In this day and age, it’s hard to create a unique treat without consulting food magazines, blogs and social media sites like Pinterest. Ever since Carrie Bradshaw declared her love for Magnolia Bakery, cupcakes have been all the rage. I’ve always loved making cupcakes, as they are easy to serve, can take on little personalities of their own, and most importantly, I can try one before giving them to anyone else. (You can’t do that with an entire cake!)
For Valentine’s Day, I considered heart-shaped cupcakes or something red-velvet but while more frosting and more sprinkles make everything more delicious, for this project, I wanted to focus on simplicity. Multicolored cakes are all the rag these days, and I love anything pink so I decided to make mini three-layer cakes with fluffy buttercream frosting and a classic cherry heart lollipop to top it off. By definition, these aren’t exactly “cupcakes” but I don’t think you’ll get any complaints.
Brittany Wayne grew up in Weston, CT and enjoyed baking with her parents from a young age. In high school, Brittany completed a year-long independent study on cake decorating, culminating in a three-tiered wedding cake. The teacher who graded the study gave Brittany a D because she didn’t believe Brittany made the cakes she brought in each month. Brittany did make the cakes. You can follow Brittany and her cake creations on Twitter, and Instagram.
For the cake:
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened (plus more to grease pan)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 ½ cups flour (plus more to dust the greased pan)
1 ¼ cup whole milk
Pink and red food coloring gel (I use Wilton)
For the frosting:
8 oz. Granulated Sugar
4 oz. Egg Whites
1.5 cups softened Butter (3 sticks)
Pinch of Salt
Pink food coloring gel (I use Wilton)
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Put butter in mixer and beat at medium speed until smooth. Add sugar and beat well. Add eggs and vanilla.
Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
Add 1/3 of dry ingredients to butter mixture followed by ½ of the milk. Alternate adding the dry mixture and milk until all is incorporated.
Separate batter equally into three bowls and add pink gel dye to one and red dye to another and leave the third white.
Grease and flour three 9” x 13” cake pans and spread batter evenly.
Bake cakes for 12-16 minutes (check after 10 minutes to make sure it’s not burning since these are such thin cakes) until a toothpick comes out clean. If the top of the cake is wiggly, leave it in for a couple more minutes.
Let cakes cool on wire racks while you make the frosting.
(An easier alternative is to fill cupcake tins about 2/3rds of the way with layers of red, pink and white batter to create a gradient effect once baked)
For the frosting:
Put sugar, egg whites and salt in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until sugar has dissolved.
Pour immediately into stand mixer (or remove from heat and beat using hand mixer) and whisk until it is shiny white and stiff peaks have formed. Let cool.
Switch to the paddle attachment on your stand mixer. Add butter in small cubes (make sure the mixture is completely cool otherwise the butter will melt when added) Beat until a smooth and fluffy buttercream has formed. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes.
Add a small amount of the pink gel to the buttercream and mix with a spatula. Careful, the gel is very concentrated, you don’t need to use a lot to get a strong color and you can always add more.
Before frosting cakes, flip each over so the “nice side” is up, not the side that was on the bottom of the cake pan.
Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top of the red cake, use a cutting board to help slide the pink layer on top of the red. Repeat and put the white layer on top. Refrigerate between two layers of parchment paper, put a cutting board with some heavy objects on top for around 10 minutes.
Remove from fridge and remove parchment paper. Cut off around half an inch of cake to make clean edges on all sides. Cut into two-inch squares (should make around 20 squares), cleaning the knife between cuts.
If using a piping bag, use a large star-shaped tip or you can put the frosting in a zip lock bag and cut off the end to form a tip.
While squeezing the bag, pipe frosting onto the cake in a small circular motion to create a small dollop of frosting. Top it off by inserting an unwrapped heart-shaped lollipop (or any pink or red lollipop) in the center of the cake.