In the winter, I work at a nursery (I do avian field work in the summer.) I figure if I can’t be chasing birds through the forest I might as well be helping there be future forests. We just finished up sowing this year’s crop so it was announced that we were going to have a potluck lunch to celebrate. However, it was also a surprise party for a coworker’s 60th birthday. Sharon had told me that she likes white cake, so I made a dozen vanilla cupcakes plus a dozen chocolate, using a recipe I had cut out of my gramma’s Chatelaine magazine several years ago.
Vanilla or Chocolate Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
for either recipe:
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners. Place flour in a medium bowl, sift in cocoa (if using) Stir in baking powder, baking soda (if using), and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in vanilla. Beat in 1/3 of flour mixture, then 1/2 milk. Repeat additions, ending with flour, beating until just blended each time. Divide batter between muffin cups.
Bake until tops spring back when lightly touched, and/or toothpick inserted comes out clean. This is 20 to 25 minutes for the vanilla and 16 to 20 minutes for the chocolate. Remove pan to a rack to cool. After 10 minutes, remove cupcakes to a rack to cool completely. Frost when cool.
Speaking of Gramma, although I don’t sift my flour, I do use her sifter for icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar for my American readers) and cocoa. I worked at Roger’s Sugar in the winter of 2004, and spent a lot of time covered in icing sugar dust, so I get a little nostalgic every time I use it.
I frosted the cupcakes with my favourite buttercream recipe from Allrecipes.com, using 1.5 times the recipe for 24 cupcakes.
Having read The Unhealthy Truth by Robin O’Brien I have become much more aware of and against the use of artificial food dyes in so much of our food, but you wouldn’t know it from these! Although it is pretty obvious these are coloured, and it is an important part of the presentation for this special occasion. But do we really need dyes in fruit juice, cheese, doughnuts (and I mean the doughnut itself, I’m not even talking about the icing), etc?
I just snipped the corner off a sandwich bag to decorate these, so that is an explanation for part of the sloppiness. It also took me much longer that I anticipated (as always!) so things got a little messier as it got farther and farther past my bedtime. And creativity definitely dropped off. Seriously, what was I thinking when I did that ugly spiral? But hey, throw brightly coloured cupcakes in front of a crowd and they’ll ooh and ah every time. (Although I think next time I’ll won’t tint the colours quite so intensely.)
Do you have any feelings about food dyes? Do you like making cupcakes? Eating them? Vanilla or chocolate?