Tag Archives: vanilla cupcakes

Fluffy American Cupcakes in Germany

27 May

I am extremely excited to announce our next guest teacher coming to Frankfurt. It is Betsy from JavaCupcake.

She is not only a talented and devoted blogger, but always finds the time to generously share her wonderful recipes on her blog. Some of my favourite recipes which sound as heavenly as they taste are: White Velvet Blueberry Cupcakes, Homemade blueberry compote for filling your cupcakes and strawberry cupcakes made with fresh strawberry puree. I mean this girl steeps vanilla beans in her milk for vanilla cupcakes-how impressive is that? And in between steeping vanilla beans in milk she still finds time to write as a Correspondent for the world famous cupcake blog: Cupcakes Take the Cake.
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On Betsy’s blog you will find bucket loads of recipes and also tutorials and videos– she is everything a great blogger should be and I admire her for that. Furthermore, she is not just someone who loves all things cupcake but someone who can appreciate the fine art of putting together a delicious cupcake recipe from scratch.

And the cool thing is that she has agreed to come to Frankfurt to help demystify one of the biggest secrets in baking. Yes, I am talking monumental. Just like that ever elusive vanilla cupcake recipe, that go-to, that is not to sweet and perfectly fluffy and comes with a fabulous buttercream, that level monumental.

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Betsy and I are joining forces, and our expertise about all things cupcake and coming together to find out the question to that age old question bugging ALL expats abroad..and that is:

Can you truly make a fluffy North American style cupcake beauty in Europe?

Are the ingredients a totally different ballgame? Can you be set for success when you leave a German supermarket with your 405 Mehl (flour)? Or are American cupcakes, just that, cupcakes that can only be found in America?

Well, the mystery will be solved this July 20th. Armed with fresh ingredients from the commissary and fresh ingredients from REWE (German supermarket chain), we will bake cupcakes from scratch, using the same recipe but with local and international ingredients, to find out, what really counts when you are trying to bake a cupcake recipe from an American book in Germany.

Yes, we will buy cake flour, yes we will use the famous cake flour substitute, yes we will use American butter and REWE butter and do a side by side comparison of the results.

Are you excited??? Will you be there?

Where else would you want to be?

This is huge!!

So sign up for our class now! Email me: info@dascupcake.com

If you are still not convinced, Betsy and I will also be teaching piping techniques. Pretty swirls of all varieties. We will show you how to fill your piping bags with no mess, how to colour frosting and how to make the perfect swirl!

So what are waiting for? We would love to have you!

Java + Cupcake = Betsy!

Java + Cupcake = Betsy!

Here is some more information:

in this class you will…

    • learn the difference between an American cupcake & a German cupcake
    • see a side by side comparison of the ingreidents used in American cupcakes vs. German cupcakes
    • learn how to make classic Vanilla cupcakes with both American & German techniques and ingredients
    • learn how to make classic American buttercream
    • learn how to colour buttercream
    • learn how to use a piping bag and a coupler
    • learn how to pipe frosting on a cupcake to create perfect swirls of buttercream
    • bring home 6 beautifully decorated and delicious cupcakes to take home to family and friends.

Workshop fees include all ingredients and tools plus a light lunch. Don’t forget to bring your aprons!

Date: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Start time: 10:00 a.m. (30 minute lunch break)
End time: 2:30 p.m.
Location: Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Language: English
Price: 120€

For registration information, email: info@dascupcake.com

Cupcakes + Blog = Awesome

16 Nov

Ok, so as if baking cupcakes wasn’t cool enough, now cupcakes are leading me to new friendships. One awesome offshoot (great word, people should use it more often) of writing a blog is that people read it. And not just your mom or your brother but also cool people; cool people that could be cool friends.

This month I met Alma who is living in Frankfurt and loves to bake. She introduced me to all her favourite baking accesory shops in Frankfurt and places where you can buy lots of amazing inexpensive cake stands. Tiered cake stands, people! In Frankfurt, under 20€! An amazing find that would not have been possible without the lovely Alma. We also headed to Hugeldugel (HILARIOUS name for a bookshop) and took pictures of recipes in cupcakes books…He he he, so illegal but we will buy the books later! Promise! Alma makes awesome cupcakes so much so they have even been featured on Cupcakes Take the Cake. If you don’t believe me, take a look for yourself.

Now, I didn’t think I could meet any more cool baking English speaking girlies in Frankfurt, but I was wrong! Tonight I just got home from a date with Cati who loves all things baking AND cooking. We had a blast talking about about the Kleinmarkthalle and all the wonderful ingredients that you can find all around Frankfurt. We drank white Sangria in a small Spanish bar in Frankfurt and completely lost track of time as we divulged secret family recipes to one another. With Cati’s help, I think I am actually brave enough to tackle cream cheese frosting again. You can get a taste for her baked goodies on her Facebook page.

I love meeting fellow bakers and Frankfurters and I can’t wait until we all can get together and bake, try new recipes, learn new tricks and basically eat awesome cupcakes and cookies all day long. Ah…I do live a hard life here in Frankfurt.

Now for some cupcake porn. I donated these for an event that my very good friend had organized. They were very well received and some people even ate two! Woo hoo! That means my less sweet buttercream is working.:) I also got the chance to practice my sugar crafting. I made Calla Lilies, one large pink flower with some left over petals I had and I used some wafer butterflies that I just received from the UK.

Hand-made fondant Calla Lilies on chocolate cupcakes.

Wafer butterflies although affectionately referred to as ‘body of Christ’ butterflies.

And if you are a fellow baker or bakeress in Frankfurt and want to join our little growing network, don’t hestitate for one second to get in touch! You will be welcomed with open arms..and cupcakes!

Cupcakes in Fall

19 Oct

I have been dying to give an ode to the beautiful fall season in Frankfurt especially after the chocolate leaves left me less than impressed. My love for fondant work continues so I decided to make some autumn themed fondant creations.

I started with leaves, the quintessential symbol of autumn. I imprinted them using embosser sticks. On the embossing sticks I added edible lustre paste by mixing the lustre dust with a little bit of water. I brushed this paste onto the embossing stick and created an sparkly imprint on my autumn leaves creating simple but sophisticated fondant leaves.

I created a pumpkin very easily by creating a small ball, adding a small stem of brown fondant, scoring it with a toothpick and wrapping some green vein made of fondant around two toothpicks to give it its curl.

To complete my autumn set, I made baby acorns, using a tutorial I found online. Let’s face it, baby acorns are much cuter than regular-sized acorns.

Four simple vanilla cupcakes, topped with a smooth, creamy frosting and all dolled up to celebrate the season. I hope these were enjoyed by their new owners!

Short and Sweet Post: Golf Event Cupcake Minis

20 Sep

Last week I sponsored a golf charity event that was hosted by the president of the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow club which I am a part of as a mentor. He invited me a few weeks ago and I decided it would be a wonderful opportunity to introduce yet more Frankfurters to cupcakes.
I came up with a simple design as I knew that the majority of golfers would be male so no girlie cupcakes were allowed. I made classic flavours, French vanilla and Belgian chocolate. I frosted the vanilla ones in green tinted buttercream and added a little white M&M flavoured chocolate bean which my Trusty Apprentice recently smuggled in from the UK. I added a little toothpick flag to increase the cuteness. The chocolate cupcakes were decorated with a swirl of chocolate frosting and topped with chopped frozen Mars bars.

I scored this awesome vintage tray at Das Depot (no relation.:)) in Frankfurt for €6. Das Depot is the equivalent to say, Home Sense with lots of home accessories. It's usually super over-priced but had a sale on. Woo hoo!

Once the golfers came in and finished lunch, I walked around with tray and distributed them. I love interacting with people and talking about my favourite topic (cupcakes!) so it was a fun afternoon.

P.S. Stay tuned for my next post ─an autumn-inspired photo tutorial.

Cupcakes for an Expat

15 Sep

Going to events in and around Frankfurt has given me the opportunity to meet many new people. I recently attended American Citizens Information Night and besides the abundant supply of American goodies like bagels and Mountain Dew, I met a lot of friendly, open and kind expats. There is just something very wonderful about the immediate comfort you get from a fellow expat when you know you can speak English really quickly and they will still understand all your subtle jokes and innuendos.

As luck would have it, I got the chance to bake for one of those lovely people I met that night. Anita is an avid fan of cupcakes, an expat like me and also understands the etiquette when it comes to providing cake on your own birthday. So she requested my help to sweeten up her colleagues in the form of 1 dozen French vanilla cupcakes and 1 dozen Belgian chocolate cupcakes. She is a big chocolate lover, so I obliged by using my best chocolate cocoa. Her favourite colours include teal, blues and greens so I used those colours as accents.

I decided to include one cupcake blanketed fully in fondant as a bit of an ode to hello naomi who is a big inspiration to me. There is something very clean and professional about a cupcake with a fondant finish. I do try to keep fondant to a minimum, but I have seen this fondant covering done many times and I thought it was about time, I try it for myself.

With these fondant-blanketed cupcakes, there are different methods, however the one I used includes a buttercream layer under the fondant blanket. So if you are not a fan of the fondant, you can simply peel it off and you still have your normal cupcake with buttercream frosting to bite into. For a good how-to tutorial, visit CakeJournal. Word of warning, use recipes that guarantee you a nice domed cupcake. The key to adding a fondant top, is to have a domed top to begin with. If you don’t have a domed cupcake and instead just create the dome out of buttercream, when/if the buttercream melts, your fondant will lose its shape as it will have no dome to hang onto and could slide off into a gooey mess.

The ‘full fondant blanket’ over a cupcake is very popular across the globe, in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the UK, however interestingly enough, I recently heard that in America, cupcakes are taking a new direction in becoming more healthy ─with more vegan cupcakes for example. Highlighting this point, a vegan chef recently won the $10,000 prize on Cupcake Wars showing that traditional ingredients could be on the way out. Healthier options such as apple sauce, coconut milk and agave nectar are substituting traditionally used items such as butter, milk and refined sugar.

Personally I like to get the best of both worlds and that is why I try to achieve a balance in my cupcakes. I love the beauty and sophistication of fondant covered cupcakes but can appreciate that it should be kept to a minimum and that cupcakes don’t need to overwhelmed with sugar. This is why I chose to do this single cupcake as an accent so that the details of fondant art can be aesthetically inspiring and not sugar-overload off-putting. We shall see what the response will be like from the Germans as I introduce them to the world of fondant.

The cupcakes themselves turned out beautifully with the extra special chocolate cocoa powder and needless to say, chocolate cravings were satisfied, yet more German cupcake addicts were born and all was right in the world.

Completely pooped ─what a day, what a day.

6 Sep

Wow. I look around at the aftermath of getting ready this morning and it’s a complete hazard zone. A cupcake calamity. From butter, sugar and frosting on every countertop and cupcake pans, boxes and other paraphernalia strewn everywhere, to open closet doors as I hunted for bags and threw my clothes on this morning. But it was all worth it (how many times have I used this phrase in my blog now?).

Picture captured in a remote corner of our apartment where I could crop out the mess!

 

This weekend was Rotlintstrasse Fest and I made, frosted, decorated, packed, transported, set-up a tower of 72 cupcakes. Mr. Cupcake is out of town so it was up to me to make things happen as a solo act. It was tough. My mind had to be constantly alert. I had to stay on task and on time and to organize everything myself. I couldn’t just use my popular catch-phrase: “Babe, can you help me with this one little thing.’ Everything was on me. I had to not only make sure everything was done to the last detail, but to do it myself. Even the little things like packing the elevator and making sure not to lock myself out!

So onto the cupcakes themselves. As mentioned in my previous post, I decided to go for a more ‘o’naturale’ look with fresh berries and a household brand like Snickers. It was a neighbourhood festival so I decided to make my cupcakes more familiar and not as flamboyant. I went with French vanilla cupcakes with tinted pink buttercream frosting, drizzled with homemade raspberry coulis and topped with a blackberry. For the chocolate lovers, I made my Belgian chocolate cupcakes, topped them with caramel infused buttercream and drizzled them with caramel (German caramel tastes a bit more like butterscotch though!) and then finished them off with chopped frozen Snickers bars.

After setting up my tower, I took a few shots. Inadvertently on each photo I captured a different cupcake customer group. Cupcakes don't discriminate.

I got my space at the festival from A-viva (so gracious!) which was selling beautiful fruit tarts and cakes as well as other cuisine delights made by the international language students. A-viva and I will be donating all our proceeds to the flood victims in Pakistan (yet another reason why A-viva is the best Sprachschule (language school) in Frankfurt!).

I sold alongside a Spanish A-viva volunteer who was a fantastic sales guy.

We sold-out of cupcakes in about 4 and half hours and I was happy to call the day a success.

One happy customer!

As I finish this post, I am absolutely pooped-to-the-max, my home is messier than a pigsty but I love life. Cupcakes are fantastic and I love, Love, LOVE selling them especially when all the profits get donated to a good cause! After I get this house in order, I am treating myself to a long bath and a manicure.

P.S. No, seriously. If a pig walked into my house right now, he would laugh in my face and give me the number for a Frankfurt maid service. Immediately.

Das Cupcake Debuts in Frankfurt

20 Jul

Every debut is preceded by a lot of hard work and naturally this was no exception. The plan of action was to make 200 cupcakes, 100 vanilla and 100 chocolate for June 26th at the Parade of Cultures in Frankfurt. The language school which I attend, A-viva, offered me some space at the booth that they rented at the event. I was pumped to say the least. I thanked my lucky stars at the generosity of A-viva (easily THE best language school in Frankfurt) and got to planning my cupcakes. I searched for inspiration from all my favourite cupcake decorating masters, ordered decorating supplies from around the world (literally) and brainstormed the designs that would grace my cupcakes.

My mom was in Germany for her vacation as I prepared for the parade and so I taught her all I know about making cupcake decor (took all of tens minutes), showed her the pictures I was using for inspiration and we were off to the races. The first thing we started on was the fondant decor. This you have make at least 3 days in advance so that it has a chance to dry and harden. We made butterflies with small little flowers glued (with edible glue!) onto their upturned wings, blue five petal blossoms, peach five petal blossoms, white pearls of rolled fondant and dusted with edible glitter. There was a lot of decor to make for 200 cupcakes and it took about 5-6 hours with the both of us working as a team. My mom officially became the Sugar Paste Pro. She rolled out that fondant to the perfect thickness and punched her way through the fondant, creating beautiful edible creations along the way. I, on the other hand, was the official Prep-er of the fondant –adding colour, adding strengthening gum tragacanth powder (to harden the fondant) and  kneading the sugar paste until it was ready to work with.

Cupcake decor drying. I cut long paper towl rolls in half, covered them with foil and created my own Flower Formers.

Then on the Friday before the Saturday of the event, I baked 200 cupcakes. After buying a ridiculous 20 blocks of butter, 10 blocks of shortening, 6 pounds of chocolate, 40 eggs and the same ludicrous amounts of flour and sugar, I was ready to bake. And it took me all day. It took from 1:00 in the afternoon until 9:00 at night and then I still had to make frosting and seal the cupcakes with a layer of frosting on top. So as I whipped together bowl after bowl of frosting, my mom sealed each cupcake with a smooth layer of frosting that leveled out with the top of the cupcake case. This gave a nice smooth surface upon which I could make my swirls. As the clock struck midnight, I was rinsing my last bowl and pair of whisking paddles.

The next morning was a flurry of activity. By 8:00 a.m. I was creating frosting swirls on my cupcakes, and my mom was arranging the decor on top. I ran out of frosting nearly at the end and had to frost some vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting but all was still well in the universe. We loaded the car and drove into the city with boxes of precariously stacked cupcakes balancing on seats and in laps.

Five petal blossoms in blue and peach colours. I flipped these upside down for drying so that the petals turned nicely upwards.

The BIG day…

Well it was a gorgeous summery June day. The festival was by the lovely Main River and very near to the heart of the old city centre. There were literally hundreds of booths and hundreds of people milling about. The Parade of Cultures (Parade der Kulturen) is very similar to Caribana in Toronto. It includes an awesome procession of performers from around the world dancing in the street in elaborate costumes to beat-thumping body-bumping music and everyone has a fantastic time, taking pictures, dancing and eating food from every cuisine imaginable. Of course, I did the representin’ for North American cuisine, in particular the sweet cute cupcake kind. We found our booth, set up two cupcake towers and started placing the cupcakes on the clear circular tiers.

Both cupcake towers. It looks like there was less vanilla, but I had plenty of vanilla cupcakes with me, and we continued to add to the vanilla tower as each cupcake was purchased.

We starting to sell almost right away and I was happy to see lots of curious people walking by with wide eyes at the 7 and 5 tiered cupcake displays in front of them. Lots of people took pics. My mom said I should have charged for that too. Good ol’ mom. Even my Trusty Apprentice showed up as well with some of her friends and they found my booth amongst all the parade craziness and showed their love by sinking their teeth into some chocolate cupcakes. A good work colleague of mine also stopped by and got her dose of chocolate for the day. We even had repeat customers, oh baby, yes. The sweet satisfaction of someone coming back for more. It was truly great. I sold the cupcakes, with my mom by my side, from 12 noon until 8:00 p.m. It was a long day, but I was smiling big at the end of it. I made some hard, cold cash (although I probably just broke even) and I felt happy with my success.
Key Learnings:

More advertising. Yeah, I printed stickers for the boxes of cupcakes that I was so hopeful to sell, except that not a single person bought a dozen cupcakes, so not a single logo sticker went out that day. What I really need is some good old fashioned, simple but reliable business cards. Those repeat customers which I mentioned came back for more cupcake love, yeah well, they could have easily been interested in my cupcake services, but I didn’t have anything to give them…Yes, a box sticker would have given them some info, but to give out rather big box stickers and then have people fold them into their pockets for later reference, I mean yeah, business cards are so much better.

Better means of transport.
Already quite inventively, I used the empty boxes you can find at the grocery store in which yogurt is sold in. You know the boxes with the holes in them, that you pick your pot of yogurt out of , yeah, those. Well, awesomely enough, I’ll have you know that those yogurt pot bases are the same size as the bases of my cupcake babies, so for transport I used these. Clever–yes. Perfect–no. Since there are no lids, the cupcakes are exposed, thereby leading to potential smudging of the perfect swirls. Overall there was little smudging, but a lot of panic and anxiety about the prospect of it happening. Also you cannot stack these, so there was a lot of balancing going on in my lap. Anyway, boxes with lids next time, all neatly stacked and compactly packed so they don’t sail across on the backseat of my car, like they are riding a bloody water slide!

A way for cooling the cupcakes. It was a regularly hot sunny day, which is want you want for any outdoor event you are selling at, the only problem is that the sun is not friends with your frosting. The frosting kept its shape for the most part, but then as soon as you took the first bite, the melty chocolate and vanilla goodness got all over your face. They were still tasty, but warm. Luckily, Germans are not cupcake connoisseurs and many of them still enjoyed the melty cupcakes. By the end of the day, the icing had turned extremely soft and even though the fondant decorations still maintained some levels of appeal, the frosting looks very gloppy. My German boyfriend has already devised a plan that involves safely storing the cupcakes in white cardboard cupcake boxes and then storing those boxes in a cooler and transporting the coolers with the nicely stored cupcakes. This way the cupcake would keep their beauty, be easy to transport and even be more appealing to sell by the dozen. Think of a box of twelve cupcakes straight from a nice cold cooler on a warm day to take home to the family. Also it’s more sanitary of course. Less bugs attacking any cupcakes left out for the day.

Forks. Germans like to eat cake with forks. I didn’t bring any, lots of people asked me for some. I stole some plastic ones and gave them out until I ran out, which was pretty quick. Next time, I will bring some forks, especially for an outdoor kind of event.

In conclusion…

Yes, there were many fondant flowers to make. Yes, I spent all of Friday baking in the hot kitchen. And yes, I got stressed and yelled at my boyfriend when I didn’t think he was arranging my precious babies carefully enough into the car, BUT when all was said it done it was a labour of love. My plans had transpired into reality. My recipe development, my annoyed phone calls in trying to locate my decorating supplies, my cupcake classes had all paid off. Literally. :) And I fell asleep that night, with sore feet and a grin from ear to ear.

And last in this post but absolutely not least, a special thank you to June at A-viva. Her support, excitement and encouragement has been endless and crazy plentiful. From ‘using’ her students as cupcake testers to sharing her space with me at the Parade of Cultures; I feel like without the cosmic stars lining up for June coming into my Frankfurt life, my cupcake dream would really have no platform from which it could come to life. June has given me the fertile ground where I can plant my dream and nurture it to grow, grow, grow. She is as humble as ever but I know I couldn’t have done it without her.


P.S. June, I owe you a pack of forks.

Five vanilla sponge recipes, five vanilla frosting recipes, 8 brave testers

16 Jul

I have not gotten the chance to post any new entries for a while as I have been hosting my mom in Germany, but I am back now and ready to give you the latest gossip about my cupcake journey. Leading up to the Cultural Parade in Frankfurt, I organized a vanilla recipe cupcake tasting extravaganza. Five vanilla sponge recipes, five vanilla frosting recipes, 8 brave testers, one day.

The extravaganza prep began weeks before, as I scoured the Internet for the most delectable, most sought after, most highly regarded and reviewed vanilla recipes to use as my basic cupcake base. I was looking to create the perfect vanilla cupcake-light, fluffy and (not to sweet) delicious. In the end, I decided to the test the following recipes:

  • Sprinkles vanilla cupcakes (biggest cupcake chain in America) (baked in orange cupcake cases)
  • Rose Levy Beranbaum’s white velvet cake (baked in white cupcake cases)
  • Rose Levy Beranbaum’s yellow cake recipes (baked in yellow cupcake cases)
  • FairCake’s tried and true vanilla recipe (which I learned at my cupcake classes in London) (green cupcake cases)
  • William-Sonoma’s vanilla cupcakes (blue cupcake cases)

The main difference between the recipes was the use of eggs. While the velvet cake called for just eggs whites, the Sprinkles recipe called for two egg whites and one whole egg for its batter. A few other minor differences included the use of sour cream instead of milk for the yellow cake batter and also the use of self-raising flour and margarine in FairCake’s recipe.

Naked cupcakes ready for frosting. Each recipe is colour-coded with different cupcake cases.

My research continued as I devoured page after page of information about the world of frosting. The perfect frosting needs to be sweet, but not too sweet; stable for creating perfect swirls; and nice and smooth for a clean finish. I decided to enter the world of meringue based buttercreams (anything with the word meringue in it means you add beaten egg whites to the creamed butter) as well as to try out the classic recipes too. In the pictures below, the green frosting was Italian meringue buttercream, pink was Swiss meringue buttercream, the beige frosting was Silk meringue buttercream, pale yellow was normal buttercream and blue was a buttercream with half the the butter replaced with vegetable shortening.

Each frosting colour-coded also.

 

So the weekend finally arrived and I was ready for the testing. On Friday, I bought all the ingredients and Saturday evening, I spent baking a dozen of each cupcake recipe. I learned a lot and took many notes. I noted the appearance of each cupcake, if it domed nicely or if it turned out rather flat.

After 4 hours of baking, I finished baking 60 cupcakes (took some time as I had to clean all the equipment in between each batch).

Sunday arrived, the day of the taste testing. The testing was scheduled for 16:00, so I used the morning and early afternoon to make fresh buttercreams of all kinds. My friend, who will be from here-on-in known as my Trusty Apprentice, joined the cause and we put our brains together in trying to figure out meringue buttercreams. We decided to attempt the hardest one first, cause you know, we’re brave like that. The secret ingredient to Silk meringue buttercream is the homemade caramel sauce, and after only 3 or 4 failed attempts at caramel we did it! While my Trusty Apprentice mixed the caramel with a thick a cream, I whipped up what I call, ‘normal’ buttercream which consists simply of butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract for flavour.

With 2 out of 5 frostings complete and starting on the third we felt quite confident, until we began the Italian meringue buttercream and realized that the butter we wanted to work had gone way past room temperature and into its melting stage. We used it anyway and realized that adding melted butter to meringue really just turns everything into a white, flat mess, a far cry from billowy frosting. The next part of the story involves a way to get rid of the bad batch of frosting. The logical person would say, you just tossed it in the bin, well yeah, let me just say to ANYONE reading, don’t ever try to flush your ruined frosting down the toilet because the frosting will always outsmart your toilet. Enough said.

Back to the kitchen (hands washed, twice!) and my determined Trusty Apprentice finally managed the Italian meringue while I whipped up a batch of half and half frosting (half butter, half shortening). At this point the clock struck quarter to 16:00 and we still had the Swiss Meringue to tackle. My tireless and fearless Trusty Apprentice began melting the sugar and separating the eggs for the final frosting. As she whizzed and whirled with my loyal 350 W handmixer, the doorbells and cell phones began to go off and I ran from the kitchen to greet my testers with sweaty welcome hugs and kisses. The Trusty Apprentice’s focus and drive never wavered nor did she once lose her concentration. It wasn’t until all the sugar had been blended in a pink Swiss Meringue did she join the testers in the dining room.

Frosting some cupcakes with the pink Swiss meringue. Not so good for piping, although we did make this one in a rush.

 

The results:
Once the cupcakes had been frosted and questionnaires distributed, the tasting swiftly commenced. The room was silent, the testers-absolutely concentrated as they scribbled their feedback and ate five cupcakes each. So which recipes won?

Focused tester sampling his first cupcake. 1 down, 4 to go.

Vanilla cake: It was a close call between the Fair Cake recipe and the William-Sonoma ones. Both had just the right amount of sweetness, balanced with a fluffy texture. The William-Sonoma cupcakes called for one whole egg and one egg white. This gave the recipe a good balance, I think. Keeping the cupcakes dense but not too eggy. Another good thing about the William-Sonoma cupcake recipe was that the cupcakes did not dome too much which allows for a flat decorating surface. The good thing about the Fair Cake recipe is that it has a good sugar to flour ratio so the cupcake have a nice balance of sweet. These cupcakes domed more so I know which recipe to use when I want a more domed top. I baked all the cupcakes at a low temperature of 150°C so that they could bake slowly and evenly and to avoid any volcano tops. This happens when the batter on the outside cooks faster than than on the inside and the inside batter ends up being pushed upwards, forming a volcano peak and not-so-awesome surface to add pretty swirls to.

Frosting: Clear winner here. It was the blue, half and half frosting, where I used half butter and half shortening. The cool thing about the shortening in Germany is that it is made form cocoa fat unlike Crisco which is made from soybean and cottonseed oil. There is something very nice in the flavour of cocoa-based shortening and by adding it, instead of more butter, there was nice balance and the frosting didn’t taste terribly buttery. It did not leave a film inside the mouth (as shortening is usually blamed for doing) and it was voted the best frosting by half of the group, whereas the rest of the votes were dispersed amongst the other frosting flavours.

When asked which cupcake and frosting combo was liked the best, the blue cupcake won. That means William-Sonoma recipe plus half and half frosting. So, I have my go-to vanilla recipe!

Once the last calorie-ridden guest had left, I promptly passed out from exhaustion on our perfectly sleep-inducing sofa. The taste testing was a success. I was tired but happy and I fell asleep planning my upcoming weekend when my little babies would make their debut.