Monday, June 27, 2011

Sometimes it's the Simple Things

Sunday was one of those days where you just don't want the sun to go down and the day to be over because there is something special about the hours that you want to hold onto for as long as you can.
It started out with brunch with my darling Casey. She cooked amazing French toast using fruit toast and Grand Marnier in the egg soak. We spread it with left over creme brulee (oh yes, you must try French toast with creme brulee on top, believe me it's a new height of decadence) and topped it with various things including toasted coconut, caramelised apples, rhubarb and ginger compote and Grandma's rosella jam. 
Accompanied by some chocolate tea (surprisingly good) and elderflower and mint cordial. Sitting out in the morning sunshine with Casey was the perfect start to our day of eating and catching up. 

Then we headed out and saw 'Bridesmaids' - funny, so funny and yet, so wrong in some ways. I highly recommend it. This was followed by sushi at our favourite sushi train, I had some awesome fried eggplant sushi and of course, an avocado roll. 
Strolling along Oxford St in Bulimba we couldn't resist the lure of the bakery, and I when I spotted this mini cupcake with mini M&Ms on top I knew that I simply had to have one.

We drove into the city and headed to the winter festival. This is the first year of this festival in Brisbane so it wasn't very big but we had fun watching people slip and slide across the ice as the sun faded in our city. 

After my cupcake on Sunday I woke up with cupcakes on the brain this morning. In between patients I couldn't help but think about coming home and indulging in the simple pleasure of creaming some butter and sugar and creating wonder in my kitchen. 
So these were born: Lightly Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Cloud Frosting.

I modified a recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery's new book 'Cake Days' and adapted the creamy vanilla frosting from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook which also appears here. This frosting has special memories for me as Casey and I went to New York in 2008 and spent a particularly wonderful afternoon strolling through the village eating cupcakes from the Magnolia Bakery. I can still remember the slant of the sun through the trees that shaded us from the midsummer heat, the fat pigeons crowding at our feet waiting for crumbs and the ecstatic sugar rush that we got after devouring our delicacies. Casey then recreated this icing and the accompanying red velvet cake when we returned to Brisbane, and it never fails to bring back that wonderful afternoon.
Trust me, you have never tasted anything like this, it truly feels like a cloud in your mouth. Sure it takes a little extra time, and at several points you will probably think that you have messed it up. But follow the directions exactly and you can't go wrong. Then sit back with a freshly frosted cupcake and marvel at the simple pleasures in life.

Lightly Lemon Cupcakes
Makes about 24 cupcakes

80g unsalted butter
280g caster sugar
240g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
240mL milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence 
2 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon lemon zest

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line cupcake tins with paper cases.
  2. In the large bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer) slowly beat together the butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest until well mixed and resembling fine breadcrumbs.
  3. In a small jug whisk together the milk, vanilla essence and eggs.
  4. With the mixer on low pour 3/4 of the wet mixture into the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl until ingredients are fully incorporated. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients and beat until the batter is smooth.
  5. Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases, up to about 2/3 full and slide into the oven. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. 
  6. Leave to cool slightly in the tin and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Cloud Frosting

Follow instructions from epicurious, you will only need a half recipe to frost this number of cupcakes.
Once you have refrigerated the frosting for the specified time spoon into a large piping bag fitted with a star tip. You will need to work quickly and be careful because in summer this frosting will melt very quickly.
I piped stars on top of my cupcakes and then sprinkled them with purple sprinkles. I refrigerated the cakes to ensure that they will make it to work tomorrow in (hopefully) one piece.

I think the message of baking is that it doesn't take something complicated to create happiness. You can start with the simplest ingredients whether they are butter, sugar, eggs and flour or friends, family, laughter, and love and create something amazing, cake, cookies, frosting, or bonds, connections and happy memories. Sometimes in this world of instant messaging, constant consumerism and bigger, better, best we can forget that it really is the little things that make us the happiest; a walk in the sunshine, a hug from someone we love, a smile from a stranger, a cup of tea after a long day at work. Take some time this week, even just a moment to breathe in some of the simple pleasures that make life worth living.

Mum's special treat tonight - she is a frosting connoisseur


  1. Why do you do this to me every time?!?!? Holy geez these treats look to die for!

  2. LOVE THIS: "it doesn't take something complicated to create happiness" <---- SO TRUE!!! those cupcakes look absolutely amazing! And chocolate tea??? Sounds perfect! what a relaxing weekend :)

  3. totally cute. so loving the purple non-perils!

  4. ya, i wouldn't want to the sun to go down on that kind of day either!! oh, but lookie u made the next one cupcake filled too, wise choice. :) great to see you had a wonderful weekend and now i need to find myself my own cupcake fix! :)

  5. You are the cutest! It sounds like you had a really fun time AND had some awesome eats. Great post!
    Oh, and french toast with creme brulee? MUST try it.

  6. I thing it may good to eat that I saw recpies in ur blogs
    Bakery Equipment