Recently I was asked by a friend to make a birthday cake for her colleague. She knows I've been wanting to make a cupcake bouquet for months so even though it's for a guy, I was given the go ahead for a cupcake bouquet and reassurances that he would love it. I researched a few recipes and decided on a sunflower bouquet as I love sunflowers and I think they appeal to both men and women.
This project took longer than I expected so will have to plan ahead next time. I made this over 2 evenings - baked all the cakes the first evening then decorated on the second evening. It's the first time I've tried swiss meringue buttercream and I wonder why I've waited so long!! It's absolutely amazing!! It has a silky smooth texture and delicious buttery taste without being too sweet (like normal buttercream) and it holds its shape very well when decorating cakes! I used the recipe from my Martha Stewart Cupcake book but there are plenty of recipes online and they are all very similar - egg whites, sugar and butter.
Unfortunately I was quite ill towards the end of the second evening and as the cake had to be delivered, it was unfinished - there were a few gaps in the bouquet. However, the birthday boy was absolutely delighted and all the cupcakes including the un-iced ones were eaten!
Happy (Belated) Birthday Yogi!
How to make swiss meringue buttercream - heat egg whites and sugar until the sugar has melted. Beat in a stand mixer until peaks form.
add blobs of soft butter and continue whisking. Don't worry if it looks curdled at this stage - it will be fine! Just keep whisking... mine took about 10 minutes in total.
Oreo cookie, food colouring, red m&m's (for the ladybird), a leaf tip, black writing icing and a piping bag. Plus cupcakes and buttercream.
start by spreading green icing on the cupcakes. Don't worry if it's a little messy - you will be covering most of the cupcake.
start piping the sunflower petals with yellow buttercream using the leaf tip. Hold your piping bag at a right angle to the cookie and pull out sharply. My first attempt here looks like wilted petals :(
luckily things looked better after a bit of practice. I recommend watching a video on youtube to see how it's done - there are lots of free ones available.
I also made some ladybirds using the red M&M's and black writing icing. You could also use a small round nozzle and black icing.
I bought a flowerpot from B&Q and got a floral oasis ball from a florist friend - thank you! Wrap the oasis ball in clingfilm otherwise you'll get green everywhere and it's unhygienic on the cakes!
Initially I started at the bottom but the pot was about to topple over so I started at the top and worked my way down. I used 3-4 toothpicks for each cupcake.
There's a green cupcake in there as I'd run out of sunflower cupcakes! It's suppose to look like leaves anyway :)
Finished off with some green tissue paper, clear cellophane and a ribbon.
Lessons learnt from this project
1. Always allow more time than you think.
2. Make more cupcakes than you need in case the cakes fall apart - I had difficulty piercing some of the cupcakes with the toothpick and in some cases, the 'sunflower head' fell off which was very frustrating. In the end I used a sharp knife to make holes in the bottom of the cake.
3. Place the decorated cupcakes in the fridge for at least 30 minutes for the frosting to set before putting the bouquet together. It really helps!
4. Have a wet towel handy as it starts getting messy when you are trying to put the bouquet together.
5. Don't cry when the cakes fall apart. Just eat them and smile :)
6. Improvise if you have to - perfection is not required!
If anyone has any tips and advice, please feel free to share. I'd definitely like to try again but I think it wasn't too bad for a first attempt!
As this is a celebration cake, I'm entering this to Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage (host this month) and Kate from What Kate Baked. It's Tea Time Treats 1st birthday - congratulations! - so the theme this month is cake, preferably celebration cakes.
Chocolate cupcake recipe - I used the same recipe as for my flowerpot cupcakes as it's a mix all in one and absolutely delicious!
Black Midnight Cupcake
280g plain flour
250g caster sugar
80g cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Place all the ingredients for the cupcake into a large mixer bowl and mix on low - medium speed for a few minutes until well mixed.
Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Scoop into cupcake cases and bake for 18-20 minutes.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream - I used Martha Stewart's recipe which I've converted into metric units
5 egg whites
450g butter, cut into pieces at room temperature
280g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.
- Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
- Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don't worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.
- Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.