I’ve been holding onto this recipe for months. I perfected it right before I decided to stop writing FrannyCakes and evaluate whether or not I wanted to keep putting myself out there.
I’m still not sure that I want to be putting myself out there. Creating recipes to be critiqued because someone made a half dozen substitutions – like removing eggs, dairy and sugar from a cake. Or getting complaints because cupcakes aren’t healthy and what kind of message am I sending? (That gluten-free eaters can have tasty cupcakes!)
So, I’ve shied away from writing recipes. From sharing food. But it is part of who I am, and I don’t think my love of baking or feeding others will really ever go away.
On that note, here is a recipe for gluten-free hummingbird cupcakes. I describe them as carrot cake but with banana in place of the carrot to people who have never heard of hummingbird cake.
The first time I made them was right after my roommate Rosa moved in from Spain. She had copied recipes out of her favorite cookbooks from home, one of them was Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food…little did she know that I had flagged pages of that book with all the recipes I wanted to try. We were a perfect match when it came to taste in food.
Since then, I’ve made it a dozen or so times – and alongside my blondies, these cupcakes have become one my signature dishes.
Gluten-Free Hummingbird [Cup]Cake
Gluten-Free Self-Rising Flour
- 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour blend*
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the cakes
- 2 1/2 cups cups gluten-free self-rising flour (the results of your mix from above)
- 3 cups cups superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 medium very ripe bananas
- 1 cup olive oil plus extra for greasing
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 15-oz. can of pineapple chunks
- 2 ounces chopped pecans
For the frosting
- 16 ounces whole milk
- 10 ounces sugar (1¼ cups, by volume)
- 1 1/2 ounces cornstarch (6 tablespoons by volume)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 16 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- To be successful, I recommend doing a proper mise en place. This means, measure out all your ingredients for the self-rising flour and the cake before you do anything else.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the flour
- Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
Make the cakes
- Grease and line three 12-well cupcake tins. (You should get around 30 cupcakes)
- Sift the flour and cinnamon into a mixing bowl, then add the sugar and a large pinch of sea salt.
- Peel the bananas and mash them up with a fork in another bowl.
- Drain and finely chop the pineapple and add to the bananas with the oil, eggs, and vanilla extract.
- Mix until combined, then fold into the dry mixture until smooth.
- Finely chop the pecans and gently fold in, then divide the batter evenly between your prepared pans.
- Bake for 18 to 25 minutes, or until risen, golden, and the sponges spring back when touched lightly in the center. (Do NOT do a toothpick test or you will overcook these cupcakes!)
- Leave to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Make the Frosting
- In a medium sauce pan, bring the milk to a simmer. Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, eggs, and yolks in a medium bowl.
- Temper the egg mixture by whisking about a half cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture—it will be quite thick but while you whisk, it will loosen as the milk incorporates. Whisk in a little more hot milk until the egg mixture is fluid and warm. Pour the egg mixture back into the pot of hot milk with the heat set to medium and keep whisking.
- Once the mixture starts to thicken and bubble sluggishly, continue whisking and cooking for a minute more, then remove from heat and pour into a bowl.
- Put the custard in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment and beat the custard for a few minutes, until it has cooled to room temperature and is creamy.
- Whip in the cream cheese, one tablespoon at a time, until it has fully incorporated. Then repeat with the butter. Add the salt and beat for about a minute more.
- Chill for about 15 minutes before using, if you want to be able to pipe with it.
- When cakes are cool and the frosting has set up, pipe a generous amount on each cupcake