Where else to turn but The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook? And to their original, basic, essential recipe - the traditional vanilla birthday cake topped with traditional vanilla buttercream?
Once, however, the de-solidified sugar is mixed with butter, vanilla and a dash of milk, and is strongly beaten for a good 5-10 minutes, it becomes a very attractive, buff-coloured icing.
... or dyed a deep "your mum in the 80's" pink...
... or any colour that takes your fancy. In the above photo, we also have a cocoa-dusted version, a salmon-coloured one and a sprinkle-rimmed swirly one. Below, we have Berlin "Love Parade" electric blue, one of which is rimmed with multicoloured sprinkles - appropriate enough for the theme; a few apricot coloured cupcakes; as well as the buff beauties on the right hand side. Those turned out to be my favourites.
I love, love, love the vanilla cupcakes! They remind me of the patty cakes my mum used to make for our childhood birthdays, which my cousin (and fellow picnicker) Catherine loves, and requested for her 18th birthday not too long ago. Both are vanilla scented, soft and light, with a slightly crunchy top. The icing, on the other hand, is not one of my favourites. (And yet, for some reason, I keep making it. Perhaps I keep hoping that they will, one day, taste as good as they look). I really like the delicately milky taste of the icing, but the amount of sugar - 8 cups to 112.5 grams of butter - is huge. I'm not sure that the cupcakes don't taste better without the icing at all, which would rather defeat the purpose of the whole "cute pink cupcake making" exercise. So, I am now on the lookout for a new icing recipe, if for no other reason than to unleash my inner artist. Any recipes or ideas for a stiff and swirly icing, that's not too sweet and takes colours well would be greatly appreciated.