Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cupcake Birthday

For my birthday this year, my mother sent me a cupcake decorating set: 50 metal icing tips in a case, a guidebook on how to make flowers and other decorations, frosting bags, and all sorts of other accoutrements in a handy plastic case. I took the day off on my birthday and practiced, producing about 5 dozen cupcakes. I brought them around with me all week, including to the bowling alley on Saturday night where my friends joined me for a few hours of bowling. I used the cupcake display rack that my mother got me for Christmas.

Lemon cupcakes are always surprising, so I made two dozen and decorated them with lemon frosting. I ran out of lemon extract, so they would have been more tart had I used it. As they were, they were just subtly lemon-ish. I wanted to make gerber daisies and pansies, but mostly, these turned out like huge, cartoonish flowers. My mother had warned me against using too much of the icing tint as the colors get darker the longer the icing sits. No one complained, though, and in fact, someone asked if I'd make cupcakes for her daughter's birthday in a few months.

When I was young, my mother used to decorate cakes for friends and friends of friends. She was in high demand, and I remember one year I learned how to do type-setting in a class in school and I made her a stack of business cards. I wish I had the entrepreneurial spirit that it takes to start up a home business with things like this. Maybe I just need a business partner.

Lovely Lemon Cupcakes

1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp ground lemon zest

3 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners and set aside. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In medium bowl, beat the butter till light and fluffy. With the mixer on high speed, gradually beat in sugar, and continue beating till mixture is very light and fluffy. Lower speed to medium, beat in eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended, then beat in lemon juice and zest. Lower speed to low, and alternately beat in flour mixture and yogurt, beating just till blended. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups of confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp lemon juice

Beat the butter until it's creamy, and gradually add one cup of confectioner's sugar, along with the vanilla and lemon juice. Set aside about 1/3 of the icing for decorative flowers. With the remaining 2/3, add a tint if you like and frost the tops of the cupcakes, once they've cooled. Go back to your 1/3 reserved icing and add more confectioner's sugar until you have a nice, thick icing. Decide how many colors you want (leaves, flowers, etc.) and divide that frosting into small bowls for tinting. Remember not to use too much or the colors come out ridiculous (see below).

I brought these cupcakes to work to share with colleagues, for drinks with a group of old friends, and then to the bowling alley. Surprising that there were still some left.

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