It’s nearly the Fourth of July (in fact, in some parts of the country it already is fourth), a time for BBQs, raft races in the pool, sunburns, fireworks, and celebrating the good ol’ U.S. of A. So naturally, we’re having a BBQ in the park tomorrow with plenty of meat to grill.
And what better way end a celebratory BBQ than with American flag cupcakes? I mean, seriously, can you imagine anything more American than a kid with dirt on his knees, BBQ sauce all over his sunburned face, shoving his face full of a bite-sized-fully-artificially-colored-American-flag-adorned cupcake? Because I sure can’t. And, that will be Brett tomorrow, guaranteed.
I originally wanted to make some kind of fancy and beautiful red-white-and blue berry tart. But let’s get a couple of things straight here. Number one: tarts are not the easiest thing to bring to an outdoor picnic, especially when the weather forecast is windy. Number two: this is the USA, and unless it’s filled with apple and called a pie (not a tart) it’s downright un-American to have anything but cake. Number 3: this is the land of artificial coloring and flavoring, so food coloring just felt so much more right than naturally red and blue and healthy things, like say, fresh strawberries and raspberries.
So this is my nod to Ol’ Glory. You go, Uhmurica, you go.
Fourth of July Cupcakes
Cake (adapted from bake! by Nick Malgieri
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk at room temp
- 4 large egg whites at room temp
- 1 1/2 sticks softened unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- food coloring!! red and blue or whatever colors you’re in the mood for!
- 2 large egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 sticks very soft butter
- food coloring as desired
- FOR THE CAKE: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a 12-capacity muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- in a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. in another small bowl, whisk together whole milk and egg whites until well incorporated.
- in a medium-largeish bowl beat the sugar and butter on low speed until combined, then on medium speed until super white and very fluffy (this takes a long time. at least 5-10 minutes depending on your mixer. if you have a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment, if you don’t, like me, suck it up and mix mix mix.)
- beat in vanilla extract.
- Add in 1/4 of the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated. Then add in 1/3 of the milk mixture and repeat these steps 3 more times until finished. (you should both begin and end with flour)
- Divide the batter in 3rds, putting 1/3 each into smaller bowls. Add food coloring to 2 of the bowls (red to one, blue to the other) and mix until you have the desired color.
- Scoop 1-2 spoonfuls of each batter into the prepared pan, layering them on top of eachother. (a scoop of blue, a scoop of white, a scoop of red)
- bake for 16-18 minutes and cool completely on a rack.
- FOR THE FROSTING: half fill-a saucepan big enough to fit your mixing bowl a couple of inches with water and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.
- in your mixing bowl, whisk together (by hand) egg whites, sugar and salt. Place over the boiling water and whisk until egg whites are hot (140 degrees) and sugar is completely dissolved (rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers and be sure it doesn’t feel grainy)
- remove from heat, and beat with electric mixer (if you have a stand mixer, dear lord, use it) until mixture is completely, completely cool. (if you have a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment at first until mixture is just warm, then switch to the paddle attachment and beat it on medium until completely cooled.) WARNING! I fully overheated and broke my hand mixer doing this. stuff gets dang thick and takes a long while and I had to finish by hand which was NOT easy. but it was worth it.
- Once mixture is completely cooled (it took me over 15 minutes, the book said 5. hah!) add in the butter, in 6-8 additions, immediately following each other and while the mixer is running.
- scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then continue mixing until batter is glossy and thick. With a stand or hand mixer, this might take 5-10 minutes. Since I had neither and did it by hand, it took about 20-25. Muscles, baby.
- divide batter into 3rds and add food coloring as desired. Frost cupcakes!! Eat and Enjoy!!!