A piece of cake

With one party down and one to go, I was all charged up to bake again on Sunday morning.

First off was the white frosting for the cupcakes. The frosting I used on the cupcakes comes from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. In that cookbook, it’s used for the Coconut Layer Cake (which, by the way, is completely decadent and delicious).

I used it for the cupcakes because this frosting is just gorgeous, with a satiny gloss and luscious curves. The perfect backdrop for Halloween-themed cupcakes -it’s Casper gone uptown.

This frosting is best made and eaten the same day – it starts to break down after several hours. Still, while it’s at its peak, it is a glorious, marshmallow-y confection.

White Frosting
From the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

3 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 plus 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

First, some notes on the eggs. This cookbook notes that eggs beat up better when at room temperature, so take them out of the fridge about an hour before making the recipe.

For me, simpler is better when it comes to tools for baking. You can buy an egg separator gadget, but really, the easiest thing is to break the egg and let the whites run through your fingers into the mixing bowl. Take care not to let the yolk break at all.

Combine the egg whites and vanilla in your mixing bowl and let them sit while you prepare a sugar mixture on the stovetop.

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and cream of tartar

and heat on a medium-high setting until it comes to a rolling boil (the liquid will turn from opaque to translucent at this point); remove it immediately from the heat.

Beat the egg whites and vanilla with a mixer on a medium-high setting until foamy, about 1 minute. Then, gradually pour in the sugar mixture in a thin, steady stream while continuing to beat the egg whites.

Once you’ve added all of the sugar liquid, continue beating the mixture on medium-high

until stiff peaks form but the frosting still appears moist and shiny (this’ll take about 5 minutes)

Frost your cake or cupcakes immediately.

Now for a few Halloween sprinkles to see what it’ll look like when the kids decorate them at the party. Nice! That’ll do.

After the cupcakes were frosted, I set about making the mini-cakes for each of the kids (at the party, these were for the kids to blow out candles, then the parents ate the cakes, while the kids ate the cupcakes {lest you think I let them each eat a whole cake by themselves :) } ).

For the kids cakes, I baked the Baby Cakes recipe which appears in the cookbook, Birthday Cakes: Recipes and Memories from Celebrated Bakers. This is a two-layer cake baked in 6 inch cake pans. You can find 6 inch pans at specialty cooking stores or online.

I love this recipe, because the size is so cute, plus it’s nice for serving a small number of people, or small people, or both.

I wish I could find more recipes tailored specifically for this size of cake, because it’s perfect to accompany a family meal or intimate dinner party. Alas, this is the only one I’ve found. When I’ve wanted other flavors, I’ve resorted to using box mixes and just guess how much to fill the pan, with sometimes freakish results as seen in my previous post.

Oh, I know I could probably scale down scratch recipes to fit these pans, but that would require using math, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, on to the recipe:

Baby Cakes
A Flo Braker recipe from Birthday Cakes: Recipes and Memories from Celebrated Bakers

1 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with the oven rack in the lower third of the oven, and butter and flour the cake pans. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt.

Cream the butter with a mixer on medium speed until it’s soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Then, beat in the eggs one by one. Add the vanilla, then shift the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until blended.

Divide the batter among the two cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from pans and cook completely on a wire rack. Frost when cool.


I made the Fluffy Chocolate Frosting recipe yet again from the Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor cookbook, this time convinced that using the stand mixer with its oomph-atic power would be just the trick to make the frosting fluffy.

What’s that saying about insanity? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

Well, I mixed…

and mixed….

and still it was no fluffier than the previous day. In fact, it was worse. Very, very runny.

Screw it, it will have to do.

And it did do; it was fine, along with the cupcakes.

Because, really, in the end, who cares about baking perfection? All you need is to please the ones you love.

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3 thoughts on “A piece of cake

  1. Mmm… sprinkles! What gorgeous cakes, and the photos are amazing. I have never gotten the hang of frosting (or cakes, for that matter). Your post has inspired me to try again. Thanks! :)

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