In honor of the victories this week and Pride Weekend, I made “Pride Cupcakes”. We’re one step closer to marriage equality for all. Love is love, I say!
So, these rainbow cupcakes. I usually try to stay away from using artificial coloring, but sometimes you just have to make an exception. (Though my next project is to do this with all natural coloring.)
I don’t know about you, but something about these makes me just a little bit more cheerful, a little bit giddy, a little bit more hopeful, like all just might be right in the world.
These rainbow cupcakes make an impression, but aren’t particularly difficult to make. It just requires a little bit of extra time and patience to create the layers.
Rainbow Cupcake Recipe
(adapted from My San Francisco Kitchen‘s Vanilla Cupcake Recipe)
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened unsalted butter
2 cups granulated white sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups cold milk
Food coloring (red, yellow, green, blue)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your muffin tins.
2. Sift together your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) and set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. It will look a little crumbly, but don’t worry. Everything will come together perfectly at the end!
4. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, making sure that each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Tip: crack your eggs open into a small bowl before starting so that you can pick out any stray shell pieces that try to come along for the ride. The eggs will stay “separate” so when you carefully tip the bowl into the mixing bowl, only one egg will slide in at time.
5. Add the vanilla and give it one last whip around the bowl. Your batter should be a gorgeous golden yellow, thick and fluffy.
6. At this point, combine the oil and milk together (a 2 c. measuring cup does the trick). Using a low speed setting, alternately add the flour mix and the milk and oil, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Only mix until the last dry ingredients are just incorporated and there aren’t any streaks of flour left.
7. Divide the batter evenly into 5 bowls. (This is where this baking project becomes more like an arts and crafts class from grade school).
8. Make your colored batter. Red in one bowl, red + yellow in another, yellow, green, blue. Start with just a few drops, give the batter a quick mix (but not too much! You don’t want to over mix and get a tough cake). If you want to go darker/more vibrant, add more color.
9. Starting with the blue batter, scoop a little bit into each liner, ensuring that the bottom is covered. Don’t go heavy-handed or else you’ll find yourself a few cupcakes short. (This is what happened to me, and I had to go and scoop just a little bit of batter from the other liners to scrounge up enough to fill my last cupcake).
Repeat with the rest of the colors. The most important thing to remember is to make sure that most of the surface is covered with whichever color batter you’re using. This will help ensure (relatively) even layers for the rainbow effect.
10. Bake for 22~25 minutes. When they’re done, set them on wire cooling racks to chill out. As soon as you can without burning yourself, take the cupcakes out of the tins to cool. If they stay in the tins, the extra heat can do a little extra baking and possibly dry them out.
(Standard “done” test – stick a toothpick into the center of a cupcake and if it comes out clean, with maybe a few crumbs stuck on there, you’re good to go.)
11. When they’re finally cool, you can frost the cupcakes! Use a frosting of your choice (I tend to lean towards cream cheese frostings over the super sugary ones). Then top off with sprinkles or whatever else you might want to throw on for decoration. I used dehydrated strawberries and gold dust in addition to the rainbow jimmies.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 block (8 oz.) cream cheese or neufchatel, softened
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
If your butter is still just a wee bit hard, throw it into the mixing bowl first and cream it for a minute to soften. Then add the cream cheese and beat until fully mixed. Add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and whip until fluffy. If the frosting seems too soft to frost, put it into the fridge for a little bit until it becomes easier to handle.
I used a piping bag, and frosting moderately, this was enough for 24 cupcakes. If you like mountains of frosting, you might want to double the recipe