Rainbow vanilla cupcakes!

I made cupcakes yesterday!

They may look pretty boring…. but wait until you see what’s inside!

Photo credit to Raymond Fryer http://www.raymondfryer.com

These are my favourite cupcakes to do!

There are two techniques here. One is to make the actual vanilla cupcake. The other is to make them rainbow! Feel free to rainbow-ize any of your white-ish coloured baking in the future, or to use the vanilla recipe on its own, or to combine it as such.

The vanilla cupcake recipe is altered from this blog post. They use regular flour; I opted for gluten-free.

Here’s my version…

TO MAKE THE (gluten and dairy free!) VANILLA CUPCAKES

This made me a meagre 8 cupcakes, but they were delicious and I tend to over-fill the cupcake tray.


  • 1 1/4 cups brown rice flour and 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (regular all-purpose gluten-free flour should work fine if that’s what you have)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used Crisco soybean oil because it’s what I had on hand)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup original almond milk with 3/4 tsp vinegar, letting it sit for 5 or so minutes. Soy milk works the same way)

What to do:

* Preheat oven to 350*F.

* In a medium bowl, add flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir together with whisk, and set aside. Make sure to mix in the xanthan gum well! Whisk away.

* In the bowl of an electric mixer, add eggs and beat 10-20 seconds.  Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed about 30 seconds.  Add vanilla and oil, then mix until thoroughly combined.

* Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture.  Add half of the milk, then the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk.

At this point, my boyfriend R laughed at me because I called the batter “gluten-y”, despite it’s obvious lack thereof. That said, it had a sort of raw-bread-dough cohesion that made it very self-adhesive and gummed up my mixer a bit. This didn’t happen when I used this recipe with all-purpose gluten-free flour a month or so ago, it was a very thin batter then – so may have been the fibre from the rice hull. Regardless, don’t worry too much about the consistency as it’ll depend on your flour choice. Make sure to mix as well as is reasonable, as gluten-free baking rises best when well combined.

* (Insert RAINBOW steps here if desired!) Pour batter into a muffin pan prepared with paper liners.  Fill liners about 2/3 full. I filled mine closer to 3/4 and they peaked nicely, as you can see in the photos. That may be because of the rice fibre as I mentioned above. If your batter is runnier, fill 2/3 or less.

* Bake cupcakes in pre-heated oven for 12-14 minutes. Gluten-free baking takes longer for me. I ended up putting them in for 12, then checking them and putting them in for another 4 minutes. Total 16. This varies oven to oven! Always check after 12.

* Cool in pan 1-2 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan (carefully) and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Now, the part you’ve been waiting for…


I have photos to help you with this! First, prepare your cupcake batter so it’s all ready to get dropped into a cupcake tray. But don’t drop it yet!

The only ingredients you need are gel concentrate food colouring. I got mine from the Gourmet Warehouse just down the street. Most chef-supply places will sell this. (the link includes the product I purchased)

You will also need enough bowls and spoons for each colour you choose. I have 6 colours (ROYGBiV) and 6 bowls and 6 spoons. Here is what my area looks like at the beginning! Including my vodka-cranberry…. because sometimes baking needs loud tunes and a drink.

Next, you need to divide the batter into each bowl evenly and add a tiniest dab of colour into the bowl. You can always add more! A little bit goes a long way.

Now stir! Mix in all that dye. I usually get arm cramps by the end of this.

Now comes the fun part! Spoonful by spoonful, put the various colours into the cupcake liners in whichever order you prefer.

NB: Thicker batter will hold its relative colour “location” within the cupcake as it bakes. Runnier batter tends to convect and change its shape, and I actually get a sort of “U” shaped colour cross section with runnier batters (often box mixtures). Thicker batters hold more straight lines and look more rainbow-y. Just something to keep in mind. More photogenic rainbow cupcakes usually have thicker batters.

Here’s the last few stages by image! Bake as noted in the original recipe. If the toothpick comes out with colour on it then put it back in until it comes out clean. Happy baking!

(If you want to use icing: I totally cheated and got pre-made icing because I was lazy [ugh, it tastes icky] but a buttercream icing often works well, with some butter and vanilla, then blend in icing sugar and milk until you get a desired consistency. I can post my recipe in the future)

Photo credit to Raymond Fryer http://www.raymondfryer.com

Photo credit to Raymond Fryer http://www.raymondfryer.com

Photo credit to Raymond Fryer http://www.raymondfryer.com

Photo credit to Raymond Fryer http://www.raymondfryer.com

Photo credit to Raymond Fryer http://www.raymondfryer.com

Photo credit to Raymond Fryer http://www.raymondfryer.com

7 thoughts on “Rainbow vanilla cupcakes!

    • The main effort is doing the extra bowl/spoon dishes – otherwise all you are doing is stirring a bit of colour in some batter and carefully placing it in the cupcake tray. Totally agree! They’re always a big hit when I make them for friends, and people are often impressed that they don’t contain ridiculous quantities of food colouring too.

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