babycakes fail… sort of

i wrote before about some of the issues i had with the babycakes cookbook- basically, i was totally disappointed with my foray into gluten-free baking with the supposed helping hand of this book.  but i thought i would give the pretty little cookbook a second chance… i especially wanted to try their frosting and cupcakes and the spelt baked goods– especially since i’ve developed a pretty serious relationship with their scone recipe.

unfortunately…. the frosting did not work.  it was runny, lemon-y, and just not right.   after the frosting failure i did some research- and it turns out i am not alone in my frustration (note to self– research BEFORE using large amounts of coconut oil!).  there are many sites that discuss the failure of babycakes recipes, including a troubleshooting guide on their own site, though it is not entirely helpful.  to explain difficulties with their recipes they have posted cutesy videos and pleas for patience- just keep trying the recipes, they will work– seems to be the main idea.  i know that diligence has its own reward, but that is the whole point of a COOKBOOK- i don’t want to keep trying and trying again- i would really just like it to bake up correctly- that’s why i follow directions from a book.  in regards to the frosting, the chef/owner suggests fixing a runny frosting by adding more liquid coconut oil.  or maybe soymilk powder.  hmmm…

others’ frosting attempts are chronicled here and here.  even blog-famous hannah from bittersweet had to try repeatedly to get it to work… and the final success still needed a gelling agent.  their (in)famous frosting is supposedly incredibly yummy and shoot-able- but the recipe in the book is not what they make in the bakery- and not likely what shows up in the cookbook photos either (seems like false advertising to me).   they now list their ingredients on their site here.  not only are the ingredients different than the cookbook, but more importantly some of these frosting ingredients are definitely NOT available- nor desirable- for the vegan home kitchen:

babycakes vanilla frosting ingredients: rice starch , sunflower oil, corn starch, cold pressed coconut oil, rice milk, coconut milk, coconut flour, lemon extract, calcium carbonate (vegan) , sea salt, xanthan gum, guar gum, monoglycerides (an emulsifier), inulin, vitamins c, e, b6, a, folic acid, and vitamin b12.

not only are monoglycerides from insidious sources (they are emulsifiers, generally made from GMO soybean oil and used to add creaminess and improve consistency) they are totally unnatural and nasty; inulin is a fiber, likely from chicory root. it’s not terrible, but also not readily available to munch on or for your home kitchen- most likely it is used as a filler and/or stabilizer for the frosting.  i attempted to save some of the frosting by adding cocoa powder, coconut milk, vanilla, and lots of kuzu starch and it morphed into a yummy chocolate mousse.

so, i didn’t attempt the cupcakes without a good frosting accompaniment.  and according to all the research their cupcakes are not so yummy anyway.   the other GF recipes i tried were horribly unsuccessful for me- and for other folks too (other bloggers’ attempts are written about here and here).  but i really did want to try a few more spelt recipes-  the blueberry muffins, shortcakes, johnnycakes, and biscuits. the results?

blueberry muffin failure

blueberry muffins = poop! not a single muffin came out of the pan in one piece-  the ones that look whole are actually decapitated.  i followed the directions exactly, filled the muffin tin as specified, and the tops caved in, overflowed, and broke off.  and they needed an extra seven minutes in the oven!  yes, the flavor was lovely and the texture was light and fluffy- but it had no body and thus fell apart instantly- like eating a handful of crumbs.  i fed these to the chickens.  but don’t worry…. soon i will post recipes for yummy wheat-free muffins, including a successful blueberry muffin recipe.

super tasty on their own...

the other trial was the shortcakes and  i am very happy- these are almost as good as the scones! the first time i attempted them i made the mistake of using whole spelt flour– but they still turned out pretty yummy.  i made a corrected batch once i got some white spelt flour and it made a world of difference! the shortcakes lifted in a very beautiful way, the texture was light but firm, and the taste was right on.  i also trialed the spelt biscuits, but while the shortcakes were promising even when i mistakenly used whole spelt, the biscuits were quite awful.  i was not impressed enough with the whole spelt version to attempt the white spelt version, so i dropped that idea.  with these delicious shortcakes i made a fruit compote and topped with some coconut cream frosting to make my own version of  blackberry & blueberry shortcakes.

3 cups white spelt flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 cup sucanat
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
7 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup warm water

preheat your oven to 350, and grease or line your baking sheets. mix up the flour, sucanat, baking powder and salt. combine the liquid ingredients in a measuring cup and then at once to the dry ingredients. mix until just combined. toss some extra flour on your counter or a big cutting board and dredge the dough in the flour; pat down the dough until it is about 1 inch thick and cut out 3-in circles (using a cookie cutter or a drinking glass). (i think they need to be brushed with coconut oil at this point to achieve the flaky texture she writes about, but this direction is lacking. i opted for no extra oil).  bake for 16 minutes, rotating halfway if you feel like it.  makes about 12 shortcakes.  while they are baking prep your berries…

berry-licious compote

... or as berry shortcakes

1 cup berries of your choice (i used blackberries and blueberries)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp sucanat
2 tsp arrowroot
2 tsp water

whisk the arrowroot and water and set aside. wash and prep the berries, then lightly mash in a bowl with the vanilla and 1 tbsp water, then sprinkle with the sucanat; let sit for about 15 minutes. then add the mushed berries to small saucepan and heat until just bubbling, then add the arrowroot mixture and stir until it thickens and the sauce is clear again, about 1-2 minutes.  remove from heat and let cool before topping your shortcakes.

and for the whipped coconut cream: i so desperately wanted to use this topping for the shortcakes.  i was originally inspired by this young lady, but my recipe didn’t work (beating technique?  humidity? temperature? impatience? not sure why)- it did whip up, but certainly not in a mountain of fluffy-love like in her photo.  i am convinced she has some magic going on beyond what she wrote in the recipe.   so i made some changes along the way, but the results were only mediocre.  after following her recipe exactly and having it whip but not much, i added 1 tbsp of arrowroot and beat some more.  no luck.  i then tried heating the coconut cream and using kuzu to thicken it and then whipping again the next morning.  still no luck.  so, taking some hints from babycakes, i used some coconut flour and some soymilk powder; it did fluff up much more and had a light creamy texture, but it was not going to defy gravity like her recipe.  stay tuned for a adapted version of frosting.

a note:  after all that work, these berry shortcakes were pretty tasty, but i think that these cakes are better just for eating plain or with some butter, jam, or honey.  their texture is not as light as i would expect a shortcake to be, much more scone-like (and totally different from their photo, for the record).   i have been eating them for days just straight up.

during this baking frenzy i also trialed the johnnycakes, which she says are terribly delicious.  though the half-recipe i made was good, it was just kinda blah…  similar ingredients like spelt flour, coconut oil, agave, and baking powder make it taste (of course) very similar to the scones and the shortcakes, though the texture is different because of the addition of cornmeal.  they were good, but they were not spectacular.  i definitely recommend the shortcakes and the scones, but try these adapted version of the scones i wrote about here and here.

2 thoughts on “babycakes fail… sort of

  1. I still can’t believe how many poor recipes that cookbook has! What is odd is how people say they aren’t actually the same recipes she serves. Amazing to me that someone would go to so much trouble to protect their recipes – seems odd she would even bother putting out a cookbook!

    Love the look of that spelt recipe though! Thanks for posting. Hmm, might go well with vanilla frosting? :)

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