Confession – I made five batches of cupcakes this week. That’s 60 cupcakes. I myself, along with my kitchen is covered in sugar and butter and flour and I have eaten way more than my fair share of cake. Who knew there were so many different ways to make a vanilla cupcake?!
Apart from being up to my knees in cake, i have learnt a few tips and tricks along the way, which I look forward to sharing with you. But I can tell you the BEST way to eat a vanilla cupcake is when it’s covered in colourful cotton candy buttercream frosting.
So let’s talk cake. I have a few tips to ensure your cupcakes turn out every time – most of which I have learnt the hard way.
1. When the recipe requires your butter, eggs and milk to be at room temperature, try and make sure they are actually at room temperature. When it comes to creaming butter and sugar, it works best when your butter is soft – and no microwaving it doesn’t count. I have been guilty of this many times, who hasn’t forgotten to leave the butter out before? But the microwave just doesn’t warm it evenly. Wherever possible, try to use butter that has come to room temperature naturally.
2. When a recipe requires you to cream the butter and sugar, actually take the time to cream the butter and sugar. For a long time, I just assumed cream meant ‘incorporate’ and I would give it 30 seconds max. It doesn’t. Take the time to cream it properly, often 4 or 5 minutes with an electric mixer and you will notice the difference in the texture of your cake.
3. When incorporating dry ingredients into wet ones, it’s best to add it in parts to prevent over mixing. I once read that starting with dry ingredients and ending in dry ingredients is best and I have found this to be true. Have you ever added milk or a wet ingredient at the end and found it hard to mix through? This should solve that problem.
I’d love to hear your cake tips too! Please leave a comment below.
Well that’s enough serious cake talk, let’s get our carnival hats on and eat Cotton Candy Cupcakes!
Cotton Candy Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
190 grams (1 and 1/3 cup) plain flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
115 grams (1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
150 grams (3/4 cup) caster sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
125 ml (1/2 cup) milk, room temperature
Cotton Candy Frosting
115 grams (1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, room temperature
500 grams (4 cups) icing or powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk
A few drops of cotton candy flavouring
A few drops of food colouring – I used rose pink, yellow and blue
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (350F). Line a 12 hole muffin tray with patty cases. In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking power and salt and then whisk together briefly. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric beater for about 4-5 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for a minute or until the eggs are fully incorporated. In a separate jug, add the vanilla extract to your milk.
Next, add approximately one third of your flour mixture and half of your milk mixture. Gently fold with a spatula, then add another third of flour and the rest of your milk. Stir and then finally add the last of your flour mixture. Your cupcake batter should be nice and creamy. Try not to overmix otherwise your cupcakes will be dry but make sure the flour is just incorporated. Fill your prepared patty cases with the mixture, ensuring they are around half full. Pop into the oven for approximately 18 minutes or until just golden on top and they spring back when lightly touched.Take the cupcakes out of the oven and immediately transfer them out of the tin and onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, to make the icing, cream the butter with an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until creamy and pale. Sift in two cups of icing sugar and one tablespoon of milk. Beat until combined and then add the final two cups of icing sugar and another tablespoon of milk. If you feel the mixture is too dry, add another tablespoon of milk. Just be careful because you want the icing to be thick enough to hold its shape when piped. Once the frosting is smooth and creamy, add a few drops of cotton candy flavouring – to taste.
Next, dish out the frosting into three separate bowls. Add a few drops of food colouring to each bowl and stir with a spoon until you achieve your desired colours. I used rose pink, yellow and blue to achieve the rainbow colours in the photos. Grab your piping bag and insert a large star tip into the end. Very gently add spoonfuls of one icing and try keep it to one side of the piping bag. Essentially you are trying to make the colours sit vertically in the piping bag. You don’t have to be exact, so do the best you can. Then gently spoon the second coloured icing on top and then the third colour on top of that. Gently press down to remove any air bubbles and force the icing down to the tip. Twist the top of the bag and then pipe the icing onto the cupcakes. The first one probably won’t have all three colours so use that one as a test run.
If you are visual person, check out this video by Cupcake Jemma which shows how to pipe Rainbow Buttercream.
For tips on piping check out my cupcake frosting post here.
Note: I purchased the cotton candy flavouring from a speciality cake store.