Red velvet cupcakes for Japan

Red velvet cupcakes for JapanLater this afternoon, we’re heading out to St Mary’s Church in Wimbledon for the Japan Tsunami Appeal Fundraising Fair. I’ve made these red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting to donate to the home-baking stall.

It’s my first bake-sale since becoming a mum – in fact it’s probably my first bake sale since high school – and I’m a little nervous…

I hadn’t used a piping bag before, and it was very much a case of learning as I went along. Preparing to ice the first batch cupcakes was a bit of a disaster as I tried to hold the bag open with one hand and spoon in the cream cheese frosting with the other. While the second batch cooked, I looked around my kitchen for a solution and settled on folding the edge of the piping bag over the edge of a pint glass to keep it open as I spooned the frosting in. Much easier to fill that way!

As you can see from the picture, my piping still needs work. On a couple of occasions, I missed the edge of the cupcake altogether (those ones have been reserved for my husband). Also, the icing wasn’t as white as I hoped it would be. Is some creaminess inevitable when the recipe includes butter?

While I’m asking questions, dear readers, what do you use to transfer the cupcake mix into the cases? It’s inevitable that our baby begins to cry as soon as I start spooning mine in. Then my concentration dips for a second, and suddenly I have dribbles down the sides which burn as they cook. Today, I tried using a soup ladle, which was quicker than a tablespoon, but probably less accurate.

Despite the wonky frosting and the occasional side burn, these cupcakes really do taste pretty good. When you bite into them, you get a great Hummingbird-style red and white effect – and I hope they’ll be okay on the stall. If you’re in the area, come by St Mary’s Church from 3-5pm and pick one up. Or don’t pick one up, but still come along. There’s also raffles and live music, sushi and face painting, and all proceeds go to the British Red Cross Japan Fundraising Appeal.

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4 Responses to Red velvet cupcakes for Japan

  1. * You can also fold the piping bag over your left hand and spoon it in with your right. The benefit then is you can squeeze your hand left hand to scrape frosting off your spatula.
    * The trick to piping is that the hand at the bottom of the bag (I think my left) is used to guide the bag (no squeezing) while the hand at the top (I think my right) is used for squeezing. Piping is all about practice too. I just went back and had a look at my early attempts and they are funny!
    * Frosting with butter in it will never be truly white. Women’s weekly recommend that you whip your butter first for a good five minutes to make it whiter but I haven’t really seen any difference. You can try other frosting types (e.g. meringue) to get white frosting but they are all so fiddly.
    * I use a quarter-cup measure and a teaspoon to transfer my cupcake mix. If your cupcake mix is runny and your bowl has a pourer you can just pour it straight in. Some people use an old squeezy tomato sauce bottle but that just seems like more washing up to me.

    Although I love eating Hummingbird Red Velvet cupcakes, I haven’t made them yet. I’m just turned off by all that red food colouring. Funny how i’m happy to eat it if someone else makes them but won’t cook and feed it to someone myself.

    • Natasha says:

      Thanks for the tips. I was slightly taken aback by the amount of food colouring required as well, but they do taste great – and the red’s on theme for Japan. I did find this blog entry which in the comments has a couple of alternatives to using red food colouring, including using lighter cocoa and beet juice.

    • Natasha says:

      Thanks! Just found out that the fair raised over £6,000 for the appeal. Not just from my cupcakes, of course, but it was good to be part of it.

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