Cupcakes and Kittens

Australian Women’s Weekly Patty Cakes with Vanilla Buttercream, Peas and Peonies Galaxy frosting method

It’s been a long couple of weeks.  Between office life and changes in our personal life plans, I’ve only just realised I’ve been at my fantastic job for nearly a year.  How fast does time go by…

Oh, and I filed for my Australian citizenship.  Let the frustrations and stress of dealing with government paperwork begin!

Anyway, on to the sweet stuff.  Cupcakes and kittens! And Puppies and brownies and everything in between!

August 21st is RSPCA Cupcake Day.  Well, that’s the official date, but they encourage animal lovers to participate for the whole month of August.  My office will be celebrating on August 14th.  The entire support division of the company is pitching in to make a fantastic morning tea and raise funds.

The RSPCA holds a special place in my heart.  My little furball Minou is a rescue kitty, who has become more than just a pet.  She’s our cuddle monster, the best source of entertainment, and my companion animal.  There have been dark moments in my life where she’s never left my side, as if knowing that giving me a cuddle would help.  She’s integrated so much into our lives I quite honestly can not imagine my life without her.


The RSPCA is not just about puppies and kittens.  They’re advocates for animal welfare as a whole.  Part of their organisation visits farms, breeders or pet owners to investigate reports of abuse or cruelty.  They educate the public on proper care and protection of animals through various channels.  They are a group that gives a voice to those who don’t have one.

For our Cupcake Day, I’m combining the traditional with the modern with a vanilla cupcake and vanilla frosting with a twist.  Instead of plain white coloured frosting, I’m going to try something different that’s been trending for the last few months (at least that’s what it seems like on my Facebook feed!).  I’m going to attempt to make galaxy frosting, using Peas and Peonies tutorial video. For the cupcake itself, I’m looking to an Australian staple in every kitchen – Australian Women’s Weekly Patty cakes with vanilla buttercream.

Australian Women’s Weekly is to Australian kitchens as Cooking Light or Taste of Home is to American home cooks.  It’s been a staple in Australian homes for over 80 years, with recipes from everything from children’s birthday cakes to cocktails.

I found the cupcake recipe (or “patty cakes” as AWW call them) in the AWW book How to Cook Absolutely Everything.  I was first introduced to AWW with this book, which my mum in law gave me for Christmas a few years ago.  The titale says it all.  It has absolutely everything in it.  You could very easily cook a 6 course meal with cocktails and after dinner drinks with this book.  This book is perfect for the amateur cook who wants a reference to any Australian staple and the perfect gift for anyone who enjoys entertaining.
Now let’s get on to some galactic cupcakes!

 

The Good, the Bad, the Inedible

Patty cakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Patty Cakes

  • 125 grams (1 1/4 cup butter)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (150 grams) caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (225 grams) self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) milk

Vanilla Butter Cream

  • 125g butter (1 1/4 cup butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (240 grams) icing sugar
  • 2 TBSP milk

 

  1. Preheat oven to moderate (180C/350F) Line two deep 12-hole patty pans with paper cases.
  2. Combine ingredients in small bowl of electric mixer, beat on low speed until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium; beat about 3 minutes or until mixture is smooth and changed to a paler colour.
  3. Drop slightly rounded tablespoons of mixture into paper cases.  Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes.  Turn cakes onto wire rack; turn top-side up to cool.
  4. Make vanilla butter cream. Decorate cakes as desired.

Vanilla Butter Cream – Beat butter and extract in small bowl with electric mixer until white as possible. gradually beat in half the sifted icing sugar, milk, then remaining icing sugar.  Tint with food colouring, if desired.

Galaxy Frosting

  1. Start by preparing your work area, gel food color can easily stain your working surface so cover it with parchment paper or plastic wrap.
  2. Fix a piping bag with a large star tip, or any other piping tip that you like. Place the bag inside of a tall glass, and slightly turn it inside out at the opening.
  3. Add a few drops, about 1/2 teaspoon of gel food color to 3 small bowls, and using 3 different coloring brushes paint the gel food color on the inside of the pastry bag.I recommend overlapping colors in some spots, leaving a few tiny uncolored spots, in some places to add a more concentrated layer. I recommend coloring 2/3 of the pastry bag.Having the bag in a tall glass makes handling it much easier, and also any excess gel food color will drain to the bottom of the glass. Adding the buttercream is also much easier this way.
  4. Fill the pastry bag 2/3 with buttercream and secure it with a pastry bag ring/elastic.
  5. Pipe a little and dump, as the color will be very concentrated at the tip.
  6. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes and decorate with edible glitter silver stars.
  7. Refrigerate cupcakes at least one hour before serving.  Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.  Enjoy!

The Good

There’s one thing that’s pretty practical about this recipe.  To make the patty cakes and buttercream, you only need in total one 250g stick of butter – 125 grams go into the patty cakes, 125 in the butter cream.  That makes it really easy to split.  I hate it when recipes call for an obscure amount of an ingredient that you’re left with an odd measurement leftover.

The recipe as a whole is incredibly easy, which makes it great to do if you have kids around are not the most talented baker out there.  And the batter definitely makes exactly 24 cupcakes, or 12 if you like them super huge.

Now, don’t be alarmed, I added some food dye to make the cupcakes purple to go with the galactic frosting method I was going to try.

The Bad and Inedible

There isn’t anything inedible about this recipe.  But if you’re like me, you want a flavourful, moist cupcake.  Unfortunately these cupcakes just don’t cut it. They’re bland, and incredibly dry.

I’ve looked through the other recipes I use for cupcakes, and there’s a few difference that stood out.  For starters, other recipes have much more wet ingredients and the instructions call for you to alternate in adding the wet and dry ingredients.  Using this alternating method creates even distribution of all the ingredients.  Dry ingredients are lighter than the wet and so wont distribute properly if you dump them all in one go.  They also create a skin on your batter that prevent the mix from being even.  So it makes pretty good sense to do this with any cupcakes or cakes.  Why AWW doesn’t do this, I don’t know.

Now, on to the butter cream.  I think I figured out what this recipes is really for.  It’s simple, easy, but barely made any frosting for the cupcakes (only about 1 1/2 cups).  It’s a recipe for children.  I don’t hold back when it comes to my sweet tooth, and unfortunately this buttercream recipe doesn’t make enough buttercream for me.  It make about a 1:3 ratio of butter cream to cupcake, which is next to nothing in my book.  But when I added another cup of icing sugar it made plenty of frosting to go around. It was pretty hard, so don’t forget to add more vanilla and milk.

I played around with this entire recipe to improve it and nothing I did would cut it.  So instead, I’m going to share you my go to vanilla cupcakes from The Key Ingredient. These are brilliant, and almost just as easy as AWW’s patty cakes.  I know this goes against the rules of this blog, but anything I changed just brought the modified recipe closer to the one below.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

 

  1. Adjust rack to lower third of oven; preheat the oven to 375°F. Place paper cupcake liners in a 12-cup muffin pan.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt onto a piece of waxed paper.
  3. Place the milk in a small bowl. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar in a slow, steady stream beating until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until the batter is light and creamy, and scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl after each addition. Add the dry ingredients alternating with the liquid ingredients in 4 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
  6. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the top of the muffins springs back when lightly touched, and a wooden toothpick inserted in the cakes comes out free of uncooked batter.
  7. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

Galaxy Frosting Method

Okay, these might take a bit of practice but the end result is brilliant.  And Peas and Peonies’ method is incredibly easy.

But, whatever you do, do not use regular food colouring, or airbrush colour, and cover any white surface you have.  Food gel will stain!  Take it from me, the perpetual messy baker.  Getting blue food gel dye out of my speckled Ceaserstone bench top was hell!

Cupcake Day at the office was an amazing success. We smashed our goal of $500 by about $100. A charity event like this really shows how people will band together for a great cause, and that reflects on the integrity of the company.

I’ve only been working at this company for about nine months, and Cupcake Day showed to me why I love working with the people that I see week in and week out. They’re smart, generous and never afraid to lend a helping hand. Working with these people just makes my job that much more enjoyable.

Til next time!

2 thoughts on “Cupcakes and Kittens

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