As promised, one of my projects for this weekend was to put a clean twist on a cupcake recipe and rename the finished product after my lovely patrons. I started with a yummy-looking Summer Squash Citrus Yogurt Cupcakes recipe from Susie Middleton that was published in the September 2015 issue of Vegetarian Times.

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The recipe looked great, but right away I knew I wanted to find substitutions for a few things: white flour, sugar, and butter.

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I put on the apron my wonderful sister Jessica made for me back in the height of my cupcake baking days.

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I got out my new heart-shaped measuring spoons, one of the cutest gifts we received from our sweet friends Alexis and Tom after our wedding.

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I started with the dry ingredients and here's where things get tricky. If I could go back and try again, I would probably just substitute 2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour for 2 cups of all-purpose flour. Instead, I decided to use a combination of coconut flour, egg, and a splash of water. I was working off a conversion chart I found on the web site The Greatest, which recommended 1/3 cup coconut flour, 1 egg and 1 splash of water for every 1 cup of white flour in the original recipe. I wish I'd use whole wheat flour instead because in the end, the cupcakes were flavorful but way too wet. To keep things drier, I would suggesting opting for whole wheat flour if your'e trying to steer clear of white flour. Live and learn.

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One medium-sized yellow squash grated down to 1 cup, which was perfect.

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After you grate the squash, ring it out in a kitchen towel to remove the excess moisture. By the time you're done with this step you'll have about 3/4 cup grated squash, which is right where you want to be.

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The original recipe called for 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, but I opted instead to use 1/2 cup of avocado. I'm a big fan of using avocado for baking and desserts because it has a super creamy texture that mimics butter well, but it's also loaded with healthy fats.

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There were several substitutions I could have used to trade out 1 cup of sugar. I opted to use 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce. I thought this would keep the cake moist and dense, which it did -- but a little too much. Again, I think this would be solved by using the whole wheat flour.

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By the time I added vanilla, the mix was at a great consistency.

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Even after I added eggs, the batter didn't seem to wet to me. It was only after cooking that this presented itself. Like I said, live and learn.

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Next up: zesting a few teaspoons of lemon and orange.

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This is my favorite brand of Greek yogurt and I'm a fan of using 2%. Sweeteners and other ingredients tend to get added to nonfat products, so 2% is generally a safe bet if you're trying to keep things clean.

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Fun fact: I don't own an electric mixer. I prefer to whisk everything with a fork and I'd be willing to swear that it improves the flavor. Here I'm mixing in the yellow squash, orange zest and lemon zest.

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I ladled the batter into some silicon reusable cupcake liners and let them cook at 350 degrees.

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Now's the part where I wanted to get a little more creative. The original glaze recipe called for 1 1/12 cups confectioners' sugar. I love icings made with powdered sugar and I personally think there's a time and place for all types of recipes, including those made with full fat and real sugar. We have to live, right? The whole point of this recipe makeover, however, was to make it as clean as possible. Powdered sugar is a tough ingredient to find a clean substitute. Then I realized I knew the perfect icing to use instead: the CinnaFitbun icing recipe used in the Fit Girl's Guide Fitkini Body Challenge. CinnaFitbuns are Fit Girl's Guide healthy answer to CinnaBuns. The icing they use contains cottage cheese cheese, which makes it protein-packed and delicious. There's also a slightly more indulgent variation they suggest: nix the cottage cheese and use cream cheese instead. 

A cream cheese glaze seemed like the perfect complement to the summer squash citrus cupcakes. I wanted to stay true to the original glaze recipe, so instead of using the milk called for in the CinnaFitbun recipe, I used lemon juice, orange juice, and orange zest. I also doubled the recipe so I could stretch it over twelve cupcakes (which in fact I didn't end up doing -- the icing only lasted through eight cupcakes. Next time I'll triple the recipe.) Tripled, the recipe looks like this: 3 tablespoons cream cheese, 3 teaspoons maple syrup, 3/4 teaspoon vanilla, 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 3 teaspoons fresh orange juice, and 1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest. The icing came out on point. 

A cream cheese glaze seemed like the perfect complement to the summer squash citrus cupcakes. I wanted to stay true to the original glaze recipe, so instead of using the milk called for in the CinnaFitbun recipe, I used lemon juice, orange juice, and orange zest. I also doubled the recipe so I could stretch it over twelve cupcakes (which in fact I didn't end up doing -- the icing only lasted through eight cupcakes. Next time I'll triple the recipe.) Tripled, the recipe looks like this: 3 tablespoons cream cheese, 3 teaspoons maple syrup, 3/4 teaspoon vanilla, 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 3 teaspoons fresh orange juice, and 1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest. The icing came out on point. 

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Cupcakes were looking good but not quite done after 27 minutes. I baked them for the full 30.

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So here's what I learned: the substitutions I made caused the cupcakes turn out a little less cupcake-y and a little more muffin-y.

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I had extra lemon zest, so after adding the glaze I sprinkled some lemon zest on the finished product.

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They LOOKED like good cupcakes.

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That handsome taste tester is my sweet husband Mike. He's a very good sport.

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First bite verdict: Yum!

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Second bite verdict: Hmm. We both agreed that while the flavor was good, the texture needed to be more dry to seem like a classic cupcake.

Though it wasn't a COMPLETE success, I'm still counting my first foray into subbing clean ingredients in a classic recipe a success. I know what to do and what not to do next time I try a recipe like this, and hopefully from reading this you now know what to do too. I'd love to hear from you about recipes you've experimented with and successes you've had. Drop me a line and let me know.

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