Been baking. These are vegan cupcakes with cream cheese flavoured duotone buttercream roses.

I know, cream cheese and buttercream do not sound vegan. Did you know professional buttercream is made from vegetable shortening? It keeps better*. Thank goodness – doing a cake decorating course without sampling the frosting would have been rather difficult.

These babies will be sold off to sweet toothed TRN staff to help me recoup the ridiculous amounts of money I’ve been spending on baking stuff lately…

*Apparently most use meringue powder though (with egg) to get the buttercream to “set” a little.

Almond Rose Cupcakes

It’s incredible what people can do with a piping bag and some frosting. After I worked out the “petal cupcakes” style of “rose” (it’s super easy), I was up for a more realistic looking version.

I also blame days of beng sick, sitting on the couch watching too much food TV.

YouTube is wonderful for learning things. How to make fancy nail art, how to cast on your knitting, how to crochet a magic circle… How to pipe roses!

If you’re really lucky, you’ll find an enthusiastic asian man with bad sound and crazy overlays on his video, demonstrating how to pipe a rose. Nutty, but effective.

This calls for a trip to the homestore for baking supplies. You’ll need a Wilton 104 flower tip for your rose petals, I also got a flower nail but don’t actually think it’s necessary for cupcakes.

I warn you, this cupcake recipe is incredibly good. The cake isn’t too gloopy or too dry, has a nice crumb and delicate flavour without being bland. Nice texture from the almond. It was a happy mistake too – who measures oil in weight? Surprise.

Almond Cupcakes

  • 100g Canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp almond essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • ½ cup ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk (I used skim milk)

Beat the oil and sugar together in a large bowl. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla essence and almond extract and beat.

In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in ground almonds with a fork.

Add a third of the dry mixture to the wet mixture, beat. Add half the measure of milk and continue beating.

Add half the remaining dry ingredients, beat to combine and then continue to beat in the remaining milk. Finish adding the remaining dry ingredients and beat together.

I found the mixture was quite wet, and although I usually hate to beat my batter so much for fear of it getting tough, this turned out just fine.

This amount should be plenty of batter for 12 cupcakes. Load up your cupcake cases and bake them at 180°C for about 25 minutes (test with a skewer).

Because I was super impatient to get my icing on, I shoved my cupcakes in the fridge to cool faster.

Buttercream Icing

I usually do about 150g of softened butter and really roughly two cups of icing sugar, beaten until smooth.

Then, if I’m doing two flavours I separate it in half, putting half in a second bowl.

Bowl the first: For the raspberry flavour I used raspberry flavoring (FYI – cordial doesn’t really work) and some red food colouring for the pink.

Bowl the second: For the espresso icing, I made a shot of espresso coffee from espresso ground beans in my coffee machine, and let it cool. I then scooped the crema and coffee off the top into the icing – about two or three tablespoons full.

(Sans coffee machine, I’d suggest dissolving 1.5tsp of instant coffee into 2tbsp of warm water and using that.)

Add about half a teaspoon of ground beans for a little bit of extra colour and prettiness, and beat together. Insanely delicious icing.

Don’t forget the handy glad-wrap-piping-bag-filling trick. It works so well, and means you can use the one reuseable bag for two flavours of icing without the pain of washing in between.

Although the video tutorials for roses mostly use nails, I piped my roses directly onto my cupcakes, without the “base cone” that you’ll see demonstrated in most videos.
(I admit, I flat out forgot that part)

Extra for experts: this chrysanthemum flower is pretty easy and forgiving to create too, also demonstrated by our enthusiastic and crafty asian friend.

The most important part in this process is being a massive showoff, and sharing your cupcakes with as many friends, colleagues and family as are lucky to snaffle one. xx