Lemon and Ginger Cupcakes

Most of my favourite recipes come to me when I’m not supposed to be thinking about food at all. They stem from those interminable afternoons when I’m incarcerated at my desk, burning my tongue with the fourth or fifth cup of coffee, staring blankly out of the windows at the grey drizzle hanging over Christ Church Meadow as the rain pitter-patters down the ancient and draughty panes of my cell. Hoping against hope that this time the caffeine will kick, this time it will force my mind to focus on historical verisimilitude, socialist realism, or some other vaguery whose definition bothers examiners so. Four weeks to finals, six weeks to freedom, I keep saying. Apparently talking keep you sane. 

Sometimes, I cave. I release my frazzled mind to roam and my body to rest. These cupcakes were the result of one such afternoon over the Easter vacation; I started off intending to make carrot cakes, but given that I barely have the energy to wash my own hair, grating carrots was out of the question. So they because gingerbread cakes instead. I did, however, stretch to zesting lemons for the icing, because lemon and ginger is a great combination in drinks, so I reckoned why not for cupcakes.

These are really tasty and suit most diets because they’re gluten free, vegan, and are nut free if you swap the almond milk for another dairy-free alternative and you’re ok with coconut.

Makes 15-18 cupcakes


  • 225g buckwheat or brown rice flour — I used half of each
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-2 tbsp ground ginger, according to how fiery you want it
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 100g coconut oil
  • 100g coconut palm sugar
  • 100g blackstrap molasses/black treacle
  • 100g honey/ maple syrup /agave nectar
  • 250ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 100g glacé, crystallised or stem ginger
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed

For the icing:

  • 500g coconut yogurt
  • 2 tbsp honey/maple syrup/agave nectar
  • zest of 2 lemons


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (160 fan) and line two 12-hole cupcake tins with cupcake cases.
  2. Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, and spices until well combined.
  3. In a saucepan over a low heat, gently melt together the coconut oil, blackstrap molasses, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and almond milk, until everything is smooth and well combined. Pour into the flour mix and stir well.
  4. Gently beat in the mashed banana, then stir in the glacé ginger.
  5. Fill cupcake cases with the mixture until about 2/3 full, then bake for 20-25 minutes.
  6. To make the icing: stir together the coconut yogurt, honey and lemon zest. Once the cupcakes are completely cool, dollop a tablespoon or so of the icing on top. Keep it in the fridge until just before icing, though, as it can go too runny otherwise. Best iced just before serving.

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