Pink (Valentine’s) Cupcakes

My first post of the year – and it’s been quite the break. Long story short; a burst water pipe forced us out of our RI home, and we are currently staying in lovely, but temporary, digs just off gorgeous Main Street, in East Greenwich.  Another post awaits with all the crazy details but, in the meantime, I decided to make life a little more chaotic by baking some cupcakes for my daughter’s school Winter Dance.

It was just making some cakes, right? Except that when that water pipe burst, it was over my entire recipe book collection, which was entirely stored in the kitchen. (Our kitchen and entire basement took the brunt of the water damage). To put it in perspective, I had probably around 80-100 cookbooks, including some signed by top chefs including Antonio Carluccio and Mario Batali. I know. Sigh.

Anyway, I could find my favorite cupake recipe online, right? Except that my failsafe recipe (from London’s The Hummingbird Bakery) was written in UK measurements. And my trusty (now probably rusty!) UK kitchen scales had also been caught up in the flood.

Fortunately, I found some US cup measuring devices in a kitchen drawer of our apartment and promptly decided that Hummingbird was out and New York’s Magnolia (Bakery) was in. I used a recipe for Magnolia’s vanilla sponge online and I’m not looking back. With a few tweaks, I think I made my best cupcakes ever. And added my own butter cream topping, adapted from The Hummingbird’s original recipe. Best of US and UK, in my hum(ming)ble opinion. (Sorry, I love a pun!)

I found that this made 16 large cupcakes. And please don’t feel you have to wait for a bake sale to make this either. These will be perfect for a cute, home-made Valentine’s treat.


1 1/2 cups of cake or all purpose flour with 2 1/4 tsp of baking powder

1/12 cups cake four

1 cup salted butter

2 cups of sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup of milk (I used 2 percent, or semi-skimmed for UK readers)

Pink Buttercream:

350g Conectioner’s Sugar (Icing sugar if in the UK)

120g unsalted butter

A few drops of vanilla extract mixed into 25 ml of milk (add more milk if you think the buttercream is too thick)


Make self-rising flour by adding 2 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder to 1/12 cups of all-purpose or cake flour

Then combine this flour with the other 1/1/2 cup of flour.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat each one into the mixture.

Slowly add the dry ingredients, alternating with the addition of the milk and vanilla.

Ensure all the ingredients are mixed well but do not over-beat.

Spoon into large cupcake cases – around 3/4 full.

Bake on 360 (f) for 20-25 minutes.

Allow to cool.

Tip: insert a skewer to ensure cakes are cooked – if it comes out clean and the sponges are golden-brown, you’re all set!

Once the sponges have cooled, make your buttercream icing.

Combine vanilla extract and milk.

In a separate bowl, stir the butter and icing sugar until it comes together.

Gradually add the milk and vanilla and continue beating until the frosting becomes airy and lght.

Add food coloring of your choice. I used red and continued adding a drop at a time until I reached the light pink I desired.

Note: the more you beat the butter icing, the fluffier it will become.

I like to apply the icing using the back of a knife giving I a little rustic swirl at the top but feel free to go fancy with a piping set!

Top with sprinkles – as many as your heart desires.

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