Gluten-Free Lemon Cupcakes (Meghan Markle approved!)

Ok, ok, Meghan Markle didn't ACTUALLY approve this recipe, but it was inspired by her, so that counts for something right? 

Just in case you've been living under a rock, Meghan Markle is an American actress who is getting married to Prince Harry on Saturday. It's a big deal because the couple is breaking with traditions all over the place (such as the fact that she's American and divorced, very edgy).

Last week I was listening to a short podcast about royal wedding customs (for some reason I'm fascinated by the whole process), and I learned that traditionally, the cake served at the reception is a fruit cake. Yep, you read that right, of all the delicious baked confections that the royal family has at their disposal, they decided to go with the world's worst option. 

Thankfully for us fruit cake haters, Meghan and Harry are breaking this tradition too. Instead they will serve a lemon elderberry cake with buttercream frosting crafted by American baker Claire Ptak. After hearing about their delicious cake choice, I couldn't shake the craving, so decided to make some Meghan Markle inspired cupcakes. 

Per usual, after looking up recipes for lemon cupcakes (elderberry is a tough ingredient to incorporate, so I settled on just lemon), I was appalled at the amount of sugar and fat involved. So I decided to make up my own recipe and see how healthy I could make them, while still allowing them to be a sweet treat. 

The result is a delicious gluten-free, low-(ish) sugar lemon cupcake with (slightly) less sugary buttercream frosting. I've also incorporated protein powder into the mix to up the nutritional value a bit. These will pair nicely with coffee while streaming the royal festivities this weekend. 

Time Allotment: 

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30 minute prep | 25-27 minute bake time | 60 minute cool time

Cupcake Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup oat flour (you can get this at any Whole Foods or health store)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla protein powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder*
  • 1 tsp baking soda*
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp grass-fed butter, softened 
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or any milk)
  • 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest from 2 lemons

Cupcake Directions: 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees (slightly lower temp since we have incorporated protein powder).
  2. Mix all wet ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add in dry ingredients, but do not over-mix (the batter may seem a little "bubbly" at first, that's just the baking soda and powder at work. Let it sit for ~3 minutes before adding to muffin tin).*
  4. Fill muffin tin (or silicone cups) about 3/4 of the way full. These cupcakes do not rise as much as conventional ones, so go ahead and fill up the tin. 
  5. Bake for 22-27 minutes, depending on how hot your oven runs (I found 25 minutes worked best for me). Check your cupcakes with a toothpick before pulling them out. 
  6. Let cool for about 60 minutes before icing (if you are impatient you can put them in the freezer for ~15 minutes).    

*You'll notice that there is a higher amount of baking powder and baking soda than you typically see in cupcake recipes. This is because we need to add an additional rising agent because we substituted oat flour for regular flour, and honey for regular sugar.

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Frosting Ingredients: 

  • 1 3/4 - 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp arrowroot powder (this is what allows us to use slightly less sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp grass-fed butter, softened 
  • 2-4 tbsp almond milk (added gradually)

Frosting Directions: 

  1. In a bowl combine butter, vanilla, arrowroot powder and half of the powdered sugar.
  2. Add 2 tbsp of almond milk and mix. 
  3. Slowly add remaining sugar and almond milk until you achieve your desired texture. I apparently got rid of all my frosting kits from back in the day (I took a cake decorating class in middle school and was all about it for a while), so I opted for a slightly more runny frosting effect and let the flowers do the talking. 
  4. Add frosting to cooled cupcakes and top with any desired decorations. 
  5. Enjoy!

It should also be stated that while this lemon cupcake recipe is healthier than traditional cupcake recipes, it still should be enjoyed in moderation. Be sure to eat something more substantial before digging in. These taste pretty amazing, so it's not hard to convince yourself that you need more than one. 

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