Inspiring sweets: Kids & the cupcake

Cupcakes have the power to captivate almost every dessert-lover’s heart. No matter who you are, a delicious, icing-laden, playfully decorated miniature cake is nothing to be turned away. Over the past few years, cupcake shops have been popping up all over BC, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the cupcake is here to stay. So, it didn’t take us long to decide which dessert to feature in our baking with kids blog. Don’t worry, we did our research. Going from shop to shop, testing icing, comparing textures, and generally investigating the secret of this desert’s magical powers. Our most important discoveries during this grueling research came from chatting with some of BC’s most popular people, the cupcakery owners themselves. Below, a few of these dessert experts tell us about their childhood memories, the source of their sweet inspiration, and the importance of baking in the family bonding experience.

We started with cupcake maker/blogger Lindsay Sung of Cococakecupcakes. Lured by the pictures on her blog (so artistic!), we wanted to know how the cupcake has come to be the delicious focus of her life. We soon found out that a combined passion for sweets and art propelled her:  “I have fond memories of my mom’s chocolate chip cookies and blueberry lemon muffins with crunchy lemon sugar on top.” On the topic of baking with kids, Lindsay says, “I would have loved to done more baking and cooking with my mom when I was a kid! Kids learn so naturally, by watching and doing or listening. I think baking with children is great because they learn that all of those things you see in supermarkets or bakeries can actually be made at home, by them, with help from adults! Magical!” Lindsay sells her little pieces of art at community art markets like Blim.

Next up on our discovery path is Ooh la la Cupcakes, located in Sidney and Victoria, BC (check out their FB page here).This cupcakery is a pillar in both of the communities it’s located in, thanks to owner Sherryl Andrews’ love for community connections. She grew up in a small town where she says friends and neighbors would get together to cook and bake all the time. But her biggest inspiration has been her mom. “My mom was (and is) one of the best cooks and bakers I know! Early activities with my mom [cooking, canning, baking] gave me the spark that I needed to develop my passion for baking into a business. My mom still gives me ideas for cupcake flavours and I often fall back on some of her old recipes.”

Sherryl’s baking advice to parents today? “In this day and age with everyone being so rushed, you can never underestimate the importance of taking time for your kids whether is it baking or just listening to what they are trying to say.  Baking together gives parents an opportunity to just chat and laugh about the day’s activities and is a special time when a parent can give praise and encouragement and really get to know their child. And the bonus is that you get to eat your projects at the end of the day!” 

So wise.

Now, on to Kelowna to talk with the first ever cupcakery in that town, Sugar Sweet Cupcakes, owned by Lindsey Pearce. She’s known for using fresh ingredients in her cupcakes, like real butter and fruit purees. She advises a simple approach to baking with kids, saying keep it real and free: “It’s important to treat the experience freely and let kids experiment rather than telling them 'don’t do this or that'.” Adding, “I like the idea of encouraging kids to learn how to make the things they love from scratch instead of using something from a box.” Like many great businesses in BC, Lindsey started out selling cupcakes at local farmers markets. Below she shares her famed recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes about 30 cupcakes

1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2  cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.

3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.

4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Vanilla Frosting

Colored sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
Makes enough for 30 cupcakes

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add 6 cups sugar, milk, and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. If necessary, gradually add remaining 2 cups sugar to reach desired consistency. 

Bon appétit! This week, consider taking an action shot of baking with your kids and share it with our Facebook community. This week's prize is a set of 12 Danesco silicon muffin cup liners. These are great- they're stackable (aka easy storage) and can actually be used instead of muffin tins. Note, this week's prize will be given to one of the *active members in our FB community so comment, post a message, give us a ‘like’ or share a picture and you’ll have a great chance of winning!

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  • The Vanilla cupcake recipe is AMAZING! My daugthers thoroughly enjoyed baking these with their Auntie today, and we finished decorating them and gobbling them up for dessert. They melt in your mouth! We plan to bake another batch tomorrow!! Thanks for sharing

    Marisa Andrews 26 June 2010, at 10:26 pm