My youngest son & me

My youngest son & me

About me

My name is Tanja (Sater) Miller and I'm excited about sharing my journey of converting my favorite recipes to gluten free! I am not a fancy cook - I prefer just a casual, fun meal. I am married with grown children (and have small grandchildren) & 3 dogs. I work full time as a registered nurse & I am a geek. Yes, I love Star Trek, Star Wars, Fringe, Firefly, Farscape and most of the other Scify shows. You will probably see a little of my geek side come out once in a while! Please join me on my journey of cooking, baking & converting every day recipes into yummy gluten free meals that everyone can enjoy (not just those with a gluten allergy!) Don't be shy about checking out my recipes....I have the gluten free version along with the regular recipe that I adapted from!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

 Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes. I have tried several gluten free cake recipes and the texture and flavor just wasn't what I was looking for. Most of the recipes out there are too crumbly and the flavor is bland. I wanted something that was moist with a nice "normal" texture and great flavor. I have tweaked several recipes and researched until I experimented and came up with this cake recipe that met my approval. My grand daughter's first birthday is quickly approaching and my friend Judi and I were looking for a great gluten free cake recipe for her "smash" cake. Not to mention that I was craving something sweet and cupcakes sure sounded awesome!
     This recipe could easily be tweaked to make a chocolate cake by adding some unsweetened cocoa powder in place of some flour or fruit flavored if you added fruit juice/puree in place of the milk. (This recipe can easily be cut in half if you want to make just a dozen cupcakes and not the full batch. You can also use this recipe to make a 9x13 cake or two round or square 8" cakes. (I added confetti sprinkles to the batter before cooking so I had confetti cupcakes)

     I made cupcakes for a recent family get-together just for a trial run. There were NONE left. Everyone ate them and couldn't believe they were gluten free. I added a dash of almond baking emulsion in place of the vanilla extract so it gave the cupcakes a really nice, rich flavor. It was like some gourmet wedding cake. I had some homemade frosting left over that my mom had made for my grand daughter's baptism so I frosted them with it. (But you can use either your favorite  homemade frosting recipe or store-bought frosting).

My July 4th version of the GF Vanilla Cupcakes with my homemade buttercream frosting

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten free flour mix (I like Trader Joe brand or my recipe below). I do not like to use any flour mix that contains sorghum in my sweet baked goods. It gives it a weird after taste.
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum (only use this if your flour mix does not contain it or guar gum)
  • 1 tbs. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbs. custard powder or vanilla pudding mix (this gives the gluten free flour a nice heavy texture similar to regular flour for baked goods)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup melted butter or Crisco (if you substitute margarine: make sure it is 65% fat or it won't rise correctly!). Make sure the melted butter is slightly cooled.
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (you can substitute rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk or fruit juice/puree)
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 1/2 tsp. almond baking emulsion or extract (I used almond baking emulsion. I get it at Hobby Lobby in the cake decorating department or sometimes I can find it at Home Goods or TJ Maxx in their food section). Since the flavor of almond is more pronounced than vanilla - go lighter on the amount!)
  • 2 eggs or 4 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup confetti (optional)

Cake Batter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line cupcake pan or two 8 or 9" cake pans. Combine the gluten free flour, xanthan gum if it isn't already in your gluten free flour mix, baking powder, salt, custard powder or pudding mix and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add milk and melted butter (or Crisco or margarine). Add the vanilla or almond flavoring. Beat for 2-3 minutes on high speed. Stir in confetti if you are adding it. Pour batter into cupcake pan or cake pan. Bake 15-18 minutes for cupcakes (until they spring back when lightly touched or toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs). Bake two 9" pans for 22-28 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs. (Oven temperatures and altitude can affect baking times so check at the lowest cooking time and adjust. You may need to bake longer). 9x13 pan you will need to bake 35-45 minutes.

My Homemade Gluten Free Flour Blend Recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour (I used sweet rice flour for this batch)
  • 1/2 cup glutinous rice flour (made from sticky rice, gluten free)
  • 1 cup potato starch (not flour)
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk, make sure it is very fine in texture
  • 1 cup corn starch or tapioca starch (I used corn starch for this batch)
  • 3 tbs. xanthan gum
Combine all ingredients together well. You can put it in the blender for an extra smooth texture if desired. I store mine in a glass container and use it in place of regular flour in all my recipes. This particular blend I really like for baked sweet goods. 

Cupcakes right out of the oven 

Cupcakes that are ready to eat!

Cupcake up close view. See how moist? 

I received this shortcake maker as a gift. I tried my GF batter and it worked great!

Made in my shortcake maker

I used buttercream frosting in center which made them taste like twinkies. You can use whipped cream and berries instead!

I hope you enjoy this recipe for a really good cake/cupcake! It is now one of my favorite recipes for birthdays! My mouth is watering right now. I am wishing I had one of these lovely little cupcakes to eat while I am working on my blog and drinking coffee this morning.

Enjoy your day.

Gluten Free Casually


  1. Great recipe! I used King Arthur's gluten-free flour blend, omitted the custard powder, and accidentally doubled the eggs, but they turned out fab. Thank you :)

  2. Glad you liked them! I use this recipe as my basic "go-to" recipe and tweak it if I need to for a different flavor (like chocolate, lemon or orange) or different dessert.

  3. Tanja!!!! You saved my little girl's birthday cupcake crisis. I'm a busy mom with so many things on my plate. . . I was super overwhelmed with the idea that this would be impossible to do last minute & I have the kind of kid (3 now) who I couldn't imagine the face when she asked if I had made her cupcakes & said no. We made them together and it was a blast with all those ingredients to measure! Asian market to find glutinous rice flour (cheaper, too). These were amazing! My family and friends loved these & were dumfounded that they were gluten free. The only thing unusual was the batter. . . but they baked up moist and delicious! My husband, (not a health nut), is even considering going gluten free for a few weeks to see if he notices any benefit! There is a God! Thank you Tanja for sharing your time and energy spent experimenting and learning from others. I can't wait to make these again. . . what a lifesaver you were this weekend.

  4. Kelly, I am so glad that you enjoyed the cupcakes! I make them frequently and even get requests from people that aren't gluten free! I shop at the Asian markets frequently for my assorted rice flours, potato starches, tapioca starch, etc. Much cheaper if you are willing to take the time to mix it yourself. S

    Sometimes I wonder if taking the time to post my journey of recipes on my blog is worth thank you for the positive comments! I enjoy cooking and if you have any questions with converting recipes to GF...please feel free to contact me! :)


  5. I subbed vegetable oil for butter and they didn't rise very nicely so next time I will try butter or margarine.
    Also, less sugar (1/3 to 1/2 cup) would have been better, they were very sweet even without icing, I can't imagine the toothache they would produce with a sweet icing.
    My nephews were thrilled with the sweetness though. ;)
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Starchic, did you use one tablespoon of baking powder? (Most recipes call for 1 teaspoon but this recipe calls for 1 tablespoon. That could explain why it didn't rise as well). I have also found that some gf flour blends that contain sorghum are heavier in texture). The oil should have worked just fine and shouldn't have caused your cake not to rise well. (Using margarine or butter with less than 65% fat content can cause that). If your eggs were really small, maybe add an additional egg. Sorry your cake didn't rise well. I have made this recipe many times without any problems. It does contain a lot of sugar and I have not personally tried making it with less sugar but I will give it a shot and post how it turns out.

  7. I have also made this recipe substituting half of the butter with cream cheese and the results were FANTASTIC!