La La Lavender & Lemon Cloud Cupcakes

Lavender & Lemon Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Today’s Weather Forecast: A sweet mix of sunshine and clouds. Probability of celebration is 100%.

Did I mention that I have a bit of a thing for clouds these days? Yummy ones, that is (you may remember these cloudy sweets). Maybe it’s a subconscious need to escape the everyday, or to float above reality to la la land for awhile, but every time I bake (it’s been known to happen) clouds are on my mind. A little while back I woke up with an undying need for something lavender & lemon, which has also been known to happen, so I made some Lavender & Lemon Shortbread cookies — these little things are so delightful. I love the kind of shortbread that just melts in your mouth with all of its buttery goodness, and the recipe I use is one I’ve adapted from Joy of Baking–it never disappoints. I cut little L&L clouds and felt that they were just too cute to be gobbled up and long forgotten. So I decided to create some cupcakes to perch them upon, to celebrate the awesomeness that is Lavender & Lemon even further.

Lavender & Lemon Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

And it’s to not say that these cupcakes need to be cloudy, because are pretty special all on their own–the cupcakes themselves are light, tender, citrusy Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes, topped with tangy homemade Lemon Curd and topped with Whipped Lavender Frosting. If you’ve never baked with culinary lavender before, you’re in for a real treat–the lovely flavour of the lavender doesn’t come across floral, but rather compliments the sweet vanilla and lemon flavours like a dream (you just don’t want to overdo it by adding too much — less is more).

I also thought it would be neat to make my own cupcake wrappers for these, because I wanted something pastel and lavender with a cloud-like scalloped edge. I found a scrapbook paper that I loved and went ahead and cut out some wrappers — this is so easy! For the template, you can check out this simple post from Skip To My Lou. I snipped the tops with the “cloud” style (I didn’t make that up) scallop scissors from the craft shop and secured the backside with a glue stick. Once you learn this simple trick of making your own wrappers, the possibilities are literally endless. Sometimes the liners that we bake the cupcakes in look so cute and, unless they’re really thick, they absorb a lot of the grease of the cupcakes and a lot of the colour is lost. I can see making these little wrappers becoming a wee bit addictive!

I think these cupcakes would make the cutest and yummiest addition to any spring or summer party, shower, dessert table, picnic, birthday or, of course, a lovely Mother’s Day treat. I just adore this flavour combination, and it’s always fun to watch someone’s face light up when you tell them that they just ate lavender–suddenly they feel pretty fancy. It’s hard to not smile when you take a bite of summer.

Even if you stopped at making the Lavender & Lemon Shortbread Clouds, well I’d be okay with that too. They are such a tasty little treat and look pretty darling alongside a cup of tea. With only a handful of ingredients, they’re also pretty quick and easy to make. To make this cutter, I used a simple small flower cookie cutter and gently squished it into a cloud shape — it works!

Lavender & Lemon Shortbread via Sweetapolita

Or you can always whip up some Lavender & Lemon Shortbread Unicorns and call it a day — the world will forgive you. (For those who will want to know more about this fancy cutter in particular, it’s made by Tovolo — I just don’t see it on their website anymore. Sorry!)

Or you can do as I do, and make the L&L Shortbread Unicorns, eat and share most of them before you can actually photograph and blog about it, then make another batch of the shortbread, turn them into clouds, make the following recipes, stack it all up and watch them beam . . .

Lavender & Lemon Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Escape to La La Lavender & Lemon land . . .

La La Lavender & Lemon Cloud Cupcakes

Yield: 18 standard cupcakes

Moist, fluffy lemon buttermilk cupcakes topped with zingy lemon curd, whipped lavender frosting and topped with lavender sugar cookie clouds.

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 1 cup (240 ml) (8 oz) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (230 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1-1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon (8 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon (2 g) salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) (115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Finely grated lemon zest (rind) of two medium-large lemons
  • For the Frosting:
  • 3 sticks (340 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 3.5 cups (400 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) whipping cream (35% cream), or whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried Culinary Lavender
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two standard muffin pans with your favourite baking liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the eggs, 1/4 cup of buttermilk, and vanilla. Set aside.Sift the cake flour 3 times.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter and blend on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 3/4 cup of buttermilk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. Stir in the lemon zest.
  6. Divide the batter into your prepared liners, no more than 2/3 full.
  7. Bake until a toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center of the cupcake (~15 minutes). Be so careful to not over-bake. Place hot baking pans on wire racks, then carefully (they’re hot!) remove the cupcakes from the baking pans immediately to let cool. Let cool completely before frosting.
  8. For the Frosting:
  9. In a small bowl or glass, stir the dried lavender into the whipping cream (or milk); cover with plastic wrap overnight (or for at least several hours).
  10. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  11. Strain the lavender cream and add to butter, along with all remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.
  12. Add a few drops of Violet gel colour (I used Grape Violet by Sugarflair and a drop of Americolor Electric Purple ) and mix until blended.
  13. Assembly of the La La Lavender & Lemon Cloud Cupcakes:
  14. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon curd on top of each cupcake and gently spread (be careful to not put more than this, or it will ooze).
  15. Fill a small pastry bag fitted with pastry tip of your choice (I used a plain large round tip) about 1/2 full with frosting and pipe a generous swirl on top of the lemon curd.
  16. Top with a Lavender & Lemon Shortbread Cloud. Finish with a scalloped cupcake wrapper or design of your choice
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[cupcake batter recipe adapted from Canadian Living]

Here is the recipe for the Lemon Curd.

Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Yield: 20 small-medium cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) (227 g) good quality unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar/icing sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) good quality pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) dried culinary lavender
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) grated lemon zest (rind)
  • 1-1/2 cups (190 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (75 g) cornstarch (corn flour)
  • 1/4 (2 g) teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed (I use #4 on my KitchenAid mixer) the butter until it is smooth and very creamy, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract, then stir in the dried lavender and lemon zest.
  3. Stir in the dry ingredients and mix until they are incorporated. Make a ball of the dough and seal in plastic wrap. Once in the wrap, flatten the dough into a disk and chill for one hour (at least--can be longer).
  4. When you're ready to roll and cut the cookie dough, preheat oven to 350°F and place the oven rack in the middle position. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or two baking mats.
  5. Roll the dough 1/4" thick on a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of parchment paper. Cut desired shapes, place on baking sheets and chill in the refrigerator or freezer for about 15 minutes.
  6. Bake until very light golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheets on wire racks.

Notes

Cookies will keep in an airtight container for about 1 week, or can be frozen.

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[cookie recipe adapted from Joy of Baking]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:
  • Some of the items I used to make these cupcakes are Stainless Steel Scoop for measuring perfectly-even cupcakes, Culinary Lavender, and Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract).
  • To get frosting super smooth (no air bubbles), use a silicone spatula and in an aggressive side-to-side motion, pushing the frosting back and forth against the sides of the bowl (you will hear a sort of paddling sound). Do this every so often while you use the frosting–it keeps it super smooth. You can also add a few drops (just a few!) of water for ideal spreading/piping.
  • Just a note about purple–all purple gel colours will yield a very different colour by nature, for example, Americolor Violet is much more blue than purple (when compared), and Americolor Electric Purple is more magenta than blue. Those differences in addition to the fact that you’re adding it to an ivory base (this butter frosting), can really alter the look of the finished cupcake, so you’ll want to play around with small frosting samples in bowls before tinting the entire batch. (I ended up making the frosting all over again to achieve the shade I liked best). Just be careful not to go too far with these concentrated colours, because it can get too intense quickly.
  • You can find a wonderful cupcake wrapper template at Skip To My Lou.

Good luck & enjoy!



Related posts:

Billie’s Italian Cream Cake from The Pioneer Woman + Giveaway {Winners Announced!}

The winners of the signed copies of The Pioneer Woman’s new cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier are:

#1082 Gretchen: “My favorite is German Chocolate Cake with Carmel Coconut Frosting.”

#246 Kate W.: “birthday cake!”

#895 Christine: “Any cake with a lot of delicious frosting!!”

Congratulations to the winners! You will be also be notified via email.

It was so much fun reading all of your favourite cakes–I even learned of a few that I’d never heard of before!

See you tomorrow morning with a new post and another exciting giveaway!

. . .

The Pioneer Woman Giveaway:

source: thepioneerwoman.com

Did I mention how excited I am that Ree’s (aka The Pioneer Woman) new cookbook The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier is finally released? Well, I sincerely am. And that she’s going to be sending a signed copy to 3 of my lucky readers? This means a lot to me because Ree and I go way back, even if she doesn’t know this. I discovered her back in 2008 when I innocently Googled “cinnamon rolls recipe.” I came across this post and that was that. I felt instantly connected with her, as though we were going to be friends. Forever. Not in like an SWF way, but just in your standard I-want-to-move-into-her-ranch-and-be-best-buds-for-life kind of way. I became an avid reader of her blog, and I can say that she is one of the reasons that I blog today. Come to think of it, before that serendipitous day, I didn’t even know what a blog was. So that’s what makes this recipe and giveaway the perfect theme for my 100th blog post!

So I’ve been whipping up recipes from her blog and her first book for several years now, and I can honestly tell you that any recipe I have ever made (and made and made) has been incredible and loved by all. I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you this, but I was never much of a cook before she came along. Gasp! Truthfully, I now enjoy cooking and trying new savoury recipes, but I just didn’t have a lot of experience with it, or much extra time (layer cake, anyone?). After discovering Ree and her simple-but-scrumptious recipes loaded with step-by-step photos and instructions, I fell in love with cooking, and I make the time. Thank goodness, because it turns out man cannot live on cake alone–particularly men who don’t like cake. (Hi honey!)

Several weeks ago I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of her new book (and signed with a sweet note, no less–thank you, Ree!). As is everything she does, it’s warm, humourous and filled with irresistible recipes, photos and glimpses into her life on the ranch. I have had a chance to try many of the recipes in the book, including Fig-Prosciutto Pizza (fancy & fabulous), Rigatoni & Meatballs (I was so proud of myself), Steakhouse Pizza (crowd-pleaser), Brie Stuffed Mushrooms (delightful), and more. But, as much as Ree can rock the savoury, she also rocks the sweet–sweets of all kinds, including cake. So when I was trying to decide which dessert to try from her new book, I knew instantly: Billie’s Italian Cream Cake. I’ve been dreaming about this cake since she shared it on her site a few years ago, and I knew it was meant to be. Ree explains that Billie is a friend from church, who brought this cake over one Fourth of July and shared the recipe with her, and trust me, if you haven’t made this recipe already,  you’ll soon thank Billie. And Ree. And me?

Billie's Italian Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

So, yep–I made it. I knew this was going to be amazing for a few reasons (and not just because Grant calls me “Billy” and is of Italian descent). First off, is it just me, or is every recipe that comes from church-going women or church cookbooks not the yummiest ever? And secondly, moist buttermilk cake layers sandwiched between and smothered in whipped coconutty, pecan cream cheese frosting? Nah, I’ll pass. As if! Maybe on opposite day, as Ree would say. This cake is homespun temptation at its best. (And everyone knows I have minimal ability to resist temptation of this magnitude.)

Billie's Italian Cream Cake via Sweetapolita
Yum x infinity.

So, if sharing such a delightful and decadent cake wasn’t enough, as I mentioned, Ree is going to personally sign and send 3 super lucky Sweetapolita readers a copy of her fabulous new book, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier!

Here are the details and how to enter (and this could not be easier, guys):

1. Leave a comment and tell me, “What’s your favourite cake?”

This giveaway is now closed. Winners will be posted here on the blog and notified by email. ♥

UPDATED 04/22: 2. Contest now ends April 22nd, 2012 at MIDNIGHT (EST) and winners will be selected using random.org and notified by email and announced here on the blog. You must leave a valid email address (will not be displayed) in your entry. *I’ve extended the entry deadline until midnight to offer more time for those who couldn’t get onto the site during the day today (Sunday).

3. One entry per person, please. *Your comment may take a few moments to appear.

4. Prizes courtesy of Ree, The Pioneer Woman.

Good luck!

And here’s this amazing recipe, shared with permission from Ree. I have included weight measurements along with a few notes from yours truly:

Billie’s Italian Cream Cake          {click to print}

 

 

 

 

from the book The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier
Ingredients

For the cake:

5 eggs, separated (then brought to room temperature)

1/2 cup (1 stick/114 g/4 oz) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup (237 mL) vegetable oil

1 cup (200 g/7 oz) granulated sugar

1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract

1 cup (100 g/3.5 oz) sweetened flaked coconut

2 cups (260 g/9 oz) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon (5 g) baking soda

1 teaspoon (5 g) baking powder

1 cup (237 mL) buttermilk (or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 teaspoon white vinegar), at room temperature

For the icing:

Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese

1/2 cup (1 stick/114 g/4 oz) unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract

2 pounds (1 kg) powdered sugar

1 cup (110 g/4 oz) chopped pecans

1 cup (100 g/3.5 oz) sweetened flaked coconut

Method

For the cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans (from Sweetapolita: I used three 8-inch round pans) or 2 quarter sheet pans, or one 9 x 12-inch pan.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they’re stiff. Transfer them to another bowl, and then clean the mixing bowl and beater.

3. Combine the butter, vegetable oil, and granulated sugar in the mixing bowl and mix until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat until smooth.

4. Add the coconut and beat to combine.

5. Combine the flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl, and then add to the mixer bowl, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix for a few seconds between each addition.

6. Add the stiff egg whites by gently folding into the mixture by hand until they’re incorporated.

7. Divide the batter among the pans and spread it out evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes.

8. Let cool on wire rack for about 10 minutes in pans, and then turn out onto the wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing:

1. Combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer (can use whisk or paddle attachment) until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

2. Add 3/4 cup of the chopped pecans and all of the coconut and mix until combined.

Assembly

1. If using round cake layers, stack them onto desired cake plate or board with generous amount of filling between each layer. If using the quarter sheet pans, cut them in half lengthwise, resulting in 4 rectangular layers, and spread a generous amount of filling between each layer.

2. Cover the stacked cake with the remaining icing and top with remaining chopped pecans.

Store leftovers in the fridge.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I used three 8-inch round cake pans (rather than 9-inch) for a slightly thicker cake layer.
  • I added 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the batter and a pinch of salt to the icing.
  • This cake is amazing day 1, 2, and likely for several more. Keep covered and refrigerated and bring to room temperature if you’re serving leftovers. The oil in the cake keeps it super moist, even in the fridge. The cream cheese in the frosting is why it should be kept refrigerated.
  • This recipe is now in my top 5 best-loved cakes, so you can imagine how yummy it is!

Good luck & enjoy!

 


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Funfetti Layer Cake with Whipped Vanilla Frosting

Funfetti Cake via Sweetapolita

Hooray for funfetti! Do you remember Funfetti cake mix? Was it your favourite cake as a child? As a grown-up? Vanilla cake filled with little bits of rainbow sprinkle goodness is one of those treats that never gets boring–even the word, “funfetti,” is a party waiting to happen. As a blogger, I’m also a bit late to this party, as it seems there were so many fabulous variations of this cake (and so many other types of desserts) floating around the web last year, but since I am a huge fan of this cake, I couldn’t resist sharing it with you today. I made it again over the weekend as a welcome home surprise for my two little cakelets, Reese & Neve. They were away visiting Grant’s mom, “Nanny,’” for a few days, and I knew that they would do backflips to come home to funfetti cake (and to mommy & daddy, of course!).

So, as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as “funfetti layer cake” sounds, looks and tastes, it couldn’t be any simpler to make. Okay, ready? You take your favourite vanilla cake and you add rainbow jimmies (you can also use the confetti quins) into the batter . . . oh, and then you bake it up. See, even if I tried to make it sound complicated, I couldn’t–it’s likely the most rewarding baked good you will ever make, considering it’s the most fun (ever!) and is so easy. Now, that being said, because we’re doing a scratch version of a famed cake-mix cake, I think it tastes the best to start with the whitest, fluffiest scratch cake possible, one that almost mimics a boxed cake.

So what I used this time was a modified version of the Fluffy Vanilla Cake that I posted awhile back. I have done this before using it as it was, which was also great, but this time I made just a few small changes: a bit more cake flour, a bit less sugar and a touch of almond extract (trust me, it doesn’t come out tasting almond-y, but just pure white cake yumminess), were some of the changes I made. For the frosting, I like to pair this cake with a sweeter frosting (likely due to childhood birthday cake memories), so I use my favourite variation, which is whipped and tastes like vanilla ice cream (for some inexplicable reason). Overall, it’s funfetti-tastic.

Funfetti Cake via Sweetapolita

Since this cake was for my little girls only (not a big crowd), I didn’t want to do anything too crazy, tall or complicated, but the possibilities are endless, really. 4-layer? 6-layer? Domed? I bet you can’t go wrong. As for the decorating sprinkles, you can go crazy sprinkle happy with any variation you love. I personally love confetti quins, so I used those for the top (and a sprinkling on top of the center filling frosting layer!), well, that and I used up all of my rainbow jimmies in the batter. I may or may not have made an earlier double batch of this batter over the weekend, in which I forgot to add the, um, sugar! So, my stash of rainbow jimmies was drastically depleted before I made this batch. Boo! But honestly, you can add any or every sprinkle you own as the final decoration for your cake, and I bet it would look amazing–sprinkles never disappoint.

Funfetti Cake via Sweetapolita

And, trust me, the funfetti doesn’t stop here. Check out these previous sprinkle treats from some of my baking friends around the web:

Naomi’s Funfetti Cheesecake Pops

Amanda’s Mini Funfetti Cupcakes

Heather’s Sprinkle Cake

Jessica’s Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes

Caroline’s Chocolate Covered Funfetti Cake Balls

Katrina’s Cake Batter Ice Cream Bread

Shelly’s Double Glazed Funfetti Donuts

Funfetti Layer Cake with Whipped Vanilla Frosting

Yield: One 2-layer, 8-inch round cake

Moist, fluffy vanilla confetti cake filled and topped with a sweet and creamy vanilla frosting and sprinkles.

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites (175 g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) almond extract
  • 2-3/4 cups (315 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1-1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (19.5 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 12 tablespoons (170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup Rainbow Jimmies (or a few generous handfuls)
  • For the Frosting:
  • 3 sticks + 2 tablespoons (375 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 3.5 cups (400 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • rainbow jimmies, quins or other any other sprinkles for decorating

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease, line with parchment, butter and flour two round 8-inch pans.
  2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the eggs, 1/4 cup of milk, vanilla and the almond extract. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter and blend on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 3/4 cup of milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1-1/2 minutes.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium for 20 seconds after each addition. Gently stir in the rainbow jimmies, until just combined.
  6. Divide the batter in two, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh the batter in the pans to ensure 2 even layers.
  7. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Be so careful to not over-bake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals.
  8. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
  9. For the Frosting:
  10. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  11. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy.
  12. Best used right away (for ideal spreading consistency).
  13. Assembly of the Funfetti Cake
  14. Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of a cake plate or 8-inch round thin cake board, and place the bottom cake layer on top.
  15. Place 1 cup of frosting on top of the cake layer, and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife. Sprinkle a handful of sprinkles (jimmies, quins--anything!) on top of the frosting (optional).
  16. Gently place 2nd cake layer face-down on top. Place a generous scoop of frosting on top, spreading evenly with a small offset palette knife and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. Chill until set, about 30 minutes.
  17. Remove from refrigerator and cover cake with a final layer of frosting. Sprinkle until your heart's content!

Notes

Wrap baked cake layers tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best eaten the same day as baked.

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[cake layers adapted from Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • If you do not have access to cake flour, you can quickly and easily make your own to substitute. Learn how in this previous post, Bring Me Flours.
  • This unconventional method of blending the butter with the sugar and dry ingredients first is called the “reverse creaming method,” and was pioneered by cake guru, Rose Levy Beranbaum.
  • As with any vanilla cake, you can use 100% liquid egg whites in the cake layers (simply weigh them on your kitchen scale), which saves wasting the yolks.
  • For the funfetti sprinkles inside the cake, you can experiment, but I recommend the Rainbow Jimmies or the Confetti Quins that you see on top of my cake.
  • For a 4-layer Funfetti Cake, you could simply slice each of your two cake layers in 2, or for a 3-layer cake, simply divide the batter among 3 round 8″ cake pans (the layers will be shorter, but you will have 3!).
  • The cake base for this Funfetti version is a slightly adapted version of the Fluffy Vanilla Cake, so for the ultimate vanilla cake, you can simply omit the sprinkles in the cake layers.
  • This batter makes fabulous cupcakes.
  • The frosting tastes like vanilla ice cream–you’ll see!
  • You may enjoy reading my previous post, 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes.

Good luck & enjoy!


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Vegan Love: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Rich Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Have you ever tried a vegan cupcake? True, I don’t typically practice Veganism (abstaining from the use of animal products) in my day to day life, but I am a baker who loves nothing more than trying new things. And since there are many who do choose this lifestyle, I love having vegan options in my baking repertoire. As you may guess though, making a rich and lovely cupcake with no eggs, butter, or milk is a bit of a challenge, or at least you would likely expect it to be. The truth is, had I not been the one who made these cupcakes, I would honestly never guess that they were dairy and egg free, because they are perfectly decadent. You know me–it has to be super yummy for me to share it with you!

The seemingly random need to share a vegan recipe with came from a vegan chocolate cake recipe I found in an inspiring new baking book I have, called Tea with Bea: Recipes from Bea’s of Bloomsbury. Now this book isn’t a vegan baking book, but rather a gorgeous collection of cakes and other baked goods from Bea’s of Bloomsbury in the UK (think vanilla coconut cake with lemon curd & cheesecake filling, gingerbread Guinness cake with poached pears & cream cheese icing and more). Among of all the delightful recipes in this book, I noticed that Bea explains that the vegan chocolate cake is so good that many customers don’t even realize it’s vegan. How could I possibly resist?

I thought I would make this recipe in cupcake form and try out a vegan chocolate frosting recipe. For the cake, Bea was right–you would honestly never know it’s vegan, and with ingredients like sunflower oil, red wine vinegar, and soy milk, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I stuck with a high quality, extra dark cocoa powder, because I knew that regardless of everything else in it, I wanted the intense and pleasing chocolate taste to be dominant. Both taste and texture went way beyond my expectations, truly (particularly the cake texture–so incredibly moist). As for vegan chocolate frosting, well I knew this was going to be interesting since butter is the base for most cupcake frostings I love, and I knew I wanted this frosting to deliver some serious chocolaty richness.

So . . . let’s keep an open mind when I tell you that it’s made with dark chocolate, icing sugar, vanilla, almond milk and…Vegan, non-hydrogenated, omega-3 margarine (gasp!). It’s made by Becel, has no Trans fats, and is primarily made of canola & sunflower oils, but also has vitamin E, vitamin A, beta carotene and more. I know, trust me, I know–the thought of margarine can turn us off, but honestly, margarine has come a long, long way since we may have last checked in. I’m not a margarine expert, but I was very comfortable whipping this into a dark chocolate frosting and, most importantly, indulging in it. Guys it tasted pretty darn fabulous (by now you know I would never steer you wrong, right?).

Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

The cupcakes don’t need sprinkles, because they really are that good, but if you’re like me and you can’t resist the urge to sprinkle your cupcakes, just keep in mind that, if you need the cupcakes to be completely vegan most sprinkles, quins and dragees aren’t vegan. You can find a few brands out there that are indeed vegan, such as some India Tree products, or I used some real dark chocolate sprinkles from De Ruijter, because they were as close to vegan I had (no animal ingredients in the list, but a mention of possible traces of milk). Since I was just making them for us, I was okay with that, but you would definitely want to triple check if you needed them to be completely vegan. Another option is to use a few berries as decoration, dark chocolates, sugar, or any other small vegan confection you can think of.

Trust me, whether you’re vegan or not, these cupcakes are frickin’ yummy.

Vegan Love: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Rich Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 275 g/2 cups plain/all-purpose flour
  • 100 g/3/4 cup natural cocoa powder (such as Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 450 ml/1-3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 320 g/ 1-2/3 cups caster/superfine sugar
  • 320 ml/1-1/4 cups sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vanilla extract
  • For the Frosting:
  • 1 cup (227 g/8 oz) Vegan, non-hydrogenated margarine
  • 1 cup (125 g/4 oz) icing sugar (confectioners’ or powdered)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 5 oz (145 g) quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) almond or soy milk
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F) Gas 4. Put the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Sift twice.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the soy milk, vinegar, sugar, oil and vanilla extract. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until well combined.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake in the preheated oven for 40-55 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached, and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly instead of sink. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes if necessary.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Slide a table knife all around the edge to loosen the cake, then remove from the pan. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.
  5. For the Frosting:
  6. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and margarine and beat on low speed, about 1 minute.
  7. Add vanilla and beat on low until well combined. Add the melted & cooled chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add almond milk and salt, and beat on medium speed for another minute.
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[vegan chocolate cake recipe shared with permission, from the book Tea With Bea]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • The Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe from the book (Tea with Bea) is for a 9″ cake, but I decided to make cupcakes–if you opt for cupcakes, baking time is approximately 18-20 minutes (this can vary depending on your oven, but start to check them around 18 minutes). Once removed from oven, carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan to cool on a wire rack.
  • You can divide the cake recipe in 1/2 for 12 cupcakes.
  • If you do bake the cake in a round pan, rather than cupcakes, you could split the batter into two 9″ round pans, rather than baking one taller 9″ layer that would later need to be split.
  • If you don’t have superfine sugar, you can simply put your granulated sugar through the food processor for a few pulses.
  • I always use Nielsen-Massey Vanilla for my baking. For this recipe I also used Callebaut Dark Callets 70.4 % )
  • If frosting is too thick, add more almond or soy milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached; if too runny, add a small amount of icing sugar until desired consistency is reached. Frosting thickens as it sets.
  • Store frosted cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days (just ate one on day 3, and it rocked).
  • Be careful with sprinkles–only specific brands are vegan (if you are making these for someone who is vegan, you will need to watch for common sprinkle ingredients such as gelatine, milk, egg whites, etc)
  • These cupcakes & frosting are also perfect for anyone who chooses to eat lactose-free.
  • For even more fabulous vegan cupcake ideas, check out Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule (thanks, Amy for reminding me about this book in your post comment)

Good luck & enjoy!

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Bakery-Style Vanilla Cupcakes

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Happy National Vanilla Cupcake Day! I’m sorry that I’m sending you these wishes at the end of the day, but I couldn’t go without celebrating this holiday with you, but as usual, this is a late-night write. With such a holiday to celebrate, how could I possibly wake up and not bake a batch of classic pink vanilla bakery-style cupcakes? I couldn’t, so I did.

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

So we’ve got company today–a close friend (you may remember I chatted awhile back about how it was because of him my husband and I met) visiting from Grand Cayman, and I thought it would be a great time to celebrate National Vanilla Cupcake Day. I realized that as much as I make vanilla cake with vanilla frosting (of all kinds), that I don’t often make a classic bakery-style vanilla cupcake with sweet frosting and sprinkles. I know, it’s really inexcusable, considering. So this morning I woke up and made a batch of the Magnolia Bakery vanilla cupcakes. If you’re not familiar with the Magnolia Bakery, it’s a charming bakery in New York City that has been celebrated for its from-scratch baked goods, most notably the pink vanilla cupakes and the like. I first learned of the bakery while watching Sex in the City, but I’m sad to report that I’ve never actually set foot inside the bakery or tried any of their treats.

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

As you may believe, I love cupcakes, and I have made many, but I hadn’t ever baked or tried their version, so today seemed like a good time to give that a whirl. The cupcake portion of their recipe is a very classic butter cake technique and you won’t find anything too unexpected in the ingredient list, but the result is pleasingly vanilla and perfectly classic. After much blog discussion about vanilla cake, following the Fluffy White Vanilla Cake post (a post about my epic journey to discover a pure white, fluffy, cake-mix-like scratch cake), I have received dozens of emails asking me if that batter would be suitable for the ultimate cupcake. Truthfully, I find that batter amazing and ideal for fluffy cake layers, but with only egg whites, I find it doesn’t make the ideal cupcakes. That’s just for my taste, though, but I love a sweet, sturdy and “eggy” cupcake (sorry if that sounds odd, but it’s the only way I can describe that taste). This recipe calls for, among other things, 4 whole eggs, a generous amount of white sugar and a combination of self-rising and all-purpose (plain) flour, which to me is a great combination for the classic cupcake.

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

If you read my previous post about my Ruffles & Roses tea party, you may remember the Fairy Cakes. For those I used another vanilla cupcake recipe from another popular New York City bakery, Billy’s Bakery, that has a very similar ingredient list, but uses a combination of cake flour and self-rising flour. That recipe, however, uses the reverse creaming method, just as my Fluffy Vanilla Cake does, and the result is very similar to the Magnolia Bakery version. To me, they are both wonderful and consistent options for the perfect vanilla cupcake and I think the biggest difference is the “cake flour” taste–some love it, and some prefer a less distinct flavour that all-purpose flour seems to lend.

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

For the frosting, I opted to sort of combine my favourite whipped vanilla frosting with the sugary-sweet Magnolia buttercream, by increasing the icing sugar, but keeping it a bit less than what they call for. I have to admit that making these pink sprinkled vanilla cupcakes, made me happier than even I could have guessed.

If you’d like to keep up with the seemingly endless ‘National Dessert Days,” just for fun, my friends over at Best Friends for Frosting have a fabulous post including the Complete Directory List of National Dessert Days, and, trust me, I refer to it often!

Speaking of pink sprinkles, I’m not sure my life will be complete if I don’t soon order this. Why do sprinkles make us so silly happy?

Ah, yes, sprinkles. I have too much to say about them. No, really, I do, but, oh friends, it’s the middle of the night here in my world, and I think I must go to sleep! I don’t say that often, but tonight, I must. I will be back very soon to talk about all sorts of life-altering topics: flour, buttercream, frosting cakes, chocolate, pink . . . zzzz.

Off I go to dream about cakes and rainbows. Or more sleep.

Bakery-Style Vanilla Cupcakes

Yield: 24 standard cupcakes, or two 9-inch round cakes

Ingredients

    For the cupcakes:
  • 1-1/2 cups (190 g) self-rising flour
  • 1-1/4 cups (160 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks)(227 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400 g) white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (237 ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla
  • For the frosting:
  • 3 sticks (345 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 5 cups (625 g) confectioners’ sugar (icing, powdered)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners of your choice (24 total).
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flours and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
  5. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners and bake in middle of oven until tops turn golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out just clean (a few crumbs is okay), about 18 minutes.
  6. Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
  7. For the frosting:
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 5 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  9. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 5 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.
  10. Add touch of gel food colour, if desired and mix until blended.
  11. Best used right away.

Notes

[cupcake recipe adapted from Magnolia Bakery]

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

1. To keep frosting smooth and creamy (and not filled with air-bubbles), work it often in the bowl with a rubber spatula, in a pressing & smearing movement to remove air bubbles.

2. To decorate these cupcakes, I used a few drops of Americolor Electric Pink Soft Gel Paste to achieve the “bakery-pink” colour. I then piped a generous swirl of frosting onto each cupcake using a plain round decorating tip inserted in a piping bag, followed by pressing the bottom flat side of a small offset spatula into the centre of the frosting swirl, working in a gentle circular motion, to create an indent and swirl onto the cupcake.

3. I try to avoid keeping cupcakes in an airtight container, as that seems to cause some of the liners to separate from the cupcakes. Cake boxes with the flaps closed seems to work well.

Good luck & enjoy!

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