Sunday, May 16, 2010

Classic Yellow Cupcakes

Oh goodness me. Can someone teach me how to frost a cupcake? Apparently, I suck at this. These cupcakes were so cute out of the oven, and then I pulled out my piping bag, tips and all. Next thing you know, there I was, "piping" globs of frosting on them, desperately trying to maintain some coherent design, but really just creating what I can only describe as poo-like piles. Sorry for the description, but I need some pointers! Fellow bakers, how do you frost your cupcakes so beautifully, and why do mine always look so...strange? I read all the tips in Joy of Baking, even watched some videos, but something always goes astray. Either I pull away too quickly and end up with skinny tubes, or pipe for too long and end up with big puddles. Maybe I just need a different piping tip. Yup, that must be it. Blame it on the tools, not the handy man woman.

Luckily, I was able to somewhat salvage these cupcakes by using the frosting as more of a glue and sticking on some little chocolate chips (another reason why I love chocolate chips!). And in all seriousness, these cupcakes were rich, moist, and just sweet enough with a subtle hint of vanilla. Utterly delicious - botched-up frosting and all.

Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting (adapted from Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, makes about 18 cupcakes)

*2 cups all-purpose flour
*1 1/2 cup sugar
*2 teaspoons baking powder
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*pinch of salt
*6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
*1 cup whole milk
*2 eggs
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
* 2 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
* 8 Tb cocoa powder
* 6 Tb butter, at room temperature
* 1 tsp vanilla
* 2 Tb milk

1. In a large bowl, sift together the confectioners sugar and cocoa, and set aside.
2. In another large bowl, cream butter until smooth. Gradually add in one quarter of the sugar mixture, 2 Tb at a time. Add in all of the vanilla, then another quarter of the sugar mixture, two tablespoons at a time. The mixture should be firm. At this point, gradually add the milk, about a 1/2 tablespoon at at a time, alternating with 2 tablespoons at a time of the rest of the sugar mixture.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a hand-held electric whisk) and beat on slow until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
3. Whisk the eggs, vanilla extract, and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not over-mix.
4. Pour the mixture into a muffin pan lined with paper cases until two thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched (smaller cupcakes will need 3-5 minutes less baking time).
5. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out on to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
6. When the cupcakes are cold, frost with chocolate buttercream frosting. To


  1. Hey Ms. Meanie! I would never have known that you had problems with icing if you didn't mention it. The first thing I thought was 'pretty photo' upon clicking onto your site. These looks yummy by the way-really yummy!

  2. Agreed with Stella, I was totally looking at how awesome the whole photograph was and wasn't even noticing that you had "issues"! I always think it's hard to find good "white" cake recipes, since everyone (or at least me...) always wants chocolate cake. I think I'll be tempted to make some white cupcakes next time using this recipe.

    As for the decorating, you'll just have to keep on making cupcakes so you can practice! Awww, could be worse, right?!

  3. What Sweet cupcakes (in both meanings of the word.) It looks to me as though the chocolate chips belong exactly where they are. They are a part of your blog's title. :D
    You are not alone with the frosting/piping woes. I can manage 2, maybe 3 semi-decent looking shapes before they turn into, what I like to call, abstract/edgy art. :) I think it must come easier with had better.

    I like you cupcakes just as they are.

  4. Dude these are ADORABLE! I don't know what you're talking about.

    I have been looking for a good yellow cupcake recipe and I'm SO glad you posted this!

  5. great save... but compared to me, you're a decorating genius

  6. These look delicious Ms. Meanie. Your frosting skills are wonderful. Sometimes people fuss too much with decoration and it almost takes away from the food. Your cupcakes are just right. And I know they were delicious. =)

    P.S. Under 'Chocolate Buttercream Frosting', I think you meant to say 2 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar. =)

    P.P.S. Are we going to be seeing a chocolate chip pizza anytime soon? I bet you could make something amazing with chocolate and white chocolate chips, nuts maybe... ;-)p

  7. spettacolari! sembrano usciti da una pasticceria! complimenti!! ciao!

  8. I think these turned out adorable! I'd love to reach in and eat one right now :)

  9. it was DEFINITELY the tools. clearly.
    seriously, they look fine to me, and chocolate chips cover any number of blemishes AND add texture and flavor. right on, ms meanie!

  10. I agree with Grace; it is the tool's fault, not yours! haha I think the cupcakes look perfect. I feel your pain though. I still need a lot of help with frosting. When I bought bigger tips (12 and 21), the frosting looked a lot better, but I still need work. You are too funny! I love how you described what the frosting attempts looked like.

    I've been looking for a yellow cupcake recipe. I'm going to try this out.

  11. Yep, I thought they look great! How can you be bad at this?

  12. These look great.... that's why I clicked on the picture via foodgawker! As someone who makes a lot of cupcakes, though, I think you DO need a different tip for the look you are wanting. The one you are using looks pretty small. I know that they have larger tips at any craft store, and they are much easier to use. Good luck and happy piping! I'm excited to try your recipe!

  13. Adorable save! I didn't read through all your comments, so excuse me if someone already told you this, but you need to use a large pastry tip - like a Wilton 1M or 2D. I use them for all cupcakes and most cakes as well. They are sold separately from the usual tips that are included with many beginner kits. I get mine at Wal-Mart or Michael's for under $2.

    Happy Baking!


    Visit my blog for a photo

  14. PS - If you visit my blog, click on my cupcake tag to see some cupcakes that were frosted with the large tips that I mentioned above.


  15. You crazy. Your cupcakes (frosting included) look smashing, my dear. I would put away a dozen of them in a heartbeat.

    But if it still bothers you, it could be the amount of the ingredients in the frosting. Do you add the milk into your buttercream all at once? Or gradually to thin it out?

  16. Your cupcakes look delicious and the piping is great too! But I know what you mean about not having them turn out the way you want them too--it's just all about the practice. You'll be happy with your improvements after a few more practices--I'm still picky about my piping and I find that it continues to improve with more and more practice. :)

  17. What kinds of tips do you use? Plastic or metal? I ask because I have used both and I find that the best results come from metal tips. You can check out some of my cupcakes here for a German cupcake project I'm working on (I live in Germany): and I can tell you which tips I used for any of the frostings you see that you like. Also, in all my experimenting, I find that to get good results you need a slightly chilled frosting. you can try this chocolate frosting recipe of mine that works every time and people die for it (I measure the butter and margarine by weight because it's more accurate):

    Doubled Chocolate Frosting Buttercream-Icing
    226g solid vegetable shortening
    226g butter or margarine, softened
    1 1/2 cups Dutch processed cocoa powder
    2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    375g Powdered Sugar
    2 tablespoons milk

    In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add cocoa and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

  18. Wow! Thank you everyone! I am so amazed by the feedback I have received from this post.

    Stella, Rebecca, Valerie, Joanne, Justine, Federica, Lynn, Grace, Memoria, tigerfish -- THANK YOU for your kind words. :)

    Ree -- Thank you and thanks for pointing out my mistake! Fixed now!

    Nicole -- Thanks! I think I will definitely invest in a larger tip.

    ButterYum -- Thanks for the pointers. I will invest in some new tips. Your tres leches cake looks gorgeous!

    Ali -- Thanks! I add the milk in gradually. I try very hard to make sure I don't put too much of anything. It usually takes me at least half an hour to make even a small batch of frosting because I am constantly tasting, then adding ingredients, then tasting, and so on..

    Jill -- Thanks, yes, I definitely need more practice. But at least this is something I don't mind practicing. :)

    Myammi -- I use metal tips. Chilling the frosting is a great idea! I will try that next time. Thank for the suggestions and the recipe!

  19. Vanilla (yellow) cupcakes are some of my favorites -- but it does tend to be difficult to find good recipes! I'll put this on my list of one to try.

    Photos are just gorgeous, btw.

  20. How I wish I could help you, I am in the exact same situation and had the exact same thought about "poo like" appearance of my cupcakes last time I tried to pipe chocolate frosting on my cupcakes. Anyway, I just thought I would let you know that you are not alone and maybe there is hope for both of us with more practice!

  21. I think they're beautiful just as they are. I love the chocolate chips on top!

  22. I'm still learning myself - trust me it takes practice!! They look beautiful btw!

  23. I thought your cupcakes were awesome! If you want to see some really BAD piping, you should see mine.
    I need a big class in this dept.!

  24. Um, hello? Your cupcakes look GORGEOUS! No frosting issues detected! But I suck at frosting...seriously. They look like poop plopped on my lovely cakes, so I never frost mine.

  25. Hey Ms. Meanie! I was just checking in to see what your'e up to tonight...
    Hope all is well in your world (smile).

  26. Been looking for THE vanilla cupcake; will certainly have to give these a try.

    I'm not good at frosting either. I use a Wilton 1M tip, start at the center of the cupcake and turn the cupcake as I squeeze the bag with the other hand. Takes a bit of practice, but actually it works well and looks great.

  27. They look delicious!! You did a great job they look delish, I don't know how to frost, but that choc chip tip is awesome!!! Thanks xxx