Today is a VERY important day. Sara turns 29. Seriously. It’s her champagne birthday – - 29 on the 29th! A few of us ladies decided to get together and throw her a birthday bash! … It’s become a bit of a tradition… every year Sara and several dozen of her closest friends get together and celebrate… her. It’s awesome.
There are a few of things you should know about Sara.
1. She loves her friends and has probably one of the biggest hearts out there. Which explains why so many of us can’t wait to celebrate with her (and yes… platonic Jeff showed up to celebrate too)
2. She loves cake… actually all things baked and yummy and buttery and moist and delicious.
3. She enjoys a bubble or two.
Therefore, in honour and love of my beautiful, wonderful friend, I wanted to bake her something extra special. I wanted to make a cupcake that would be forever known as the Sara Cupcake.
The Sara Cupcake is pretty simple… a chocolate cupcake recipe as a base… only sparkling wine is added to it incorporating a Sara-like punch. I didn’t go cheap on the amount of bubbly I added either… I wanted to make sure that you could taste the champagne. However… once I sampled the baked cupcakes, I realized that I hadn’t added salt to the recipe (thank you Jenna for confirming that) – - easy to fix… since you can’t have a cupcake without buttercream… make it a super salty frosting.
A salty buttercream and a bubbly cupcake – - it screams Sara.
I also had to bake her an actual cake… those of you who have been reading this blog for a while might actually remember my post from a year ago today… Sara hearts (no, actually loves is the better word) loblaws cake. Yep. White supermarket cake, with thick buttercream/lard frosting… she loves it. I used to buy her one. I have since learned to make a better, tastier version of it and now bake it for her. I will actually only bake this for Sara and/or young children… the sugar in the frosting kinda hurts my teeth. But… there is nothing wrong with enjoying it once a year. AND the cake is pretty good too… I know, you can sigh along with me… who would have thought that a cake inspired by a grocery store would be described as “pretty good”… but… it is :0) (I bet it would be ever better with a scoop of ice cream on the side… memories of summer birthday pool parties anyone?)
So here goes… my tribute to Sara.
chocolate – champagne cupcake
1 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
3 tbsp. dark unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 c. white sugar
3/4 c. sparkling wine / champagne
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 1/2 tsp distilled white vinegar
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line your muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside (this recipe makes 8 large cupcakes… probably 10 smaller ones).
In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and sugar together. Make a well in the centre.
In a pitcher (I used a large mason jar) combine the champagne, the oil and the vinegar.
Pour over the dry ingredients (into the well in the centre). Grab your wooden spoon and quickly stir together until combined. My batter was think and a little gooey – - if it seems too thick – - stir in a splash more of champagne. It’ll do the trick.
Grab your mini scooper and spoon into the paper liners – - if you don’t have enough batter to make the complete dozen cupcakes (as was the case with me), then simply half fill the empty muffin holes with water – - that will prevent your pan from burning.
Bake for 20 minutes – but feel free to check on them after 15. You want the tops to bounce back when touched, or for a toothpick to come out clean when inserted in the centre.
Remove from the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. They should look something like this…
Once they had completely cooled, I grabbed my serrated knife and cut off the tops… that way all of the cupcakes were level. Easier to pipe the frosting onto.
At this point you should make your buttercream. This recipe is a doubled version of the hummingbird bakery’s vanilla frosting… I did switch up a couple of things – - in order to suit my needs (making it salty)…
4 c. icing sugar, sifted
1/2 c. salted butter, room temperature
3 tbsp heavy cream
2 pinches of salt
In the bowl of your stand mixer, use your paddle attachment to beat together the icing sugar and butter. Do this at a low speed to start – - otherwise, you’ll have a whole lot of sugar flying around your kitchen!
Once it has started to come together, add your salt and slowly add the heavy cream. Increase the speed of the mixer and allow it to beat everything together. Let it run for at least 5 minutes. You want a thick, creamy texture. The longer you allow the frosting to be beaten, the lighter and fluffier it will become… and since the mixer is doing all the work, your hand won’t get tired ;0)
Once it gets as thick and fluffy as you want it to be – - grab a large spoon and fill up a piping bag (use a large star tip). Slowly pipe each cupcake – start on the outside and just move your wrist very gently in a circular motion until the entire top surface is covered… they should look like this… (yes Emily… I did this myself! Isn’t it pretty?!!!)
I decided to top them with some sprinkles (add a little fun to the cupcakes) and then it was time to go!
I also want to show you how well my piping skills have improved (brown butter piping no longer intimidates me! or cupcakes! bring it on!)… I decorated Sara’s loblaws cake with the left over buttercream (which I turned bright pink – - several drops of red food colouring will do the trick).
It was then time to pack everything up and hit the party… candles were blown out and cake and cupcakes were enjoyed by all…
And don’t the cupcakes look yummy?!
As always – - a special night for a special girl. I know I’m lucky to have her as a friend. HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARA!