Gluten-Free Fallen Dreams! :(

fallen amaranth cupcakes

I refuse to think of this as a failure.

My first attempt at baking gluten-free from scratch was…inedible. BUT, educational! I was using a combo of amaranth flour and arrowroot powder, neither of which I’d used before. The concept of putting these two flours together came from a wheatless, stevia muffin recipe I have.

Instead of using the muffin recipe though, I used a recipe for a Chocolate Mayonaisse Cake. For those not familiar with a Chocolate Mayo Cake, the idea is that the mayo substitutes for the butter and the egg, and gives you a moist cake. I had chosen the recipe because many sites about alternate flour mentioned dryness being an issue.
I also added a tsp of xanthan gum to the recipe as a gluten stand-in. As the photo illustrates, all for nought.. ~~sigh~~

What went wrong?
Amaranth flour feels a lot like cornmeal…very gravelly. As you can see from this photo, not all the little, white amaranth seeds get ground up in the flour – some are still whole:
amaranth cupcake - amaranth seeds visible

I’ve heard amaranth baking described as “pleasantly crunchy”, but if these cupcakes are an indication….it’s like having little stones, or course sand in your cake! This, I believe, was a major source of the lost leavening. Watching them in the oven, they did rise. They fell immediately, though. I think the flour was too much like gravel and just let all the air escape.

Yes, there was also arrowroot powder in there (which clings to EVERYTHING! Even the outside of the measuring cup came out of the bag with powdr caked on the outside of it), but the ratio leaned heavily toward the amaranth.

The cupcake were also very greasy and oily. Even with their little paper cupcake cups on, they left an oily footprint on the counter when I set them down. Again, I think the amaranth was too course to absorb the fats.

On the up side, even though they fell they were not hockey pucks! The texture was still fluffy and cake-like.

Next experiment will be a switch to softer flour – rice, maybe chickpea, and a recipe that uses egg to advantage for leavening. Maybe a chiffon cake.



7 responses to “Gluten-Free Fallen Dreams! :(

  1. crystalstair

    I’ve had a lot of bad GF baking experience. They make me cry most of the time. πŸ˜‰ I’ve found that basically, if you’re baking GF, you need to use a flour (like I think you’ve figured out) that is absorbent in your mix. My top pics are, in this order: Sorghum flour, coconut flour (though use as little as you can get away with), rice flour, corn masa (only for savory, never for sweet… too corny!).

    Seems like most of the recipies I’ve seen that turn out really well are a combination of at least two or three flours and at least one starch. Adding xanthan gum or guar gum will also help build that protein network you’re missing from not having any gluten, and don’t be shy about the egg yolks (if you can tolerate them)! πŸ™‚

  2. Awww I’m sorry they didn’t work out. I have a recipe in a cookbook that uses cooked Quinoa (it also uses wheat flour but you could maybe sub that with some GF flour?) for muffins and they come out dense and moist and delicious. If you want it feel free to email me and I’ll send it to you πŸ™‚ Maybe you can adapt it to making some kind of cupcake?

  3. Thanks for the encouragement,Crystalstair and Vegetation! I actually just bought some sorghum flour for a GF flatbread recipe!
    I’m also going to give potato flour a try. I’m thinking I need to leave the chickpea flour for stuff that is okay smelling like stringbeans! LOL!! Maybe adapt my old carrot fritter recipe to GF with chickpea flour, or even a savoury souffle? Something with veggies in it.

    I have no trouble with eggs – I actually just made a GF chiffon cake. I’m hoping to do a GF/FructMal-friendly Lemon Meringue Log next. I think I’ll need Xanthan and eggs both, as the cake is very thin and rolled up like a jelly roll.
    Do you have a blog crystalstair?
    Let me know!

    I’ll definitely email you, Veg! The only quinoa recipes I can find involve boiling the quinoa first like oatmeal, then using the hot mush…weird.
    Does that work, do you know?

    I did find an alternative source of amaranth flour whose flour is far more finely milled. It’s proper flour, not like cornmeal. I think I’ll get that, and save this rough stuff for a cornmeal substitute. I was commenting on someone LJ blog, and he’s used the rough amaranth as a cornmeal substitute in cornbread with good results.


  4. From the photos, it appears you might be using amaranth grain instead of amaranth flour. Amaranth grain would need to be boiled before using. I recommend looking for milled amaranth flour at a natural food store. Hope that helps!

  5. Thanks Katherine!

    I think you’re closer to the truth than the label on the flour was! LOL!! I had bought the amaranth “flour” from the bulk department of the grocery, and it was… let’s say “gently milled”. It was like flour mixed with broken/cracked grains mixed with whole grains.
    I think you’re correct about needing proper flour.
    Thanks for the tip!

    ……………….PS the site you’re linked to looks great! People need to know more about the alternative grains available to us! I am putting a link up on my blogroll!

  6. A.V. , we all fill your pain, there is help on the way a new flour is now available. It is made from Chia Seeds. I have baked with it and gotten really good results. It can be substituted one for one in most traditional recipes. Plus it looks and taste good and has all the nutritional benefits of Chia Seeds. The flour is offered by Nuchia Foods Corporation. They are in some health food stores in Florida, but you can also get the flour on line at, good baking.

  7. Oh my goodness. Leon is so right, the chia flour is so amazing. Ok…I have some gluten free baking and eaten a lot of really really bad things of my own creation. The hardest part about baking gluten-free is trying to mix the flour. It is so difficult. But I happened to try the exact same flour that Leon is talking about, the chia flour, I purchased it from the same website. It is amazing. I make cookies, brownies, muffins and I just substituted it one for one in my recipes, and I adjusted my water and sweetener to taste and I have some really amazing cookies and brownies. My husbands begs me to bake them.

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