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Oct 8, 2006 07:45 PM

Troubleshooting: Spelt flour cupcakes

I'm trying to make some chocolate cupcakes for a friend who is allergic to wheat and dairy.

The problem:
They completely fell in the middle and they are really dense. They just aren't very pretty.

The recipe:
I adapted a vegan chocolate cake I have made before. The original recipe called for vegetable oil and AP flour. So this time I used soy margarine and spelt flour. I doubled the amount of baking soda from the original recipe. Like a lot of vegan cake recipes, it uses cider vinegar added at the end to react with the baking soda to create loft.

The questions:
1. Are there any particular tricks to using spelt flour to achieve a nicer crumb?
2. What can I do to prevent the middles from falling without increasing the baking soda?
3. Was there a problem using soy margarine instead of veg oil? Would this have contributed to the problem?

On a positive note, they actually taste pretty good, and the well in the middle of each cupcake will hold lots of super-yummy frosting.


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  1. Why did you increase the baking soda? Maybe they rose too much and then fell. Also, don't smaller cakes need less leavening?

    Did you melt the magarine? Why did you choose margarine over oil? I consider oil to be a healthier product than margarine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: babette feasts

      To be honest, increasing the baking soda was a mistake. I was decreasing the recipe from a 3-layer cake to make 12 cupcakes, and well, although I work with numbers all day long, apparently I can't do simple arithmetic. At any rate, I guess it never occured to me that I could use TOO much baking soda . . . good tip.

      I didn't melt the soy margarine. It's non-hydrogenated and most of my vegan friends use it in place of butter. I thought that the soy margarine might taste better than oil, although I admit, I hadn't actually tasted the soy margarine.

      Thanks for the input!

    2. You might want to check with your friend about the spelt. If he/she has celiac disease the grains not allowed are: wheat, barley, rye, SPELT, kamut, and a few other obscure ones.

      1. Firstly, as PamelaD pointed out, please check if your friend is a celiac allergic to gluten (which is a wheat protein) vs. wheat-intolerant. Spelt and kamut are sometimes okay for the intolerant folks, but not gluten and wheat allergies.

        Spelt is a tricky heirloom wheat flour that bakes into a dense, brittle crumb. Rather than try a 1:1 substitute for wheat flour, make something flourless altogether that has the proportions all worked out. I've used a terrific wheat-free brownie from Jacques Torres, Mr. Chocolate himself, from his Website which uses almond paste instead of flour. To make it dairy free I use coconut cream (not coconut milk!) to replace the butter and they come out GREAT.

        Good luck.