Citrus Vanilla Cupcakes, Gluten Free

Citrus Vanilla Cupcakes. Gluten and dairy free. Happy birthday to us.

These are those cupcakes that are meant to be baked, frosted and taken to a cookout or summer event. They are effortless and take little time to put together. Citrus vanilla allows you to top them with whatever you find that is in season – although a cherry tomato might look a little strange. Fresh sweet cherries look fetching and little assorted berries will bring out the smile on any grumpy person’s face when you hand them a pretty little cupcake topped with these things.

I know this because it worked for me. Mr. Canteen is always slightly annoyed when he arrives home from all that commuter traffic that he encounters on his five-minute walk to our place. A vanilla cupcake with a citrus perfume and topped with a big fat cherry always makes him smile and forget about all those endless stop lights and pesky cross walks. Seriously – the easiest commute ever and the guy gets grumpy.

Me? I’m home with the writing, baking and kids all day long. The kids in this case are no longer the two-legged versions – these are the four pawed creatures who demand endless sunshine in which to nap and blame me every time the sunlight moves in the window out of their reach.

Fiori Di Sicilia is a citrus vanilla extract that makes a cake taste and smell like it just came from the bakery. I like to use it sparingly and a small bottle, while not inexpensive, will last for a very long time. You can find that at King Arthur Flour.

If you aren’t invited to a backyard cookout this weekend, make some cupcakes anyway in honor of our birthdays which happen to both fall in June. I’m older by  ten minutes and Mr. Canteen is always sure to remind me of that tiny little fact every time my birthday rolls around. But that just means I get first pick of the birthday cupcake choices and this time I choose Citrus Vanilla. And for his birthday I choose chocolate cherry. Yes, indeed. I did pick both, didn’t I?

Also, if you’d like to get all excited (because we are) about our book being published soon, and now available for preorder here, that would be awesome. Nosh on This, published by The Experiment will be coming to a bookstore near you September 3, 2013 but you can probably get it a little sooner if you preorder it now.

Citrus Vanilla Cupcakes. Gluten and dairy free. Happy birthday to us.

Citrus Vanilla Cupcakes, Gluten Free
  • 260 grams Canteen flour mix (2 cups)
  • 200 grams granulated sugar (1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 192 grams Spectrum Organic shortening (1 cup)
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 180 grams canned full fat coconut milk (3/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
  • ½ teaspoon fiori di sicilia (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract (pure)
  • zest of one lemon
Vanilla Citrus Buttercream
  • 440 grams powdered sugar (4 cups)
  • 144 grams Spectrum shortening (12 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract (pure)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1-3 tablespoons coconut or almond milk
  • Fresh cherries or berries
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place liners in a cupcake pan (14-16).
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add shortening, eggs, coconut milk, vanilla, lemon extract and zest. Using an electric mixer, blend all the ingredients together on low until incorporated. Turn mixer to high and beat until batter is thick and fluffy and smooth. Scoop ⅔ full into liners. Bake 18-23 minutes or just until a toothpick comes out without crumbs. Cool cupcakes in the pan for a few minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool completely before frosting.
  3. In a large, clean bowl blend together powdered sugar and shortening until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture while adding in vanilla and lemon extracts, lemon juice, and a tablespoon of coconut milk. Add additional tablespoons of coconut milk just until the buttercream is smooth and somewhat stiff. Whip on high for about 3-4 minutes to lighten the icing. It should almost double in size and look very smooth, but somewhat stiff. Pipe or spoon onto cooled cupcakes.
  4. Top with a fresh cherry or berry. Best served the same day.

Citrus Vanilla Cupcakes. Gluten and dairy free. Happy birthday to us.


  1. Lisa, your creations are amazing and beautiful! Can’t wait to try these!

  2. Could I sub butter for shortening?

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Yep. Use 195 grams of unsalted butter, softened. That’s 13T or 1 stick plus 5 tablespoons. Just barely soft, not melty. Enjoy.

  3. I used 2 sticks or 1 cup (my reasoning 1 cup shortening = 1 cup butter). Keep you posted. I also had to refrigerate batter because our power went out. Now the batter is really thick so I’m letting it warm up to room temp. I also substituted coconut sugar + a little liquid stevia. All sorts of variables going on! Will share results.

  4. What if I don’t want to use butter or shortening? I’m loathe to continue to try to use spectrum in my recipes. . . I have had no luck with that at all! Maybe it’s because I’m in the Midwest and it’s cold here now?

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi, Katherine – I’m afraid the recipe was tested using the ingredients as listed. Any substitutes would make it a new recipe and you would have to experiment.