Friday, June 04, 2010

More Than You Want to Know About Cupcakes....

I opted to serve cupcakes instead of sheet cake at Melody's CD release reception for several reasons. One, they are easier for an amateur to bake and decorate. I started baking about a month in advance, popped the unfrosted cakes in the freezer, and frosted them all at once on the week-end of the big event.
Other advantages:
  • you don't have to mess with cutting the cake
  • no need to enlist an extra hand to serve cake
  • a greater variety of flavors can be offered
  • they are just so darned cute!
There are all kinds of cupcake trees available for purchase, but I ended up with this 3-tiered glass set by Anchor Hocking. It was inexpensive and elegant, and since it can be taken apart, it's versatile as well.

The Cake Mix Doctor is my go-to book for cakes, but for economy & ease I decided to skip the premium ingredients and go for the simplicity of cake mixes. (Duncan Hines makes a great red velvet mix!) The crowning glory was the silky buttercream frosting and I piped it on as artfully as possible using an icing bag and a 1 M decorator's tip. Filling the decorating bag with frosting is easier if you place it in an upright drinking glass like this:

Here is the recipe for the Buttercream Frosting. It was one I found on the web, and tweaked slightly by switching out part of the butter for shortening. I would have used 100% butter if the cupcakes hadn't needed to be transported; the shortening gives the frosting a little more stability to endure warmth and transport. This makes a lot of frosting, one batch can probably frost about 75 cupcakes, depending how thick you lay it on.

Silky Buttercream Frosting

1 lb. butter (4 sticks), unsalted
1 c. (or 1 lg. stick) butter flavored shortening
2 tsp. vanilla extract (clear)
2 tsp. salt
1 Tblsp. corn syrup
2 lb. confectioners sugar, sifted

Blend shortening and butter together well. Add vanilla, salt and corn syrup. Blend well.
Add sugar in small batches, until it is all incorporated. Blend until light and fluffy.

To make chocolate frosting, mix about 1 c. of cocoa in with the sugar before adding to the shortening mixture. Almond extract complements the chocolate.

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