Chocolate Birthday Cake {Video Tutorials}

Chocolate Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

Well hi! It’s been a bit since my last post, maybe the longest ever, but you know I’m always nearby and knee-deep in frosting and cake. I had so much fun making my the Pastel Swirl Cake video tutorial that I wanted to make yet another this week. So it turns out that I’m in a crazy-for-chocolate mood lately, and I made this 3-layer chocolate birthday cake to celebrate (party for 1?).

Chocolate Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

Since the most requested tutorial has been “how to frost a cake,” that’s the theme of the first video in this post. The second video, a part deux of sorts,  is where I share how I pipe birthday cake borders and, of course, finish with some sprinkles. You might remember this style of cake decoration from the recent How to Make a (Perfectly Delightful) Vanilla Birthday Cake post, as I used the identical technique and pastry tips for that one (you’ll also notice that it looks a smidge better when the frosting isn’t so light–oops!).

Chocolate Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

The cake itself is a 3-layer chocolate cake brushed with a dark rum syrup and filled and frosted with a simple chocolate buttercream that is super light and fluffy–my favourite for indulging. I actually made it a tad too fluffy for piping perfect borders, but hopefully you will still get the idea!

Remember these? This birthday cake is the cake version of these Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting, minus the Nutella (gasp!) and plus the rum syrup. Oh yes, I’d say that’s a reasonable trade, no? Oh, and I promise you won’t taste rum, but rather heightened chocolate glory.

Like I said, party for 1 . . .

Hey, do you want to hear something kind of strange and magical? While I was watching the videos, listening to myself explain the life-altering topic of frosting and piping borders onto a cake, and watching the turntable spin all the while, something occurred to me. Something that gave me butterflies and actually startled me, in a mystical way that is. In 2004, and several years before I immersed myself into the world of cake, I went to a psychic (I’ve always loved that kind of thing). I can recall, clear as can be, her asking me if I make pottery. Pottery? Hmm, no, I’ve never . . . potted? She continued, revealing with conviction that she sees me in years to come frequently working with a turntable, creating art with great passion and eventually teaching and sharing with others. She was so sure of it. I was perplexed, and a little dismayed, since I knew that I had no connection with pottery . . .

Turntable? Creating with passion? Teaching and sharing with others? Could it be?

Chills.

So here are the two videos–again, I’m not a cinematographer, but I sincerely hope they help in some way!

First, How to Frost a Cake: 

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And How to Pipe Frosting Borders:

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • To make the chocolate cake layers I made 3-times the batch of this cupcake batter (1 batch makes one 8-inch round layer) and 1.5 times the batch of the frosting, minus the Nutella (that recipe will yield a good consistency for piping–I added extra milk and whipped it into a frenzy, which is why it tasted incredible but was a bit too soft for piping).
  • Every oven varies, but I baked the cake layers at 350°F until a toothpick comes barely clean, about 22 minutes.
  • With any confectioners’ sugar frosting, you can always thicken it up by adding extra confectioners’ sugar (sifted is best) afterwards, until you achieve the desired consistency. Alternatively, you can always soften it up by adding small increments of milk or even a bit of water.
  • I made a dark rum syrup to brush over cake layers with a pastry brush before filling. To make: Bring 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons of dark rum and voila!
  • As I mention in the videos, I used Pastry Tip -#1M for the bottom border, and Pastry Tip #1E  for the over-sized top border. I used the Small Offset Spatula for the top of the cake, a Medium Straight Blade Spatula and a Bench Scraper while frosting and decorating the cake. I topped the cake with Pastel Confetti Sprinkles/Quins.
Good luck & enjoy!



Related posts:

How to Make a (Perfectly Delightful) Vanilla Birthday Cake

Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Cake via Sweetapolita

As you may have guessed, I love birthdays. Not just mine, but pretty much any birthday I can be part of. I especially love those celebrated by my family and friends, and now that we’re into spring nearing summer, it’s a birthday extravaganza. Between my husband, myself, my kids, my dad, and more, it seems there’s a birthday every week (and one wedding anniversary in 3 days!), and that’s one way to guarantee there will be no shortage of birthday cake (in case you’re concerned about my lack of cake). The kick off was on April 25th, when our little (but not so little) Reese turned 5. You might remember this colourful post from last year, when she turned 4–I feel as though I just made that cake, and yet it was a year ago. As a mom, that both amazes and saddens me, but of course it’s always a super happy occasion, and making cake for my girls is one most fulfilling things possible.

Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Cake via Sweetapolita

This year we threw her a Baking Party, which was something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I saw this party. I made her a cake just like this pink party cake–it was the perfect balance of girly, fancy, and delicious (and shh, don’t tell the girls, but this is one of the easiest and quickest cakes to make). The party itself was, as you can imagine, so much fun and complete chaos! The girls wore handmade chef’s hats (complete with pink satin lining–thank you Auntie Mary!), adorned with cupcake liner flowers (which the girls made when they arrived) and their names added by them in colourful letter stickers.

Wearing their favourite aprons, we whipped up chocolate sprinkled party spoons, decorated cupcakes, made strawberry jam and more. They each took home a pink-twine wrapped bakery box filled with their own creations as well as a “slice” of this goodie box cake filled with loot bag treats, designed by the talented Linnette of PaperGlitter, and printed and assembled by our friend, Danielle. Planning, preparing for and playing at this party made my inner 5-year old super-duper happy.

I was determined to engage, partake and enjoy every minute first hand this year, which I was able to do, but I wasn’t able to take photos as well, which does break my heart a bit. Looking back I would have designated someone to take photos or even hire a photographer, because there were just too many adorable, hilarious, messy, crazy moments. Most importantly, though, is that the we made the memories and nothing can take that away.

Perfectly Delightful Cake via Sweetapolita

The recipe itself for this cake is really just a very slightly adapted version of some of the other vanilla cakes I’ve posted (like this and this) but enough for 4 layers, paired with one of my best-loved sweeter frosting: a quick and easy (but super creamy and delightful) Whipped Vanilla Frosting that, as a result of whipping the butter and the blended frosting, tastes like creamy ice cream, and there is no sugary residue or chalky texture as with some sweet frosting. With an all-butter base and the addition of pure vanilla (and often vanilla bean), there’s an authenticity to it, even with all of that icing sugar. It also has a glide factor that makes it wonderful when applying it to the cake. I use this recipe anytime I need a fast fix or when baking for those attached to bakery frosting memories from childhood (although, isn’t that all of us?).

The reason I’ve put it together again for this post (aside from the slight adaptations of the cake), is because I’ve never posted it for a full 4-layer version of the cake, which is a simple way to make the cake party-worthy, along with some , again, quick and easy decorating I do when I can’t spend oodles of time on a cake. Truth is, sometimes even if I have the time, I still prefer cakes like these, and cakes that trigger all of my childhood memories.

Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Cake via Sweetapolita

If you knew Reese, you’d know that, like most 5-year-old little girls, she’s devoted to pink. And cake. And anything involving tutus and twirls, so the simple addition of a few retro ballerinas and sprinkles really fancies it up. In the past, I’ve done cakes for the girls that have taken me a week to do, but honestly, not only could I simply not make that happen this time with all of the party prep, but it wasn’t necessary. You know I love that kind of thing, so it’s not to say I won’t make more of those for her down the road, but this cake was enough to make all the girls giddy (even the moms!).

Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Cake via Sweetapolita

The best part about this kind of moist, buttery white cake is that it pairs nicely with this type of sweeter party frosting, as I like to call it, as well my all-time favourite, Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I took the super-simple approach of filling and frosting the cake with the same thing, but I’ve also filled this cake with strawberries and whipped cream, lemon curd, homemade jam, and more.  Just remember that for best results with these cake layers, you really need to weigh your ingredients. It really is the only way to guarantee cake success with this recipe–I promise!

And before I go, I thought it would be fun to share a short home video of Reese when she was 2 years old (I don’t normally share home videos, but just for fun!) This was at a little family dinner at my dad’s for her 2nd birthday (notice one of the early fondant cakes I made–apparently I thought we were serving a few million), and although it’s just your standard Happy Birthday song video, I love the look of wonder in her eyes and the fact that she was almost going to bust of excitement–it’s kind of what this whole baking thing is all about.

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And, if you have 3 minutes and 24 seconds to fill, you can watch my all-time favourite video of Reese here. It has nothing to do with cake or birthdays, but funny as can be.

These videos may make me cry, but I hope they make you smile. ♥

Sweetapolita

Beautiful baker birthday girl, Reese.

Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Birthday Cake

Yield: One 4-layer, 8-inch round cake

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cup (360 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 7 large egg whites (210 g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) almond extract
  • 3-3/4 cups (430 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 2-1/4 cups (450 g) sugar
  • 1-3/4 tablespoons (25 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (8 g)
  • 1-1/2 sticks (170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) vegetable shortening
  • For the Whipped Vanilla Frosting:
  • 2-1/2 cups (5 sticks)(575 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 5-1/4 cups (600 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 4-1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) milk
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons (23 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch or two of salt
  • few drops pink gel colour
  • pastel sugar pearls (I used 4mm), or any other sprinkles for decorating

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment and flour two round 8-inch pans (you will be using each one twice), or four 8-inch pans (if you're lucky enough to have four on hand). I use Parchment Paper Circles for ease.
  2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir 1/2 cup of the milk, stir the egg whites, whole egg, vanilla and the almond extract. Set aside.
  3. Sift cake flour twice. 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 shortening, blending on low-speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 1 cup of milk, and mix on low-speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 -1/2 minutes (90 seconds), but no more.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk/extract mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
  6. Pour 1/4 of your batter (~2 cups)(445 grams) into each prepared pan (if you have 2 pans, you will bake 2 layers first followed by the remaining 2), spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If possible, weigh the batter in the pans to ensure 2 even layers.
  7. Bake cake layers two-at-a-time in center of oven and 2" apart for 20 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. 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.
  8. Wash the 2 cake pans and line, grease and flour again and repeat.
  9. Wrap 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 enjoyed day 1 or 2.
  10. For the Whipped Vanilla Frosting:
  11. 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.
  12. Add 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. If you want all of your frosting (for filling and frosting cake) pink, then add a drop of pink gel colour and mix again, adding one drop at a time until desired pink shade is achieved (see notes). If you want just the outside of the cake pink, you will fill the cake layers first, and then colour the remaining frosting pink.
  13. Best used right away (for ideal spreading consistency), but keeps well once frosted.
  14. Assembly of the Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Birthday Cake
  15. Trim any doming or top crust from cake layers using a very sharp serrated knife.
  16. Use a cake turntable for filling, frosting and decorating, if a possible. Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of a cake plate or 8″ round thin foil-covered cake board, and place the bottom cake layer on top, face-up.
  17. Place ~1 cup of frosting on top of the cake layer, and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife. Gently place 2nd cake layer, face up, on top. Repeat until you come to your 4th layer, which you will place face down.
  18. Put 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.
  19. Remove from refrigerator and apply another "coat" of frosting.
  20. For the top of the cake border, place a large star decorating tip (I used 1E) in a large Decorating Bag filled no more than 1/2 full with pink frosting.
  21. Hold pastry bag in one hand (your dominant hand) and slowly rotate the turntable with the other. Holding frosting-filled bag at a directly above the top of the cake (90° angle), squeeze a small bit of frosting and turn the table a bit at the same time, releasing pressure slowly then stop (this will create a tapered decoration). Repeat all the way around the cake, overlapping slightly each time you pipe a new "shell."
  22. For bottom border, you will want to have the cake on the plate or pedestal which you plan to serve it upon. Fill another pastry bag the same way, and this time use tip 1M. You will pipe at about a 45° angle this time (give or take). Sprinkle with your favourite sugar pearls or sprinkles atop the top border. For some kitschy charm, add a few Vintage Ballerina Cupcake Toppers to your cake!
  23. Store, covered in a cake dome, at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in refrigerator for up to 5 days. Best enjoyed day 1 or 2 at room temperature.

Notes

[cake layer recipe adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum]

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • If you do not have access to cake flour, you can quickly and easily make your own to cake flour substitute. Learn how in this previous post, Bring Me Flours. Substitutions with other flour types will result in a drastically different cake.
  • This cake batter 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. If using whole eggs and separating, always separate when eggs are cold, but use when room temperature.
  • Baking the cake layers in 4 pans, rather than 2 and then splitting the layers afterwards, yields an evenly baked cake that bakes faster and without overdone edges.
  • I highly recommend (strongly urge!) you to use a digital kitchen scale to measure ingredients.
  • This batter makes fabulous cupcakes.
  • The frosting tastes like vanilla ice cream–you’ll see!
  • Some pink food gel colours cause streaking. I find that, for me, Americolor Electric Pink does not cause streaking (but it’s an intense pink, so go easy!). After several hours there are some teeny darker pin-sized dots, but the cake in the photos is after several days, to give you a better idea. Also note that pink colour fades, particularly in the sun. You still want to go easy with the colour, but just keep it in mind.
  • You may enjoy reading my previous post, 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes.

Good luck & enjoy!



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Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting

Cupcakes galore! I think it’s safe to say that this layer-cake bakin’ girl has never before made so many cupcakes or used so many sprinkles in such a short span of time. Actually, maybe it’s not so much that I haven’t made so many in such a short time, but that I’ve never blogged about so many. The thing is that so often when I bake, I then eat, share, deliver…all with no time left to photograph or write about the recipes. This was going to be one of those times, but then after sharing a few Instagram shots of the cupcakes and receiving a flurry of requests to share what these cupcakes were all about, I thought I’d switch things up and do an all-iPhone shot post and go ahead and share!

So, a close friend of mine, Janin, was celebrating her birthday this past weekend, and we had a super-fun girls’ night on Friday night at her house (Birthday Cake Shooters, anyone?). Since she’s a relatively new friend (I just discovered how incredible it is finding such true friends at this stage in life.), I hadn’t yet met several of her hometown friends who were coming in to celebrate, so when trying to decide what birthday treats to make for the occasion, I figured if there’s anything that speaks to a gaggle of girls, it’s chocolate and sprinkles–lots of chocolate and sprinkles. You know, one thing I’ve learned over the past few years, is that sometimes keeping things classic and decadent can be as much of a crowd-pleaser as super-fancy, fondant-covered treats. You probably know by now that I am passionate about those as well, but I just feel that it totally depends on the situation. I used to feel that I had to go crazy decorating for days in order for birthday desserts to have wow-factor, but I’ve since discovered that’s not true.

So I made two types of cupcakes, the first was Janin’s all-time favourite, banana cake with chocolate frosting (I ended up making that frosting a la Nutella), and the second was classic dark chocolate cupcakes with the same chocolate frosting, sans Nutella (an amazing option for the non-Nutella fan). When one of the girls took a bite and said, “Whoa, the frosting is like a chocolate cloud!” I knew I had to put that down on paper. Chocolate clouds? What my dreams are made of. The truth is, it really does have a billowy cloud-like texture, and as a girl very concerned about texture, particularly frosting texture (not to mention enticing baked good names), “chocolate cloud” spoke to my very core. Add the rich, satiny awesomeness that is Nutella to the mix, and I’m blogging an otherwise unblogged delight.

The cupcakes themselves are a classic, one-bowl dark chocolate cupcake recipe that never disappoints. It’s only slightly different than this recipe, but I love it (love them both–I just have a thing for experimenting). The frosting is a modified version of this previous frosting I posted, but the Nutella gives it this incredible taste and adds to the already creamy texture. Even if you don’t like Nutella, you can simply omit it for a classic chocolate cloud frosting.

Such a classic birthday treat! Did I mention how well they pair with Chocolate Whipped Cake Martinis & Chocolate Banana Cake Martinis?

Oh yes, they do. Just sayin’.

Here’s the recipe:

*Product notes: The Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark (my favourite) cocoa powder is what makes this chocolate cupcake recipe so incredible.

Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting

Yield: 12 standard cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 3/4 cup (95 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) white sugar
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) dark cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.5 g) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.5 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.5 g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) brewed coffee or espresso, hot
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Nutella Cloud Frosting:
  • 1 cup (227 g)(2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but cool
  • 1-1/2 cups (190 g) icing sugar (confectioners’), sifted
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (125 g) premium bittersweet chocolate, chopped, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/3 cup (100 g) Nutella
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) milk
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and line a muffin/cupcake pan with your favourite cupcake liners.
  2. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla.
  4. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splashguard that comes with mixer), Divide batter among (2/3 full or just less) liners. Batter will be liquidy, and cupcakes will rise.
  5. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs. Try not to over-bake. Carefully remove cupcakes from the pan immediately (it's hot!), and place them on a wire rack until completely cool.
  6. For the Nutella Cloud Frosting:
  7. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and butter and beat on low speed (I use #2 on my KitchenAid mixer) for about 1 minute.
  8. Add vanilla, and beat on low speed until well combined. Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate and beat on medium speed (I use #4 on my KitchenAid mixer) until smooth, about 2 minutes).
  9. Add the Nutella, milk and pinch of salt, and beat on med-high speed for another minute.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes on the Cupcakes:

  • For evenly-sized cupcakes, I always use a 50mm cookie scoop (it’s a bit trickier with this runnier batter, but it’s worth it).
  • You can substitute the Cacao Barry Extra Brute cocoa powder, but be sure to use a quality cocoa powder (Dutch-processed).
  • To see the baking ingredients, equipment and tools that I used for this recipe, check out my shop.
  • Even if you dislike coffee with a passion, please trust me–it simply enhances the rich chocolate flavour!
  • For tips for baking better cakes, check out this previous post.
  • This recipe is easily doubled or tripled.
  • Unlike vanilla cupcakes, these stay incredibly moist for several days, so I often bake them a day before I need them (unfrosted) and frost on the day I am serving them, but you can also frost them and keep them in an airtight container for up to 3 days, for convenience (if they last that long!).

Sweetapolita’s Notes on the Nutella Cloud Frosting:

  • For the purest at heart, you can make your own Nutella by following Stella’s Homemade Nutella recipe.
  • You can omit the Nutella and you have an incredible “classic chocolate cloud frosting.”
  • It’s ideal to make this frosting right before you need it, because you’ll find it’s an ideal consistency for piping and decorating, but once it’s on the cake or cupcakes, it stays perfectly smooth and fluffy for up to 3 days.
  • You can add small increments of more milk, if too thick, and blend until smooth.
  • If you find the frosting starts to get air bubbles while sitting (during the decorating process), use a rubber spatula to knock the air out of it, by stirring it with a back and forth paddling motion.
  • To frost the cupcakes in the photo, I inserted a large, plain round icing tip into an 18″ pastry bag and filled it with the frosting. I piped a large swirl starting from the outside of the cupcake, and, moving in a slow circular motion, worked my way to the center, and gently pulling the bag up and away from the cupcake. Then, using the underside of a small spoon (I used a baby spoon), I put slight pressure on the very top of the swirl and pull the spoon up and away. This creates a well for the sprinkles and gives the cupcake a classic but not-so-perfect look. Top with confetti quins or sprinkles for a fun birthday finish!

Good luck & enjoy!


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Super-Duper Vanilla {or Funfetti} Cupcakes

Funfetti Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

I know it may seem as though lately all I bake with and talk about is white cake & sprinkles, but I promise there are so many delightful-yet-unsprinkled baked goods coming your way in the next while. See, I’m certain this current sprinkle obsession of mine is just a phase–you know, much like my 1990′s obsession with Bret Michaels. I mean, come on . . . really. What was I thinking?

No, wait, you’re right–that was no phase. And neither is my love for sprinkles: I’m devoted.

But, that doesn’t mean that I want *ahem* “white cake & sprinkles” every day. However, I was crazy about them all week. And last week. And a flurry of times before that, but honestly, I do bake sans sprinkles from time to time. We also happen to have had several birthday celebrations going on this past week, so it just seemed like a pretty good idea. But actually this post isn’t about sprinkles. It’s about vanilla cupcakes–classic, white, fluffy, vanilla cupcakes. Sure, you can funfetti them by adding sprinkles, which is never a bad idea, but the best part about these is the actual vanilla cupcake.  I usually even skip the frosting when I make these for myself, and eat them all one single cupcake warm out of the oven, in all its glory. There’s just nothing like an amazing vanilla cupcake.

Funfetti Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

So what makes these cupcakes the “super-duper” vanilla cupcakes? Well, I think it’s really just a matter of personal preference, so for me it’s what makes it my ultimate vanilla cupcake: it’s fluffy, moist, truly vanilla (love those vanilla bean flecks!), all with only a hint of that “egginess.” You know the one? So what these cupcakes are is really a modification from the recent Funfetti Layer Cake and Fluffy Vanilla Cake posts, to make them a little more ideal for cupcakes. Although, both of those recipes make really good cupcakes, I love a vanilla cupcake made with whole eggs, so this includes mostly whites (makes it nice and white & fluffy) but with 1 whole egg as well. I also used 1/2 butter and 1/2 shortening (gasp!), which I don’t often do, but I really love it in these.

Lastly, a few weeks ago I made some vanilla sugar (this could not be any easier, guys), which is essentially just adding a fresh vanilla bean and its seeds into regular white sugar for about a week or so (at least) and then using it in place of plain sugar. I figured that would indeed make these my ultimate cupcakes. I’m actually kind of hooked on vanilla sugar now–I love it in coffee, tea, cappuccino, sugar cookies–you name it. So, yes, I may have a new vanilla sugar addiction, but I certainly do not have a sprinkle addiction.

I mean, really? A sprinkle addiction? Completely absurd. Sure, I buy a few now and again, but it’s not like I buy them in bulk.

Nope, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

So when I sit and do the math, we actually made 80+ Super-Duper Vanilla Cupcakes in the past week or so. The girls helped me bake them and decorate them–some classic vanilla and some funfetti, but all super moist, super yummy and super vanilla. Good thing I have such hard-working cakelets.

Actually no, wait–the frosting is completely necessary: it’s clearly the much-needed glue to hold a generous medley of sprinkles.

Grab a pretty box and some twine or ribbon, and you’ve got yourself a heartfelt, handmade box of happiness to share with someone awesome.

And since I’m a big fan of handmade gifting, I believe it’s always a great idea to Say it with {Cup} Cake!

Speaking of cupcakes, brace yourself for this recent post from Melissa at Best Friend’s for Frosting: 28 Popular Dessert Bloggers Share Their All-Time Favorite Cupcake Recipe. Whoa!

And, in other news, here’s what’s been up with me this past week (aside from making 80+ Super-Duper Vanilla Cupcakes and not buying copious amounts of sprinkles):

  • My very close baker & blogger pal, Shauna Sever, celebrated the official release of her first book, Marshmallow Madness! just a few days ago. Simply put, this book rocks. Oh, but so does Shauna.
  • As I write this post, I have cupcakes galore happening in the oven, to celebrate a new and amazing friend’s birthday this weekend. Then I somehow came across this. Then I remembered that I received these for Christmas. Oh boy.
  • A local blogging pal, Christina, is also celebrating the launch of her book this week, Scientifically Sweet. This book looks incredible! I’ve always loved her scientific approach, and she makes the most delectable desserts.
  • This Sunday, March 4th, I will be chatting to a group from the Canadian Society of Sugar Artistry, in Toronto, Ontario, about some tips & tricks for taking better cake photos. Check out the link if you’d like to learn more! *You don’t need to be a member to attend.
  • After receiving oodles of emails inquiring about what “stuff” I use in my baking and caking endeavours, I’ve added a new Sweetapolita Shop, powered by Amazon, to the site, and have included my favourite ingredients, tools, books, photo equipment and more. It’s a work in progress, so I will be adding new things regularly.
  • I continued to embrace my Instagram dependency by snapping many random photos. If you’re not already Instagram-ing, I highly recommend it! Remember this post?

Happy March!

Super-Duper Vanilla {or Funfetti} Cupcakes

Yield: 24 standard size cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 1 cup whole milk (237 ml), at room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites (120 g), at room temperature
  • 1 egg, whole, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) almond extract
  • 3 cups (350 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1-1/2 cups vanilla sugar (300 g)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder (19.5 g)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (5 g)
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, softened but cool, and cut into cubes
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) vegetable shortening (I used Crisco)
  • 1/2 cup Rainbow Jimmies or Confetti Quins
  • 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
  • a medley of sprinkles for decorating

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 egg whites, whole egg, 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 vanilla sugar, together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter and shortening, 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 speed for 20 seconds after each addition. If you're making Funfetti cupcakes, simply fold in the rainbow jimmies or confetti quins, until just combined.
  6. Divide the batter into your prepared pans (I always use a 50 mm cookie scoop for perfectly even cupcakes), no more than 2/3 full. Bake until a toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center of the cupcake, about 16-18 minutes. Be so careful to not over-bake.
  7. 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 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.
  10. Add 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.
  11. Best used right away (for ideal spreading consistency). 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.
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Vanilla Sugar

This vanilla sugar is lovely for baking, but can be used anytime you would use regular sugar. This recipe makes an extra 1/2 cup of sugar than what's needed for the cupcakes, so you will have some left in your sugar canister for tea, coffee and more.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, whole

Instructions

  1. Place your sugar in a canister or other airtight container. Slice your vanilla bean down the center with a small, sharp knife, and scrape all of the seeds from the inside. Add the seeds to the sugar, bury the bean inside and seal the container.
  2. Sugar will be "vanilla-ized" in 1-2 weeks.
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[vanilla sugar recipe source: Alton Brown]

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.
  • You can replace the vanilla sugar with regular granulated sugar, and add the seeds from 1 vanilla bean to the milk portion of the cupcake batter steps.
  • for a gorgeous pink vanilla sugar & gifting idea, check out this gorgeous Valentine’s Vanilla Sugar Giftable from Maddy at Somewhere Splendid.
  • As with any vanilla cake, you can use 100% liquid egg whites in the batter (simply weigh them on your kitchen scale), which saves wasting the yolks.
  • You can omit the almond extract, but I do promise that it really gives the cake wonderful flavour–the finished cake/cupcakes don’t taste like almond, per se.
  • For the funfetti sprinkles inside the cake, you can experiment, but I recommend the Rainbow Jimmies or Confetti Quins. The cupcakes in this post are made with the confetti quins. The tops of the cupcakes are decorated with a mix of almost every sprinkle I have! I recommend grabbing a handful of each type you like, placing them all in a small bag and shaking them up to create your medley. That way they sprinkle evenly!

Good luck & enjoy!

Related posts:

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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