Paleo Pumpkin Pie-ish Cupcakes

A little over a month ago Clio was celebrating a birthday, and posted a link to this very cool pumpkin pie cupcake recipe.  Well, I like cupcakes, but I love pumpkin pie.  A lot.  Like a lot a lot.  Like when I was growing up I didn’t really like pie unless it was pumpkin (happy to say my horizons have expanded a bit since then).  So this easy to make cupcake-pie recipe should be perfect for me, right?  Well, there is one caveat – I have been eating gluten-free for almost a year and a half.

It started as a dietary experiment born from curiosity after reading a few articles in the New England Journal of Medicine (one of the best things about grad school – access to so many technical journals!), but resulted in me realizing that gluten had been having quite a negative effect on my health (the disappearance of a mysterious long-term skin rash was the most immediate change at the time, and now if I do accidentally consume it I have intense stomach pains, so I have come to the conclusion it is just better if I avoid it).  On the upside I have been feeling much better with this dietary regimen, but on the downside it does require some creativity when it comes to baking.  So I was going to need to do a little adapting to be able to try these cupcakes.

Clio suggested trying a gluten-free all purpose flour as a one-to-one substitute.  Which I did – and it worked!  The cupcakes definitely needed to be chilled (they tasted sort of nasty just out of the oven), but they had that custard inside/cake outside dichotomy that was promised in the original recipe.  However, the gluten free flour (which is a mix of potato starch, tapioca, and sourgum) has something of a bitter aftertaste that I wasn’t such a fan of.  And, honestly, I haven’t been eating a whole lot of sugar lately either, so the sweetness was a bit of a shock.  So I figured a few more changes might be beneficial to the taste of the gluten-free version.

I have actually been enjoying testing many of the “paleo” desserts I have found on the internet.  (For those who haven’t heard of it, the Paleo Diet follows the idea that recent changes to the human diet have outpaced our evolutionary adaptations to be able to healthfully digest these foods.  It focuses on a lifestyle where eating quality vegetables and animal proteins makes up most of the diet, and grains, legumes, and dairy are avoided.)  Most of my recent baking experiments have been using coconut or almond flour as a base, and maple syrup or honey as a sweetener.  So I thought I would try to adapt this pumpkin pie cupcake recipe to a paleo gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free version.

I replaced the half and half with coconut milk – it keeps the creaminess but removes the dairy.

This is, however, the first recipe that I have adapted on my own.  I have tested several other recipes that I have found that already used coconut flour, but I have never attempted to convert a regular recipe to a paleo version before.  I will admit that my version loses a bit of the cake/pie feel and is really more of a very moist cupcake.  I suppose it might be possible for me to play with the liquid/solid ratios to see if I can get more of a custard texture, though I just don’t know if that will be entirely possible with the coconut flour.  But what my recipe lacks in texture it makes up in taste.  I think these things are pretty delicious!  I will say that if you are used to eating regular wheat flour and normal sugar, this might not taste as sweet as you would expect, and some people who aren’t used to coconut flour complain of it having an odd aftertaste (though I don’t have a problem with this myself).  It certainly doesn’t behave exactly like wheat flour, but I do think the finished cupcakes have a nice consistency and I am really happy with my first recipe adaptation baking experiment.

Fill cupcake cups about half full of batter.

So, without further ado, my recipe adaptation:


Paleo Pumpkin Pie-ish Cupcakes

2/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp gluten free baking powder
1/4 tsp gluten free baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (McCormick is gluten free, but be sure to check your brand)
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree (pure pumpkin, no additives)
3/8 cup maple syrup or honey
5 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup coconut milk

1. Preheat oven to 325F.  Line muffin-tin with paper or tin liners.

2. In medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

3. In large bowl whisk together pumpkin puree, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla extract, and coconut milk until smooth and well combined.  Add in dry ingredients and whisk together until batter is smooth.

4. Fill each muffin cup about 1/2 full of batter.

5. Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool in pan.  Chill before serving.  Store in refrigerator.

My first attempt yielded about 18 cupcakes, but your mileage may vary.  Also, the oven I was using tends to run a bit on the hot side, so you may do better with a slightly higher temperature than the one listed here, or you may need to bake for an additional few minutes.



So – have any of you tried alternative flour baking?  What was your impression?  Has anyone else used gluten-free all purpose flour?  Has anyone else tried paleo baking?  Also, if you try this recipe feel free to comment and let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

8 thoughts on “Paleo Pumpkin Pie-ish Cupcakes

  1. I have started gluten free this last year, too. (due to many health issues). You are right, it is very “interesting” to bake – almost like learning from the start again.
    I have made my own all purpose flour with a mixture of gf flours but I prefer to use the all-purpose flour from King Arthur.
    Your pie-ish cakes look so yummy. I love pumpkin too. I'll have to give them a try!


  2. I ate gluten free for almost a year, and I felt a little better, not to the degree some people do. I had no mysterious health concerns disappear or anything like that. If I had I would have kept with it. I sort of discovered my issue isn't gluten, wheat seems to be the culprit.

    Anyway, try making your favourite pumpkin pie recipe (altered if necessary for paleo) and baking it in ramekins with no crust. I always do this as I hate making pastry and I suck at it as well. It tastes as good as pumpkin pie. No one ever seems to miss the pastry.


  3. Not me, but a few colleagues. One bought a thermomix and grinds her own flours from various beans or nuts. Makes for interesting flavours and textures.
    Another colleague sniffs with disgust and says “eat Asian food!”. Which is all very well, but I like cake!


  4. Ironically, I never really cared for cake before – I mean, I didn't dislike it, but I never cared if I actually ate some or not. But after baking with coconut flour I have actually really started to like cake! I think the coconut flour makes it extra moist and dense, which I guess I prefer over light and fluffy? I like to cook with nut flours too, but I only grind them if I can't be lazy and buy them pre-ground. 😉


  5. Ooooh – no crust pie actually sounds really good! I think this year I am going to try making a crust for my pies this year because I found a few different recipes I want to try, but if nothing stands out then I might go crustless at Christmas.


  6. I think the all-purpose mixes give a much closer texture to the original, but I wanted to adapt it to something dairy free, as I have been reducing my dairy lately as well.


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