When I was planning a cake for my son’s 1st birthday, I knew I wanted many layers to it. Not a layer cake, but a layer of cake, with a thick layer of ganache topped with icing – I was set on the swirl pattern – with some sprinkles on top. The way I imagined it was a Vanilla cake with chocolate chips, topped with chocolate ganache, topped with vanilla buttercream icing swirls and colourful sprinkles on top. The picture looked very pretty in my mind. I was even rejoicing thinking about how droolworthy the pictures would be!
A few days later, I decided a cake like this wouldn’t do for a 1st birthday, it must have some kiddie elements to it. So I googled a whole lot a landed on lots of blogs with pretty pictures of Mickey house cakes, cakes with cute blue fondant diapers, racing track cakes, cakes shaped like a huge 1, cakes moulded in various cartoon figures and what not. So I decided it must have a fondant cover and I started researching on homemade fondant recipes. I bookmarked a few and also decided on the kind of cake – the one with blue fondant diapers – it was too cute to resist! A few trips to many shops revealed just a handful of food colours were available here – shades of yellow, orange and red. So out went the blue diaper idea.
Next I came up with the idea of making cupcakes instead of one large cake. It made sense. I am not confident with big cakes, in fact, demoulding cakes is my biggest baking nightmare! Cupcakes, on the other hand, are easier to handle and since the invitee list had mostly little kids, I felt it would be fun for them to have individual cakes. What I did not realise then was that the total number of invitees was going to shoot up from around 15 to 25 in the last few days with many kids planning to come with a parent!
Anyway, having decided on cupcakes, I thought I’d at least go back to my original idea of several layers and decided on a vanilla cupcake with choco chips. Somehow, the usual recipe failed twice in my trial batch that I prepared a week ahead to freeze on the recipe I’d follow. Since I was in no mood to experiment any more, I frantically shot a mail to my helpful Blogging Marathon mates with my specifications: vanilla, eggless, no condensed milk, foolproof.
I got quite a few links, all of which were yogurt (curd) or buttermilk based. I selected two that seemed simple enough and made yet another trial batch a day before D day. I prepared the first set using Srivalli’s Vanilla cake recipe and the cakes rose so well and turned out super fluffy. There were hardly any cracked tops either. I was sold and decided to chuck the other recipe and stick to this one. I had initially planned to make about 40, but ended up making 4 dozens – 48 in all! What an experience it was!
Valli’s recipe yielded 6 large cupcakes and a small one. After a trial batch, I doubled the recipe and baked three more batches and so had 48 in all (Because I ate up the smaller one from the trial batch :).
PS: Since I do not have very good pictures of the cupcake, I prepared a single serve in a square mould. It looks like a cute little pillow, doesn’t it?
I had just finished clicking this picture when my little one woke up to see what I was up to. I gave him a little bit of this cake and he gladly snacked on it!
Decorating the cupcakes
In addition to the swirl icing design, I was wondering how else I could jazz it all up, it was the little fellow’s 1st birthday after all! I found cupcakes arranged like catterpillars on lots of blogs. They looked darn cute too. Somehow, I did not want to copy it as it. Then somehow, I thougt of sticking toothpicks into the chocolate sandwiches and sticking them into the cupcakes like banners. Then a brainwave hit me. Why not make banners with little chocolate disks and pipe an alphabet out on each of those to read Happy 1st Birthday Ikshvaku (that’s my son’s name)? I liked the idea and went ahead with it.
A week ahead of the birthday, I made little disks of white chocolate and piped out the characters on them. I was planning to stick these to a toothpick with the help of more melted chocolate. Since I forgot to do that, I simply inserted one disk in each cupcake.
The swirls were not meant to happen that day though. After filling the piping bag (fitted with big star tip) and trying to pipe out the swirls I realised that the icing was too stiff (I followed no particular recipe and mixed about 2 cups of icing sugar, a few tablespoons of cocoa, a couple of drops of vanilla essence and 1 cup of butter). I emptied the piping back and loosened it with more butter and milk. Since I was running out of time and I was not able to make uniform swirls, I just piped out randomly and prayed that our li’l guests wouldn’t mind! Thankfully, it looked quite fine once I inserted the chocolate disks into the cupcakes.
EGGLESS VANILLA CUPCAKES with CHOCO CHIPS
(makes 14 regular cupcakes or 12 LARGE cupcakes)
APF – 2 cup
Icing Sugar – 1.5 cups
Baking Soda – 2 tsp
Baking powder – 1 tsp
Curd/Yogurt – 1 cup
Oil – 4 tbsp (see note2)
Butter – 1.5 tbsp
Milk – up to 1/4 cup
Chocolate Chips – up to 1/4 cup
Vanilla essence – a few drops
Pre heat the oven to 185 deg C
Line cupcake tray or moulds with cupcake liners
Sift APF, baking soda and baking powder together
Beat curd and add melted butter, oil and vanilla essence.
Add the liquid mix to the dry ingredients. Mix gently using a fork
Add milk as required to get dropping batter consistency
Add chocolate chips and mix gently
Spoon the batter into prepared cupcake moulds
Bake at 185 degree C for 20-25 minutes (see note 3) till a toothpick inserted into the centre of a few cupcakes comes out clean
Leave in the oven for a few minutes then remove and cool outside completely
1. Original recipe uses 1 tbsp of corn flour in addition to 1 cup APF for 6 cupcakes
2. Original recipe uses olive oil. I used regular sunflower oil
3. My oven has only 175 deg C and 200 deg C settings. So I preheated oven to 200 deg C and baked for 10 minutes, then reduced temperature to 175 deg C and baked for 12 minutes
Making chocolate disk banners
You will need: White and milk/dark chocolate, cupcake liners, a cupcake tray or moulds and a small Ziploc bag snipped at one corner
Melt chocolate (white in my case)
Line a cupcake tray with liners and pour about a tablespoon of melted white chocolate into each (See notes)
Then hold the tray with both hands and shake a little till the chocolate spreads to cover the base evenly. Let it set. Remove disks from liners amd keep aside
Fill a small ziploc bag with melted dark chocolate and snip off a tiny bit from one corner
Pipe designs or characters of your choice on to the white chocolate disks. Let set
Once you finish icing your cupcakes, gently push a part of a disk into one cupcake and wait to check if it stays in place. Proceed with the rest
Alternatively, place the disks face down a sheet of plastic or parchment paper. Place toothpicks such that about a quarter or a third of its length lies on the chocolate and the rest juts out. Pour some melted chocolate over the area where the toothpick is on the disk. Let set completely. Test to see if the disks stay on the toothpick. Push the other end of the stick into the centre of the cupcake
I spread a clean sheet of plastic on the vegetable chopping board. Using a small ladle I spread little disks in the same way that you make dosas or pancakes. The problem with doing it this way is that the the plastic sheet keeps sticking to the ladle each time you try to lift it up and you’ll end up with disks with tips like you have in chocolate chips. Also, I realised only after I made the first set of disks that the plastic sheet was crumpled here and there, so the the disks did not have a smooth surface either. I used the cupcake tray for the next set of disks