Tag Archives: vanilla cupcake

Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes Put to the Test: Part I

16 Dec

Sorry, I have been a little MIA this week. I have been busy baking goodies to give away as Christmas pressies and organizing things for my trip to Canada. I am going home for the holidays and have organized many exciting CUPCAKE activities while I am there. Cupcake activities, you ask? I am excited to say that I have booked some lessons with some of the best cake designers in Canada! First stop: private lessons with Lori Hutchinson a.k.a. The Caketress. Next stop: Pickering, Ontario, to learn all about peonies, roses and orchids from Lisa Bugeja of Flour Confections and the last and final stop: Toronto, for a cupcake tour! I can’t wait to sample the works of fine Canadian bakeries all over T.O. Now I just have to plan a route! So look out for lots of my new sugarwork creations and cupcake gorging!

This week I tried a new chocolate cupcake recipe. In endeavouring to continue to extend my cupcake knowledge and trying to perfect my recipes, I went back to some good old fashioned cupcake testing. I trialed a new chocolate cupcake recipe, this week, alongside two new frostings, vanilla and chocolate.

This recipe comes from the very talented Chloe Coscarelli who competed on Cupcakes Wars (tv series in America where bakers/chefs compete to bake the best cupcake) and won with her vegan chocolate cupcake recipe. I have already written about the trend towards healthier cupcakes and so I decided to give cupcakes, ohne (without) eggs and dairy milk a whirl!  I have to say that they were awesome. They had the depth of a great chocolate recipe, the fluffiness of a true cupcake and a nice bonus of crunchy cupcake tops (but very moist and soft centres) which I rather enjoy and which are perfectly flat for decorating!

Cupcake Wars winning recipe in my kitchen.

Even as I eat these guys today (over 24 hours later) they are still wonderfully moist and full of flavour. Gotta love that in a recipe! So I would absolutely recommend this vegan cupcake recipe. No need to be scared of baking without the dairy products you are used to. Look mom, no eggs!

Now onto the new frostings. Both with a flour and milk base and so in complete contrast to my non-dairy chocolate cupcakes.

After you create a pudding-like mixture from flour and milk, you cool it and once it’s cooled you mix it with butter. The great part about this frosting recipe is that there is no powdered sugar (only gradulated sugar that gets melted) in it so you don’t get that granuley bite in the frosting. The frosting is smooth and silky and not overly sweet from powdered sugar. It has all the benefits of a swiss meringue buttercream but without the complications that come with egg whites which is pretty nice.

I found that the chocolate frosting was much smoother and easier to pipe. I loved the deep flavour it had from using cocoa powder. The chocolate frosting is real a winner in my books as it also stands up well all day long. No sinking; the swirls remain intact.

The vanilla frosting on the other hand, had a lot of bubbles and it was hard to pipe. It came out in fits and stops and so my swirls turned out pretty ugly. Oh well. I put little red flowers on and am hoping no one will notice. The frosting itself, is very delicious and also not too sweet. The first time I made this vanilla frosting last week, it turned out beautifully smooth and it was easy to pipe. The main difference between last week and this week was that I worked with it the same day, whereas with this one I waited until the morning so maybe that was the issue. If it was,then it definitely loses points for that.

Lots of air bubbles and ridges in the swirl. :(

The thing I am finding out about baking is that consistency is so important. Not only literally in terms of the frosting piping consistency itself, but consistency in re-creating time and time again the same beautiful frosting. It’s a real trick of the trade and the mark of a true professional in their trade when they had get those consistent results. I am not there yet but am hoping that with enough experimentation, practise and patience, I will make it. Make it in Frankfurt, baby.

Stay tuned for the cupcake tester responses! Eek! 5-page questionnaires are back!

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Reflecting on the last 6 months and cute Hedgehog cupcakes

4 Oct

As I sat there cutting out some blue and red fondant stars, I let my mind wander and realized that with this cupcake donation for the New Comers Festival, Das Cupcake cupcakes have appeared at incredibly 3 out of the 4 major festivals in Frankfurt. During these budding first six months since inception, my cupcake babies have been at the Parade der Kulturen, the Rotlintstrasse Fest and now at the New Comers Festival (all donated, my friends!) right in the heart of the old city centre, in the Rathaus (city hall). Heh heh heh..Rat-house.

Mmm, carrot cake cupcakes, made with chopped pecans, shredded coconut and grated carrots. P.S. These cupcakes don't have anything to do with Newcomers Festival order, they are just cute.

I am very proud. I mean, ok, there may have been other more major festivals, but still. Das Cupcake has really flourished with the support of friends and the Frankfurt community. I mean in the last six months:

  • I conducted recipe development over a 6-week period, with the help of focus groups and a self-developed questionnaire.
  • I attended cupcake classes in London on Cupcake Basics where I learned how to work with fondant.
  • I attended a second cupcake class in London on Running Your Own Cupcake Business that helped me to understand what was in store.
  • I organized a vanilla taste testing extravaganza to perfect my recipe which included 8 testers, 5 vanilla frosting types and vanilla cupcake recipes.
  • I sourced a creative web designer and developed my logo.
  • I sourced international suppliers. (i.e. my Mom.:))
  • I leveraged online social networks to develop my online presence via my blog, Facebook fan page and Flickr photostream.
  • I decided to make my mark with two perfected cupcake flavours and a large focus on the decor aspect of cupcake making.
  • I organized, sourced props for and completed a cupcake photoshoot (pics still to be posted).
  • I networked with some major Frankfurt-based clubs, schools and charities.
  • I spoke in front of a room full of people (50ish, the most ever!) about Das Cupcake and my cupcake dream.

I also feel extremely lucky to have to a supportive Mr. Cupcake by my side who has helped me to read crazy German legal documents, spoke to crazy German associations on my behalf to find out about all the legal stuff and developed smart excel spreadsheets (much smarter than me) that calculate cost structures of my cupcake babies. He came to support me during my ten minute speech to the room full of people and beamed his love to me from his seat in the last row. He laughed at me during my tantrums with fondant and frosting, he advised me on serious issues such as flower embossing stamps, he measured cupcake cases with me, squinting at the numbers on the ruler, brainstormed ideas for the business and helped me clean the kitchen late into the hours of the night.

Equally awesome has been June from A-viva, who allowed me to trial my cupcake recipes on her students, invited me to countless networking events, plugged my cupcakes shamelessly to passer-byers, spent evenings chatting with me about my ideas and extended her network to me, as if it was mine and allowed me to grow my little business idea, step by step, festival by festival. Thank you so much June.

To continue that warm and fuzzy feeling inside, have a look at some cute hedgehog cupcakes I made this week.

Awesome tutorial on Wee Love Baking.

P.S. Hunching over fondant and working on the cute little details such as sprinkle centres on flowers and little hedgehog eyes, has totally strained my shoulder and neck muscles. Geez, one of the perks, eh? I can imagine it’ll get worse the more fondant work I do. I just booked an appointment with the nearest Frankfurt masseuse. Hopefully this will help. I can only imagine what other bakers have to go through. Fondant work can get very physical. Phy-si-cal. Phy-si-cal. *song in my head*

P.P.S. For more hedgehog cupcake cuteness² check out my Flickr photos.