I love May. It is a month of long sunlit days, gardening, baby animals, as well as some of the prettiest flowers in bloom. We get to celebrate our mothers and leave our worries behind for the luxurious Victoria and Memorial Day long weekends.In May we attend graduations, perform final recitals and it seems like everyone and their little brother is celebrating a birthday (in my family we celebrate 3!) That’s a lot of cake to bake for some fantastic people. Mm mm!
If you could choose any of the twelve months all year, what would your favourite month be? With all its happiness, colour and vitality, May to me is perfect.
On May 11, my music studio performed an annual Spring Recital. Each of my ten students braved their nerves to perform on stage in front of their closest family and friends. As a professional musician, sometimes I forget how scary performing can be for some people. I’ve developed a sort numbness on stage after years of playing for audiences. It isn’t always scary for me anymore! How about you, do you get stage fright?
At times I get so focused on a concert that I can forget dozens of eyes are staring at us, listening to the music. For some of my students, the Spring Recital was their first time standing in front of an audience. It can be daunting! Even if it is the people who love and support you listening to you perform.
It was heart warming for me to see my students muster the courage to step on stage and show off the music they have been preparing all year. Such a milestone for them, and a proud moment for me as their teacher! Needless to say, I spoiled my little musicians on their big day. I gave them each a long stemmed white rose and baked them these tiny red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese buttercream frosting as a reward. :)
Red Velvet Cake is traditionally made as a layer cake with a dark red chocolate cake and fluffy cream cheese frosting. I was curious to know about this history of the cake, and learned that in the 1940s the cakes were originally coloured a deep red with the help of beet root dye! (Nothing like war rations to get creativity flowing!)
The recipe is most commonly made today as a cupcake! Instead of beet juice, I took the less natural route (sorry) and used Wilton’s “Christmas Red” gel dye to give these cupcakes their deep scarlet red! Blended with dutch-processed cocoa powder and buttermilk, this cupcake batter is creamy, rich and decadent without being overly sweet. The pristine white frosting iced into swirled peaks pairs so beautifully with the tiny fluffy red cakes, and has a scrumptiously tart and cheesy taste to balance the cake’s rich flavour.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
with cream cheese buttercream frosting
yield: 24 cupcakes Time: 1 hour Bake Time: 20 Mins Temperature: 350 F
Red Velvet Cupcake Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups cake flour sifted 2 tbsp dutch processed cocoa powder 1 tsp salt 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil 2 large eggs, room temp 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1 cup buttermilk 1 1/2 tsp baking soda 2 tsp white vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line standard muffin tins (or mini, as I used) with paper liners of your choice. I used mini silver liners.
2. Whisk together cake flour, cocoa and salt. (Dries).
3. With an electric mixer on medium high, whisk together sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food colouring and vanilla until desired shade.
4. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, whisking well after each. Stir together th ebaking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam). Add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds.
5. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three quarters full. Bake rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centres comes clean (about 20 mins). Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temp, or frozen up to 2 months in airtight containers.
Recipe Credit: Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes.
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 6 oz cream cheese, room temperature 2 cups icing sugar, sifted 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. With an electric mixer on medium high, beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy (2-3 minutes). Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, then vanilla. Mix until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
2. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 2 days in an airtight container, before using, bring to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth again.
Recipe Credit: Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes
I hope you have a wonderful week ahead full of some celebrations of your own. No excuse to throw a party? How about a garden party to appreciate your beautiful backyard with friends, BBQ? Or why don’t you just have some friends over for the sake of it! Here is some great advice from one of my favourite graphic designers Emily McDowell. Well said, don’t you think?
PS: Last weekend I went on a wine tour! Now I am a wine aficionado. Some suitably snobby Wine Etiquette to pass on your way.
PPS: Why Mahler? I just finished a Mahler symphony and am in love with his music all over again. Here’s an interesting article by the New York Times on why his music is so universally loved.