Why red velvet when you can make… violet velvet? Purple is the colour of creativity and balance, luxury and royalty, and also the colour of Bee’s hair when she has the occasional oopsidaisy with the gentian violet (but think X-Men violet, not little-old-lady blue-rinse). The purpose of these vibrant violet cupcakes was to wish Bee, a friend and erstwhile (boo hoo!) colleague, all the best with her next adventure.
They turned out to be quite tragic cupcakes, and not only because of the sadness we all felt at saying farewell. If you’re a fellow cupcake-aholic, keep a Kleenex handy for the ending.
To keep the bee theme going (and because little fondant bees are soooo last month already) these were covered in honey butter icing and embellished with personalised cake toppers.
For 12 regular sized or 18 cupcake-inator vividly violet cupcakes:
1 1/4 cup cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil (NOT olive oil though. That’s an experiment for another blog post)
1/2 cup milk
1 Tablespoon white vinegar (NOT balsamic – let’s throw that into the same post as olive oil)
Blue gel food colouring
Red gel food colouring
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, egg, vinegar and food colouring. The colour won’t be perfect at this point, you will have to tweak it after adding the dry stuff. While mixing at medium speed, gradually add the mixed dry ingredients until just combined.
Tweak the colour, folding in very gently with a spatula so as not overmix and turn these into purple pebbles. If you’re not sure about the depth of colour sing “Purple Rain” for inspiration, it will come to you.
Scoop into cupcake liners or into the cupcake-inator, and either bake at 180 degrees celsius for 20 minutes or in the cupcake-inator for 6 minutes.
Pop them out and don’t have a total fit that they’re a little browned on the outside. Don’t judge a cupcake by its cover. Re-assure yourself that they really are violet velvet cupcakes by breaking one in half as soon as they’re cool enough to handle. Then re-assure yourself that they taste as good as they look by eating the broken cupcake (it’s not like you could have given it to anyone anyway) (chuh).
Now for the icing:
90g softened butter
170g icing sugar, sifted
15ml honey (or to taste – depends on the type of honey, and how hardworking the bees were in producing it)
15ml lemon juice
Beat the butter until creamy and fluffy, and gradually beat in the other ingredients. Taste it often to make sure it has the right amount of honey. One can’t be too thorough.
At this point, you should be imagining how lovely the cupcakes will look with whirly twirls of white icing, forming a central point in which to poke the cupcake topper. Then have an absolute meltdown when you accidentally knock your most favourite of all time piping set, cracking the barrel and rendering it useless. Cover the bowl of icing, pour yourself a glass of wine and vacate the kitchen. Come back later when you’re feeling much happier and apply the icing with a butter knife, then find the pink and purple sprinkles left over from a baby shower and scatter them artistically over the top. Suddenly find the broken piping set very funny, and pour another glass of wine.
For the toppers:
Print out messages and/or pictures with a border, ensuring that they will be exactly the same size once printed and cut out. Try to avoid circles – I wasn’t thinking ahead and so of course made circles which are the worst thing to have to cut out neatly. Apply glue (the non-toxic kids glue-stick kind) onto the back of a circle, place the top centimetre of a toothpick on it, then stick another circle on top, sandwiching the toothpick. Poke the pointy end into the centre of the cupcake.
This is where the tragedy occurs. Make sure you do not do the same. Make sure you do not somehow, just 15 minutes before the event, manage to flip the tin over, spilling cupcakes all over the floor (sadly, the 3-second-rule cannot be applied to cupcakes)… Only one cupcake remained in the tin, so it was obviously meant to be Bee’s….
This was even sadder than that part in The Colour Purple where the take Whoopi Goldberg’s babies and sister away, or even when Oprah Winfrey gets KO’d and they show her large-lady-panties. Sob.
Bye-bye Bee 🙂 it’s been awesome and we miss you already!