Yes that’s right, not only is 17 August the birthday of Davy Crockett, the day Azaria Chamberlain got a little too friendly with a dingo and the day the truly unforgettable Dominican Republic’s national anthem Himno Nacional was first performed in public but today was also the Cupcake Day for the RSPCA. An excuse for people around the country to stuff themselves with tasty, tasty cupcakes, all totally calorie-free due to their contribution to charity. Ovens and the willpower of those who live with bakers were pushed to the limit yesterday around Australia as people baked up a storm to take cupcakes into their schools and workplaces today to sell, with all proceeds going to the RSPCA.
I have to admit the whole process was a bit of a struggle for this particular baker, who for one reason or another may possibly have been feeling ever so slightly under the weather yesterday. The couch was calling me to her gentle embrace, and I did allow myself some quality pizza-eating, lame-Sunday-night-TV-watching relaxation time but then was back into baking mode. I made two types of cupcakes, and had made them both before, so at least I could switch my brain off while baking. The decorating took a little more concentration though, as I’d never done such things before, but luckily the engineer in me had risen to the surface and I’d actually drawn up some plans.
The first lot of cupcakes I made were the carrot cupcakes that I’d spoken of before, the recipe coming from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook. I wanted to decorate these like little bunny faces, given the carrot theme, but they kind of ended up looking a little cat-like or mousey. Call them what you like, just don’t call them late for afternoon tea.
I first covered them with the cream cheese frosting recipe recommended in the Crabapple cookbook (I ended up having to add extra icing sugar to get the right consistency.. I didn’t want their faces sliding off in the middle of the night as I slept blissfully unaware). I then sprinkled over some shredded coconut to give their faces some furriness. Next came the ears, which I made by slicing white marshmallows in half and then dipping the cut side into pink sugar (which I just made by mixing some food colouring in with some caster sugar). The pink jellybean nose and brown m&m eyes came next, followed by chocolate sprinkle whiskers.
I also made some banana and macadamia cupcakes, again from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook. I’ve made these before but not posted about it, so I’ll include the recipe below. I planned to decorate these like owls, getting the idea from the book Hello, Cupcake! which I do not own but have coveted for a little while. I varied from their method a little, using yellow jellybeans for the nose instead of banana runts, and I didn’t add the “feathers” with extra piped frosting as I thought this looked messy (I can assure you this decision had nothing to do with my couch’s siren song).
So, to decorate the owls I first iced them with the chocolate frosting recommended by the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook (recipe below). I then stuck on the Oreo eyes, consisting of two Oreo halves with the white bits still attached. It was surprisingly easy to separate the Oreos, and I just scraped off any obvious bits of chocolate cookie still left on there with a knife. The pupils for the eyes are Junior Mints, stuck on with a little dob of icing. The noses, as mentioned, are yellow jellybeans and the eyebrowy tufty bits are pieces from the piles of leftover plain Oreo pieces you have from needing all the other halves for your eyes.
Similar to the carrot cupcake recipe, the banana macadamia recipe makes a lot more than the cookbook states. I remembered this for the carrot cupcakes, and just did half the recipe (I’ve already halved it in the recipe I’ve linked to) but forgot about this for the banana macadamias and ended up with more cupcakes than I was willing to turn into owls. Luckily I had piles of leftover m&ms (sans brown) and leftover chocolate frosting, so I just made some m&ms decorated ones as well.
I sold my cupcakes, as well as the cupcakes of a couple of other fellow bakers, in the foyer of my department at uni. We had five different types of cupcakes, selling each one for $2 to an eager crowd. I was so impressed with the turnout, at the end of the sale had well over $200 in my little money bag, and everyone in the building was simultaneously pinging on sugar. I packed up and quickly retreated home before the inevitable crash.
Banana and Macadamia Cupcakes
Recipe from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook
The recipe says it makes 24, but I ended up with more like 36
3 1/3 cups plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
250 g softened unsalted butter
3 cups caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups mashed overripe bananas
3/4 cup macadamias, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Line cupcake trays with cupcake papers.
2. Sift together the flour, bicarb of soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice.
3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the caster sugar a third at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. After the last addition, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved.
4. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
5. Add a third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add half of the buttermilk and half of the mashed banana and beat until combined. Repeat this process. Add the remaining third of the flour mixture and beat until thoroughly combined; do not overbeat as this will toughen the mixture.
6. Add the chopped macadamias and beat until evenly combined.
7. Spoon mixture into cupcake papers, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before frosting.
Chocolate Fudge Frosting
Recipe from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook
Makes 4 cups frosting
8 cups icing sugar
1 cup cocoa
200 g softened butter (I used unsalted)
3/4 cup milk
1 Tb vanilla extract
1. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the milk, vanilla extract and half of the icing sugar mixture, and beat for at least 3 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
3. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy and of a spreadable consistency. Add extra milk if the mixture is too dry or extra icing sugar if the mixture is too wet.
4. You can use this frosting immediately, or keep it for up to one week