Tag Archives: icing

Classic Yellow Cupcakes with Regal Buttercream Icing

Y’all, we’re ’bout to have a royal wedding this weekend and that warrants the best cupcakes with THE BEST icing known to man.  Every celebration merits them.  I made these cupcakes years ago for my son, James’, school bake sales.  They were legendary and sold in a flash…for big bucks.  I’ve always been a cake person, scraping off the icing and pushing it to the side of my plate or peeling off the cupcake liner, turning the cake upside down in the liner thereby avoiding the usual sickeningly sweet and way too fluffy frosting.  Doesn’t matter the flavor, I don’t want it.  Unless it’s this icing.  Mercy!  This icing is thick, with  the ample and generous flavors of vanilla and butter it delivers just the perfect amount of sweetness.  I couldn’t stop swiping teaspoon after teaspoon from the bowl as I crowned each cupcake.  The cupcake, as well, is equally astounding.  It falls somewhere between the crumb of a layer cake and a pound cake.  The flavor is of unadulterated, flawless butter.  It is the quintessential bake sale,  afternoon snack, birthday or wedding cupcake.  And when Prince Harry and Ms. Meagan Markle wed early this Saturday morning,  my bff, Andrea, and I will be celebrating with hot cups of freshly brewed coffee and these little royal fairy cakes.  Best of wishes to all the brides out there!

Classic Yellow Cupcakes

  • Servings: 16 cakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 5-ounce can evaporated milk, not reduced fat, divided
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.  Line muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs enough to break them up but not enough to whisk in air bubbles.
  3. Add 1/2 cup milk to eggs and vanilla and stir until completely combined.  Set aside and reserve remaining milk for icing.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar and baking powder until completely combined.
  5. Add the butter to the flour mixture and mix with an electric mixer until there are no large chunks of butter.
  6. Add 3/4 of the egg mixture to the butter-flour bowl and mix until just combined.
  7. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the remaining egg mixture and beat on high for 1 minute.
  8. Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Cool cupcakes in tin for 10 minutes, remove from tin and cool cupcakes on cooling rack.
  10. Allow cakes to cool completely before icing.


TLA, True Love Always, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle!

Royal Buttercream Icing

  • Servings: 16 generously iced cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 16-ounce bag confectioner’s sugar, SIFTED!
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk, if you made the above cupcakes you’ll have a tablespoon of milk remaining
  1. In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer, mix butter and vanilla until fluffy.
  2. Add meringue powder to confectioner’s sugar and mix the sugar into the butter in 3-4 increments beating well in between each addition.
  3. Add the milk and mix well for 3-4 minutes or until the icing is fluffy.
  4. Ice completely cooled cupcakes.





Classic Vanilla Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Icing

Y’all.  These cupcakes have me crazy.  They are PERFECTION and the best to enjoy with a Hallmark Christmas movie.  I know… I know.  Sappy, schmaltzy and totally predictable Hallmark movies are sweet and romantic and what most girls want during the Christmas season.  Back to these cupcakes.  I hadn’t made them in eons and thought I’d bake a quick batch to put up here on the blog.  I had forgotten how dense and rich they are… almost like pound cake.  And this icing… any thoughts of sticking to a diet are rapidly going through the window.  I had to get them out of the house and my reach so I took them over to our neighbors who have twin boys in middle school.  They’re all skinny… let them be tempted!  Anyway, these cupcakes are wonderfully flexible in that a variety of flavorings may be added to the batter and also the icing to suit your mood and craving.  If extracts are added to the icing add them sparingly as they can be awfully strong.  For instance, I added 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the whipped cream whereas if I were making a vanilla icing I would have added 1 tablespoon.  So almond, peppermint, coconut and rum extracts are capped at 1/2 teaspoon.  That said, feel free to use up to 2 tablespoons of liqueur to flavor the cream.  Coffee, raspberry, Irish cream and orange are, singularly, heavenly additions.  And with so many vibrant and richly colored sprinkles, crystals and decorations on the market, (Home Goods is a treasure trove!), a girl can go crazy.  The paper baking cups and liners are also a way to transform your goodies to a higher level.  I keep my baking cups and liners in a designer bag on the top shelf of my closet and when I take it down and spread all those lovely boxes on my bed it’s like an Italian fashion show.  Oh, the colors and prints!  The next time you’re in a discount designer store take a leisurely stroll down the baking aisle and prepare to be enchanted.  Until then enjoy these goodies with the one you love and a sweet Christmas flick.

Classic Vanilla Cupcakes with Peppermint Whipped Cream Icing


  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk, whole milk will do but it’s not as rich
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened but not melted
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° and set baking cups on a baking sheet or line muffin tin with paper liners.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium size bowl combine eggs, milk, vanilla extract and mix well.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix until completely combined.
  4. Add the butter to the flour mixture and, using a hand-held mixer set on low, mix until the pieces of butter are no larger than baby peas.
  5. Add the egg mixture and mix on low for 30 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing on medium for 60 seconds.
  6. Fill each baking cup or paper liner 2/3 full.  I use an ice cream scoop that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick baking spray.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden on top and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Cool completely on a cooling rack prior to icing.

Whipped Cream Icing

  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon peppermint, almond, rum or coconut extract or up to 2 tablespoons flavored liqueur
  1. In a medium size bowl add the confectioner’s sugar and place the beaters on top.  Place the bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the cream to the chilled bowl and whip on medium for 30 seconds.
  3. Change speed to high and whip until soft peaks form.
  4. Add extract or liqueur and continue whipping until the peaks are almost stiff.
  5. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 6 hours.  Whisk for a few seconds prior to using.
  6. This is also great over fresh, macerated berries.


Sour Cream Banana Cake with Cream Cheese and Pineapple Icing topped with Grilled Pineapple


How disheartening and defeating is it when your own mother laughs then lightly dismisses your secret, chosen, dream profession?  I knew in my eight year old heart-of-hearts that I was meant to be a nun.  I had a serious girl crush on my Saint Anthony catechism teacher, the young and beautiful, hip Sister Cathy, and I was going to be just like her.  Down to her cream colored habit, I  too would have a glossy, black rosary swinging back and forth  from my waist as I quickly made my way to…. oh, I don’t know…. vespers?  And I would look just like Audrey Hepburn in “The Nun’s Story”.  Yes, I was ready to give my life up to our Lord and look good doing it.  So when Mama laughed in the kitchen and pooh-poo’d my top-secret confession I was astounded and overwhelmed.  How could Mama discount my desire so lightly?  Mama… who, my entire life, maintained we could do and be anything we wanted with hard work, perseverance and a few phone calls to the right people.  Straight away she understood my sincere sadness, that she had hurt my feelings and knelt down in front of me.  Cupping my face in her hands, she smiled and sweetly suggested, “Cielo, I know you love Sister Cathy.  Why don’t you bake her a cake?”.  I recall thinking, “Okay.  I can do that!”.  I had never baked a cake in my life but I thought of it as a simple undertaking, much like pouring a bowl of cereal or making a sandwich…I mean, how hard can baking a cake be?  I took down Mama’s one cookbook, The Joy of Cooking,  flipped over to cakes and began perusing.  I wanted a cake that was rich and it HAD to be exotic.  After all, if it was to be for Sister Cathy it had to be exceptional and flawless.  And I had found it.  Banana Cake.  In retrospect I probably decided upon that particular cake because while we never had chocolate in any form, we always had bananas.  We also lacked butter but that was easily replaced by the oleo margarine Mama used and although I had not the time nor the patience to let it soften to room temperature I felt certain that if I just beat the margarine harder the cake would be just fine.  For some unknown reason we had flour in the pantry and it truly is a small wonder as Mama never baked nor fried.  I quickly discounted the baking powder and baking soda called for in the recipe not knowing their purpose.  Besides, we didn’t have any.  We had plenty of eggs, milk and sugar and, quite frankly, I felt that was all that was needed.  And it was perfectly fine that we didn’t have measuring cups or spoons because at such a young age I didn’t know those things existed and, anyway, what difference could they make?  I used tea spoons,  soup spoons and Mama’s formal, china tea cups for measurement.  For those of you who don’t know, Mama didn’t know how to cook or bake but she could dress an exquisite table.  No. Cooking and baking were overrated in her world.  There was always someone to do that for her and if not, well, you either ate the charred, black food she had prepared or you went to bed hungry.  It’s your choice.  Not knowing any better,  ingredients which were to be at room temperature were incorporated ice cold.  Flour and sugar were not leveled and I didn’t feel the need to mix the ingredients in the suggested order.  They were all going to end up in the same pan, right?  I remember cold, pale blobs of margarine suspended in the weighted batter.  The recipe clearly stated to be gentle with the batter and only stir in the ingredients until they were just incorporated.  But how would I get rid of all the lumps if I didn’t beat it?  Arms flailing, I beat that batter until I no longer had life in my arm and into the oven it went.  In one pan.  Because we didn’t have cake pans.  We had one pan.  So although it was meant to be divided into layers it was baked in.one.pan.  “It’ll be fine.”,  I thought.  Clearly I had tired of that chore and only wanted to get my beautiful creation over to Sister Cathy.  The cake finally finished baking and although it smelled wonderful it was so dad gum heavy I could barely pull it out of the oven.  It had browned nicely but with no leavener never rose.  Breaking off a tough crumb I tasted it.  The cake was flat tasting…and kind of salty.  It was a disaster.  And I didn’t care.  Looked good, though, so maybe the inside was okay?  I’ll never know but I’m pretty certain that cake was an inedible, culinary catastrophe.  I couldn’t wait for it to cool; I had to see my girl crush.  I danced with excitement.  I knew this cake would open her eyes to the perfect miracle of ME and she would favor me above every other classmate.  Mama called the rectory or the convent at Saint Anthony and was told Sister Cathy was at the parish school taking advantage of Saturday hours, alone, doing busy work in her classroom.  Mama drove me over; the church and school  only minutes from our house.  I sat with the leaden cake in my lap, the hot plate slowly burning through to my thighs as I looked out the window and felt my shyness take over.  What if Sister Cathy didn’t like it?  What if she didn’t like ME?  Oh, those “what ifs”.  They have plagued me all my life.  Being the weekend, the school was deserted, Mama and I walked through the courtyard and  I called for my heroine.  It was hot, and muggy out, the plate was so darned heavy and the heat radiating from the cake had turned my small hands red.  Looking up to the second floor of the lovely Spanish style building I could see into her classroom but no Sister Cathy. I called and called as I liked but to no avail.  I put the cake on the ground.  I picked up a rock.  And then this tomboy whipped it at her classroom window.  Well, that got her attention!  Her window popped open and out came her head looking for the hoodlum, the rabble rouser who was throwing rocks.  Her angry face melted into a sweet smile when she saw it was me… just a student, a little girl.  “Sister Cathy!  I have something for you!”.  She hurried downstairs and met me outside.  She was so kind and gracious with me.  She pulled me close, her eyes sparkling, as I explained I had baked this cake for her…and no one else.  Earnestly I urged her to keep it for herself, not to share it with ANYONE!  Can you imagine?  Advising a nun not to share? Ha!  She probably took my advice as I imagine the cake probably tasted beyond awful.  Sister Cathy probably didn’t share it because it was inedible!  It didn’t occur to me to ice it.  Or follow the recipe.   Bleah.  But she knew I adored her.  All the girls and boys did.  I believe she was only in her mid to late 20’s but she had such grace and love for us all, far beyond her actual age.  She made us want to be the best little Catholics we could be.  And today, 50 plus years later, I am eternally grateful.  Wherever you are, Sister Cathy, we were blessed to have you!


Like most baked goods containing bananas, this cake is best baked when the bananas are really ripe.  Certainly not rotten, but good and ripe; yellow with lots of little, dark speckles.  And, as with all cakes, the less you mix the batter, the lighter and more tender the final product.  The consistency of the icing depends on the moisture content of the pineapple.  I like a loose, somewhat runny icing so I pressed and pressed the juice out of the fruit through a sieve.  If you prefer a thicker, more dense icing then you would need to squeeze all the juice out through a clean, linen kitchen towel.  The excess juice may be frozen for future use.

Sour Cream Banana Cake with Pineapple Cream Cheese Icing




yield: two 8-inch layers

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 medium sized ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  2. Grease two 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes, don’t over beat.
  4. Add eggs and mix until just combined.
  5. Add sour cream, mashed bananas and vanilla extract and mix until just combined.
  6. In a separate bowl mix all the dry ingredients then add to banana mixture mixing only until all the ingredients are well combined.
  7. Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until cakes pull away from the sides of the pans.
  8. Cool on rack 15 minutes, turn cakes out of pans and allow to cool completely on rack.
  9. Ice cakes.


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces crushed pineapple, all the moisture having been squeezed out
  • 5-6 cups confectioner’s sugar
  1. Beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla and pineapple mixing until all ingredients are combined.
  3. Add 5 cups of sugar and mix.  Add additional sugar if a thicker icing is desired.

Comfort…2-layer Yellow Cake with Fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing


Sometimes not even alcohol can touch my pain.  Last week a horrific late-night boating accident catapulted this town from sleepy, fun in the summer to the nightmare reality that life can sometimes bring.  All the kids on board are about 17 years old, rising seniors at St. Thomas Aquinas.  Several of the teens were critically injured and one boy, one sweet, sweet boy, lost his life.  As a mother I cannot even comprehend that level of grief.  Cannot.  I’ll attempt to post a link to the gofundme fund-raiser below.  When life hits me hard I bake.  Bread, cake, biscuit, doesn’t matter.  And, in the midst of all this, the family was getting together to celebrate my son James’ and my niece Meg’s birthdays at our house.  It was sort of last-minute due to everyone’s schedule.  Meg was preparing to go back to school and my sister, Pamela, was taking her.  Everyone had work of course and Meg’s little sister, Annie, was hostessing at a restaurant at night.   We were all somewhat overwhelmed and certainly shaken up knowing these kids and their families lives were changed forever.  I wanted the cousins to be together and aunts and uncles as well.  Side by side; as a family.  I hastily put together a menu and went about baking a cake.  I wanted something pretty but comforting.  Something that quietly murmured “security”.  No flourless, dark chocolate gateau with coffee beans and sparklers on top for this crowd.  At least not this August.  No, what we needed was something gentle and loving.  I decided on a classic vanilla yellow cake with fresh strawberries whipped into the cream cheese icing.  The recipe for the cake comes from a cookbook I bought years ago entitled “Mom’s Big Book of Baking” written by Lauren Chattman.  It received glowing reviews from Maida Heatter and Christopher Kimball.  The icing recipe is one that I made up and have been using for the longest.  I hope you’ll try this cake.  It’s a kiss and a hug and a prayer all wrapped up in pink love!


Below is the link to help with the medical costs of the boaters.  I thank you for them.  And please keep in mind no amount is too little.  Every bit helps.




Classic Yellow Layer Cake with Fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

  • Servings: 2 9-inch round cakes or 16 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup, (2 sticks), unsalted butter, softened and cut into 16 pieces
  1.  Preheat the oven to 350°.  Coat the insides of two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray.  Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper and coat that with spray as well.  Dust the bottoms and sides of the pans with flour, knocking out any extra flour.  For cupcakes, coat the muffin tins with cooking spray and dust with flour, or line the muffins tins with paper liners.
  2. Combine the eggs, milk and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl and beat lightly with a fork.  Set aside.
  3. Combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the butter and, with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix on low-speed until the butter pieces are no larger than small peas.  (I used my hand mixer and the cakes came out great!)
  4. Pour in about 2/3 of the egg mixture and mix on low-speed until all the ingredients are moistened.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix on medium-high speed for 1 minute.  Stir in the remaining egg mixture on low-speed until combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and mix on medium-high speed again for another 30 seconds.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Bake until the cake is light golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes for the cupcakes and 25-30 minutes for the layer cake.  Let the cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, invert it onto a wire rack, then turn it right side up on the rack to cool completely.  The cakes will keep, wrapped up in plastic, at room temperature for up to one day or refrigerated for up to 3 days.  Frost as desired.
  6. If using the following strawberry icing, chill the cakes in the refrigerator 3 or 4 hours.  Overnight is ideal.

Fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

yield: approximately 3 1/2 cups

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup puree of fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  1. In a medium bowl beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the strawberry puree and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Add the confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time and beat until smooth.
  4. Cover the first layer of chilled cake with several tablespoons of icing and spread a thin layer leaving a 1/4 inch border without icing around the outside diameter of the cake.
  5. Center the second cake layer and carefully place on top of the first layer.  Cover the entire top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of icing and place uncovered back in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.  Chill the remaining icing also.  A morning or afternoon is ideal.
  6. After chilling, ice the top of the cake then the sides.  Return to the refrigerator until serving.