This family day long weekend, I was at home practicing my cupcake baking and decorating skills. It’s all in preparation for the SPCA and Humane Societies’ National Cupcake Day, this February 24th.
When the BCSPCA asked me to be a spokesperson for the event, I was eager to take part. Help animals in need? I’m in! Raise funds by baking cupcakes in exchange for donations? No problem! (Check out this video for more info)
If you’ve watched Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag, you know that while I love baking, I’m no expert. Thankfully, cupcakes are up there with chocolate chip cookies when it comes to foolproof baking.
It’s the decorating that made me a bit nervous. In the past, I could unskillfully slather on icing but the Cake Boss I am not. I was going to need some practice. Time to get baking.
Classic Vanilla Cupcakes
2 cups (220 g) flour, sifted
¾ cup (150 g) sugar
¾ cup (180mL) milk
½ cup + one tbsp (120g + 15g) butter (cubed and softened at room temp.)
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease or line a 12-capacity cupcake pan.
In a large bowl, mix flour and baking powder.
Using a mixer, cream butter and add sugar. Blend well. Add eggs one at a time and continue to mix. Add in vanilla.
Add in the flour mixture and the milk, alternating, until the whole thing is well mixed, light and smooth.
Spoon the mixture into prepared pan and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. (Depends on the oven. Mine takes a bit longer.)
Let stand in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
If all else fails, buy a cake mix and use that.
2/3 cup (160g) butter (cubed and softened at room temperature)
2 ¼ cup (225g) icing sugar
1 tbsp (15mL) milk
Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Sift icing sugar and gradually add it in. Gradually add milk and beat until smooth. You may need more or less than 1 tablespoon to reach your perfect consistency.
*As with above, if this icing goes south, there is no shame in buying pre-made. (It shouldn’t, it’s easy, I promise!) But remember, it’s the cause – or the thought – that counts!
- Make sure you do sift the icing sugar first, this will help prevent clumps
- I avoid recipes that also contain granulated sugar, it’s much more difficult to make the frosting smooth
- Bake sure your cupcakes are cool before you frost and decorate them them
I embraced the SPCA theme, deciding to decorate my cupcakes to look like animals. Some tips:
- Don’t have a piping bag? No worries. Just use a knife or a cake spatula. Most of the frosting will be hidden.
- If you do want to do some fancy piping, use a Ziplock bag and just snip off a small corner.
- Not artistic? Go online. There are hundreds of cupcake decorating ideas (and that’s where I got some of mine.)
- The cookie aisle, bulk section of the grocery store and the candy store are great places to look for edible decorating tools.
- Add a few drops of food colouring to the icing to create custom hues. A little goes a long way.
For the pigs, I added two drops of red food colouring to a portion of the frosting. For the snouts and ears, I cut up regular marshmallows. (They’re actually easier to use if they’re a bit old.) I found some pink marshmallow-like candies at the candy store that I cut up and used for the snout. I added round chocolate balls for their beady eyes and small black candies for the mouth.
Oreo cookies did all of the work! I used half an Oreo (with cream) for each eyeball and then cut the remaining cookie side in half to make the ears. The cookies are brittle so you may need to try a few. I stuck on black candies as pupils and use yellow banana shaped candy as the beak. (The latter I found at the candy store.)
PUPPIES (Or is it Fozzy bear? Not entirely sure.)
I added a few drops of yellow food colouring to the frosting as my aim was to make a golden retriever! I used ginger snaps for the ears, marshmallows for the eyes and round dark licorice for the snout. The pink tongues were the same pink marshmallow candy I used on the pigs.
Note: I used one batch of icing for all of these, I just separated it into three and added food colouring.
The result? Well, if you examine the photos carefully, the cupcakes are far from perfect. But who cares? We’re just talking cupcakes, after all. They were really fun to make, a perfect activity to do with your kids. And in this case, it really is the thought, and the fundraising, that counts.
For more information on National Cupcake day go to www.nationalcupcakeday.ca
It’s time to bake a difference!
Happy baking everyone!