A few years ago I took a baking course at a local culinary college. I had some vague aspirations that it would help my career path, but I mostly did it because I thought it would be fun. And fun it was! I think the first day we made bran muffins, and we continued along making choux pastry, apple pie, black forest cake, and lots more. While I really enjoy figuring out culinary techniques at home, it was incredibly helpful to have someone show me how to properly ice a cake, or pipe frosting. From that time onward, any cupcake that I’ve made has had a swirl of frosting applied with a star tip.
(Muffin Lady tip #20: A cupcake looks way more professional when the icing is applied with a star tip.)
For this year’s Mother’s day I made vanilla gluten-free cupcakes using coconut flour, and a simple buttercream icing. I don’t get to pipe much (there’s only so many cupcakes that can be decorated) so I plopped a little raspberry on top of each one, to hide any shoddy workmanship from being out of practice. Moreover, it gave the cupcakes a very close resemblance to a part of the female body, which made me giggle, considering the significance of the day.
If you make these, I’d stay mum on the reference to body parts :)
Vanilla gluten-free cupcakes
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Whisk everything together until smooth. Pour into lined muffin tin and bake at 350 F for about 25-30 minutes until a skewer comes out dry. This recipe should make 10-12 cupcakes.
Beat together 3/4 cup room temperature butter with 1 to 1-1/2 cups icing sugar and a few splashes of water or lemon juice. If you like, add a few drops of red food colouring. Beat until the icing is smooth and thick.
How to pipe icing:
Drop icing tip into the base of the piping bag (it should be a snug fit with just the opening of the icing tip showing). Hold the bag in one hand with the tip pointing down, like you would hold a microphone. Turn the opening of the bag down over your hand, so your hand is now hidden under the bag. Using a spatula, scrape the icing into the bag. Bring the opening of the bag back up and twist it shut, while pushing the icing down the bag towards the tip, until a little bit of icing starts to peep out. Secure the twist in the bag by holding it closed with the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand. Let the other fingers of that dominant hand brace the lower portion of the bag. Rest the index and middle fingers of the non-dominant hand on the top of the bag close to the tip to provide steadiness. To apply icing, simply squeeze the bag using the fingers of the dominant hand while holding the bag at about a 45 degree angle. You can practise on a sheet of parchment paper, and just scoop the icing back into the bag. Note that when you do that, there will be an air pocket in the bag, so be warned of a little squirting and farting when that air pocket reaches the tip. To apply icing so that it looks like these darlings below, simply move in a concentric fashion as you squirt icing out.
The hardest part about icing cupcakes is stopping.