It’s been ages since I’ve bothered too deeply with the more decorative aspects of baking – food colouring and sprinkles, fancy piping tips, cake toppers, (frosting as a whole), that stuff. NOT because I don’t find it twee and amazing and honestly I’m a bright colours person… I was just frugal. Enjoyed my natural looking food (grown-ass adult baking heyo).
I didn’t even have a hand mixer until recently, deciding instead to ruin my arm muscles every time I wanted to bake, like a stubborn fool. “Not necessary,” I would say, and spend my money on wine and cookbooks instead. And then proceed to kill my arm trying to make Italian meringue à la main. Fooooool.
Then I bought a hand mixer for 29.95 and EVERYTHING CHANGED.
I feel kinda dumb for waiting this long, and I have to thank the first birthday of my Muffin for convincing me to get one. We’re not cave people here… electricity is a thing. Buttercream is a thing. Obnoxiously cute cake-making is a thing, and it’s all the more fun to make cakes for tiny people, hee hee. (Sixteen more years! Sixty! All the years I will bake for you)
Not that he enjoyed his smash cake at all, but I’m raising a rebel and it was kind of hilarious actually. Rock on, Muffin. 🤘🤘🤘
The adults got to enjoy the lovely chiffon cakes anyway. They turned out just the way I’d envisioned them – light and soft with flecks of dark chocolate glittered through them, topped with my favourite cream cheese frosting. It’s mostly cream cheese, stabilized with a bit of white chocolate, and it’s not too sweet. I could eat it out of a bowl, honestly….
I made his little smash cake by baking two chiffons in mini angel food pans**, then bisecting them and smearing them ever so slightly with frosting to make a sticky tower. Then I crumb-coated, chilled, frosted all smooth on the outside and plopped rosettes and sundry all over it… it’s all very technicolour, and for more classy decorating ideas you could definitely swim around in Pinterest for a while (there’re some pretty smash cake ideas there, truly). **You could also make a sheet cake and cut out circles from that.
Happy Birthday little man! Hope your second taste of chocolate goes more swimmingly, but in any case, welcome to the big-kids-club of eating Anything and Everything. <3
Chocolate Chiffon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from the Orange Chocolate Chiffon Cake recipe in Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands to Yours. I replaced the orange juice and zest with milk and vanilla.
Makes about 24 cupcakes.
- 2 ¼ cups (225 grams) pastry flour
- 1½ cups (300 grams) superfine sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup (108 grams) vegetable oil
- 5 large eggs, separated, plus 3 egg whites, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (187 grams) whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (4 1/2 ounces) finely grated semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 325℉.
Prepare a 12-cup muffin tray with paper liners (tall liners are especially good for this, because you can flip the cakes over to cool upside down).
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium-sized bowl.
In a large bowl (metal or glass, and scrupulously clean), whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the remaining 3/4 cups (150 grams) of sugar, one tablespoon at a time, mixing at high speed this time. Whip to soft peaks. Set meringue aside.
In another large bowl, cream the egg yolks and 3/4 cups (150 grams) of sugar until light and thick and ribbon-y.
Add the oil to the egg yolks and mix thoroughly. Add the milk and mix again. Add the sifted dry ingredients in three instalments and mix just until combined.
Now add 1/3 of the meringue and whisk it in without being too careful; you just want to lighten the mixture. Add another 1/3 meringue and with a spatula fold carefully to maintain lightness. Repeat with remaining 1/3 meringue, and fold until there are no white bits left.
Fill cupcake liners about 4/5 full and tap the tray on the counter 2 or 3 times to pop any large air bubbles. Bake on the middle rack until lightly browned and springy, about 12 minutes. Cool upside-down on a cooling rack.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 pound (450 grams) Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 stick (115 grams) salted butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1¾ cup (220 grams) icing sugar
- 7 ounces (200 grams) white chocolate, melted and cooled
- food colouring (optional)
In a medium sized bowl, beat the cream cheese with a spatula until it’s uniform. I like to add the food colouring at this stage so I can gauge the colour and mix it really well.
In a large bowl, cream the butter on medium speed until fluffy. Slowly add the icing sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, whipping after each addition. Add the vanilla. Whip on high speed until very light and fluffed. (Over-whipping once the the cream cheese has a small chance of making the frosting wilt).
Add the cream cheese and whip at medium speed. The frosting might look a little grainy – do not fear. Add the white chocolate and everything will smooth out and turn creamy and light.