Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

Baking date: September 23, 2018

My son Alex is a junior in high school this year, and a starter on the O line for his high school varsity football team. As part of community service, he is helping the parent volunteer coaches for the junior football program that he was a part of for so many years prior to high school.

The kids think the high school football players are “stars” and love talking to them and hearing about how things are done in high school. The youth players come to the high school games on Friday night and cheer on “Coach Alex” and his team. It helps build the sense of community in our rural town of about 5,000.

This year, one of the coach’s sons had a goal of dropping enough weight to lose the red stripe on his helmet (an indicator of weight limit – if you weigh more than a prescribed maximum, for safety reasons, you can not carry the ball). My son Alex wore a red stripe every year he played – and we even struggled with weight one year, in an effort to keep him with his classmates instead of moving up to the next age/grade level.

So, when young Marcus made the weight – celebratory carbs were in order! He requested strawberry cupcakes. That was easy enough, as I have a great homemade strawberry cupcake recipe. Baker’s note: this cupcake does not rise much while baking, so be sure to fill the batter close to the top of the liner.

I did not make the homemade frosting, instead using a canned white frosting.  I then dipped them in multi-colored nonpariels, and topped them with top to bottom-sliced strawberries that I hoped looked like hearts.

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Congrats on all your hard work to make weight, Marcus!


Marcus grabs a ride on the shoulders of my son Alex

Rosette Smash Cake

Baking date: September 1, 2018

I was asked to make a 1st birthday smash cake. I had made the bridal shower cupcakes for the mom in 2015 and the baby shower cupcakes and cake the Summer of 2017. Now that Hannah was turning 1, her mom reached out to me and requested vanilla cake with raspberry buttercream frosting for a smash cake. She also asked for Minnie Mouse themed cupcakes, that I also made.

She sent me a picture of this inspiration cake from Pinterest:

Inspiration Smash Cake

I immediately went to YouTube to find a video for making a rosette smash cake. This is what I watched (over and over and over!).

The cake was from a box mix and I used two 6″ round pans for thick layers. The recipe for the frosting makes quite a lot, so I did a crumb coat layer, and then piped on the rosettes using a 1M star tip.

Here’s my cake, in the frig after all the rosettes were piped on.IMG_1918

I’m pretty sure it was a hit with Hannah.


Happy 1st birthday, sweet girl!

Bridal Shower Cupcakes: Chocolate with Mocha Buttercream; White with Strawberry Buttercream

Baking date: March 2, 2018

I was commissioned to make cupcakes for a bridal shower. I was asked for chocolate with a chocolate frosting, and a white cupcake with strawberry frosting.

I ordered purple foil liners, since that was the color for the wedding. For the chocolate cupcakes, I used one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes – one bowl chocolate cake with a chocolate mocha buttercream. I piped on the frosting with a 1M tip. I hand piped chocolate heart shapes and added a gold sugar pearl and purple sugar sprinkles on each heart.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Here’s the cupcake up close:


The base for the other cupcakes was a white cake recipe. The strawberry icing recipe received rave reviews, but I found it difficult to pipe on in a fancy swirl. It wasn’t firm enough to keep it’s shape, like in the inspiration photo:


I may have added too many strawberries, so it was not as firm as it needed to be. I topped the strawberry frosting with white sparkling sugar sprinkles.

Here’s a photo:


In the future when using this strawberry frosting recipe, I’ll stick with the recommended amount of strawberries. And if I still find it won’t pipe on and hold it’s shape, I’ll probably add fresh strawberry garnish to improve the aesthetic appeal of the cupcakes.

Baby Shower Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes and Lemon Velvet Cake with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

Baking date: July 21, 2017

A friend commissioned me to make 60 cupcakes for her daughter’s baby shower. I had made cupcakes for her bridal shower two years earlier, and a gender “reveal” cake when her daughter became pregnant. The the mom-to-be again requested the fresh strawberry cupcakes with buttercream frosting for her baby shower.

I told them I would make a cake as my gift to the bride. We decided on a lemon velvet cake with raspberry buttercream frosting.

The theme of the shower included elephants and the colors pink and grey. The grandma-to-be purchased pink polka dot cupcake liners, elephant cupcake toppers in pink/grey and pink/grey zigzag, and other shapes, as well as a cake topper. Links included to show samples; I can’t vouch for the vendors since I do not know where grandma-to-be purchased them.

The website for this cake topper wouldn’t load, so here’s a picture:


For the cupcakes, I pulled out my big gun of a cupcake pan. This was the last of the batter going into the oven:


The cupcakes were topped with a swirl of buttercream frosting. I then added pink and silver sugar pearls around the cupcake, and then topped them with the cupcake toppers that had been hot glued onto toothpicks.

Here are the cupcakes:


Then it was on to the cake. I will say that I tasted the batter before I cooked it. It didn’t taste real lemony to me, so I squeezed some fresh lemon juice into the batter, in addition to the lemon zest and the lemon extract.

The raspberry buttercream recipe — holy cow — it makes a ton! This was the cake and the frosting before I got started:


I tried a buttercream smoothing technique I saw on YouTube. I had placed the cake in the frig, so it took a bit longer and I never did get it completely smooth. In the future, I’d ice the cake and let it “crust” at room temperature, and then do this technique with the Viva paper towel and the fondant smoother.  I should have taken a before and after picture because it did help smooth out the frosting. Here’s the after:


Around the base of the cake, I piped on bursts, and added a large white sugar pearl in the center of each burst. Finally, I spelled the baby’s name with raspberry buttercream piped on candy melt circles in bright white that I added some black color to in order to get a grey.

Here’s all of the sugar, ready to be delivered to the party:


Here’s the table full of goodies:
Baby Shower table 1Baby Shower table 2

Congrats Kaitlyn and Kevin – we can’t wait to meet baby Hannah!

Kaitlyn and Kevin

Photo courtesy of Lidia Miller Photography.

My pricing philosophy:

How I price my work

Margarita Cupcakes

Baking date: November 21, 2015

My friend Lou’s birthday is one day after my husband’s. He’s not a big party guy, but Lou is one of my party sisters. We love a good time, and liquor is the icing on the cupcake, so to speak.

For her birthday, I decided to make margarita cupcakes. This is a recipe I’ve made before. It’s fairly easy – the hardest part is juicing the limes. And the icing – it is so good I could eat it straight out of the bowl. Maybe it’s the tequila and Grand Marnier…


Even our cupcakes are top shelf, of course

maybe it’s the fresh squeezed lime juice…maybe the lime zest. Whatever it is, this frosting is amazing!


For the actual cupcake, I substitute any vegetable oil the mix requires with canola oil. I find that canola oil makes my cakes more moist and airy.

I used a 1M star tip to frost the cupcakes.  This makes just enough to frost 24 cupcakes, but I forgot that the recipe makes more than 24 cupcakes. In the future, I will double the frosting recipe to ensure better cupcake coverage. Leftover frosting could be used for something, I’m sure!

Here are the finished cupcakes:


And here’s one up close:


Cheers and Happy Birthday, Lou!

‘Heal Fast’ Cake

Baking date: September 24, 2015

This has been an injury-plagued season for my younger son Nick’s junior football team. The starting running back got a concussion that has sidelined him for three weeks.

My son Nick broke his collar bone. Not during a game, but while he and his older brother were playing football at his uncle’s house. Read all about that mess on my blog. He’s out for the entire season, because:

Those two bones at the top left...yeah, they're supposed to be connected.

Those two bones at the top left…yeah, they’re supposed to be connected.

And during a game on September 12, his teammate George broke his arm. Here’s George in action before the play where he got hurt:


This is George being helped by a dad whose son plays on my older son’s team. This dad is on our local volunteer fire and rescue squad. He comes to every home game just in case he’s needed. That’s why I bake him treats for every home game!


And here’s George on the bench – turns out it was his ulna that was broken.


So, of course I needed to get some treats to George to help his healing. His mom let me know his favorite cake was vanilla with strawberry. Given that we were dealing with our own collar bone break for Nick, I wasn’t as focused on baking, but I made him lion paw shaped candy melt treats to tide him over:

Lion paw candy melts, sending get well wishes

Lion paw candy melts, sending get well wishes

The next week I was finally able to get to that cake. I used a box French vanilla mix and can of vanilla frosting. I also put a special message on the cake using candy mold letters and red sparkle gel frosting.

Baker’s note: Even though Wilton’s 800 line told me I could use the fondant/paste molds for candy melts, I find that it is tough to get them out without a lot of breakage. It was suggested that I dust the molds with cornstarch first or perhaps brush some oil in. But the size of the molds aren’t very big. If anyone has any suggestions, please suggest something in the comments!)

I sliced fresh strawberries from top to bottom and placed them in an alternating up/down pattern along the bottom edge of the cake.

Here’s the cake from the top and a side view so you can see the strawberries:


Get well soon George – we miss you on the field.

Strawberry and Blueberry Flag Dessert

Baking date: August 1, 2015

Each year in the Summer, my cousins from moms side of the family get together for our annual “Cousins & Crabs” celebration. It’s a feast of steamed crabs, burgers, dogs, and endless side dishes with all the cousins (13 of us), our kids (13 of them), as well as our aunts and uncles.

There are desserts, of course. This year, I made s’mores cookies, which I have made for other events, but not for my family. I also wanted to make a fruit-based concoction. I saw an inspiration photo on Facebook (alas, I couldn’t it again find it to show here), and decided to copy the concept.

Mine wasn’t nearly as crisp and clean as the inspiration photo, but this is a fairly simple thing to make. I washed and dipped the strawberries in white chocolate melts. I probably didn’t dry off the strawberries enough, because the chocolate dipping process wasn’t as neat as it could have been. Water and the chocolate don’t mix well.

Here was the final product:


You can see the chocolate globbed on in some spots, especially where the strawberries were not completely dry. Also, you really need a deep bowl to dip the strawberries in to get consistent coverage over the bottom half of the strawberries. I also worked to make sure the strawberries in each row were as consistent in size as I could get them.

Dumping the washed blueberries in the upper left corner was the easiest part!

While not baked, and not my best looking effort, my family enjoyed fresh fruit with a little chocolate as a noshing option!