Spring is finally in, huh, full spring, with winter far behind and summer eagerly waiting its turn. We're officially on our way to barbecues, fireworks and polka dot bikinis! But let's not rush ahead to what we don't yet have!
Let's hang out here and take this moment, and the next few weeks, to remember that spring means green buds appearing and flowers blooming and lady bugs landing on screen doors; that April showers do indeed mean May flowers!; flip flops ... finally!; cumulus clouds (those fun ones where you can see faces and shapes); spring cleaning, out with the old in with the new; spring fever! longer and warmer days; strawberries back in season; sun showers; and the colors! ... they're all coming out and they'll never be as bright as they are right now.
I've always thought of Spring as the season of renewal after winter's hibernation. It's the bridge between comfy sweaters and wool socks, and sundresses and capri pants. And what better way to celebrate than to eat cake! Spring calls for whimsy and dreamy, cute designs and pretty pastels ... in other words, cupcakes, Mmmmm.
So I’m celebrating Spring today by baking pretty and colorful cupcakes, and enjoying them while sitting outside with a glass of milk and watching the clouds pass by while spring blooms all around me. I will also, very shortly, substitute a margarita for the milk. That works too. Spring is easy like that.
red velvet cupcakes with vanilla buttercream icing
- 1 1/5 cups cake flour (or all-purpose flour)
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/5 cup caster sugar
- 1/5 cup and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2/5 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- A few drops of gel-based, or liquid-based red coloring
For Vanilla Buttercream Icing
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 355ºF.
Line the cupcake pans with paper cases. In a large bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir a little and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, add in the vegetable oil and caster sugar. Then whisk until combined. Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Then pour in buttermilk.
Add vanilla extract and red food coloring, and whisk until well incorporated.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture in the center, and fold with a spatula until mixture is smooth.
Divide the batter among the lined cups. Fill only 2/3 of each cup. Bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted wooden stick (or knife) comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for no more than a few minutes in the pan, before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely. Do not spread icing on the cupcakes until they have completely cooled.
For Buttercream Icing
In a mixing bowl combine butter and half of the confectioners' sugar and blend at high speed until smooth.
Add vanilla extract, remaining confectioners' sugar, and milk.
Beat until creamy. You should have a spreading consistency.
Using a large star pastry tip, pipe icing on top of the cupcakes.
Decorate with your choice of edible sugar sprinkles.
If using gel based food coloring, be careful to not use too much as it it stronger than liquid food coloring.