Kitchen tools, gourmet foods, baking mixes, and hard-to-find baking ingredients mentioned in this article are available at The Prepared Pantry.
by Dennis Weaver
Last week, our sweet daughter Katie got married. I never realized that a marriage and reception could be so much work. It was worth it.
Debbie, my other daughter, and I made cream filled cupcakes for the reception—dozens upon dozens of them. Now before Debbie and I sound like heroes, let me point out that pretty cupcakes can be quick and easy. Here's how we did it:
The quickest way to frost cupcakes is with a pastry bag. We used giant 22" pastry bags so that we could make big batches of buttercream frosting and put it all in the bag at one time. We frosted dozens of cupcakes without stopping to make a new batch and refill the bags.
Filling the Cupcakes
Cupcakes seem a little boring without filling. It used to be that I would diligently fill pastry bags or a decorator set with filling, insert the tip into each cupcake, and fill. Not anymore. I use premade pastry fillings. It's much easier.
Pastry fillings come two ways: cream fillings like Bavarian cream and cream cheese and fruit fillings like lemon raspberry. These are the fillings that your neighborhood baker uses for doughnuts, between layers of cake, and for fillings for cupcakes and pastries. They come in two pound plastic tubes. Press out what you need, where you need it. When done, fold the corner over, put a clip on it, and store the remainder in the refrigerator for up to six months.
For cupcakes, press the open corner into the cupcakes, about 1/2 inch deep, and squeeze. You'll feel the cupcake start to swell as the filling enters the cupcake. You'll have a small hole in the top or the cupcake but that's okay--you'll cover the top with frosting anyway.
Frosting the Cupcakes
There's a reason that bakers use a pastry bag to frost cupcakes—it's quick, easy, and pretty. Put a tip on your pastry bag, fill the bag, and twist the top closed (you can put a wire tie on it if you like), and you're ready to go. Use either a star tip or a round tip. Squeeze the frosting out in a steady stream starting at the outer edge and circling the cupcake in concentric circles ending at the center. Those pretty little topnotches that you see on cupcakes—they're made simply by lifting the tip a bit as you reach the center and continuing to press. After three or four cupcakes, you'll be a pro.
Decorating Your Cupcakes
Immediately after frosting your cupcakes, sprinkle decorations on them. If the frosting starts to dry, the decorations won't stick. You can use colored sugar, "sanding sugar" is what it's called. It comes in an array of colors, pastel colors and primary colors. You can also buy white sugar, add a drop of food color, and stain the sugar any color you wish. We sell 27 different food colors so you can color your sugar just the right shade.
Jimmies are another choice. They come in a choice of colors and in blended colors.
For my daughter's wedding reception, we used gold and sliver metallic sprinkles. They are made of sugar but they really do look like metallic pieces, pieces of gold or silver pieces that remind you of pewter. They are distinctive decorations.
Recently we discovered bark decorations (the cupcakes in the picture are decorated with bark). Bark is a combination of chopped candy and white chocolate pieces. The candy is intensely flavored so instead of just making your cupcakes pretty, you get a burst of flavor. My favorites are lemon cream, cherry, and strawberry cheesecake.
What You'll Need
To bake your cupcakes, you'll need a cupcake/muffin pan. These pans come in mini (24 cavities per pan), standard (12 cavities per pan), jumbo, and giant (both with six cavities per pan). We carry paper liners for mini, standard, and jumbo.
For fillings, you will need pastry fillings packaged in squeezable tubes. The fillings come in Bavarian cream, cream cheese, chocolate Bavarian cream, raspberry, blueberry, cherry, lemon, and apple.
For frosting, you can use a buttercream frosting mix in vanilla or chocolate or make your frosting from scratch. With the vanilla mix, you can tint your frosting a color and add a flavor. Add decorations to your frosting as you choose.
To apply your frosting, you will need pastry bags. We carry four sizes of disposable bags plus washable, reusable bags. You will need tips and couplers in either large or standard. Bags, tips, and couplers are not expensive.
Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry, a full line kitchen store in Rigby, Idaho. The Prepared Pantry sells kitchen tools, gourmet foods, and baking ingredients including hundreds of hard-to-find ingredients.