Now, I've noticed from time to time that an awful lot of people who are pretty comfortable with cake decorating are absolutely traumatized by parchment paper triangles. Up to and including professionals. This just confuses me. I'm not the best sugar artist by any stretch, but folding a parchment paper cone is one of those things I can do without really even paying attention. Sort of like geometry, I even have trouble "showing my work" if someone asks me to demonstrate. Blame my mother. This is one of those little things I absorbed from her as easily as breathing. (Though, if I think about it, I'd bet her perspective is entirely different. Teaching me this skill, much like some of the other things she taught me, was likely more like pulling teeth for her. With a spoon.)
On to the cupcakes!!
The recipe uses Rose Levy Berenbaum's method from "The Cake Bible", and results in a very soft, fluffy cupcake that is almost undetectable as being gluten-free. It can pretty easily be made dairy-free as well, by substituting shortening for the butter and almond or soy milk for the whole milk.
Super Soft Gluten Free White Cupcakes3 c. Fancy Flour Blend OR
1/2 c. millet flour
1 c. white rice flour
1/2 c. sweet rice flour
3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch
1-1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp King Arthur Cake Improver (optional)
1-1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp sugar
5 egg whites
1 c. whole milk
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp canola oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard cupcake pans with paper liners. Set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine dry ingredients. Turn the mixer on low for just a few seconds to combine.
Place the egg whites, extracts, and 1/4 c. of the milk in a bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Set aside.
Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature and in easy reach:
Now, to decorate these darlings, I simply made a batch of basic decorator icing.
1/4 c. butter (salted)
3/4 c. shortening
3 lbs. powdered sugar
1/3-1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Cream together butter and shortening. Beat in 2 c. of the powdered sugar. Add extracts. Alternate additions of milk and powdered sugar until all sugar is incorporated and icing is a pipable consistency.
I removed 4 small portions of about 1/3 c. each (which ended up being more than necessary, but you'll have plenty). I tinted the majority of the icing pale yellow. One portion of white went into a piping cone with a #2 tip. I tinted two more portions blue and pink, and placed them both in piping cones with #5 tips. The final portion was tinted orange and placed into a piping cone with a leaf tip. The eyes are large blue dots with a tiny white dot as a highlight. The cheeks are large pink dots. And the beaks are just vertically piped leaves.