Tag Archives: cupcakes

Pink Vanilla Cupcakes + Frosting!

28 Sep

Cupcakes!So I promise, this will be the last of the pink party smushed fairy postings … at least for this round! 😉 I loved the chocolate cake with that incredible white chocolate frosting, and we are still munching on (and sharing) the pink heart cookies. But the cupcakes were really special. M ordered the cupcake paper cups from Wilton – little pink flower cups. And I baked about 60 cupcakes – half were decorated with glitter and sprinkles and hearts and gumpaste/royal icing flowers ordered from a professional bake shop online. The other half were left iced for the children at the party to decorate – and they did a wonderful job! I love projects that get young people involved with and thinking about the food that they eat – even if its just from an aesthetic point of view.

Most of the decorations and the food colouring came from India Tree. Who knew beet food colouring could produce such gorgeous shades of pink – soft and pastel, natural and beautiful. The recipe for the cupcakes was adapted from a Meyer Lemon Raspberry Cupcake recipe by Amy Berman from the Vanilla Bakeshop. And the frosting was a basic garden variety confectioners frosting, but I made sure to use organic ingredients. I figure if we are going to feed young ones such rich foods, might as well make them free from pesticides and hormones and the like.

This recipe makes about 25 – 30 cupcakes. To double, I made two separate batches because baking is such a specific art – you dont want to mess up the measurements, and sometimes when you double a recipe, it just doesnt take as well. Please do try and use vanilla pods if you can – they imbue the cupcakes with such a pure vanilla scent and flavour. Nothing else comes close. I doubled the vanilla hit by adding vanilla essence as well. If you really cant find vanilla pods, double the amount of vanilla essence.

The cupcakes will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container or in the fridge. After that, theyre still edible, but may start to wilt a little. 😉 Enjoy!!!

Vanilla Cupcake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, about 3/4th scraped plus 1 – 2 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 175C (350F) and line your cupcake tin with paper cupcake cups.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. The butter and sugar really need to combine well – it needs to look like a thickish cream.

Add the vanillas and beat well. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Mix together the flours, baking powder and salt. You can sift if you like (this makes a much finer crumb) but its not totally necessary. Add to the butter mixture and beat well. You will have quite a thick dough. Add all the sour cream and beat again. Set aside.

In a clean bowl, with a clean whisk, or cleaned beaters, whisk the egg whites until they are shiny and hold stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the dough.

Drop by heaping tablespoons into your cupcake cups. You should get about 25 – 30.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. I would check at 20 minutes, but it took me the full 25 to bake them.

Let the cupcakes cool in the tins.

Pink Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioner’s or icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 – 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 4 tbsp heavy cream or milk
  • India Tree food colouring (red for preference 😉 )

With an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is smooth and creamy.

Sift 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar onto the butter, and beat it in on low speed. Repeat for the additional 3 cups of sugar.

Measure in the vanillas and 2 tbsp of cream, and beat well. If the consistency is to your liking, start adding food colouring, otherwise keep adding cream, 1 tablespoon at a time. I would imagine you would need the entire amount of cream, but I leave it up to you (and the heat, humidity and elevation of your kitchen!).

Beat in the food colouring 1 drop at a time. I made 2 batches of frosting and coloured them slightly differently so I had some contrast in the icing.

Beat for at least 3 – 5 minutes. What you will find is that the frosting gets a really light and fluffy, yet thick and solid consistency. I cant explain it, but frosting that has not been beaten for as long just has a different feel to it. The food colour is incorporated totally, and the frosting is very whipped if you beat it for long enough.

Once the frosting is of your desired consistency, fill a pastry bag and ice your cooled cupcakes.

If you dont have a pastry bag, do as I did. Fill a small plastic ziploc bag about 1/3rd full with frosting and cut the tip off one corner. You can use this as a makeshift bag, though be careful. The heat of your hands will start melting the icing quickly.

Decorate the cupcakes with sparkles and glitter and hearts and flowers immediately. Let everything set for about 30 minutes before refrigerating or serving.


Vegetarian Baby Birthday Party!

22 Sep

So Queen Z turned 1 year old today (Happy Birthday darling girl!) and since its the middle of the week, we are having her birthday party this coming Saturday. Or rather, her high tea. M + I remember from our own childhoods a simpler time, when birthdays were about bright colours, pretty yet basic food, lots of laughter and running about. Neither of us are too into having a theme for the birthday, though we did tease M’s husband by suggesting fairies, Barbies and glitter pink!

When M and I thought about the menu for the upcoming birthday party, we decided to keep it simple, and bring our own memory into play. I think this is a very important part of birthday ritual. Memories that have resonance for our generation can be passed down to the next through parties like this one. We have a photograph of M’s 1st birthday, a long table set up outside, dogs playing under her high chair, M with her hand smack in the middle of the cake, grinning and wearing a party hat. The table is set with a variety of goodies – cucumber and sardine sandwiches, mee, pretzels, crisps, tiny cupcakes with sugar flowers, carrots and dip, little cocktail sausages. Many people growing up 30+ years ago had birthday parties like this, with games like musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey.

When we thought about Z’s birthday party, we decided on a vegetarian menu that would be rich with our own memories, and yet updated enough to create new ones.

Since I will be posting several recipes over the next few days which relate to this momentous birthday party, I thought it would be a nice idea to give you the work-in-progress-menu. Any suggestions are most welcome … We still havent decided on the flavour of the cake… but for the rest, a vegetarian celebration for the Queen of our world, Z.

  • Fruit punch + Fresh Juices + Iced Tea
  • Vanilla cupcakes with pink icing
  • Cupcake decorating station for the kids
  • Hummus + Artichoke Spinach Dips with Baked Pita Chips + Carrot Sticks
  • Vegan Cocktail Sausages with Pink Dip
  • Sandwich Fingers – Cheese, Cucumber and Peanut Butter Strawberry + Honey
  • Birthday Cake
  • M+M’s
  • Crisps with Sour Cream Onion Dip

I would also love to make scones with fresh strawberries – tiny pink meringues – biscuits with tomato jam – mini spinach pies… But I have to convince my sister to let me cook! 😉

Food Colouring!By the way, I have done a lot of research about using food dyes (all that pink!) for children’s food. Red#2 is apparently particularly bad for young ones, and so I set about looking for alternatives. I found it in an amazing company called India Tree which creates the most stunningly beautiful products using vegetable dyes. So, for example, in place of the dreaded Red#2, they use concentrated beet dye. Because the dyes come from natural sources, the colours seem to me to be softer, sweeter, more honest. They dont look neon, which I find a bit scary in food these days. And they make every kind of sparkly decoration and sugar, as well as their food dyes. I have ordered a crateload, and will be using them for most of the cooking I will be doing. I will do a review of the products when I am done!

For now though, I will go to bed, dreaming of sweet treats for my beloved niece’s birthday party, and remembering my shared history with my sister. If any of you have suggestions for us, we would love to hear them — before Friday! 😉