Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lesson 3: Cupcakes

I have been eating and making cupcakes for my entire life.  I learned from the best - my mom.  My mother is a cupcake master.  She knows the secrets to making the perfect cupcake.  Homemade frosting is a must!

My mom has this way of swirling the frosting on the cupcake just perfectly.  I always wanted to be able to imitate such perfection.  She makes it look so easy, just a few swirls with the back of a spoon and voila!  We always had cupcakes for our birthdays, never cake.  I'm not really sure why, but that was our tradition.  (I was going to include a picture from my childhood here, but then I realized my photo album is packed away somewhere on my parents' patio - so you'll just have to use your imagination.)

So when it came time for this lesson, I wasn't sure I was going to learn all that much.  I mean - how could one improve on such a cupcake?  Most store-bought cupcakes have waaaaaaay too much frosting.  And it tastes like shortening.  Yummy.

But I did learn a number of valuable things.  The first was how to fill a cupcake.  Basically, you get an appropriate filling, stick it in a piping bag with tip number 230, (which is completely useless for anything else) stick it in the cupcake, and fill.  This is surprising difficult because it is nearly impossible to procure this tip.  Trust me.  I looked everywhere.  I ended up buying this lovely "cupcake decorating kit."  Which is basically just a really expensive way to wrap this special tip, a few piping bags and a couple other cheap tips and sell it for 9 dollars.  Fortunately I used a coupon and got 60% off.
12-Pieces???  That's cause 8 of them are piping bags, 
which you can buy in bulk.  Boo.

I didn't think I would ever use filling in a cupcake again - but it was surprisingly good.  I decided to do yellow cupcakes with a butterscotch filling.  My mom thought they were great but my dad wasn't a big fan of the filling.  I thought it added a nice sort of different texture that really added to the taste of the cupcake.  I'm not saying all my cupcakes will be filled from now on, but I am glad that I caved and bought the special tip.

 My little niece Elisa was helping me make the frosting for class. She kept looking in my book to see what was next.  
(If you don't understand why that's cute, she's 2 1/2, she can't read)

After filling the cupcakes, we frosted them with white frosting using a cupcake nail.  Still getting the hang of that.  Then first we made pompom flowers.  Here's the Wilton example:

And mine:

You start with a ball as a base (getting much better at those!).  Then you add the dark blue middle, followed by the layers of light blue.  Mary said mine were great!  The colors below look different, but they are the same as the picture above, it's just the lighting.

They sort of remind me of cacti - blue cacti.

Next, I learned why my leaves never turn out correctly.  I've been using the tip incorrectly!  One small change and poof - perfect leaves.

 Beautiful, unbroken leaves.

Now I'm a leaf making machine.  I predict there will be many more leaves in my cake future.  They are really fun to make.

After adding the leaves to the cupcakes, we piped the shaggy mums.  Using one of my favorite tips (the grass tip), you slowly add layer on layer to get this, um, shaggy look.  Hence the name.
This is the Wilton Example.

 And these are my shaggy mums.  Pretty good!

Look at that awesome leaf!
My family gave their stamp of approval on the cupcakes.  My mom even wanted me to decorate more!

Next week: the final cake! (for class that is.  Or this would be a very short-lived blog.)

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