Maple Syrup, Bourbon and Candied Bacon Gluten Free Cupcakes – recipes

As much as I go on about cake, I’m not what you’d call a dyed in the wool cake lover. To be perfectly honest with you, I find cakes, especially cupcakes, a sickly sweet disappointment that I wished I had never ordered in the first place. I hate talking cake.

And I’m not one of those, standing in the kitchen every afternoon, rustling up some baked goodness to underline how much I’m fucking perfect wife material; there’s more to life right now than conforming to some submissive female blogger stereotype.

Now I’m going to blow all of my postulating rhetoric clear of the cake mix and post a recipe for a) cake b) a cupcake WITH frosting (shudders) and c) a cupcake topped with the sweetest garnish available to humankind. I never claimed to be consistent.

These cakes are neither clever nor particularly original, I’ve located the currant zeitgeist and slapped it all on a cupcake – artists copy, geniuses steal and I’m so fucking genius that a day in my life hurts. That’s why I make such great tasting food and why there’s booze in most of the things I make.

Meat and booze on a cupcake – I rule

If you’re a lady trying to stereotypically win the heart of a manly man and his bunch of nethanderal men friends, these cakes are for you. Likewise, they’re pretty damn hipster, so you can take them over to your post-ironic loft parties and be all ‘saaarrriousleee, you like so put meat on a cake, OMG that’s so hot right now, let’s all got to Famous and queue for hours like douches and Instagram dogs ironically on the way.’ Or if you just want an excuse to pour booze in everything, like I do, then these are for you – and so are AA meetings; you/I have a problem

Some words of warning:
1. These cakes are not for vegetarians or kids. You’ll have to omit the booze and bacon and there’s really no point in that. Go get a recipe for vanilla cupcakes if you have bacon/booze beef.

2. I’ve taken out quite a bit of the sugar (see above for rant on sweet cakes), but you can add this back in if you have a sweet tooth/are angling to develop diabetes (try adding another 30 grams).

3. This is a gluten free recipe – but works just as well with regular self-raising flour.

4. I lied – I actually made these with Pine (Tar) Syrup from Finland – it’s nowhere near as sweet as maple syrup, it has a smokey/piney finish that fits brilliantly with the bacon and the whiskey and I’m addicted to it. Substitute maple if you can’t source it (or click here if you want to).

5. This is a bit of a long recipe, but it’s well worth it and these will go down like THE BOMB wherever you take them. I can make you THAT COOL.

Maple/Tar Syrup, Bourbon and Candied Bacon Gluten Free Cupcakes


(Makes 16 small cupcakes or about 8 muffins)
125g butter at room temp, diced
100g caster sugar
2 eggs (free range please) (and at room temperature too)
3 tblsp Tar Syrup or Maple Syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
Pinch of salt
175g Glutafin all purpose flour (you can use Dove’s Farm SR gluten free flour or regular SR flour)
1 1/4 tsp gluten free baking powder (Dove’s Farm does one) (or just a pinch of baking powder if using SR flour)
1 tblsp milk

For the frosting

90g unsalted butter
150g icing sugar
3 tblsp Woodford Reserve (or any other high quality bourbon)

For the garnish

2 tblsp soft light brown sugar
2 tblsp Woodford bourbon (or any other high quality bourbon)
6 rashers of smoked, streaky bacon (good quality, not that full of water shite)


1. Set the oven to 190c/gas 5 and pop the cake cases in a cupcake tin.

2. Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer till pale and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs one by one, adding a tblsp of the flour with each egg to help prevent curdling. Mix in well and then add in the syrup, vanilla and salt and give a quick whisk to combine.

4. Fold in the flour in two lots (it’s easier and helps keep some air in there). If the mix is a little sticky (you want it a little wet, at dropping consistency) – add in the milk and mix again. Add more if needed.

5. Spoon the mix into the paper cases so they are about two-thirds full. I’m not going to be a pedant and make you level them all off, just max sure they are mostly level and not slopped all over or with way more mix on one side than the other.

6. Pop in the oven for 12-15 mins and take out when they are golden on top and a skewer inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clean. Take out of the tin and cool on a wire rack whilst you prep the frosting and bacon.

7. Whilst the cakes cool, fry up the bacon. I only have a small frying pan so fried two pieces at a time – DON’T overcrowd the pan, because then then bacon won’t crisp up. Fry the bacon in batches till golden on each side, but NOT over-crisp. Put the bacon on a plate to cool and pour the bacon fat from the pan into a ramekin. The bacon should have cooled sufficiently for you to cut each piece into small strips – enough for each one of your cakes – do some maths/counting.

8. Wipe out the frying pan with a piece of kitchen paper, then add the light brown sugar and place on a medium heat. Add the bourbon and the bacon fat from the ramekin – but make sure you don’t pour in any of the sediment from the ramekin. Don’t stir the caramel and DON’T touch it as it’s fucking boiling – just swirl the pan a few times to stop it sticking.

9. Once the caramel is bubbling, chuck in the bacon strips and bubble away in there until the caramel is really reduced and all the bacon is covered. Using tongs (not burnable fingers, we don’t want a trip to A+E) take out the bacon and place on a greased plate (you can just use the plate that the bacon cooled on as that will be pretty greasy). If you want them to dry in a certain shape, bend them in to that now.

10. Whilst the bacon sets, bung all the frosting ingredients in a bowl and mix with the electric mixer. Add more icing sugar/bourbon as required. Load said frosting in to a piping bag (you can just put dollops on top with a spoon if you prefer) and pipe the frosting on to the cakes. Then top with the bacon, pour yourself a large measure (over ice) and congratulate yourself like all your fucking mates are going to when they see how clever you’ve been. No need to thank me, I drink so much that I’ll have forgotten your name before you’ve even finished introducing yourself, let alone said thanks (however you CAN comment below for posterity).

NB – As I had said before, I enjoy booze in my food as it prolongs the haze in which life is bearable and other people almost acceptable. Because the booze isn’t cooked off here, you want to use the best quality you can afford as you’re going to taste it. I’m not going wax lyrical about Woodford as I’ve done that before – but seriously it’s an amazing bourbon and it gives these cupcakes a caramel/vanilla/toffee/spicy touch that you don’t get elsewhere.