By Erika Mathier
As much as I enjoy baking from scratch, I will admit, sometimes the convenience of pre-prepared mixes and ready-to-use ingredients has a certain appeal. There is something about Bulk Barn’s vanilla cake mix that makes some seriously impressive cupcakes, especially if you need to turn out several dozen in a pinch.
With my inability to leave well enough alone, I thought I would include my absolute favourite ways to improve upon this mix.
For 24 cupcakes, add 750g Bulk Barn Vanilla Cake & Muffin Mix and mix 200ml water with four large eggs and 120ml of vegetable oil. Place all ingredients into a high-walled mixing bowl and mix by hand or with an electric mixer on low speed for about three to four minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. Scrape the insides out of a vanilla bean and mix until the batter is speckled with brown flecks of vanilla. Be sure to keep the husk of the vanilla bean and add it to your existing bottle of vanilla extract.
Line muffin tins with paper cups and fill with batter. Bake at 365°F for about 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out dry.
After years of fighting with weepy cream cheese frosting, I recently learned the secret to creating stable, pipe-able, cream cheese frosting that doesn’t melt at room temperature, and that also isn’t cloyingly sweet. Normally, I would have to add a LOT of powdered sugar to achieve a stiff and stable icing, which ends up overwhelming the frosting and tasting like straight-up sugar. I learned that because of the higher moisture content in cream cheese than butter, it is advantageous to cream the butter and powdered sugar first before adding the cream cheese, rather than creaming the butter and cream cheese first. According to the website “The Bake School,” mixing in this order allows the sugar to become coated with butterfat, and therefore makes it more difficult to draw the moisture out of the cream cheese, and thus doesn’t make a soupy unstable mess. In addition to incorporating the entire amount of powdered sugar, I also like to add maple flavouring extract, or maple sugar, although I wouldn’t recommend adding pure maple syrup, however, since the frosting would become too “wet.”
Cream 173 grams of unsalted, room temperature butter, with 218 grams of sifted confectioner’s sugar and a splash of maple extract until light and airy. Then mix in 500 grams of full fat, brick-style cream cheese vanilla extract to taste, approximately 1 teaspoon.
After the cupcakes are cooled, pipe with a star-shaped tip and top with reduced maple syrup. You must boil the syrup to evaporate a good amount of the water first, to ensure the syrup isn’t a watery mess. Then top with a mini waffle cookie.