Pickin' Up Chicks

I spent part of the day today cruising Pinterest, looking for cute Easter cupcakes.  If you have a Pinterest account, you know exactly how easy it is to fall down that rabbit hole - and not get anything else done.  There are LOTS of cute cupcakes out there.  But it didn't take long to discover that an awful lot of them required candies that I don't have in the house at the moment.  So I took a quick inventory of what I DID have and decided to pipe them instead.

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!!

 I thought they turned out cute.  Without a trip to the store for candies.

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 Cupcakes

3 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:

Turn your mixer back on at it's lowest setting.  Add the butter, coconut oil, canola oil, and remaining 3/4 c. milk.  Mix until ingredients start to come together slightly:

Now add the egg mixture in three separate additions, beating for around 20-30 seconds each time.  When all the ingredients are combined thoroughly, turn the speed up to medium and beat thoroughly for 3-5 minutes.  The batter will be very smooth and silky:

Portion the batter into the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool completely.

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.

In the next few posts, I'll show you how to riff on this basic recipe to create a variety of flavors.


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