Monday, April 19, 2010

Birthday cupcakes

A few weeks ago, one of my favorite coworkers asked me to do him a favor, and it was a favor I could not refuse. His son works in our office, too, and was turning 18 the next day, so the coworker asked if I would mind making something for Ben's birthday. After a few semi-teasing exchanges demanding that this coworker make deadline or stop filing long stories, I agreed to make cupcakes. (Don't hate - I'm a sucker for baking!) I didn't have a ton of time, but I thought I had enough basic ingredients so that I could avoid a trip to the store.

I wanted to try a new recipe, so I searched the internet and found a basic cupcake recipe. I usually make the Wilton buttercream recipe but wanted to try something a bit different without the Wilton meringue powder, too (because I *knew* was out of that).

To me, the cupcakes themselves seemed to lack much of a sweet flavor, but the frosting helped bring that balance back. I might try substituting a different flavor for the vanilla or adding a bit more vanilla next time I try these to give them more of a cake flavor.

Ben loved having a baked surprise at work - he thought no one would even know it was his birthday - and he got a lot of attention once people knew the cupcakes were to celebrate his big day. (He did annoy a few of us with his "I'm so old! I'm working on my birthday" comments - cuz c'mon, kid, you're EIGHTEEN.) Ben shared his birthday treats and left me a super sweet note thanking me for them.

Easy Cupcake


• 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
• 1 1/3 cups sugar
• 3 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup shortening
• 1 cup milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 2 large eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add shortening, milk, and vanilla. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed. Scrape side of bowl with a spatula.

Add eggs to the mixture. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed. Scrape bowl again. Beat on high speed for 1 minute 30 seconds until well mixed.

Spoon cupcake batter into paper liners until 1/2 to 2/3 full.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 5 minutes in pans then remove and place on wire racks to cool completely.

Once cupcakes are completely cooled, frost with your favorite frosting recipe or decorate as you desire.

Buttercream frosting


* 1 cup unsalted butter or margarine, room temperature (use vegetable shortening when pure white icing is needed)
* 1/2 cup milk, room temperature
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons vanilla or other desired flavoring
* 2 pounds confectioners' sugar


Combine all the ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix at slow speed until smooth. If stiffer icing is needed, or if the weather is very warm, add a little extra sugar. This recipe is enough to cover and fill a 9 by 13-inch sheet cake or 2 (9-inch) layers.

Sources: (cupcakes), Food Network (buttercream)


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