Friday, June 28, 2013

It's Rainy Season...

It's rainy season right now, which means (obviously) a lot of rain, heat and humidity, but also hydrangeas!! Due to their timing, many people here think of them as kind of sad flowers, but I always think they are so beautiful. Last week, a neighborhood friend invited me and another mom friend over for lunch on Monday and I said I would bring some dessert. I would have loved to do a big, beautiful cake, but a cake for three is kind of difficult to deal with - how are the leftovers split? So, I decided on either cupcakes or cookies. Then I came across these cupcakes and regardless of the fact that I don't have the right piping tip, I couldn't resist.

I started with the same vanilla cake recipe that I made for K's birthday cake. In that post, I decided that this would be my go-to vanilla cake recipe and this time solidified that for me. I think the cake is delicious and simple - perfect! I ended up halving the recipe, as the last thing I need in this house is a million cupcakes. And I baked them for about 18 minutes, if I remember correctly, and ended up getting 14 cupcakes out of the half recipe.

The cupcakes rose a bit higher than I was hoping for as I was pulling them out of the oven.

But, as they cooled, they shrank a bit, which I was pleased with.

Then I made up the cream cheese frosting that was listed in the original hydrandea cupcake post. It seemed a bit soft to me before even adding the heavy cream, but I ended up adding 1 tablespoon anyway. I'm not sure if the frosting was super soft due to the weather situation, or if we just have softer cream cheese and butter here. Who knows.

Once it was mixed up, I divided it into two bowls and dyed about 1/3 of it a lavender and the remaining 2/3 blue.

Into the piping bag it went. I added a bit of purple and then some blue to top it off. Mind you, I didn't have the proper piping tip, but one that was similar enough that I figured would work.

Then I got to piping. The first one (the top cupcake in the photo below) was a complete mess. It didn't look anything like those from the original post. I was so bummed. I figured part of the problem is that my tip is different - that I would just have to deal with. I also assumed, however, that maybe the frosting was too soft. I popped the piping bag into the freezer for about 10 minutes, pulled it out and piped a second one. This was much better. Not super hydrangea-y, but would have to do.

It was a really, really long process. After I finished a cupcake I rushed it to the refrigerator as the frosting would start to melt. Then I would pop the piping bag back into the freezer for about 10 minutes and finally move onto the next one. To decorate the 14 cupcakes took about 2 hours. It was ridiculous. Luckily, I was talking to my mom on the phone the whole time, so the time passed quickly. It was so late however, that by the time that I finished I was exhausted.

Boxed up, they looked pretty cute. My next worry was transporting them to the friend's house the next day. I knew it would be hot and it is about a 10 minute walk. I put tons of little icy pouches in a mini cooler and hoped for the best. Luckily, it ended up just fine.

And they were pretty tasty to boot! Happy rainy season, Japan!

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