Pink Éclairs {Winner of the Amy Atlas Sweet Designs Giveaway!}

Happy Wednesday! Here is the winner of the Amy Atlas Sweet Designs: Bake It, Craft It, Style It book giveaway:

#393 Patisserie Paris: “I like a more classic/elegant style for a dessert table!”

Congratulations! (I will be also notifying you by email.)

And thank you to everyone for sharing their favourite dessert table/party themes and party treats!

See you soon with a sweet & summery recipe.

Today is the day! Amy Atlas, sweet table designer and blogger (and so much more) extraordinaire, is celebrating the release of her first book, Sweet Designs: Bake It, Craft It, Style It–and what a book it is. As you know, I love all things sweet and pretty, and this book is jam-packed with some of the loveliest and most wonderfully crafted dessert and party table ideas I’ve ever seen. Amy shares 175 recipes and seemingly countless crafty ideas for readers to whip up impressive (and charming) dessert displays. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this gem, and after reading it almost all in one sitting I am certainly inspired.

I’m excited to say that one lucky reader is going to win a copy of their own, courtesy of Amy!

Pink Eclairs via Sweetapolia

While reading the book, I was immediately drawn to the chapter entitled Pastel Pretty (naturally), which showcases the most appealing array of pastel sweets and baked goods that take center stage on an incredible dessert table inspired by–you guessed it–pastel colours (think pastel cotton candy, pastel sugar cookie rounds, pastel cake bites and more). When I spotted a recipe for “Pink Éclairs,” I was smitten. I love the idea of including authentic French éclairs on a dessert table (or of course making them for any day of the week) and tweaking them just slightly to give them a pretty twist. So I decided to make a batch. With the crispy pastry (classic Pâte à Choux dough, which is much easier than it sounds) filled with vanilla pastry cream and topped with sweet pink glaze, they are every bit as delightful as you would expect “Pink Éclairs” to be.

Pink Eclairs via Sweetapolita

Although you might expect this treat to be a tricky one to make, Amy’s recipe was easy to follow and a great success. I’ve shared the recipe for these delights below, and I know this is only the beginning of my adventures with Sweet Designs.

And for even more celebratory posts in honour of Amy’s new book (and more chances to enter to win your own copy!), be sure to pop by and visit my friends:

Cheryl from Tidy Mom sharing Honey Panna Cotta

Marian from Sweetopia sharing Chocolate Beehive Cupcakes

Jamie from My Baking Addiction sharing Banana Whoopie Pies

Callye from The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle

Darla from Bakingdom sharing Mini Strawberry Trifles

Bridget from Bake at 350 sharing Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles

Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod sharing Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Amanda from I am Baker sharing Chocolate Cupcakes

Here are the details and how to enter this giveaway:

1. Leave a comment and tell me, “What type of party/dessert table theme best suits your personality?” (eg. modern, preppy, vintage, superhero, rainbow, etc.) or “What was the last party treat you made (or enjoyed)?

2. For an extra entry you can tweet: “I want to win a copy of @amyatlas ‘s amazing new book, Sweet Designs, from @Sweetapolita!” Simply come back here and leave a comment telling me you tweeted.

3. Contest ends May 1, 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.

4. One entry per person, please (or two, with tweet). *Your comment may not appear right away.

*Prize courtesy of Amy Atlas. Contest is open to US and Canadian residents only.

And here is the recipe for the Pink Éclairs, as written in the book Sweet Designs: Bake It, Craft It, Style It, by Amy Atlas:

Pink Éclairs

Yield: 12-14 4-inch éclairs

For the Vanilla Pastry Cream

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

5 egg yolks

1 cup whole milk

1 cup half-and-half

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Pâte à Choux

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 large eggs

For the Glaze

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Pink food coloring gel

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add the egg yolks and whisk until combined; set aside.

2. Combine the milk and half-and-half in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until it simmers. Whisk half of the hot milk into the egg mixture. Return egg-milk mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and two or three large bubbles appear on the surface. Whisk in the vanilla and butter. Pour the mixture into a heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until set, at least 3 hours.

3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine 3/4 cup water, butter, sugar, and salt over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture just comes to a boil. Quickly stir in the flour and continue to stir until the mixture comes together and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to stir for 2 minutes more (a film may form on the bottom of the pan–this is okay).

4. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until the mixture cools slightly and the steam disappears, about 3 minutes.

5. Slowly add the eggs, one at a time, mixing to completely incorporate after each addition. Stop mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle as necessary.

6. Spoon the batter into a pastry bag or resealable plastic bag fitted with a round tip (Wilton Round Tip #1a). Pipe 12 to 14 straight 4-inch lines, spaced 2 inches apart, onto the baking sheet.

7. Bake for 15 minutes, do not open the oven door. At this point, the éclairs will be puffed and golden brown. Reduce the heat to 350°F and bake until éclairs appear dry and are a deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Do not underbake; this may cause the éclairs to collapse. Let cool completely on pan.

8. When éclairs have cooled, use a small skewer to poke a hold in either end of each one. Gently move the skewer around the inside the éclair to clear a space for the cream.

9. Spoon the cooled pastry cream into a pastry bag or resealable plastic bag fitted with a Wilton Round Tip #230. Fill éclairs with pastry cream from both ends, taking care to not overfill.

10. In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar and 1 to 2 tablespoons of water until smooth. Stir in a few drops of pink food coloring until the desired color is achieved. Hold an éclair over the bowl of glaze, spoon the glaze over it, and spread to coat the top. Place the éclairs in individual rectangular treat cups and arrange on a rectangular platter in a single layer. Replenish platter as necessary.

I had so much fun making these decadent and pretty-as-can-be éclairs, and now off I go to bake, craft and style everything else in this incredible book.

Good luck & enjoy!


Related posts:

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!


Related posts:

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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A Little Wee Birthday Cake for a Little Wee Cakelet

Wee Birthday Cakes via Sweetapolita

Happy Wednesday! Well, our littlest cakelet, Neve (aka Lovie) turned 2 last week, and it seems like there’s been cake for days (or months, I suppose). Sure, two years really isn’t that long ago, but I do remember every minute of that day so vividly, as I do with the day our little 4-year-old, Reese, was born. I will say that the day Neve was born, September 7th, 2009, was a breeze compared to my first experience giving birth. But, I’ll most definitely spare you those details! When I realized her second birthday was soon coming, I really wasn’t sure how to approach the cake, or, well, cakes.

See, last year, before I had a blog or made wedding cakes for a living, I spent weeks planning my first dessert table for the big party we threw for her at our house (that was one of my very first blog posts!). Yes, it looks a bit more like a fancy-ish dessert table than a little 1-year-old birthday party, but it just sort of happened that way! I suppose I had a lot of time and boundless creative energy to expend, and it was lovely and worth it, but this year, after a year filled with layer cakes and pink icing, I simply wasn’t sure what to do for her. It turns out when you make cakes every week for a year, it kind of changes your perspective a bit. I knew I wanted to keep it a little more simple and not crazy fancy and fondant-full, so, rather than going grand, I went teeny tiny. Yep, teeny tiny, simple, and sweet. Little wee, in fact.

Sweetapolita

But, before making the Little Wee Birthday Cake here at home, we ended up traveling around on the weekends surrounding her birthday, rather than hosting a big party at our house. We spent Labour Day weekend at the cottage (remember the Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding with Espresso Whipped Cream?), so I brought some layer cakes for our group (Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Strawberry Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache, kind of like this one, as well as a larger Fluffy Vanilla Cake with Pink Whipped Vanilla Frosting), and then brought a smaller version for the 3 kids (our two, plus cousin Lucas). It was a very relaxed and perfectly cottage-lovely time.

Sweetapolita

Then last weekend we spent Sunday having a cozy lunch on the farm (as we did for Reese’s last birthday where we did the Rainbow Doodle Cake) in Prince Edward County, as it was Neve and her Grandpa’s birthday, so I made her a classic chocolate layer cake with pink frosting and sprinkles as well as a Gingersnap Cheesecake for Grandpa (recipe to follow — oh yum!). I have to say I really loved being the traveling birthday party this year; what a refreshing change. I do kind of miss the party planning aspect of it all, so next year I think we’ll go for it again.

And, finally, she had the little wee pink vanilla cake at home. 4-inch, 2 layer Fluffy Vanilla Cake with Pink Whipped Vanilla Frosting. I also made a 5-inch round cake-for-two and dyed it turquoise. I’m loving the small scale cakes, and I think it would be really fun to make the Little Wee Cakes for each kid at a birthday party and then maybe pop an even more wee second tier onto the birthday girl’s cake, for a Two-Tier Little Wee Cake.

Because I’m a mom, because I’ve been reflecting on the past two years with Neve, and because I love photos, excuse me while I indulge in some serious mommy-bragging. I just really wanted to share a (large) handful of some of my favourite photos of our little birthday girl over the past two years:

Sweetapolita

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Sweetapolita

Sweetapolita

Happy Birthday to our little Lovie!

I’ll be back very soon with a Fluffy Vanilla Cake Part II post, for those of you who have had questions about making that cake. I will go into more detail and hopefully even include a few process shots to help troubleshoot any issues you may have encountered. It’s really the lightest, fluffiest, and most delicious vanilla cake I’ve ever made or eaten, and I make it often. Oh, I love it so!

If you’d like to make your own Litte Wee Birthday Cakes, here’s what I did to achieve the classic design I’ve used:

Litte Wee Swag Birthday Cakes

Fluffy Vanilla Cake recipe x 1. For me the yield was two 4-inch round layers and three 5-inch layers, but you can play around with any small cake pans you may have (I have altered this recipe slightly to avoid the chance of too much liquid being added to the batter.). I’ll be blogging more about this after this post, but in the meanwhile, you can see those changes on the original Fluffy Vanilla Cake with Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting post.

I used the same frosting, but omitted the vanilla bean and added an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract, along with some AmeriColor Deep Pink for the litttle cake and Turquoise for the 5″ cake.

*Tip: For an even icing swag, trace a circle onto parchment paper, using the cake pan you used for the cake. Cut out the circle, and fold in half, then again, and then once more. You should have a 8 even pie-shaped wedges in your circle. Place the parchment circle gently on  top of your frosted cake. Use a toothpick or pin to create a small holes in your cake where the edge of the folds are. These holes will mark where your swags will meet.

Using a piping bag fitted with a plain round piping tip (I used #3) and filled with buttercream, pipe your icing swags using your guides.

Pipe a few dots below each join, if desired.

Using an open star tip (I used Wilton #22), finish each join with a small rosette, by piping in one full circular motion, starting in the middle, working outward.

If you’d like to see what cake-baking tools I use on a daily basis, I’ve recently created a list of my favourite baking supplies that I love. You can check that out here.

Good luck & enjoy!



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