French Toast Cupcakes

french toast cupcakesMany times, I’ve scrolled past recipes for French toast cupcakes, thinking eh, can they really be that good? Yes. They can be, and absolutely are, really that good.

If you’re skeptical about this adaptation of a breakfast classic, think about it this way: these treats combine a cinnamon nutmeg cupcake – so right there, you’re off to a great start – with a maple buttercream frosting for a wonderful blend of sweet and spicy cupcake goodness. You could certainly sprinkle on some crispy bacon pieces if you like, but I left mine plain for a more mellow creation.

This recipe makes a huge batch, enough for 2 dozen cupcakes and one 8-inch round cake or at least 3 dozen cupcakes.

Cinnamon Nutmeg Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour milk*

*To make sour milk, place 1 tablespoon and 3/4 teaspoon white vinegar in a glass measuring cup and add enough milk to make 1 1/4 cups total. Stir; let stand for 5 minutes before using.

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and shortening on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add sugar and vanilla and cream together until well-combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add flour mixture and sour milk alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour and beating until just combined after each addition.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into prepared pans, filling cupcake wells about half full.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool in pans for a few minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Maple Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar**
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup

In a mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the powdered sugar, all at once, then beat on low speed until the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take several minutes.

Add salt, vanilla, and maple syrup, then beat on medium speed for about 3-4 minutes, until very light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl very well at least a few times.

Fit a large piping bag with a Wilton 1M tip and pipe blobs of frosting onto each cupcake.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

**In most cases, I sift my powdered sugar before I use it in buttercream, but it’s not necessary in this case unless you really, really want to do so. This recipe is adapted from one I found at bakingdom.com, and she didn’t advise sifting, so I didn’t bother and the frosting turned out perfectly. 

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Springtime Cupcakes

springtime cupcakesButtercream frosting requires simple ingredients, but it takes some time to achieve the perfect texture and flavor. I’ve been working on buttercream for years now, and I think I’ve found the perfect recipe, especially for cupcakes. My buttercream requires both vanilla and almond extracts, which I think gives the best flavor. It also requires patience; each step takes a few minutes, and you can’t rush it, or you won’t get a nice, fluffy texture.

These springtime cupcakes were a big hit in the office for St. Patrick’s Day today, and they would also make a great addition to an Easter brunch, a baby shower, or Mother’s Day tea. This recipe would be great any time of year, though.

Ingredients

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sour milk*

Basic Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • Dash of salt
  • 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • Green food coloring

*To make sour milk, place 1/2 tablespoon vinegar in a glass measuring cup; add enough milk to equal 1/2 cup total. Stir; set aside for 5 minutes before using.

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake tins with paper liners; this recipe makes 21 cupcakes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Place eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and continue to beat for another 30 seconds.

Add vanilla and canola oil and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.

Add flour mixture and sour milk alternatively in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently. Batter will be very thin.

Using a quarter-cup measuring cup, scoop batter into prepared regular-sized cupcake liners, filling half full.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and immediately remove cupcakes to wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

To make the buttercream, place butter in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down your bowl, add salt, and beat for another minute.

Scrape down your bowl, then add powdered sugar all at once; cover your mixer with a kitchen towel, and beat on low speed until the sugar is completely incorporated into the butter – this will take several minutes, probably about 4-5.

Once all the sugar is incorporated, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add extracts, and beat on low speed for about 1 minute, then increase the speed to medium and beat for another 2-3 minutes until the texture is light and fluffy.

Add green food coloring a few drops at a time to create a light, spring green shade.

Fit a 14-inch pastry bag with a Wilton 1M tip and pipe generous swirls of frosting onto cupcakes. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days for optimal freshness.

Note: this buttercream recipe will frost at least 24 cupcakes, as long as you don’t go too overboard with your piping.

Color Swirl Cupcakes

swirled cupcakeExperienced bakers like to challenge themselves…and these color swirl cupcakes were certainly a challenge! These cupcakes are destined for an 8-year-old girl’s rock star-themed birthday party, and I certainly hope they’re a hit.

I originally planned to use three separate piping bags set into one large bag for the color swirl look, but the other day at the craft store I saw the Wilton Color Swirl decorating kit and I thought…why not? Next time, I’ll probably go with the bags-in-bag technique, because the kit was a bit difficult to use, especially for a first-time color-swirler like me. If you’re trying this technique, bear in mind that you’ll need to apply steady, even pressure to three separate bags of frosting all at once, which can make piping a swirl a challenge. In the photo below, you can see that I piped both swirls and blobs of frosting, and the blobs were infinitely easier (and just as cute, in my opinion).

Ingredients

White Almond Cupcakes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 3/4 sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk our sour milk*

*To make sour milk, place 1 1/3 tablespoons vinegar in a glass measuring cup and add enough milk to make 1 1/3 total cups. Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes before using.

Color Swirl Buttercream

  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons almond extract
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk
  • Magenta gel food coloring
  • Teal gel food coloring
  • Lemon yellow gel food coloring

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners; this recipe makes about 32 cupcakes, so if you only have two tins like me, you’ll need to let one cool and re-line it for your last batch.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat shortening and sugar together until creamy. Add vanilla and beat until combined, then add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add flour mixture and sour milk alternatively, starting and ending with the flour, beating until just combined after each addition.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into prepared tins, filling no more than half-full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until tops are light golden and a cake tester inserted in the middle of a few cupcakes comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

For the frosting: in a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute, then add salt and beat another minute.

Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes. I cover my mixer with a kitchen towel during this process to avoid a powdered sugar mess on my counter.

Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine for about 2 minutes. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until frosting reaches a fluffy consistency.

If using the Wilton kit described above, put the kit together and fill each bag with a different color, securing the end of each bag with a twist tie. Using steady, even pressure, pipe blobs or swirls of frosting onto each cupcake.

If using the bags-in-bag technique, fill 12-inch piping bags with a different color, securing the end of each bag with a twist tie. Fit an 18-inch piping bag with your desired tip and place the three bags inside. Using steady, even pressure, pipe blobs or swirls of frosting onto each cupcake.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

swirled cupcakes dozenHere’s a dozen color swirl cupcakes! Check out the different piping techniques; the blobs, shown in the first and third columns, were much easier than the swirls, shown in the second and fourth columns. 

Almond Buttercream

burnt almond torteAlmond buttercream is a great go-to frosting because it pairs well with a range of other flavors, from chocolate or vanilla to lemon or orange. The recipe below plays a big role in burnt almond torte, which you see here on the left.

If you don’t have heavy cream, you can substitute regular milk to thin your frosting and help make it fluffy. Remember, always add liquids sparingly, especially when working with frostings. You can always add more, but you can never take it away.

This recipe can enerously gfrost one single-layer 8 x 8 square, 8-inch round, or about 18 cupcakes. You can easily double it for a two-layer cake, sheet cake, or two dozen cupcakes.

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute, then add salt and beat another minute.

Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes.

Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine.

Add heavy cream and beat for about 2 minutes until fluffy.

Rainbow Cake

rainbowI bake for many reasons. To create, and to experiment. To comfort, and to cheer. To celebrate, for sure; birthdays and holidays and important rites of passage.

Today, I celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision to make same-sex marriage a nationwide right. I celebrate dear friends, whose commitment inspire me. I celebrate equality, while also recognizing that we still have a long way to go in our country, to guarantee not only legal rights but tolerance and acceptance in the hearts and minds of all citizens.

This is, perhaps, my favorite cake I’ve ever baked. It takes quite some time and requires a great deal of patience, but like all good things, it is well worth it.

Ingredients

Rainbow Cake (also known as Marriage Equality Cake or Pride Cake)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet gel food coloring

Vanilla Almond Buttercream

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • dash of salt
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray two 6-inch round cake pans with baking spray; line each with a parchment circle and spray the parchment. Note: if you’re fortunate enough to have 6 pans, you don’t have to worry about doing this in three stages, like I did. If you only have 2 pans, you’ll need to follow the instructions below on baking, cleaning your pans, and re-lining them for each batch.

In a large bowl, combine flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar, shortening, and salt until fluffy.

Add eggs and vanilla; beat until combined.

Add flour mixture and milk in alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour and beating until just combined.

Set out 6 bowls; using your dry measuring cups, scoop 3/4 cup of batter into each bowl to divide batter evenly. Tint each portion a different rainbow color.

Pour red batter into one pan and orange into another; bake for 10-11 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and immediately flip cakes onto a cooling rack. Wash pans and repeat the spraying, lining, filling, and baking process with your yellow and green layers, then again for your blue and violet layers.

Cool cakes completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, place butter in a mixing bowl and beat with the paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add the salt, and beat for another minute.

Add powdered sugar all at once, then cover your mixer with a towel and beat on low speed until powdered sugar is completely incorporated into the butter. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add vanilla and almond extracts; beat for another 2-3 minutes, until very fluffy.

If desired, reserve a small portion of the frosting to tint red; I piped a heart on the top of my cake, but you could cover it with sprinkles or leave it plain or frost it in whatever way you like.

To assemble, level out your layers if necessary; I trimmed mine just slightly to even them out. Begin with the violet layer; place it on your cake plate and cover the top with a thin layer of the buttercream. Repeat with the blue, green, yellow, orange, and red layers; frost the top, then the sides.

Store at room temperature.

Below are a few photos of the process; be ready to use lots of bowls and do several rounds of dishes!

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Raspberry Buttercream

dark choc with rasp buttercreamThere are many recipes out there for raspberry buttercream that require fresh raspberries. Since it’s winter and raspberries aren’t in season, I searched out a recipe that could use raspberry jam instead and found one very similar to the recipe below, which I adapted in quantities to reach both the consistency and flavor I wanted.

The great thing about this frosting is that it is so easy to make, with just three ingredients; just be sure you use seedless raspberry jam. Pairing-wise, this frosting is a great match for dark chocolate, but it would also complement regular chocolate, white, almond, or lemon cake or cupcakes very well.

If you’re after a more brilliant pink shade, just add a few drops of red food coloring or a bit of pink gel paste food coloring to help it along; just be careful not to thin the frosting too much with liquid food coloring or it’ll be too thin to pipe well.

The recipe below frosted 24 miniature and 10 regular-sized cupcakes, so it would probably be enough for 24 regular-sized cupcakes, depending on how much frosting you like per treat.

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and jam until very well-combined, about two minutes; the mixture will be lumpy, but that’s okay.

Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating for about 2 minutes between each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl frequently. Continue to beat until frosting is very smooth.

Transfer frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe onto cupcakes. Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before serving.

Chocolate Buttercream

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes people tell me they don’t like frosting, that they really like the cake better. I’ve never understood this. I mean, what is cake if not a vehicle for frosting? Why would someone choose plain cake, without the accompanying combination of butter or shortening and powdered sugar and flavorings?

Because I prefer opposites in baking–in that yellow or white cake is, to my palate, most pleasing when paired with chocolate frosting–I believe this chocolate buttercream to be an excellent companion for yellow, white, or almond cakes or cupcakes. Chocolate fans will enjoy it with chocolate cake, too. This recipe yields more than enough for 24 cupcakes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

In a large bowl, sift together powdered sugar and cocoa powder; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter for about one minute. Add salt and beat for another 30 seconds.

Add powdered sugar and cocoa and beat on low speed to incorporate as much sugar into the butter as you can.  I cover my mixing bowl with a kitchen towel during this step to prevent a sugar storm.

Add three tablespoons milk and two teaspoons vanilla extract; beat for three minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and add the final teaspoon vanilla extract, then beat for another minute.