Last month, it was my friend’s birthday and throughout the year, I had been promising her that I would make her some special cupcakes! I considered a number of themes (including Hannibal which I’m not sure would’ve been the most pleasant of birthday treats), but when it came down to the actual baking, I decided there is nothing better than some rainbow cupcakes!
For my own birthday, I received Lily Vanilli’s ‘A Zombie Ate my Cupcake!’ book and I’m in love with it, so I decided to use the rainbow cupcake recipe from there – and just made a few adjustments in terms of decorations and layering the cake mixture.
Here’s what you’re going to need:
200g all-purpose flour, sifted twice
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
190g caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
120ml full-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Gel food colouring (not liquid!) in the seven colours of the rainbow
And for the frosting:
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons full-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
360g icing sugar
2 tablespoons double cream
I like to begin my measuring out of all my ingredients first. Not only does it seem to make the process of making the mixture even quicker, but it makes me feel a little bit like I have my own cooking programme. You know, feel the fantasy and all that…
You’ll need to preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and line your cupcake tin with whatever paper liners you like! (I went for an assortment of colours just to make it even more colourful.)
Then, using an electric mixer cream the butter (that should be at room temperature and therefore, already softened) in a bowl until it’s really smooth. Now you’ll want to add the sugar, but do this in three parts. Start mixing it on a medium speed, working up to a high speed as you continue to add the sugar. Beat the two ingredients together until it’s really fluffy and pale (this took about five minutes.)
Now for the eggs! These need to be added one at a time and you’ll need to go back to mixing the ingredients on a medium speed after each addition.
In a separate bowl, mix together your flour (which should have been sifted twice), baking powder, and salt. In a jug, mix together the milk and vanilla extract.
Next, you’ll need to start adding the dry ingredients to your fluffy sugar and butter mixt. This should be done in four parts, and you should alternate between adding the dry ingredients and your milk and vanilla mixture. Make sure that when you’re alternating, you begin and end with the flour mixture. Mix everything well after each addition, and scrape down the sides of the bowl to get everything in!
Now is the fun part… and the slightly time consuming part depending on how you do it. I didn’t have seven small bowls, but if you do, this will save you some time.
I tend to be quite fussy about weighing things, and making everything equal when I’m baking (which helps make everything more uniform). So I weighed the contents of the mixture first and divided this by seven, so I knew exactly how much of the mixture to use for each colour.
Then, you will want to add a little bit of each gel food colouring (and please make sure you use the gel food colouring – it keeps the colour in when you bake the cake. You won’t get the same result with liquid colours!) in to the plain mixture, and mix this around with a toothpick until you get your desired colours.
I used six colours: Bright Red, Neon Orange, Sunshine Yellow, Lime Green, Sky Blue and Ultra Violet. I mixed the last two together for my seventh colour.
Once you have your colours, you can begin layering your cupcakes. I used a tablespoon of each colour, and layered them on top of each other to try and get a clean looking rainbow. However, you can start to spoon the mixture into the cases, and with each new colour, spoon slightly less into the centre, so you can still see some of the previous colour. This forms rings that look really nice in the middle of your cupcake. Repeat this process until your paper liners are around 3/4 full.
Then it’s into the oven. They take around 15 minutes to bake; but it may take slightly more or less time depending on your oven. Pop a toothpick in the middle to check, and if it comes out clean, then you’re good to go!
Once I’ve taken them out of the oven, I usually leave the cupcakes to cool in the cupcake tin for 5-10 minutes. Then I transfer them to wire rack and let them cool completely before even daring to ice them.
When you’re ready to make your icing, you’ll want to use your electric mixer to beat your softened butter until smooth. Then add in your milk, two-thirds of the icing sugar, your vanilla extract and the 2 tablespoons of double cream. Mix it all together until it’s smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl to make sure you’ve got everything again.
Then add the remaining icing sugar slowly, constantly beating the mixture until it’s completely smooth. Then you’re ready to decorate!
Now in the book, Lily Vanilli decorate’s her cupcakes by making her icing sky blue, and adorning it with some fluffy white clouds. I opted for something more simple, so it disguised the rainbow, and made it look plainer, because I wanted it to be a surprise.
So I simply used a palette knife to cover the cupcake with a layer of white vanilla icing, and then decided to throw on some purple glitter dust and edible pearls, because who doesn’t love some glitter?
They’re perfect for something plain, but something fun. Give ’em a go!
Keep it sweet,