If you’ve never baked anything with rice flour before, and you’d like an excuse to make a batch of cupcakes, you’re in the right place! Rice flour, komeko 米粉, is readily available in Japan. There are two different types. The first type is made from mochi rice and called, appropriately, mochiko (もち粉). Another mochi rice version that has an even softer texture is shiratamako 白玉粉. Despite the misleading name that refers to their stickiness, these “glutinous rice” types, are actually gluten-free. They’re used for dense, chewy sweets.
The second type of rice flour, which is defined as “non-glutinous”, and is, also gluten-free, is ground from uruchimai rice (a.k.a. your regular, everyday, Japanese rice). This rice flour might be sold as jōshinko 上新粉 (a finer mill) or jōyōko 上用粉 (the finest mill). It works as a wheat flour substitute.
Today’s recipe for gluten-free cupcakes with blueberry butter cream icing (which might be the best sounding combination that I have ever heard in my life!) comes to us via cookinginjapan.com’s, Kirsten Adachi. A BIG THANK YOU for the recipes, photos, helpful hints, and shopping advice.
*Rice flour is considered gluten-free but manufacturing standards vary among brands. For more information about reading allergy labels in Japanese head over to this article Kirsten wrote for Surviving in Japan.
Greetings KA International Moms! Thank you so much for letting me submit a recipe.
This month I ran a gluten free feast and I thought I would share a gluten free cupcake recipe. All of the ingredients should be readily available at your local supermarket. You can make this in your food processor, blender or stand mixer, or manually. You can store the cupcakes (iced or not) in a cool room during the day but they should go in the fridge at night during the summer. Both the buttercream and cupcakes can be frozen. I often will freeze half a batch in individual Tupperware cups for cupcake emergencies.
Gluten Free Cupcakes
Adapted from this non-gluten free recipe
Makes about 12 size 8 cupcakes (8号 hachigou)
50g almond meal (アーモンドパウダー aamondo paudaa)
20g starch of your choice: corn starch, katakuriko, tapioca starch, etc. (コーンスターチ coonsutaachi, 片栗粉 katakuriko, タピオカ粉 tapiokako)
50g rice flour (米粉 komeko or 上新粉 joushinko )
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (ベーキングパウダー beekingu paudaa)
70g sugar (砂糖 satou)
A pinch of salt (or use regular butter and skip this) (塩 shio)
40g unsalted butter (無塩バター muenbataa)
1 egg (卵 tamago)
120mL milk (I have successfully used: cow’s 牛乳 gyuunyuu; soy 豆乳 tounyou; and rice milks ライスミルク raisu miruku)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (or essence) バニラエクストラクト(エッセンス) banira ekusutorakuto(essensu)
Preheat the oven to 160C. Put all of the dry ingredients in a food processor and give them a quick whir to blend them. Cut the butter into small chunks and add to the dry ingredients. Process until the mixture looks sandy. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until you have a smooth batter. Fill the cupcake/muffin cups half full if you want the cupcakes to be flat at about the level of the top of the cup. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Take cupcakes out of the oven before they brown. Cooking time widely depends on the oven.
If you don’t have a food processor
Preheat the oven to 160C. Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add them to the dry ingredients. Use your fingers in a pinching motion to mix the butter and flour mixture. Keep pinching until it looks sandy. In a small bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until you have a smooth batter. Fill the cupcake/muffin cups half full if you want the cupcakes to be flat at about the level of the top of the cup. Bake for about fifteen minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Try not to brown them.
Adapted from this recipe
30g unsalted butter at room temperature (無塩バター muenbataa)
1 tablespoon pureed blueberries (I use frozen) ブルーベリー (冷凍) buruuberii (reitou)
125g icing sugar (have extra on hand for adjustments) シュガー パウダー sugaa paudaa
Milk, if needed (any dairy or non-dairy milk will be fine)
Whip the butter with a mixer. Add the blueberry puree and whip until smooth. Slowly add the icing sugar until you have the consistency you want. You may need more icing sugar if your pureed blueberries were juicy or you may need some milk if your blueberries were not so juicy. If you find you need milk to soften the icing, add it a half teaspoon at a time as it goes a long way. You can get icing bag sets at 100 yen shops. Ice the cupcakes in any manner you choose. Buttercream freezes well so you can keep any leftovers.
Note: if you are dairy-free as well, you can replace the butter with coconut oil. I have never tested this but there are many recipes that come up when you search on google.
Where to find the ingredients
Note: when cooking or baking for someone who is gluten free, make sure to ask how sensitive they are. Some people are okay as long as nothing contains gluten and others need to worry about where the ingredients were processed and cooked. Always ask. If you need to find certified gluten free foods, try A-soken (only in Japanese), Amazon (use gluten free グルテンフリー or non gluten ノングルテン with your search terms) or iherb.com. You can also find some gluten free products at import stores and health food stores.
More information about cooking workshops in Kanagawa, here.
Amelia enjoys art, food, and travel. She is a freelance translator living in Kyoto with her husband and two daughters.