A great big cakey Mother’s Day to all the fabulous Mothers out there!
I wanted to do something special for the main Moms in my life – my own wondermom, my fab Mother-in-law, and our Grandmothers. And these cupcakes were just the ticket. They weren’t hard to make, the only time consuming thing is the actual assembly, but the payoff is so worth it. All you really need is some food colouring, some sprinkles, and a selection of flower cutters, but you can really go wherever your imagination takes you. You can make them as fancy or simple as you like, use whatever flavour you like for the cake – really, seriously – What. Ever. You. Want. Today’s blog is really just an inspiration, tutorial-y kind of blog, a starting point for decorating cupcakes with fondant icing. I must apologise for the lack of pictures – I was doing about twenty things at once and only realised at the end that I forgot to take any. Hopefully it will still be a helpful blog!
The cakes I’ve made are of the “simple yet effective” variety. My theme – pastel flowers. I made a classic vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, a classic buttercream (recipes for the cakes and the buttercream are below), and used a plain white fondant icing which I coloured with gel colours (specifically Sugarflair colours in Pink, Royal Blue, Party Green, Deep Purple and Melon) while my cupcakes baked. I used various flower cutters to stamp out the decorations, and a round double edged cutter a couple of centimetres bigger than my cakes for the decorations to go onto.
To decorate the cupcakes, first spread buttercream into a dome on top of each cupcake. You don’t want to put too much on as it will squish out when you put the fondant on top of it. It doesn’t need to be massively neat, but try and get it as dome-y as you can!
Then, roll out your fondant and use the round cutter to stamp out circles. I used both the plain and the fluted sides – I really liked the fluted edging around the bottom but it came up smaller than the plain edge so it was harder to smooth over the buttercream. I didn’t want to go up a size as I didn’t want too much overhang.
Place the circles on top of each cupcake, and carefully smooth down with your hands until it reaches the edge of the cupcake lining and covers all of the buttercream. If you get any buttercream squishing out, just wipe it away and smooth the icing down to cover the edge.
Then you can start decorating! For the flowers, I used a small paintbrush to dab a little water onto the icing before placing a flower on top. Because all the icing was still fresh and soft, they bonded together really easily, but if the icing has gone a little harder, you can just as easily use edible glue (which can be purchased online or at any cake shop), or even a dot of writing icing (made with icing sugar and just enough warm water to make it into a thick paste). Because I had made all of my decorations that day, the icing was still plenty soft enough to only need water. For the pearls, I wet the handle of the paintbrush and made a dent in the icing, and placed a pearl in it. Alternatively, for the pearl-free versions, I simply dotted the icing with the (dry) handle of the paintbrush. For the roses, I made six or seven pea-sized balls of icing and flattened them out, then rolled one into a spiral and wrapped the others around as petals. Et voila! I finished my cupcakes with a spray of pearl shimmer, which I brought from my local cake shop.
The decoration part is really where your imagination can go wild. I have seen some gorgeous patterns on Google and Pinterest using this basic idea, but adding all kinds of other elements to make them truly a work of art. Some use piped icing or chocolate to create patterns. Some roll the icing out over a piece of lace or special mats to create a beautiful texture on the icing surface, without even needing extra embellishments. The possibilities are endless. I will definitely be trying some more elaborate designs in the future when the opportunity arises.
However, having never really used writing icing (yet!), for this occasion I stuck with my cut out flowers. The assembly took me all afternoon, but the essential idea behind these particular cupcakes is ridiculously simple. And the end result is stunning, though I do say so myself. Quite possibly these are the prettiest, girliest cupcakes I’ve ever made. I almost didn’t want to give them away – I wanted to frame them and put them somewhere I could admire my own handiwork! But giving them to the wonderful women in my life and seeing their joy was definitely better.
And of course, I couldn’t have a blog without sharing a recipe! These are absolute foolproof, works-every-time recipes for the two most basic cupcakes – chocolate and vanilla – and my favourite buttercream recipe. They are so simple I don’t even need to bullet-point the instructions, and you can literally have a batch of cupcakes cooling on the side in about half an hour.
Basic Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes 10-12 cupcakes, depending on size
- 115g or 4oz butter or baking spread
- 115g or 4oz caster sugar
- 115g or 4oz self-raising flour
- 2 eggs
Cream together the butter and sugar, beat in the eggs and fold in the sifted flour (alternatively use all-in-one method and beat all the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth). Spoon into cupcake cases and bake at 180°C for 20-22 minutes
Basic Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 10-12 cupcakes
- 115g or 4oz butter or baking spread
- 115g or 4oz caster sugar
- 85g or 3oz self-raising flour
- 30g or 1oz cocoa powder
- 2 eggs
Cream together the butter and sugar, beat in the eggs and fold in the sifted flour and cocoa powder (alternatively use all-in-one method and beat all the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth). Spoon into cupcake cases and bake at 180°C for 20-22 minutes
Both of these recipes can be scaled up or down with ease – this is why I have added the ounce weights as well for once, as I find it easier to weigh this way for these particular cakes. So, if you want 6 cupcakes instead of 12, half the mix (if you do it in ounces, the mix for the vanilla goes from 4-4-4-2, to 2-2-2-1). If you want 18, use half again (6-6-6-3) or 24 (8-8-8-4) etc etc. You can also use them for full size cakes – I find the 4-4-4-2 mix works great in my 20cm pan, make two of them and sandwich them with jam and buttercream for a perfect Victoria sponge. The baking time will vary for each size, but if you just test the centre with a toothpick after about 20-25 minutes depending on size, you can tell when it’s done (if it comes out clean, the cake is done).
Super Simple Buttercream
- 250g butter
- 500g icing sugar
- 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
Beat the butter until smooth and pale, then sift in the icing sugar a few tablespoons at a time, beating until fully combined each time. Add vanilla extract to taste.
This my favourite buttercream because it is so completely versatile. Basically, as long as you keep the icing sugar and butter in a 2:1 ratio, you can make whatever quantities you want. For example, these flower cupcakes don’t require much buttercream, so I used 100g butter and 200g icing sugar (and still had a bit left over). You can also substitute some of the icing sugar for cocoa powder to make a delicious chocolate icing – I would switch out about 50g in the above recipe, but go with the flow and substitute to taste!
So there we go. I hope this has been both a pretty and informative blog for a chilled Sunday afternoon. And I hope you’ve all been spoiling your Moms, or if you are a Mom, being spoiled by your kiddies ❤