Recipe Source (cupcakes): Klivans, Elinor. Cupcakes! Chronicle Books, San Francisco 2005 p. 23
Recipe Source (frosting): Stewart, Martha. Martha Stewart's Cupcakes. Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York 2009 p. 302.
Our little girl has started preschool. This is a matter of great excitement. She is an incredibly extroverted little girl, and the primary purpose of putting her into preschool is to give her more than one person to talk to three days a week. If those people are not super-introverts like me this is so much the better. Of course there are fringe benefits to her being in preschool. She gets benefits like little friends and help with potty training and such. I get the ability to do things around the house, work on the website and several minutes during the day in which I am not being pelted with gourds. (I am not exaggerating.) The dog gets his walks. The cat gets left alone.
We looked at a few different facilities. A lot of them didn't want to give us the time of day. Some of them only started their year in September and since we didn't start looking until November they were not interested in any way shape or form. Others actually got back to us this week - after we reached out in the beginning of November. We decided we wanted a larger facility with a variety of people and programs, close to the house. The school we finally settled on struck us as having the best balance between rigidity and flexibility, with each side of that equation being in the right place. The kids were well managed but not overly regimented - there was no "Lord of the Flies" atmosphere when we visited. They were flexible about drop off and pick up but preferred that we not interfere with rest time. While other facilities allowed absolutely no outside food at all ever, this place offers food to its students but allows parents to send food with children if desired. Furthermore, on special occasions families are permitted to send things like cupcakes to school. It isn't required or even necessarily "encouraged," but it is welcomed and accepted.
If you and your friends do not have children who are involved with a school or care facility of any kind, let me tell you that this is a luxury. I expect the mayor of New York to swoop down on the place with his SWAT team at any moment, regardless of the fact that we are several hundred miles outside of his jurisdiction.
I remembered birthday cupcakes as being very exciting, so I was very excited to send some in with our daughter. I checked about requirements. The facility is nut-free but I expected that. Almost as an afterthought, the teacher remembered, "Oh, and one of the students can't have eggs, but anything store-bought should be okay."
It's great that they're not asking other parents to go out of their way to accommodate one child who isn't theirs. I'd be horrified at the thought of other parents being asked to bend over backwards for my child. At the same time, I've been the kid who can't share what everyone else is having. I've known those kids, and I've known those adults. Even when you're well into your thirties it's still a little hurtful when someone brings in, say, a birthday cake to the office and you have celiac disease. Of course it isn't deliberate but you still feel excluded. So I figured, well, there have got to be a bazillion vegan bloggers out there, many of whom are bakers. There are an equal number of Indian and Indian-diaspora bakers out there who do incredibly beautiful work without eggs. How hard can it be to find some way of making these cupcakes in an eggless fashion? I had already made my shopping list but I found a substitution suggestion that looked like it should work.
Of course, baking is not my strong suit and making things pretty is really the bane of my existence. My cupcakes all wound up with holes in the middle. Not really holes, but depressions. Sinkholes, I guess. I didn't think I'd have enough frosting to do something involving the pastry bag to cover it up. The amount of oil in the recipe made the cakes look underdone - they were fine - and using raw sugar instead of white gave the external crumb a muddy appearance better suited to bathroom paint than a cupcake. (I do use raw sugar in almost everything, but it just didn't look right with this food coloring.) The banana with which I replaced two eggs gave a flavor to the finished product that I just personally hated. My husband and daughter loved it though, and the daughter is the important one.
And ultimately, these are birthday cupcakes. They are cupcakes brought in by someone's mother, for someone's birthday. They are a break from the normal school routine. They are purple. When you are three, these are the important things in life. You probably won't remember that they didn't hold together quite as well as the cupcakes from the store, or that they don't look like the cover of a Martha Stewart Living magazine. You will remember that there was something different and special (and purple) about the day. You may even remember that it had something to do with the little Viking-looking kid who just started in your class. And then you will throw a Lego at the kid across the table from you, because you are three.
Eggless Purple Cupcakes (serves 24; approx. $0.35/ea)
2 1/2 cups white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil whisked with 1 tablespoon water and 1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups raw sugar (you can use white sugar if you prefer, I think the final product will be prettier)
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
Purple gel food coloring (optional)
3 sticks butter
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Purple gel food coloring
- Some combination of muffin/cupcake tins adding up to 24 cups
- Cupcake liners
- Cooking spray
- Stand mixer with paddle attachment
- Silicone spatulas
- Offset spatula
- Ice cream scoop
- Preheat your oven to 350︒. Lubricate the cups of your cupcake tins with cooking spray. I spray the liners too but I may be insane.
- Combine the mashed banana, the water, baking powder and oil mixture and the sugar in the bowl of the stand mixture until pale. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Reduce speed to low and mix in the oil and vanilla.
- Mix in the buttermilk. Mix until no streaks remain.
- Combine the dry ingredients, then slowly add to the stand mixer. Slowly mix in and beat until the mixture is smooth.
- If you want to color the cakes, add a few drops of food coloring until you achieve the color you want.
- Scoop using the ice cream scoop into the prepared tins.
- Bake 23 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
- Cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, wash the bowl and paddle from your stand mixer. Wash some other dishes too. Clean dishes are a good thing.
- Put the butter in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat until fluffy. This is best accomplished if the butter is at room temperature.
- Add the sugar in 1/2 cup increments with the mixer on medium speed, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition. After every other addition, increase speed to high and beat for ten seconds. This seems fussy and unnecessary but trust me, it helps to keep the frosting fluffy.
- When all of the sugar has been added go ahead and add the vanilla. Beat until the frosting is smooth.
- Add the food coloring, a few drops at a time, until your desired color has been achieved. Fold the coloring in using a flexible spatula.
- Frost the cupcakes using an offset spatula and serve.