Holler! Easter is almost here! And I have a lot of cupcakes to eat. No. Problem.
My decorating experience is still rather new so every time I bake something I want to try a zillion different techniques and recipes. This compilation of Easter goodies was a pleasure to make. The buttercream rose topped cupcakes were daunting but are deceptively simple. You can do it, I promise! They are definitely some of the prettiest on the plate and will probably be the last eaten.
I used a Wilton 104 tip and piped right onto the top of the cupcake. At first I tried attaching the cupcake to a flower nail with a little icing. What ended up happening was a half-finished rose cupcake landing face down on my cookie sheet. Spluff. However my boyfriend promptly helped with smushed cupcake disposal. After watching many tutorials building buttercream roses on flower nails I decided to go with this one and pipe directly on to the cake so the petals would extend to the edges. For colouring I used Wilton peach gel along with a healthy dose of ivory to soften and muddle the colour into a vintage shade to match the mini eggs.
These little guys are gumpaste ovals splattered with food colouring. This was my first time colouring gumpaste, it was easy and satisfying to see the colour blend so quickly and evenly, by the way I used Satin Ice. A little dab of Wilton teal gel colouring was the perfect match to the Cadbury robin's egg blue. The splattering technique is super simple and did not totally mess up my kitchen or t-shirt. Phew! I was a bit worried about the splatter projection range but it was only a few inches. To make the paint, mix equal parts brown food colouring and vodka or an alcohol-based extract. Vanilla extract would work perfectly in this colouring situation. Alcohols are preferred over water because it will evaporate quickly while leaving the colour behind. Water may soak into the sugary gumpaste and dissolve or discolour it. A short flat-tipped paint brush will result in the best bristle flicking. Dip the brush in paint, hold back the bristles with your finger and launch easter goodness!
While I was at it I also re-speckled the mini eggs.
I didn't use a tip for icing the round piped cupcakes I just snipped the end of the piping bag and piped away. To create the nest effect which I used on all of the cupcakes, besides the rose, I piped the cupcake as usual with a swirl from outer to inner and then piped a second ring of icing on top.
I had extra blue gum paste and decided to make a couple flowers. I used 3 cut outs of a tiny five petal cutter to make the small flower around a quick hand rolled bud. The large flower is actually made with the same oval cutter I used for the eggs because I do not have a teardrop rose cutter yet. I used 10 petals but the base of the flower was thick and too big so I just lopped it off with a pair of scissors.
For these sweet things I decided to raid my local Japanese store for some candy. I was inspired by this entrancing video that I found while watching these adorable red pandas.
The Konpeito are a traditional style Japanese candy which are thankfully not teeth shattering to encounter on the top of a cupcake. The Mini Peach packaging is probably it's best attribute but they do impart a lovely punch of fruitiness against the richness of the frosting.
The cake! This is the closest I have come to a fluffy, moist, super delicious cake that tastes the most like cake box cake. Yes, I want to make cake that tastes exactly like preservative-filled white cake mix. Yum.
I tried another batch of cupcakes previous to this recipe that used whole eggs and oil, no butter. What was I thinking! Well first off I didn't realize at the time that what I was after was a pure white cake and egg yolks really mess with the quest for whiteness. And the oil? I thought it might help with the whole mass-produced synthetic flavour I was after. However there must be some dehydrated butter flakes in that delicious powdery concoction they have you mix with oil.
This recipe is inspired by the cake goddess Rose Levy Barenbanm's White Velvet Cake and Cooks Illustrated White Cake. I've subbed a little almond extract for a rounded nutty flavour and substituted half of the butter with vegetable shortening in my hunt for moist marvelous-ness. I also used pasteurized egg whites for ease of use and factory flavour.
This cake will be my go to birthday cake recipe. It is fluffy and doesn't dry easily but the crumb is super stable and great for layering. The Fluffy Mom Frosting is the ultimate super sweet American buttercream style icing and will be another go to recipe. I looove this classic style of icing and have yet to fall head over heels with the ultra rich and traditional Swiss Meringue buttercream. I imagine its something like cilantro or sushi or beer. It just takes a few turns around the tongue to really understand it. PS I still can't stand beer.
"Cake Box" Cake
Yield: One 2 layer, 8" round cake or 20-24 cupcake
- 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 3 cups cake flour, sifted
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
- 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening, at room temperature and cut into cubes
1. Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C). Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2. In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine the egg whites, 1/4 cup of milk, vanilla and almond extract and stir with a fork. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together on low speed ("stir" on a KitchenAid) for 30 seconds.
4. Add the butter, shortening and remaining milk and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed ("4" on a KitchenAid) for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium for 20 seconds after each addition.
5. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full for a domed peak or 2/3 full for flat tops.
Bake 12-16 minutes until tops feel stable or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center. Ensure to not over bake these delicate cakes! Check after 12 minutes, but not before, and check in 2 minute intervals until done. Immediately remove cupcakes from muffin pan to cool on racks.
6. Frost cupcakes only when they are completely cooled or your icing will melt. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator up to 5 days (eaten at room temperature). Best eaten the same day as baked.
Fluffy Mom Frosting
Yield: Frosts one 2 layer, 8" round cake or 20-24 cupcake
- 1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups icing sugar, sifted (confectioners', powdered)
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed ("4" on a KitchenAid). Butter will become fluffy and pale.
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium-high speed ("6" on a KitchenAid) for 3 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy.
3. Best used right away.
I like to add a couple squirts of white food colouring to the icing for super whiteness. Using a clear vanilla extract would also help keep it white but I just can't part with my Nielsen Massey vanilla extract.
Thanks for reading!