I’ll never forget when I was planning my own wedding and the main choice for wedding cake was fruit cake. Yuck! Even the wedding favours were wrapped up pieces of fruit cake. I was never a fan and was very determined to have a cake that people would actually enjoy and not toss into the garbage. Through sheer stubbornness, I got my way and we had a lovely 3-tiered vanilla wedding cake with a scrumptious butter cream icing.
Fast forward 40 years and anything goes. When the cupcakes surged in popularity, I thought it was brilliant. Not only is there portion control, but leftovers can be saved a lot easier. It’s also much easier to plan how many to make based on the number of invited guests resulting in less waste. There’s no shortage of places to look for ideas, and the best thing of all is you can have several flavours versus the one or two with a cake. Cost wise, it also seems to be the better option when checking out cupcake prices versus wedding cake. The average price for wedding cupcakes is $3 per cupcake while wedding cakes are an average $5 per serving. So, for 60 people we would have been looking at $180 and for a wedding cake $300.
For Ashley’s wedding, we decided to keep costs down and do DIY cupcakes. Now, I’m a fair baker, but I wasn’t about to go crazy and experiment with a bunch of recipes and take the chance they wouldn’t turn out so I went with my tried and true recipes—the ones on the back of the good old cake mix! I learned from a good friend of mine who worked in a bakery, that the secret to great cupcakes is to freeze them. That way they are easier to frost and end up much moister and fresher tasting. I’ve been doing them that way ever since.
So what kind of flavours did we make? The choices we went with were carrot, chocolate, lemon and vanilla. For the first three, I pretty much followed the instructions on the back of the box. Easy peezy! For the vanilla, I went with a variation recipe that yielded more cupcakes as well as intensified the flavour. They turned out delicious! Here is the recipe:
White Wedding Cake Cupcakes
1 box white cake mix (Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cups water
2 tbsp. oil (vegetable or canola)
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
4 large eggs (separated)
- Preheat oven to 325 F. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pans (approx. 36)
- Beat egg whites until fluffy. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together cake mix, flour, sugar and salt.
- Add remaining ingredients (except egg whites) and beat until well blended (about 2 minutes)
- Fold in egg whites until blended into the mixture.
- Using an ice cream scoop, fill prepared cupcake tins to about 3/4 full.
- Bake for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
I originally found this recipe from Recipe Girl, but gave it a few tweeks of my own and ended up with perfect white vanilla cupcakes that tasted amazing. Recipe Girl says this recipe is also great for cakes, but I haven’t tried that yet. I’m also thinking that these tweeks will work with other cake mix flavours, but that is for another day!!
For icing I went with “easy” as well. My children really like the sweet icing (I call it sicky sweet), but some family members like it less sweet. So how do you satisfy everyone’s taste? Well, since I was under a time constraint, I didn’t want to worry about making a DIY buttercream from scratch so I cheated and went to an old standby that I knew would work. I bought some Betty Crocker frosting, whipped it up in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and added about 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar to get the right consistency for piping. It worked out quite well. My daughter-in-law, Julie, who helped me to decorate the cupcakes, preferred piping with this one. To enhance the flavour, I added some almond extract for one batch and some lemon juice and lemon extract for another. The taste was obviously very sweet, but no one guessed it was icing from a can.
The other recipe I used was one from a friend who used to be a professional baker. I really don’t like excessively sweet icing myself, and having tasted her cupcakes, prefer this icing. It doesn’t use butter or shortening or added sugar of any kind so is a better alternative for those watching their sugar and fat intake. Since we wanted variety, I made a batch of this recipe and divided it in half so I could colour it into a pretty purple. It piped really well, giving off a pretty lacey look rather than the smoother look of the sweet icing. All in all, once the cupcakes were piped and decorated with sparkles and silver balls, both Julie and I were very happy with the results. The recipe is as follows:
Whipped Frosting (dairy free, no added sugar)
1 box Nutriwhip 2 envelopes Whip It (Dr. Oetker)
- Empty the box of Nutriwhip into your electric mixer bowl and start blending slowly.
- Work up to top speed and whip until bubbles form. Stop mixer.
- Carefully sprinkle both envelopes of Whip It over the cream and mix together until powder incorporated into the cream (to avoid lumps).
- Whip at high speed until light and fluffy.
- Do not over whip–it will go very stiff and will be hard to spread.
- Add food colouring and flavouring extracts if desired.
- Leftovers can be frozen for another time – to reuse, just rewhip!
So as I conclude this rather long post, I have to say that one of the best compliments you can get is when you are asked for the name of the vendor where you got the cupcakes, or when told that your efforts look as professional as any that could have been purchased.
I was happy to do this for my daughter and actually enjoyed the challenge of such an undertaking. It worked out well and in the end, leftovers were not a problem.
Take care and happy baking!