Posts Tagged ‘Mother’s Day’

Happy Saturday!  This week ran completely away from me  and  the next thing I knew it was Thursday … and then Friday … and then …  well today.  I thought I’d better check in with you. You know, in case maybe you missed your weekly dose of flour and sugar. Never fear,  I’m here with plenty of sweetness to go around. I just couldn’t keep all this loveliness to myself, so I’m here to share with you a little sweetness and some serious excitement.

I’ve been finding it hard to focus on anything except these cupcakes.  Aren’t they pretty.  This week I was working on these cupcake samples for a client who is getting married in July. She has a vintage theme and wanted a buttercream swirl with a simple gumpaste flower on top.  I made a variety of gumpaste flower colours so that she could choose which shade she wanted to use for her special day.

 As I was picturing the cupcakes, I couldn’t help but think how they were the perfect cupcake for Mother’s Day.

Swirls of delicious frosting sitting on light vanilla cupcakes.  Just a perfect marriage of cake, frosting and vanilla.  Sometimes you just have to have plain old vanilla to appreciate just how good it is.  Sometimes and I’m just saying, sometimes, it’s hard to find a cupcake that tastes as good as it looks when it’s just vanilla, vanilla.  Sometimes they just look better than they actually taste. These cupcakes however, are different.  You have my word, and I’ll even go so far as to say they taste … E.V.E.N. better than they look.  How’s that for creating some excitment.

Can I tell you a secret? Vanilla, vanilla cupcakes aren’t the only thing that’s got me excited these days.

An opportunity to intern at the Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts has me excited.  Over the moon actually.

Bonnie Gordon is cake designer/teacher,  extraordinaire and she started a college in Toronto in 2010 to share her wealth of knowledge and passion for meticulous cake design with others. Bonnie is a leader in the field of cake design education and she has a passion to nuture creative talent in her students. Ever since I started decorating cakes (which was just last year but it seems much longer somehow) I’ve wanted to go there.  I’ve  spent countless hours on the website, I’ve filled out the application to attend, at least 3 times, I attended their cake show in 2011 and I’ve even met Bonnie,  but in the end, circumstances just never made it possible to actually take classes there.  But all that is about to change because as of tomorrow, I will be there every Sunday for the next 4 months.  My job will be to assist the instructors, help set up the classroom, assist the students and tidy up when we’re done.  All the while, I will be listening to every little morsel of  cake decorating genius from some of the best instructors in the country.

I will be a sponge and just soak it all up.


I couldn’t have asked for a more incredible Mother’s Day gift and in this recipe, I couldn’t have asked for a more delicious cupcake. This is seriously one of the best vanilla cupcake recipes I have made, and believe me, I’ve made plenty.  The really fantastical thing about this recipe is that I came across it on the extraordinary baking blog by Rosie Alyea, called Sweetapolita.  Rosie makes the most gorgeous, delicious and mouth-watering cakes and treats you’ve ever laid eyes on and believe it or not she learned and perfected a lot of her baking skills at Bonnie Gordon College. That’s all the proof I need to know that this is a going to be a good thing.

No ones needs a holiday to send someone special wishes, but in honour of all you wonderful mothers I’m sending you buttercream wishes and sweet vanilla kisses for a wonderful Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom



Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes

Yields 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes


1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter cut into 1-inch cubes, room temperature

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup whole milk, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 325 (170 degrees C) degrees F. Line standard cupcake pans with your favourite paper cupcake liners and set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt) and mix on low-speed until blended.  Add cubes of butter, one at a time, and mix again until all of the butter is coated with flour.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, and blend until incorporated.

4. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together milk and vanilla.  With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula after each addition.  Beat until just incorporated (it’s best not to overbeat).

5. Divide batter evenly among the liners filling about 2/3 full).  Bake until a toothpick in the center comes out clean, about 17 -20 minutes (for me it was 17).

6. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer the cupcakes onto a cooling rack by inverting the tray. Carefully turn the cupcakes right-side-up and let cool completely before frosting. use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake or pipe on icing using a 12-inch Wilton piping bag fitted with a  ……… tip. Decorate with flowers or sprinkles if desired.  Serve at room temperature.

Adapted from Billy’s Bakery Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita & Martha Stewart


They’re easy to make and the batter bakes up light and moist as long as they’re not over baked.  I took mine out of the oven at 17 minutes.  At 15 minutes, the toothpick came out covered in batter, at 17 minutes, they were done.  So really keep an eye on them after 15 minutes. Mine were ready when they had just a touch of golden colour around the outside.

Vanilla Buttercream

Makes about 2 cups


5 egg whites

1 cup sugar

slightest pinch of salt

1 cup butter, room temperature, cut into pieces*.

* I know all recipes call for unsalted butter here but I tend to use what I have on hand and more often than not, it’s salted, so to compensate, I leave out the salt in the recipe or add  just the slightest pinch, if necessary.


1. Whisk the egg whites, sugar and (salt if adding) in a heat proof bowl set over a saucepan of salted water (do not let the bowl touch the water) until the mixture is warm and the sugar dissolves.  Remove the bowl from the pan; let cool slightly.

2. Beat the egg white mixture in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer) on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 12 -15 minutes. Beat in the butter a few pieces at a time, then continue beating until smooth.  (Don’t worry if the mixture looks separated at first – it will come together as you keep beating.)


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Happy May days!  Don’t you just love May. With all my chatter about cookbooks, (see this post), I wanted to share with you another priceless volume that I have in my rather extensive collection. Yes, it’s true, I cannot deny that I am somewhat of a cookbook, lets say, “collector”. I browse them like magazines and read them like, well … novels.  They make up a great deal of my reading pleasure and a large percentage of my limited weight allotment when travelling. Truth be told, I have a cookbook bag in my bedroom and at the first sign of a road trip, I excitedly carry it out to the car. With my shelves burgeoning from the weight and at the risk of giving in to this small obsession of mine, these days it takes the will of a lion to steer myself clear of cookbook displays, as I vow to cook and bake my way through the ones I already have before purchasing any new editions. Fingers crossed.

In December of 1999, my husband’s youngest sister, Lynda rolled up her sleeves and took on the monumental task of assembling a family cookbook to usher in the new millennium. For Christmas, she presented each of us with a bright yellow spiral bound collection of our family’s favourite recipes, some of which have been passed down through the last century and some which are new additions, donated by some of the newer members of the family (Hmm, hmm, yours truly being one of them). There may be others, but I know for sure, that this book is a family treasure and a kitchen fixture in our home as well as the homes of my 3 sister-in-laws and my husband’s mom.

Because my mother-in-law is one of those magical bakers (not to mention cook) where everything she serves tastes like a slice of heaven, and many of the recipes she uses came from her mother, you can imagine how exciting it was to receive it;  all of our favourite recipes bound up in a single spiral.  Many of the recipes I use on a daily basis, (including this particular recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins), come from the pages of this book.

Around here, muffins are always in demand because they’re so versatile; they taste great, pack well and don’t take long to bake.  For a family always on-the-go, a batch of muffins first thing in the morning never goes astray, as they thankfully satisfy the seemingly endless appetites of working men, boys who play sports and friends who drop by.

Scratch muffins are the kind I like to make as they are often chock full of good things like fruits and vegetables. The great thing about muffins is that you can take a recipe and change it up, swap out the flour or the fruit to suit your individual tastes and make it your own. In the same way, this recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, may taste great as Orange Poppy Seed Muffins by switching the lemon juice and lemon zest for orange juice and orange zest. I personally like to experiment with the flavours but haven’t yet tried this combination yet. If you happen to give it a try, I’d love to hear about it.

This recipe comes from my husband’s mom, baker extraordinaire. It’s light and delightful and the poppy seeds provide a surprising layer of crunchy texture.  Though they do have quite a bit of sugar to balance the tartness of the lemons, they do not have a lot of fat, just a mere 1/4 cup of melted butter, balanced with the goodness of two freshly squeezed lemons and 1 and 1/4 cups of dairy fresh milk, so I feel good about serving them up, even for breakfast.

These muffins would make a great addition to a Mother’s Day brunch. They’re also a quick way to start the day if you happen to be travelling; pack a few for a great snack if you’ll be on the road for a while. You may want to whip them up to brighten someone’s day or show mom just how much you love her.

 Adapted from Our Family Recipes

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins


2 lemons

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons poppy seeds

1 egg

1 1/4 cups milk

1/4 cup melted butter


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper cups.  Finely grate peel from lemons.  Mix half of the peel with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and set aside to sprinkle over the muffins before baking.  Squeeze juice from lemons. Measure out 1/3 cup juice and stir in remaining peel.

2. Using a fork, stir flour with remaining sugar, and the rest of the dry ingredients.  Whisk egg in a small bowl.  Then whisk in the milk, lemon juice and butter.  Milk may curdle when mixed with lemon juice.  Immediately stir egg mixture into flour mixture just until combined.  Spoon into muffin cups.  Sprinkle tops with lemon-sugar mixture.  Bake for 20-22 minutes.

Makes 1 dozen muffins.


For a light lemony crumb, I baked mine for 20 minutes.

You can omit the lemon zest/sugar topping if serving to young kids.

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