Or, “How to Make Cupcakes for your Child’s Event without Losing Your Mind.”
When my daughter turned one last year, I was working full time with an hour commute on each side. For as much as I love to cook and bake, with her party scheduled for early on a Saturday morning, I decided to order a cake from the venue instead of staying up until 1 am on a Friday night attempting to bake my own.
Now…I know that an important part of staying sane as a parent is to not sweat the small stuff. So it’s not *really* a big deal that I was fairly disappointed in the cake that the venue provided – it was a run of the mill grocery store cake AND they got the colors wrong (blue icing for a little girl’s first birthday, can you EVEN imagine…) But the experience inspired me to find a way to sanely take matters into my own hands this year for her second birthday.
And as it happens, The Recipe Redux also has a birthday this month and asked members to post healthy small bite dessert recipes in celebration!
I like to think of this recipe as “mentally healthy.” It is still cake and frosting, after all! But keeping our minds sane is just as important as keeping our bodies healthy, so cheers to that! Here are my best tips to bake for your child’s event without getting overwhelmed or losing your, ahem, “stuff.”
Order all of your decorating supplies online rather than adding a trip to a cake decorating supply shop to your never ending list of errands (sorry brick and mortar stores!!)
Start with a boxed cake mix (see the recipe below for my modifications).
Mix the cake batter in a blender jar so you can easily pour it straight into the cupcake liners.
Use foil cupcake liners, which retain their color better than paper ones.
Don’t put too much batter into each cupcake liner – halfway is about right. This will keep the cupcakes on the small (read: manageable) side and save much-needed room for the frosting.
Just glob the frosting on rather than piping it. It’s “rustic” and you won’t be so stressed out about the pretty designs you made getting destroyed in transport.
Get some kind of dedicated cupcake transportation apparatus, whether it is a plastic cupcake storage container (if you bake often) or a few deep recyclable aluminum foil pans with cardboard lids (available online or in many grocery stores).
I honestly used to think that using boxed mixes was blasphemous for anyone health conscious, but I’ve since warmed up to the concept. The occasions on which I cook or eat boxed cake mix are pretty few and far between and besides, anytime I tried to make a cake from scratch it ended up pretty dry! And there’s a selection of boxed mixes available these days that really don’t have many additives, such as the one pictured here.
I did, however, make the frosting “from scratch.” Jarred frosting is at the top of my list of processed products to avoid because it often uses hydrogenated oils, aka trans fats. This is my go-to frosting recipe and I use it on everything! (Well, everything that requires frosting, that is…)
So were they a hit? Did they survive the trip to the outdoor venue on a 90 degree day? Yes and yes! Although my daughter went straight for the blueberries, proceeded to steal the blueberries off of MY cupcake, noshed on a little bit of frosting and then ran off to go play again. Sounds like a win to me!
Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 cup butter softened*
- 1 cup whole milk*
- 4 eggs*
- 1 tbsp lemon extract
- 1 batch Whipped Cream Frosting
- 1 pint blueberries
- Sprinkles as desired
Preheat oven to temperature specified on cake mix box.
Line two pans with 24 cupcake liners.
Add all the ingredients except the cake mix to the jar of a blender. Pulse to thoroughly combine.
Add cake mix a little at a time, pulsing the blender after each addition. Use only the pulse mode and be careful not to over mix (the gluten in the cake mix will become tough if it is blended for too long.
Pour the mix into the cupcake liners, filling each liner up about halfway.
Bake according to boxed mix directions.
Allow to cool thoroughly. When cool, top each cupcake with a "shmear" of Whipped Cream Frosting, add three blueberries in the center and finish with sprinkles as desired.
*Each cake mix will call for a slightly different combination of these ingredients. As a general guideline: Substitute softened butter for oil and double the amount called for, use whole milk rather than water and add 1-2 more eggs than called for.