Here it is! And there it goes.... our due date *sigh*
They say only about 5% of babies are actually born on their due date. I wasn't exactly expecting ours to be one of them (I really prayed she'd be a bit early), but it would have been a shame to let this day go by unmarked, birth or no birth. I have made it through nine months of pregnancy, after all. It feels like an achievement.
So I rolled out of bed this morning (another achievement these days, considering my size) and thought "cupcakes? yes, cupcakes!" Isn't that what everyone thinks on their due date?
It was a good way to pass the day, focussed not on what isn't happening, but on making pretty cakes.... and then eating them, of course. Ayla and I are both happy now. Let's hope she's happy enough to be born tomorrow.
This white cake recipe from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook is my go-to recipe any time I want a perfectly light and fluffy cake. It calls for vanilla extract, but it's so versatile you can add any flavour to it to change it up a bit. This time I added both vanilla and almond extracts. I've used this recipe so many times that the book actually opens to it of its own accord every time I pull it off the shelf.
Vanilla Almond Cupcakes with Raspberry filling:
adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
3 cups cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temp.
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 cup milk
8 large egg whites, room temp.
Buttercream frosting of your choice
Preheat the oven to 350F and line 2 muffin cup pans with paper liners.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form and then gradually add 1/4 cup of sugar and continue whisking until you've got stiff, glossy peaks. Set the egg whites aside and clean the electric mixer bowl.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In the clean bowl of the electric mixer, beat the butter and 2 cups of sugar with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as necessary. Beat in the vanilla and almond extract.
With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk (beginning and ending with the flour). Beat until just combined.
With a spatula, fold 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the butter-flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the remaining egg whites just until no lumps remain.
Fill muffin cups two-thirds full and bake, rotating pans half-way through, until cakes are just turning golden, about 20-24 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the centre of each should come out clean.
Remove cupcakes from pans immediately and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a #10 tip with raspberry jam. Insert the tip deep into the top of the cupcake and squeeze the jam into the centre. Stop squeezing before you lift the tip out of the cupcake.
Frost the cupcakes with your choice of buttercream.
For these cupcakes I used a simple butter/icing sugar/vanilla extract frosting that my mom used to use for our birthday cakes as kids (it's like the super sweet icing that most cupcake shops tend to use) and I thought would be appropriate for the occasion and I was feeling nostalgic. Normally, I won't use anything other than a swiss meringue buttercream frosting on a cupcake (or in a macaron, for that matter) because it's so smooth and light - like whipped cream - and I'm not usually a fan of the super sweet icky stuff found in the shops. The Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a recipe I'll share on another day since it's time consuming and a little trickier than the birthday-cake buttercream.
Birthday Cake Buttercream
Childhood favourite for birthday cakes by my mom
2 cups butter, room temp.
4 cups icing sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract (or other flavour of your choice)
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter until smooth. Add icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time until fully combined and the mixture is pale and fluffy and has increased in volume. Beat in vanilla.
My rose piping skills could use some work, but for these cupcakes I used a #104 petal tip and did the best I could.