What a Cupcake of a morning last Saturday!
I had volunteered to donate 100 cupcakes to my son's pre-primary school "Big Walk" fun day. That Sunday, the Comrades Marathon ran/walked/staggered right past our suburb. So the little guys had their Big Walk around this time of year to feel part of the spirit, and raise money for the school.
100 cupcakes to decorate before 8am. A bit of an ultra-marathon in its own right! Thankfully I had baked and frozen all the cupcakes the previous weekend (I love cakes / icing that freeze well!). 30 Vanilla, 36 Chocolate and 34 Red Velvet cupcakes: to be covered with Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMB), "Chocolate Mousse" icing and Cream Cheese icing respectively.
From the early hours of the morning, I'd been waking up thinking that I should take all the icing out the fridge to make sure it was soft enough for piping. But the thought didn't become action until about 5am. So by the time I started icing the cupcakes (probably an hour later than I should have!) it was all still a little stiff. I started with the SMB - trying to beat it softer, but as it was still too cold, I removed a couple of tablespoons, heated it in the microwave, and then added it back to the mixing bowl.
Voila! It curdled!
I have very little experience with SMB, but sometimes a little is all you've got! Everything I do know about it, I have learnt from Rosie at sweetapolita.com. Please, go visit her site sometime. She is an amazing baker and photographer! Some people have all the talent!
Anyway, I left it alone being beaten into submission in the mixer, while I moved onto the cream cheese icing. Which I started to pipe (with great effort as it was still too cold) onto the Vanilla cupcakes... It was supposed to be on the Red Velvet. Thankfully because it was cold I could scoop it up easily, and started icing the Red Velvet cupcakes instead. But because it was so stiff I was applying a lot of pressure to the icing bag, and naturally it popped a valve/ burst an aneurysm - disgorging the nozzle and a loooong sausage of icing.
Cleaned that up.
And then ran out of icing with 3 still to go. Ha Ha.
The chocolate icing wasn't such a comedy of errors, but it still tested me. Air bubbles, indifferent swirls, blah, blah.
So by the time I got back to the SMB, hands shaking from frustration and too much spilt icing for breakfast, I didn't have great expectations... but, what do you know: It piped like a dream: smooth, silky and graceful!
I should have taken pictures of all the chaos in my kitchen, but I was just NOT IN THE MOOD!
After all the swirls, the rest of the decorating took no more than 2 minutes. In fact, if you don't have icing issues, big swirls and a bit of bling are such a fast and effective way to decorate cupcakes. Be aware though, that swirls take up a lot of icing, so don't be caught short.
I decorated the Chocolate cupcakes with a classic swirl, using an Ateco 824 nozzle, and gumpaste butterflies.
The Red Velvet, with "groovy" swirls using an Ateco 865 nozzle, red & white sprinkles and hearts.
And the Vanilla cupcakes with ruffles, using an Ateco 888 nozzle, layered gumpaste flowers and sugar pastels.
These little guys were holding up signs for each flavour of cupcake
There was a brown teddy, for the chocolate cupcakes, but he lost an ear and a leg in the line of duty: missing, presumed eaten. So he was too gruesome to photograph.
Anyway...you wouldn't have know from the end product that pandemonium had reigned. The cupcakes were all sold, all eaten, and all forgotten!