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Orange Cupcakes Trial and Piper Reed Giveaway

August 10, 2012

I love to read, and so, I was happy to join the Piper Reed Forever Friend blog tour. I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Plus, I get to giveaway 3 Piper Reed books to three lucky readers. Details on how to enter are at the bottom of this post.

Piper Reed is the ten-year-old whose father is in the navy, which necessitates a lot of moving. Piper Reed, Forever Friend starts with the Reeds moving to Norfolk, Virginia. Piper is determined to impress her neighbor Arizona, but everything keeps flopping.

I really enjoyed Piper’s humor. It was fun to see what pickles Piper got into as she kept trying to impress Arizona. I also really liked the interaction Piper has with her two sisters and parents. It felt like a real family. My daughter’s too young for this book, but she enjoyed looking at the pictures. I think she would like it once she’s old enough to like chapter books. Overall, I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.

When I agreed to review this book, I planned to make some food mentioned in the book Joseph-safe, which would tie this review into my blog. Then I got to the end, and found that Nicole, one of Piper’s friends, is allergic to chocolate. This isn’t as life-changing as being allergic to gluten or dairy, but it still affects social situations. For example, Piper served chocolate chip cookies to her friends. As Nicole was about to bring up her allergy, Piper chimed in that she knew, and gave her an orange cupcake saved from Sam’s Goldfish Club. It was such a small incident, but it was just how I hope Joseph’s friends will treat his allergies. And so, in honor of that little moment, I made some Joseph-safe orange cupcakes, adapted from a recipe at

The Changes

There was no indication of how many cupcakes this recipe made, so to save myself the trouble of having too many cupcakes, I halved the recipe. I substituted canola oil for the butter, and used King Arthur multipurpose gluten-free flour. I also increased the amount of baking powder to make it easier to halve, and since gluten-free goods are usually better with more baking powder.

GF multipurpose flour, canola oil, orange juice, sugar, xanthan gum, salt,  vanilla, baking soda, egg

For the icing, I used dairy-free and soy-free Earth Balance buttery spread instead of the butter.

powdered sugar, buttery spread, orange

The Method

In a mixing bowl, cream together egg yolk, oil, sugar, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder. Add it to the creamed sugar in thirds, alternating with orange juice.

At this point, the recipe said to whip the egg white until frothy, and then fold it into the batter. Unfortunately, while I was taking pictures, my daughter decided to “help” and poured the unfrothed egg white directly into the batter. So, I had to just whip it in.

Spoon batter into cupcake liners until 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

When the cupcakes are cool, whisk together the icing ingredients. If desired, add food coloring to make it more orange, but you may not want the results that came from Sam being too free with the coloring. 🙂

And since this was a treat for a Goldfish Club, I topped the cupcakes with mandarin oranges in the shape of fish. 🙂

Orange Cupcakes

Adapted from

Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, chocolate-free

Cake Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 7/8 cup (1 cup minus 2 Tablespoons) King Arthur Gluten-Free Multipurpose Flour*
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup orange juice

Icing Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon orange zest (I didn’t really measure, just used the zest from one orange)
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons dairy-free & soy-free buttery spread
  • 1 Tablespoon orange juice

In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, and canola oil. In another bowl, mix together flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time to the sugar mixture, alternating with the orange juice, beating well each time. Whisk together egg white until stiff. Fold into the batter.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick entered in the center comes out clean.

When cupcakes are cool, whisk together icing ingredients. If frosting is too thick, add more juice. If too thin, add more powdered sugar. Frost cupcakes. If desired, top with mandarin slices.

Makes about 7 cupcakes

*To make your own flour mix, follow these instructions from King Arthur: Whisk together 6 cups (32 ounces) King Arthur stabilized brown rice flour; 2 cups (10 3/4 ounces) potato starch; and 1 cup (4 ounces) tapioca flour or tapioca starch. Store airtight at room temperature.

cover copy copy

This recipe is featured in my cookbook The Best of the Rice of Life: Over 70 Gluten-free, Dairy-free, and Nut-free Recipes available now in print (Amazon, Create Space) and e-book (Kindle, iBooks, nook, Kobo and Smashwords).

What I Thought

My husband and I quite liked these cupcakes. They had a nice spongy texture, which I’m sure would have been better if I’d had a chance to whip up the egg whites. The orange taste was extremely subtle. I would have liked a little more flavor. I didn’t like the acidic taste the buttery spread gave the icing, and my husband thought the mandarin slices were too tart in contrast to the cupcakes. My daughter ate all of her cupcake, except for the orange slices. Joseph licked the icing off, and only nibbled the cake.

Piper Reed Giveaway

And now, the exciting bit: I have 3 prizes to give away to 3 lucky readers.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post. Tell me what you think about the recipe, or the book. Or if you really can’t think of anything to say, tell me what club you participated in at school. All entries must be made by 6:00 pm PDT on August 16, 2012 so I can announce the winners on the next First Time Friday post. Best of luck to all!

Shared on Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Gluten-free Wednesday, and Allergy-free Wednesday

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Tiffany Rider permalink
    August 10, 2012 6:14 am

    This recipe sounds amazing, I can’t wait to try it! We love reading Piper Reed and can’t wait to get the final book. Thanks!

  2. Christy Hawkes permalink
    August 10, 2012 6:35 am

    Your recipe (and pictures) have left me drooling. I can’t wait to to bake these cupcakes myself. My granddaughter loves Piper Reed!

  3. August 10, 2012 4:39 pm

    One of the things I like to do and I’m not sure if it would work in this recipe is to use apple sauce as a sub for the oil. I found some pomegranate-applesauce cups on sale one time and used then in a muffin recipe in place of oil and it was really good. Maybe to spice up the orange flavor you say was missing, I might try applesauce as a sub but blend it with oranges. That is if I get around to making them–wishes and fishes you know :).

    • August 13, 2012 3:29 pm

      Thanks for the idea. I think the orange flavor would have been stronger if I’d used orange zest in the muffins, or orange extract.

  4. Kimber Daley permalink
    August 15, 2012 5:41 pm

    I know this doesn’t match the book … but I think this recipe would be tasty with a little bit of cinnamon instead of orange! And maybe a cinnamon-roll-like glaze on top!

  5. August 15, 2012 8:43 pm

    i love orange zest in baked goods. it’s a delightful combination. the books look cute, i think that the illustrator illustrated another book that i am familiar with, but i can’t think of it off the top of my head. i’ll have to go look on the shelf.

  6. Tana Grames permalink
    August 15, 2012 10:57 pm

    I love using orange zest! I usually find that most recipes don’t call for enough of it. I haven’t read the Piper Reed series yet–looks like fun to read!

  7. August 17, 2012 5:32 am

    This looks awesome! I love to add zest into dishes. I had always thought how could such a small amount of something add so much, but boy was I wrong!! It adds so much flavor!! 🙂
    My name is Cindy and I blog over at I wanted to invite you to link up your recipe at our Gluten Free Fridays Recipe Link up party! It happens every Friday and we’d love to have you join us with some of your awesome recipes! You can find this week’s link up here:

  8. Meltem permalink
    March 20, 2013 6:08 pm

    We are too late for the giveaway, but here is my comment to everyone who is looking for a series of books for their young ones. I have discovered Piper Reed series by mistake and my daughter and I fell in love with Piper in the first few chapters of the Navy Brat. We are reading the last one and i can say they are honest and real. They made us both laugh and cry, and be late for bed almost every night. We can not wait for the next one.

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