Swirled Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Cake

Recently, I discovered that one could purchase decorating dips individually at the JoAnne’s nearby. I was…unprepared for this discovery, to say the least – and by that, I mean I found myself dancing back and forth through the isles when I saw exactly how many very specific decorating tools they had. I’d been resigned to buying a set of tips that I didn’t really need that had the jumbo tips I actually wanted, and was thrilled beyond belief when I saw I didn’t have to.

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Even before this miraculous discovery, however, I’d decided I wanted to give another go at decorating cupcakes. Nothing fancy, but the last time they hadn’t come out as nicely as I’d hoped (mostly because A, the tips were too small, and B, the icing had bits of cookie in it, which made for uneven piping). I’d also noticed that much of the time my flowers and swirls would fall flat (though it being summertime in a small kitchen, I’d just been chalking it up to the temperature), and hoped that a different recipe would help.

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Actually, my wife and I’d just celebrated our two-year anniversary a few weeks ago, and as part of that, I bought some cupcakes from the Fairy Cakes Cupcakery, who’d provided the “cake” (about 200 cupcakes decorated with our wedding colors) for our wedding. I asked one of the bakers how their frosting always stayed so stiff and beautiful, and while they admitted it was partially because they kept the store rather cool, their frosting had more powdered sugar than normal.

With this as my guide, rather than my usual, I made a batch of icing to use with the newly-purchased jumbo tips. First off, the vanilla extract gave it an ivory/cream color, rather than pure white. It didn’t affect my plans at all, but I simply kept that in mind, should I ever purposefully want it. Also, I was worried that the added sugar (an extra cup from what I was used to, bringing it to 4 for the batch) would make it too sweet, and leave it with a distinctly “powdered sugar” taste.

Instead, I found the vanilla was strong enough to counter the extra sweetness. It was still quite sweet, but it didn’t taste any different from the icing you’d get if you had buttercream on a store-bought cupcake. After a few hours in the fridge, though, was when I could tell very clearly that it was going to be a much stiffer icing.

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The design was just a swirl, nothing fancy, with sprinkles on top. Still, the real test came when I left a plate of them out at room temperature when I had some friends over. By the end of the night, they barely showed any signs of wilting, and those I’d left in the fridge were – to my joy – as firm as the one’s I’d bought from Fairy Cakes.

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Chocolate-Banana Cake

Cake

I gave in and bought a trio of mini springform pans recently. I’d had my eye on them at Target for a while, and finally gave in and decided to do something with them. I didn’t make the cupcakes, though I did use the banana buttercream recipe.

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The chocolate mini-cakes came out wonderfully (I didn’t take photos, but the top parts I cut off became a lovely whoopie-pie), though I finally came to the frustrating conclusion that no matter what, the next time I want to decorate a cake, I need to buy a lazy susan (or put something together that fulfills the same purpose. That, and I need to start doubling my icing recipe when I know I’m going to be decorating as well as coating.

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Overall, I was still quite pleased with how it turned out – a lovely little chocolate banana cake.