Mulberries were dropping from trees in northern Indiana, covering the ground in dark red berries, and painting purple splotches on the feet of anyone who walked over them. One night my little brother and I biked a mile down the road and picked berries. I hadn’t prepared well–I only had only brought one bucket for the two of us to pick into. But Jonathan grabbed his water bottle and filled that a few times.
My parents tell me that most people lay a sheet on the ground and then shake the tree. Our picking method wasn’t as efficient but was a lot more fun. We climbed the tree and clambered over and under branches in search of berries. An hour later we had picked enough for tarts, so we headed home with purple feet, fingers, and clothing.
Yield: 2.5 dozen
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter cut into 1-inch cubes, room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C). Line standard cupcake pans with your favorite paper cupcake liners.
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine dry ingredients and mix on low speed until blended. Add cubes of butter, one at a time, and mix again until all butter is coated with flour.
Add eggs, one at a time, to mixer and blend until incorporated.
In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together milk and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl with spatula after each addition. Beat until just incorporated (try not to over beat).
Using a 1.5 oz cookie scoop (or your cake batter tool of choice), divide batter among liners (should be 2/3 full). Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17-20 minutes.
Remove from oven and immediately transfer the cupcakes onto a cooling rack by inverting the tray. Carefully turn the cupcakes right-side-up and let cool completely before frosting.
*Recipe source: Billy’s Bakery Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes via Martha Stewart
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons meringue powder
1 lb confectioners’ sugar
Few drops food color gel (optional)
Place meringue powder, cream of tartar, and water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix on low speed until frothy.
Add the icing sugar, and mix on low speed for 10 minutes. The icing will be fairly thick, but glossy and not as thick as regular royal icing at this point.
If too thick, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing well after each addition, until the icing just runs off a spoon and is glossy and spreadable (but not too watered down).
Cover with a damp cloth until you are ready to use, and in between use. Keep it covered as it will dry out and get crusty very quickly if it’s exposed to the air for too long.
Set some of the royal icing aside and add confectioners’ sugar it’s thick enough to pipe flowers. Then if you can’t make it work, just ask your mom to do it. 🙂 (At least that worked for me because she’s much more experienced at decorating cakes than I am.) Let the flowers dry for a few hours until they are dry to the touch.
Holding the cupcake in one hand, add a spoonful of icing onto the cupcake and tilt the cupcake so the icing spreads itself and clings to the sides of the paper liners. You can also use the bottom of the spoon to spread it, but be careful to not get crumbs in the icing. If you find your icing is too thick, add a bit more water to the bowl of icing.
Set each one aside as you finish icing them Try to avoid picking them up again until they have completely set (a few hours), or the surface won’t be as smooth as it should be, and will likely crack. Pipe leaves on the cupcakes and gently press the roses onto the cakes before the leaves dry.
Recipe from Sweetapolita.