Patriotic Flower Cupcakes

patriotic floer cupcakesHappy Independence Day, Americans! I’m grateful to be an American, even though our country has astonishing problems yet to fully acknowledge, let alone solve. Today I’ve made some patriotic flower-themed cupcakes to celebrate, which will go to work with Mike on Tuesday. They’re a classic yellow cupcake with almond buttercream, a request from one of his colleagues.

One skill I acquired during quarantine was the ability to pipe buttercream flowers, and I used that skill with varying degrees of success for these cupcakes. I piped various blossoms and other shapes, but my favorites are actually the plain, sort of hydrangea-looking ones that I made with a medium closed star tip, like the red cupcake at the bottom center of the photo above.

Ingredients

For the yellow cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 1/3 tablespoons butter, slightly softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons sugar cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

For the almond buttercream

  • 12 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • Red, cornflower blue, and moss green gel food coloring

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line two muffin tins with paper liners; you’ll need 15.

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

In a mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for one minute. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined, then add egg and beat well. Add flour mixture and milk alternatively, beating until combined.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into prepared muffin cups, filling about half-full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

To make almond buttercream, in a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 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.

To frost, divide your frosting into portions of red, blue, green, and white and tint to your desired shades. Use whatever tips you like to create your flowers; I used a medium closed star, small open star, petal tip, plain tip, and leaf tip.

Store in an airtight container at a cool room temperature for 2-3 days. Makes 15.

Patriotic Cupcakes

Happy Independence Day, Americans! I haven’t done a lot of red, white, and blue baking, so this year I thought I’d whip up some patriotic cupcakes and practice my frosting tinting and piping skills while I was at it. I also experimented with a new buttercream, based on a Wilton recipe that uses both butter and shortening. I’m pleased to say it turned out very well!

Tint-wise, I wanted to make “colonial” colors – darker blue and red than what you’d get with your standard gel food coloring. To make a color darker, you need a hint of black, and let me stress the word “hint” here – it’s really a teeny, tiny amount. While my colonial blue turned out very well, my colonial red turned out more like raspberry. I’ll use it on something else, but I was glad to have plenty of white frosting for a second batch of red – this red is just your standard red gel food coloring, though in a very generous amount. Design-wise, the flag cupcakes are my favorites; alas, my fireworks cupcakes (the ones on the center ends in the photo above) look far too much like something that contains genetic material for my liking. Oh well…we pipe, and we learn.

Ingredients

For the vanilla cupcakes

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

For the Wilton-inspired buttercream

  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 –  1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
  • Royal blue gel food coloring
  • Red gel food coloring
  • Black gel food coloring

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-count cupcake tin with paper liners.

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

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until very well-blended. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined; scrape down the sides of your bowl a few times during this step.

Add flour and milk alternatively in two batches, beginning and ending with the flour and beating until completely combined.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into cupcake wells, dividing evenly and filling about 2/3 to 3/4 full.

Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and remove cupcakes from the tin; cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

To make the frosting, place butter and shortening in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat for 1-2 minutes, until very well-combined. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing very well between each addition. Add vanilla and heavy cream, beating for 1-2 minutes on medium-high speed; if your frosting is too thick, add another 1/2 tablespoon of heavy cream.

Divide frosting into three portions. Reserve 1 portion for white; using an offset spatula, frost the tops of each cupcake with a base of white.

Tint one portion colonial blue using royal blue and a very, very small amount of black. Tint the other portion red.

Fit two pastry bags with small star tips and pipe designs as you like. I chose the following:

  • Stars (top left and bottom ends in the photo above) – pipe a ring of blue around the edge of the cupcake, then fill in with red stars
  • Fireworks (center ends) – pipe red and blue stars with tails
  • Waves (top right) – pipe alternating red and blue waves
  • Flags (center) – pipe a patch of blue on the upper left-hand side, then add red stripes
  • Full coverage stars (bottom center) – pipe blue stars to totally cover the top of your cupcake, then add red star accents

Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Makes 12.