IMBB#13: My Little Cupcake!

You're probably not going to believe this, but I've never had a real cupcake. Not one that I knew was a cupcake, anyways. I've had plenty of muffins, ranging from the saw-dusty store-bought type, to the beautifully, light-crumbed, stuffed with goodness homemade kind. I prefer the latter! So naturally, my joy was genuine when I heard that Maki was hosting this round of IMBB? and had chosen the magnificent theme of My Little Cupcake - or Muffin! I had to make myself my first ever cupcake...

So I went through ALL of my books, searching high and low for the one, the only, the CLASSIC cupcake. I searched the net, I asked around.

Finally, I decided what to me would be the cupcake - the one to end my ignorance. I think the reason why I never tried them was that they just seemed too simple. It's butter. Sugar. Flour. Eggs. That's about it. And then a wicked layer of more butter and sugar on top, of course. Wouldn't that all just be, dare I say it? - too much??

The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook has been on my wishlist for a while, but as with so many other items on that list, it had never snug itself into my shopping basket and made it all the way to the "complete order" category. Luckily, I found the recipe here. Why I would consider The Magnolia Cupcake to be the ultimative of cupcakes, I don't know. But I love the colors, and the childish-ness of them, and well - I heard a lot about them around. I am, as I already said, a novice when it comes to cupcakes - on my search on the net I found several blogs dedicated ONLY to the subject. Take a look at All Cupcakes, All the time for instance - seeing something like this makes me realize there are so many things within just one category I've never tried!

The recipe I found made 24 cupcakes - a wee bit too many, considering if a cake doesn't have chocolate in it, Boyfriend is not likely to be eating much of it. So I halved it easily, and here you go:

Magnolia Cupcakes

For the Cakes:

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup self-raising flour
½ c + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
½ tsp vanilla extract

For the Buttercream Frosting

1 stick butter
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the cupcakes:
Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake papers. Preheat the oven to 175 C/350 F.
Cream the butter for a couple of minutes alone first, just to make sure it's adequately soft. Add the sugar in three additions, beating well after each addition. Add the eggs, one by one, again beating well after each one has been added.

Mix the two types of flour together. Then add the flour in four additions, alternating with the milk and vanilla extract in three additions. Divide the batter between the 12 waiting muffins cups, then bake for 20-22 minutes.

Leave to cool completely, before frosting.

For the frosting, place butter, 2 cups icing sugar, ½ cup of milk and the vanilla extract in a free-standing mixer (or you can beat it by hand I suppose!) and beat on medium-low speed. Add the rest of the icing sugar until you reach a desired consistency - I only used three cups in total. If you want, you can color the icing - that's like half the fun of these!! And of course, you can use sprinkles to your hearts content!

I liked the icing part - I wanted them to be really swirly to look at, and in all sorts of colors. I found your finger to work best for that swirly look - ahem... ;-)

So I'm gonna go for a little picture over-kill here, just to show you my choice of colors. There was the purple one you just saw above - then pink:


And green and yellow:

As for the cupcake - well, what can I say?! I'm a convert, that's for sure! It's butter and sugar, true, but it's good. And look at that fine crumbly crumb!

I love it! The icing is sweeeeeeeet and almost nothing but sugar, but I've never been sugar-shy. I'm game, I'm on - I want to see all of the variations possible! I've heard of the Hostess one, and of course, some laden with chocolate... Oh just plain YUM! Show me, show me, tell me!


Stephanie said…
Oh, Zarah...I'm so happy you're a member of the cupcake club!
There's just something so...wonderous...about biting into your very own cupcake. I think that in general, people like eating bite-sized, or at least smaller bite, foods. A piece of cake requires a fork, but a cupcake? Just your hands!
And your cakes are lovely...I've heard so many good things about the Magnolia book (on my wishlist, too!), and the cupcakes themselves. I've even seen them featured on a segment on the Food Network!

Excellent job!
Anonymous said…
Your cupcakes are AWESOME, Zarah! The colours are absolutely gorgeous, and your photos came out great...excellent entry!

Anonymous said…
Zarah, those cupcakes are so colorful, and they look delicious!

I'd say that as a first attempt at cupcakes, you succeeded greatly!

Cuisine Capers
Emily said…
i looove the colors of the frosting! they look fantastic matched with the goldenness of the cakes. glad your first try of cupcakes was such a great success! :)
Anonymous said…
Do those manhood, I mean klejner cookies you made a little while ago come out crunchy throughout or soft in the middle?
tanvi said…
You'd never had a cupcake before?! Well thank goodness you started with the king of all cupcakes! Ive been wanting the same cookbook for this very reason- I never realized the recipe was out there! Thanks for posting the recipe! I love that the icing uses a stick of butter. Now thats my kind of icing! Im drooling just thinking about those cupcakes I had at Magnolia last time I was there. Your icing colors are much pretty than theirs were :-)
Niki said…
Yummy yummy yummy...I can just about taste that icing (and my teeth are shrieking...happily of course!)
Mmm, nothing like a cupcake binge... well except for a frozen-cupcake binge, but I digress! You're quite the frosting zealot, I'm impressed :)
OsloFoodie said…
Zarah, this is without a doubt just the prettiest things you made, I love the violet coloured one with the violet flaky thingy on top...
Nichelle said…
Great pictures, and thanks for the link to our cupcake blog,
All Cupcakes, All The Time
Zarah Maria said…
Stephanie - I'm so definetly a member! I have this silicone mold that makes teeny tiney muffins/cupcakes, I have to try that next and make some you can gobble up in one bite!

Moira, Irene, Emily - Thank you! I'm blushing here... And I'm glad it went so well too!:-)

Anon - Ahem - keep it clean, m'kay?;-) They are definetly soft in the middle - well, at least when we make them!

Tanvi - it wasn't easy finding the recipe either, I kept getting a Magnolia cake, and not until I read through the whole recipe did I realize the same recipe could be turned into cupcakes (well DUH!? Of course!) You've been to Magnolia? Lucky lucky you! And wow, my icing is prettier than theirs?! *Blushing, blushing*

Niki - I think your teeth are in sync with mine! We really have to start some health trip soon, there has been a lot of sweeties lately! Cavities, no mister dentist I don't understand?!

McAuliflower - (oh how I need one of those open-mouth-in-surprise-big-eyed-smilies right now!) FROZEN cupcakes?? And you tell me now, when mine are all gone!? I NEED to try that! (And guess I will have plenty a chance with all the recipes up and around now!) And thanks for the kind words!

OsloFoodie - thank you! They're candied violets on top, just in case you wanted to know - I did want to sprinkle each and every one of cupcakes differently, but found I only had the violets, and then some caramel and silver balls - not enough fun, so I decided to leave them plain. Also, the violets kind of interferred with the smoothness of the icing, that I otherwise enjoyed - and they got stuck between my teeth!

Niche - you're so very welcome! I was so impressed with your site I had to link you!
Anonymous said…
Oh my gosh, I just realized just how smutty my post was. I will make some crunchy and some soft as a symbolic thing. Just kidding. So they're like doughnuts?
Zarah Maria said…
Hi again Anon! No worries!;-) Well, I wouldn't say they were like donuts, they're a lot smaller, so the soft to crunchy ratio is more in the favor of crunchy than soft... hmm, maybe sorta like... - a churro perhaps? If that makes sense?
Anonymous said…
All your colours of icing are amazing....and very swirly. They just look like little jewels all lined up there. They would make such a gorgeous presentation I think I will use your cupcake recipe for my next party!
Amylou said…
A cupcake from Magnolia Bakery is one of those rare things that actually is worth the hype. The cupcakes are serve yourself and everyone who works at the bakery is young and attractive. I can't get there anytime soon, so I might try them at home.

Yours are so pretty!
Cathy said…
Hi Zarah - your cupcakes came out beautifully! So glad you've finally gotten acquainted! I've never been to Magnolia (though I've walked by it many times and it is very cute), but another great cupcake place in NYC is the Cupcake Cafe. This place is a feast for your eyes as well as your tummy! They have a cookbook as well. I've only been to the old store which was in a sort of strange location, but not at all touristy. They tie their boxes with that red stripey string - I love it!
Robyn said…
Zarah! What a beautiful display of these wonderful personal cakes! Magnolia definitely inspried the culinary artist in you! I read about Magnolia on another blog and am desparate to give them a try. Now with your help I can do that at home! Thanks!
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
I'm glad you've had an enjoyable experience making cupcakes. If you'd like to take it up to the next level in deliciousness, you might want to look at Rose Levy Barenbaum's "The Cake Bible".

This book will show you how to make cupcakes (and other cakes) that completely blow away the results of any shortcut recipe, including the Magnolia one.

Once you have gotten a taste of real buttercream, the confectioner-sugar-based stuff that Americans have recently come to refer to as buttercream will never taste the same. So be forwarned--if you don't want to be forever spoiled, then you might want to stay away.

What's really interesting is that the Magnolia Bakery itself does put out some cupcakes with real buttercream on them from time to time. I once had a pistachio buttercream cupcake there that was the best cupcake I've ever tasted. That pistachio flavor was absolutely perfect, and they achieve a fluffiness in their buttercream that my KitchenAid at home just doesn't have the muscle to achieve.

I suspect that this is how they got so famous, because the bulk of their cupcakes are the standard-issue ones with the frosting that is based on confectioner's sugar, and as such they are little more than run-of-the-mill cupcakes, not much better than what you might buy at the grocery store.
Mrs Frog said…
You inspired me!
I had to convert the recipe to britsh measurements, which I thought some of you other commenter might find useful!
Anonymous said…
Hey! Thanks for your recipie...lovely! I made white ones and suck icing roses in the middle. Wish I could show you but I don't know how to post a pic. Thanks heaps..very yum! Jen
Anonymous said…
Those cupcakes look amazing!
I've made them before and these are definitely the end-all cupcakes.
They are the best I have ever tasted.

I usually just stick to green and pink, but I really like the colors you've used.

And as far as the recipe goes-thank you so much! I always thought 24 was too much, 12 is much better!
hi zarah!I googled for cupcakes and came across your blog,wow! that cupcakes looks to tempting and I have tried the recipe you featured and it was awesome! My kids love them very much !I have blogs too,you are invited to visit them...:D

Abigail said…
lovely cupcakes. I must try this at home.

can I substitute icing sugar with a regular white sugar?
Zarah Maria said…
Hi Gail! I think if you want the right texture for the frosting, you need to use icing sugar (and I just noticed it only says icing sugar in the instructions, not the ingredients list - sorry about that!) Hope you figure something out!

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