial day cookout (and now it is labor day and you still haven’t had grilled brats). It’s ok. This panzanella doesn’t judge your bread. The whole point of the bread is to soak up all those lovely juices from your produce.

Good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar with some fresh from the garden sage, a few thin slices of onion, salt and pepper round out this lovely lunch. You can even make this with undamaged fruits (you careful shopper, you!). If you need to feed more than one, simply multiply the recipe by the number of people you want to serve.

gluten-free panzanella with peaches and heirloom tomatoes | a recipe from frannycakes.com

Gluten-Free Panzanella with Peaches, Heirloom Tomatoes and Sage
Recipe Type: Salad
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Prep time: 5 mins
Total time: 5 mins
Serves: 1
This salad comes together easily and celebrates late-summer produce. It can be easily multiplied for more than one and works as a great way to use up lonely slices of bread (particularly the ends no one likes or hot dog buns that happen to be hanging out in your freezer). You could use regular bread if the glutens don’t hate you. Don’t use dried sage in place of the fresh. If you don’t have sage, fresh mint or basil could also taste quite good here.
  • 1-2 slices of your favorite gluten-free bread (or hot dog bun if that’s what you have)
  • 1 ripe peach
  • 1 ripe heirloom tomato
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 4-5 fresh sage leaves
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Toast your bread.
  2. Dice your tomato and peach.
  3. Slice your onion as thinly as you can (if you are not so good at slicing, use a mandolin).
  4. Chiffonade or tear your sage leaves.
  5. Dice or tear your toasted bread.
  6. Toss all your prepared ingredients in a bowl with the salt and drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic.


gluten-free peach cobbler with almonds and browned butter from frannycakes.com

Gluten-Free Peach & Cherry Cobbler with Almonds

This month’s flavor of the month is Peach. Check back regularly for a new recipe highlighting this fantastic fruit!

Somehow, the unofficial end of sun soaked days is upon us. White is verboten. Kids are back in school. Trips to the beach aren’t quite what they had been the past few months (I mean, I can sense the shift even if I haven’t made it to the beach that is 10 minute walk from my front door all summer…)

I’m not quite ready to give it up.  I mean, the polar vortex is still too fresh a memory – I don’t want winter back. I’m not ready for pumpkin spice everything. I just want to soak up the sun. (And now Sheryl Crow is stuck in your head. You’re welcome 🙂 )

While I hold on to what’s left of summer (technically it goes until September 22…), I encourage you to do the same. Take that walk to the beach. Drink a cocktail on the porch. Have one last football-free barbecue. And fit some peach cobbler into your life.

Peaches in the midwest are crazy delicious at the moment. Juicy. Sweet. And they are perfect in a gluten-free cobbler. This time I paired them with some cherries I had laying around, but you could do all peaches or do a combination of your favorite stone fruits.

gluten-free peach cobbler

Gluten-Free Peach & Cherry Cobbler with Almonds and Brown Butter
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 50 mins
Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
Serves: 8
For this recipe, it is not crucial to use a blend with xantham gum or other gluten-replacer, but it being in your blend is just fine too. Adapted from [url href=”http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/stone-fruit-cobbler”]Bon Appetit[/url]
  • 115 grams (½ cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • approx 1000 grams (2-2½) pounds peaches, each peach cut into 6 wedges
  • 225 grams (½ pound) cherries, pitted
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 100 grams (3½ oz) almond paste
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 70 grams (½ cup) gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup sliced almonds (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Over medium heat, melt the butter and cook until the butter solids begin to turn brown and have a slightly nutty smell. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, toss together the peaches, cherries, 100 grams (½ cup) of the granulated sugar and kosher salt. Transfer to a 13×9 baking dish (I like pyrex or glass dishes for cobblers).
  4. In a stand mixer, beat the browned and slightly cooled butter, almond paste and remaining sugar until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the edges of the bowl and mix in the gluten-free all purpose flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. Drop/pour/spread the batter over the fruit. It won’t be perfect, and it will spread, so just try to pour or scoop it out evenly.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes. The top will be golden and the fruit juices will be bubbling up around the edges. Serve warm with ice cream or let cool and serve as either breakfast or a summery dessert.


peach strawberry carrot smoothie | a gluten-free recipe from frannycakes

Peach Strawberry Carrot Smoothie

This month’s flavor of the month is Peach. Check back each Wednesday for a new recipe highlighting this fantastic fruit!

Green smoothies are a thing. In fact, they are a thing that happens to be part of my morning nearly every day. (I have to counteract the cupcakes somehow…)

I add everything from spinach and kale to mint and parsley into my morning concoctions. Some days they have chia seeds or protein powder. Some days they have juice and other days almond milk.

The one thing they always have? Some sort of healthy vegetable, some fruit for sweetness and some liquid to make it drinkable.

I’m making orange smoothies a thing.

I was lamenting the weird, brown color that my smoothies sometimes take on (it is the very color that kept me from trying green smoothies in the first place- if you want me to eat something healthy, it at least has to look delicious), when a cousin suggested that I try carrots in my morning power-up. I was a little skeptical at first, and even more so when every recipe that had carrot in it called for carrot juice rather than actual carrots. (I don’t have a juicer, and while I can get carrot juice at the local grocery store, it isn’t something I am likely to have on hand).

To make it work in my real-world, I can’t function properly in the morning routine, I tried carrot ribbons. By using the peeler to create long, thin strips, I was able to make the vegetable easy on my blender while keeping all the fiber that is left behind in the juicing process. Carrots help underscore the sweetness of the fruit without overpowering the flavor – which makes them an easier smoothie addition than kale. They also mix well color-wise with most fruits and berries (so we aren’t left with some weird, green-brown drink that might taste good but draw strange looks from bystanders on the bus…)

peach strawberry carrot smoothie | a gluten-free recipe from frannycakes


Peach Strawberry Carrot Smoothie
Cuisine: Breakfast
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Prep time: 5 mins
Total time: 5 mins
Serves: 1
Green smoothies are all the rage, but you can also try adding other veggies to your smoothies to create a whole rainbow of drinks. Here we are adding carrots to a peach and strawberry smoothie for an almost electric orange smoothie packed full of good-for you foods.
  • 1 peach, peeled and sliced or 6-8 frozen peach slices
  • 5-6 strawberries, tops removed and halved
  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon alcohol free vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)
  • almond milk
  1. In the blender, combine the peach slices and strawberries. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrot into ribbons. If you have a high-powered blender, you can just chop the carrot, but making ribbons will be easier on your blender’s motor and faster to blend up.
  2. Add the cardamom, vanilla, ginger and a pinch of salt. You can add a teaspoon of chia seeds if you want to add some protein to your smoothie.
  3. Pour in a scant cup of almond milk and blend until smooth. If your smoothie is too thick to drink, you can always add in another quarter cup of milk and blend again. (You can always make a smoothie thinner but you can’t thicken it back up).


gluten-free almond cakes with a delicate honey merengue buttercream | a recipe from frannycakes

Gluten-Free Almond Cupcakes with Honey Merengue Buttercream and Apricot filling

gluten-free almond cupcake with honey merengue buttercream | a gluten-free cupcake recipe from frannycakes.com

I really just want to share these gluten-free cupcakes with you.

It’s no secret that I think cupcakes have magic healing powers. Or that they are a divine sort of therapy. This particular recipe is no exception. Actually, it might just be the cupcake that proves the rule.

This summer hasn’t been quite what I had planned for myself. There haven’t been neighborhood festivals every week or long walks on the lakefront discussing the meaning of life, the universe and everything. (Ok, fine knowing the answer to all of that is 42 defeats the point of the discussions, but I digress). It was supposed to be filled with trips to friends in not too far away places and movies in the park. I was supposed to be making new friends and cherishing the time I had left with some of the old ones before they moved away.

But then I had a flare. And life went back to being one foot in front of the other. It went back to being a routine with very little time for anything but working and surviving.

I was a little lost.

But these cupcakes. These delicious, sweet things. They kept coming to me. When I could do nothing more than lay still and hope there wasn’t a breeze, I would imagine the tart apricot filling bursting from the cake. I could feel the honey buttercream melting on my tongue. The scent of the almond cake invaded my dreams.

I owe these little cakes a lot. Not only did they give me a treat to focus on while I waited for a new wave of treatments, they gave me a way to make an impression on some new friends. Such an impression that I might have found a suitable stand-in for Helen when she leaves me for that silly PhD she wants to earn. They might have won me the hearts (and stomachs) of a few good people.

seriously delicious gluten-free almond cupcakes with honey merengue buttercream and apricot filling

I hope I have set your hopes quite high for these cupcakes. Because they really ought to be. You see, they are almost perfect – delicate flavors that build on each other. Surprise centers. A classic combination in a form that looks like it could be any old cupcake. And then you eat it. You get a taste of what got me through a rough patch. You get to take a giant bite of friendship with a heart-filled center.

That, my friends, is what this is all about.

making gluten-free almond cupcakes with honey merengue buttercream | a gluten-free recipe from frannycakes.com


(A small confession: I might have raided MammaCakes’ pantry for some of her home-made apricot preserves. If you know MammaCakes, I highly recommend raiding her pantry as well 🙂 )

Almond cupcakes with honey merengue buttercream and apricot centers
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours 15 mins
Serves: 18
Apricots, almond and honey. Three flavors that belong together in delicate cupcakes that will win over any crowd.
  • For the cakes
  • 85 grams (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 175 grams (1¼ cups) gluten-free all purpose flour such as Cup4Cup*
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum (omit if your AP blend includes this)
  • 4 grams (¾ teaspoon) baking powder
  • 1 gram (¼ teaspoon) baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 200 grams (1 cup) sugar
  • 130 grams (½ cup) almond paste**
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup milk (I used 2%)
  • For the Honey Merengue Buttercream
  • 4 large egg whites (30g each–total120g, or ½ cup)
  • 200 grams (½ cup plus 1½ tablespoons) honey
  • 280 grams (20 tbsp or 2½ sticks) of unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into cubes
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • orange gel food coloring (optional)
  • Filling
  • 1 cup apricot preserves
Make the cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake papers.
  2. Sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl; set aside.
  3. Put ¾ cup sugar and the almond paste into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 2 minutes. Raise speed to medium-high.
  4. Add butter; mix until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  5. Mix in egg yolks and vanilla. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the milk. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
  6. Put egg whites into the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed until foamy.
  7. Gradually add remaining ¼ cup sugar, beating until soft peaks form.
  8. Fold one-third of egg-white mixture into batter with a rubber spatula. Gently fold in remaining egg-white mixture.
  9. Fill the cake wells ⅔ full (I used a standard cupcake scoop). Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cakes should be a light golden brown and should spring back when tapped lightly or a cake tester should come out clean when inserted. Remove cupcakes from pan and place on a cooling rack. Put 6 cupcake liners in your pan
Make the buttercream
  1. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk attachment, small bowl, and whisk with paper towel and lemon juice (or vinegar), to remove any trace of grease.
  2. In a clean pot, combine the egg whites and honey over medium heat, whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140 degrees F.
  3. Take off of stove, and pour the mixture into your clean bowl for your electric mixer. With the whisk attachment, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and neutral (you can feel outside of the bowl to test temperature).
  4. Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on low speed continuously, add butter one cube at a time until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth – it just means that your butter was probably a little too cold). Add vanilla, honey and salt, mix well. If you want to color your frosting, now would be the time to do it and gel or paste colors work best. I used Wilton orange gel color.
  5. If your frosting is too runny, your butter was probably too soft. Pop the bowl from the mixer into the fridge for 15-so minutes to allow the butter to firm up.
Assemble the cupcakes
  1. Remove some cake from the center of the cupcakes using a cupcake corer or a paring knife, making sure to leave a half inch of cake at the bottom so your jam doesn’t leak out.
  2. In a pastry bag fit with a large, plain tip, place the apricot preserves. Pipe some filling in each cake to fill the empty centers.
  3. In another pastry bag, fit with your favorite tip, add the buttercream and make sure to remove any air bubbles. Pipe a swirl of frosting on each cupcake. The recipe is enough to do a rose-type swirl on each cake.
*I prefer Cup4Cup GF All-Purpose flour, but you could also use the flour blends from GF Jules, King Art or Better Batter. Bean-based flour blends will not work in this recipe.[br]**Omit this if your flour blend contains it.


steak with parsley and mustard sauce | a gluten-free recipe from frannycakes

Steak with parsley mustard sauce

Some days, I really, really just want dinner in a hurry.

And I don’t want dinner out of a box. (No offense, gluten-free macaroni and cheese, you’re just not an option every day.)

I actually don’t keep food in a box in my apartment. It forces me to make real food. One of my best tricks? Steak dinner in 15 minutes.

Seriously good food with steak, parsley and some pantry ingredients. This dish doesn’t require much finesse – you just need to be able to heat a skillet, roughly chop some herbs and whisk together some sauce. And then you toss it together. That’s it. Easy peasy weeknight dinner. You can even roast some asparagus or make a salad while your meat cooks.

It will make your instagram friends jealous. And your real life friends might just show up for dinner.

steak with parsley and mustard sauce | a gluten-free recipe from frannycakes

Steak with parsley mustard sauce
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Serves: 4
  • Steak
  • 1 pound quality flank steaks
  • Paprika (about 1 teaspoon total)
  • olive oil (about 1 teaspoon)
  • salt & pepper
  • Sauce
  • ½ bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 heaped teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • juice from ½ lemon (or 1 small lemon)
  • salt & pepper
  1. Drizzle your steak with olive oil and sprinkle with the paprika, salt and pepper on each side (make sure you rub the seasoning into your steak).
  2. Set a cast iron or grill pan over high heat, and make sure it is hot before adding the steaks.
  3. While they cook, roughly chop the parsley leaves and finely chop the stalks on a cutting board. Add the mustard, lemon juice, olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix together, either on your cutting board or in a bowl. (It is perfectly acceptable to just smush it around on your cutting board). If you mix it in a bowl, spread it on your serving plate.
  4. Slice the cooked steak and toss with the sauce.
  5. Serve with a salad or some quick-cooked veg.