Della Keahna’s Maple and Blueberry Cupcakes

I made these today for my big sister’s 23rd birthday. In our Ojibwe culture, maple syrup and blueberries are very important foods. With quarantine, we have been in the same house and have not been able to return in a very long time and have missed many things about our family and our homelands. I wanted to be able to give her a taste of home while also keeping us alive given that we are both gluten free.

They were experimental, especially the filling. Even though I have been gluten free for 11 years I still wind up finding some things I bake come out drier than is ideal. I decided a filling and a buttercream could help balance it out. The pureeing process was also done on a pretty cheap blender, and everything came out more liquidy than I wanted, and after adding inordinate amounts of sugar and starch (I’m not even sure if I listed the quantities right on my recipe), I thought about my chia seed puddings.

I added a few tablespoons of chia seeds to let them gather the juices. That balance offered something very interesting when eating the cupcakes later and prevented the filling from soaking through the cupcakes. I wanted to take on a more minimalist approach to decorating, especially given how it was inspired by tradition and family. I realized as we sat outside, the three siblings and my sister’s girlfriend, cupcakes are a total win for pandemic times too. We gave her a single candle and she could blow it out without worrying about the cake others were going to eat!

—By Della Keahna