April 17, 2010

A "Tiery" Time

Recently I was asked to make some cakes for a couple of friends. The mud cakes turned out great and are reliably consistent and delicious although terribly wicked. Happy customer. Happy cakemaker. Happy twenty first recipient.

The other request was by a friend whose future daughter-in-law wanted cupcakes. A casual engagement party. Her only request was that they be purple and white. A darker purple, not the lilac kind. And that was it. The creation was all mine. Now I must confess to a slight case of nerves. Good nerves though. Not the shake-in-my boots, pull-out-my-hair, oh-my-god-I-can't-do-this kind of nerves. Actually I was very impressed with myself if I may be so bold. I put in some practise to discover a really great buttercream recipe. I then made the cupcakes from the exact same cookbook and they equally turned out extremely well.

The book is surprisingly called "cupcakes" by Shelly Kaldunski. It's a little gem and of all the cupcake books out there at the moment I was very pleased I made the "right" choice. You have to have a good foundation, so once the buttercream and the cake mixture was mastered, my creativity stepped in and I became rather caught up in the whole cupcake affair. I will even go so far as to say I enjoyed it, which I really didn't think I would.

Cupcakes sure can be fiddly. They can also be awfully rewarding. It was so lovely to hear the gasps of delight as I assembled the tier on the night. Instead of hiring a stand which I felt was outrageously expensive, I bought a "high tea" stand, covered it with some organza material and white and purple ribbon. Underneath I roll hemmed a gorgeous deep purple piece of fabric upon which the whole thing sat. You can only visualise so much.

On the night I ended up scattering extra sugar hearts and fondant flowers and silver, pearl cachous to add some tizz. Together with a scattering of gold crystal and purple speckled glitter dust, this cupcake creation was definitely demanding to be noticed. And noticed it was. Although it was in a poorly lit dim part of the room, it didn't stop people from coming up and taking photos and admiring it throughout the evening.

Again. Happy customer. Happy cupcake maker. Happy engaged couple. I had heaps of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed my tiery time.

Vanilla Cupcakes
recipe from "cupcakes" by Shelly Kaldunski

200gm plain flour
1 1/2tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
185gm sugar
90gm unsalted butter at room temperature
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
125ml whole milk

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 180degrees C. Line a standard 12 cup muffin pan with paper or foil cases.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, 2-3minutes. Add the egg and egg white one at a time, beating well on low speed after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk in two additions, beating on low speed until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat on medium high speed just until no traces of flour remain, about thrity seconds; do not overbeat.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. 18-20minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for five minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely, about one hour.

Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream. The frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days. bring to room temperature before finishing. Garnish the cupcakes the the coloured sugars and nonpareils, if using and serve.

Buttercream Recipe

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
185gm sugar
pinch salt
250gm unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, at room temperature
flavourings of your choice

In a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch (about 71degC on an instant-read thermomenter), about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg white mixture until it is fluffy, cooled to room temperature and holds stiff peaks (the mixture should not look dry), about 6 minutes.

With the mixer on medium low speed, add the salt and the butter, a few pieces at a time, beating well after each addition. If the frosting appears to separate or is very liquid after all the butter is added, continue to beat on high speed until it is smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes more. Add the flavourings of your choice and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Use right away.


  1. Mariana, You did such a beautiful job witht he cupcakes...what gorgeous colours...im glad you enjoyed it.i would have been oh- my- god nervous. but i know its always rewarding when it turns out beautifully and the most rewarding part is the gasps you hear from the guests. i bet they taste as beautiful as they look!

    btw, Ive closed comments on my blog temporarily...I need the extra time I get to concentrate on other things for the moment...but you know where to get me if you'd like to get in touch ok...but of course ill always be dropping in here at your place to have a little chat with you ;)

  2. Thank you for your lovely compliment zurin - yes I can imagine you would fully understand how rewarding it is to hear the "gasps" of guests. Actually they really were delicious too. The recipe works and is very reliable.

    I have dropped by and I did notice your comment section closed. I was actually thinking what a funny thing it is. You know we all love to receive comments; it is like being heard, being admired, being recognised and acknowledged. It is so lovely. And yet if you are a person like me; and I feel you are a little like me - you most likely want to engage with everyone who reaches out to you and takes the time to comment. With me; it's easy. I don't get many and I would surely love to receive more. However then there is the catch 22, that when you do, it becomes time consuming to answer each and every one. I sense you are a generous person and would love to connect with all your readers, but practically; it just ain't possible. Oh the dilemmas of being too popular. Something I am far from being; hehe. Incidentally I am not whining; just observing and I guess "commenting".

    I am delighted to see you are back, but blogging on your own terms, so it takes some of the pressure away; is what I am thinking anyway. Please keep dropping in zurin; I love chatting with you and I hope you are in a better place with the whole blogging business.

    Mariana xxxxxxx

  3. It seems you are having a lot of fun. I haven't made cupcakes in ages because mine always seem to turn out dry. Perhaps I need to give your recipe a try.

  4. So pretty dear, what a lucky couple, what lucky guests. Dx

  5. Hey I am impressed too! These look totally pro and you were right on the money with the colors!

  6. gorgeous!!! i think some vanilla cupcakes may be just what this rainy saturday needs!

  7. Wow - the colours are just amazing.

    You did a great job.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Best Rgds

  8. I actually put the very first comment on but for some reason it isn't here any more so again I will say ........just wonderful looking cupcakes and the purple is just beautiful!! I will be trying that recipe that is for sure as they look soooo good.

  9. How are you dear? Miss you. Just checking in and hoping all is well with you. Dx

  10. Hi Mariana! hope all's well with you. Miss you.


  11. Oh these look so yummy!! I have to admit I have only done cupcakes twice and both times they turned out dry and disapointing. I will definately try this recipie though and see how I go!!! The icing looks so good I wanted to lick the photo. Lol. It was so great to see you in may. You look amazing and haven't aged one bit. Xx

  12. Looks like a fantastic display for your creations and I am glad that your cupcakes were appreciated. They should be, they look delicious!

  13. Hi Mariana,
    been thinking about you :) hope you're having a wonderful time n I look forward to seeing you blog again. :))

  14. Hi Mariana - I just came across your lovely blog whilst searching for a choc muc cake recipe - my son and his fiancee just got married in Vegas and they are coming back to the UK this week when they will be holding a get together for those of us who didn't join them in the States. I have been tasked with making a cake and have chickened out and ordered a cup cake tower from a supplier in London. However, I thought I might attempt the top cake and intend to use your recipe - will let you know how it turns out & do hope to see more of your lovely blog and ideas soon! Best wishes...Susie (in Bath, UK)