one baker's humble attempt to change the world one cupcake at a time

Archive for the ‘Cupcakes’ Category

Bon Appetite Dude!

This post is totally family inspired. Here it is broken down:

For a Fourth of July party, my dad made a watermelon salad (watermelon, red onion, mint, and lime juice) and I helped by preparing the watermelon and stashing a cup full aside for personal use. I also reserved a cup of the juice.

While my cupcakes were cooling, I searched the house for some kind of watermelon décor to use for a photograph. All I found was a hand-painted t-shirt in my sister’s closet.

My mom came home and found a watermelon plate that my sister had decorated when she was young. This plate became a prop and the basis for this post’s title. My mom also helped by holding the t-shirt up as I interrupted her dinner to take pictures.

So everyone in my family had a hand in this post, and with this particular post, I needed all the help I could get. Who would have guessed that making naturally watermelon flavored cupcakes would be so difficult? I guessed it actually, but not until after hours of research online.

A simple search for “watermelon cupcakes” provided dozens of beautiful cakes and cupcakes decorated to look like watermelons, but most of the recipes on these sites was for basic white or yellow cupcakes colored with food coloring. So, I turned to my favorite cupcake blogger who never fails to combine the craziest flavors to make deliciously weird sounding cupcakes. The peach tea cupcakes were her creation, but so are these avocado lime cupcakes and olive oil cupcakes with balsamic vinegar frosting. Both of these are on my to-do list!

But lo and behold, even Steph of hadn’t come up with a successful watermelon cupcake. She has two posts that are titled attempt 1 and attempt 2, with a promise of a third attempt to come. A little disappointed, but not altogether discouraged, I studied her recipes and notes carefully, read through all the suggestions from her readers, and continued planning my cupcakes.

I started with a very simple white cake recipe (named accordingly) from and began adapting.

Homemade watermelon plate - before we found my sister's

I ended with this strawberry watermelon cupcake recipe. The strawberries were a last minute addition because I was afraid that if the watermelon flavor didn’t show up, plain white cupcakes would be too boring and I wanted something to fall back on. A second motivating factor for adding the strawberries was the fact that they were beginning to get really old and I can’t even begin to express how frustrated I have been getting with prematurely molding fruit.

As my cupcakes baked, I pondered topping possibilities. I thought that watermelon buttercream frosting might have overpowered the cupcakes whereas a simple dusting of powdered sugar might not have been enough. I looked up glazes and simple syrups (because I wasn’t confident that I knew the difference between the two) and decided to start with a watermelon simple syrup and turn it into a glaze.

In case you were wondering, a simple syrup has a sugar to water ratio of about 1 to 1, while a glaze has a sugar to water ratio of about 1 cup to 1 tablespoon.

I made the simple syrup over the stove, let it cool, and then brushed the cupcakes with it before I made the glaze. I figured it couldn’t hurt to add more watermelon flavor and moisture to the cupcakes.

Despite my best efforts to infuse cupcakes with watermelon, flavor-wise the cupcakes were still lacking. The texture was great and overall, the cupcakes were moist and delicious, but they just weren’t watermelon-y enough.

The cupcake batter had plenty of watermelon pieces in it and the syrup was strongly flavored, so I’m not exactly sure how the flavor disappears in the cupcakes. I think the sugar eats it. Still, these cupcakes are delicious and refreshing, so they’ve earned their 10 seconds of fame amongst my small, but wonderful audience. I also wanted to share the pictures!

Strawberry Watermelon Cupcakes: (makes 12)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup finely sliced strawberries
  • ¾ cups finely sliced watermelon


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with liners
  • Cream butter and sugars
  • Add eggs, one at a time
  • Add vanilla
  • Sift dry ingredients together
  • Add dry ingredients and milk to batter and blend well
  • Mix in sliced watermelon and strawberries
  • Evenly distribute batter and bake for 20-22 minutes, until the center no longer looks juicy (these cupcakes will continue to feel juicy after cooled — a testament to their moisture-packed innards)

Mint-infused Watermelon Syrup Recipe: (Adapted from

  • ¾ cup watermelon juice (or a cup if you have it — I didn’t)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 bunch of mint


  • Heat 5 minutes on low-heat
  • Let sit 5 more minutes
  • Pour through a strainer to remove mint leaves
  • Bring to room temperature or refrigerate for further use
  • The directions say that this can be refrigerated indefinitely. Hello, Mojito!

I actually did make mojitos with this syrup. Use it to substitute mint and sugar and you’re in business!

Watermelon Mint Glaze

Mix about 1 ½ cups powdered sugar with about 5 tablespoons of your mint-infused watermelon syrup. Start with about a cup of powered sugar and 3 tablespoons of syrup, adding the rest slowly and stopping when you’re happy with the consistency. It should be pretty thick but also runny enough to drip over cupcakes. Be aware, this process will be messy and sticky unless you’re more coordinated than I am.

Watermelon Mojito Recipe (makes one)

  • 1 oz or less watermelon mint syrup (any more and it will be too sweet)
  • 1 -2 oz clear rum (depending on how strong you like you’re drinks)
  • 3 oz soda water
  • 1 squeeze of lime (as much as you like)
  • serve over ice and garnish with fresh mint leaves if you’d like

Drink responsibly!

P.S. My blog moved! For more yummy recipes go to!


Peach Tea Cupcakes Topped With Cream Cheese Frosting Garnished with a Mint Leaf

I’ve been desperately trying to recreate a complicated and intriguing recipe I found on Paula Deen’s website ages ago, but have been unable even to equip my kitchen with all the necessary ingredients and tools until now.

The recipe calls for overly ripened peaches, so I bought several peaches that were nowhere near ripe, and waited for them to ripen.

In the meantime, I bought a “fine sieve,” which to me, translated to a berry strainer. (From the looks of pictures online and the result of my cupcakes, I think I guessed the meaning correctly.)

Then, I bought mint as a garnish, returned home to my peaches only to find that they had become extra furry — moldy, in fact. These went in the trash right away.

I bought four very ripe peaches to replace the first lost cause, and pledged to bake the following day. After a busy day of working in a psychology lab as a research assistant and babysitting a family as, well, a babysitter, I returned home to start my cupcakes and was hard at work until close to midnight.

To add further insult to injury, one of my peaches molded over night. I was quite perturbed!

I made Earl Grey tea-infused butter relatively early in the evening so that the melted butter would have time to solidify by the time I wanted to use it. There were no pictures online of what the butter should look like once infused with tea, but mine took on a nice olive green color and looked totally unappetizing.

Looks delicious right?

Here, it looks even better

Sarcasm does not translate so well online — something to remember!

Overall, these cupcakes have the strangest texture I’ve ever seen in a cupcake. When they were done baking, they sort of looked like sponge cakes, and when I ate one sans frosting but fresh from the oven, it felt like I was eating peach tea. It was a very bizarre and enjoyable experience.

I chose to pipe on my frosting because I loved the picture on Paula Deen’s website, and wanted to replicate the look of those cupcakes.

Cupcake Recipe found and Frosting Recipe adapted from, created by Stefani Pollack of

Yields 18 regular cupcakes, but I decided to make 12 regular size cupcakes and 12 mini cupcakes. 24 > 18 — It’s pretty simple math.

For the tea-infused butter:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • about 1/3 cup whole leaf Early Grey tea (I used a fancy one called Royal Green, which may be responsible for the bright green hue)


  • Melt the butter in a sauce pan on medium high until it has all just melted
  • Add tea leaves and stir for five minutes (the instructions on Paula Deen don’t say stir, but I impulsively did, so I think it’s fine either way)
  • Remove from heat and let it stand for five more minutes (I didn’t stir here)
  • Pour the mixture through a fine strainer (sieve) and press hard on the tea leaves to squeeze out all the butter. If you spill any leaves into the bowl, grab another and restrain.
  • Let it cool to room temperature and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it (If it is warmer/colder than room temperature when you want to use it, wait until it is)

Those are the messiest looking instructions I’ve ever seen. Sorry about that. The rest of the steps will be more straightforward I promise.

Cupcake Recipe:

  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1/3 cup tea-infused butter (probably all of the butter you’ll be left with after straining)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped overripe (but not moldy) peaches


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix sugar and zest and allow to sit for 30 minutes (or until you become too anxious to wait any longer)
  • Cream tea-infused butter with sugar zest mixture
  • Beat in eggs one at a time
  • Add ginger
  • Alternate adding flour and milk, a little at a time
  • Fold in peaches
  • Distribute evenly among cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes (Here, the directions say bake until cupcakes bounce back on you when lightly touched. They sort of did after 20 minutes, and were starting to brown around the edges so I took them out)

Frosting Recipe:

  • 12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • a small squeeze of lemon (about 1/5 of the lemon’s juice)


  • Blend cream cheese and butter until fluffy
  • Add powdered sugar a bit at a time
  • Add lemon and blend once more for good measure

I adapted the frosting recipe slightly because I only had 2 tablespoons left of butter. In fact, after these cupcakes, I’ve exhausted my butter, powdered sugar, and all-purpose flour supplies! I can’t complain much though because the resulting Peach Tea Cupcakes Topped With Cream Cheese Frosting Garnished with a Mint Leaf (whew, that’s a mouthful!) were totally worth it. My dutiful taste testers have named it a favorite!

Decorating Directions (if you so desire):

  • Put the inside piece (I don’t know the correct term) of a coupler inside a disposable pastry bag
  • Fill the bag 2/3 full of frosting (you’ll refill before you’re done, but it’s much easier to handle the bag this way)
  • Cut off the tip of the bag and attach a star shaped tip (I used a number 32) with the outside piece of the coupler
  • Practice piping into your bowl of extra frosting (waste not want not) and once you’re comfortable, pipe cupcakes from the outside in.

For  a better description of how to use disposable pastry bags, check out‘s tutorial.

And while I don’t actually grow mint in my little herb garden, I thought it would still be appropriate to set up a photograph with a plant in the background — just pretend that plant isn’t cilantro!

P.S. My blog has moved! For more yummy recipes, go to!










Lemon Almond Love

“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

We’ve all heard this phrase, and probably a few variations of it as well. I’m a big fan of “When life hands you lemons, get some tequila and have a party!

Now, we all have our rough days, but it is unlikely that actual lemons will ever manifest in front of you courtesy of this guy, Life. It is more likely that the lemons in our lives will have to be purchased from a grocery store or a farmers’ market. We could also get them from a friend or prepared already in some chef’s famous pasta of course, but that isn’t very relevant to my next pressing question: What on Earth do you do when the Produce Station is selling eight lemons for a mere $2.00?

Side note: to anyone who is not familiar with Ann Arbor shopping, the Produce Station is a most glorious local market that sells fresh produce, local cheeses, and baby potted plants for great prices.

Now, naturally, you buy the eight lemons (and a bunch of peaches, berries, and a potted herb trio for good measure). Perhaps the better question is: then what? What do you do when you get home and have eight lemons taking up space in the fruit drawer? I can only squeeze so much lemon over my sautéed vegetables for dinner before I get tired of citrus stir-fry. I knew I wanted to bake something with the lemons as well, but I couldn’t decide on a recipe… so I didn’t.

After much online searching for lemon recipes, I stumbled across a challenge listed on and

Who doesn’t love a good challenge?

This particular challenge called for a cupcake/ice cream recipe submission, so I thought again of my lemons and began testing out combinations (in my head only, to save money) of ice cream and lemon cupcakes. I also searched diligently for a perfect lemon cupcake recipe to adapt and alter to make my own.

I was a bit nervous at first when most of the recipes I found called for buttermilk — an ingredient that is rarely kept in my fridge, and cake flour — if it isn’t all-purpose, I don’t buy it (at least that’s the way it has always been in the past and will likely remain until it becomes ABSOLUTELY necessary to change).

I refined my search and found a recipe that called for all-purpose flour and milk. I’m not exactly sure how, but as I searched, I also began thinking about lemon/almond combinations. In the end, I did something that I’ve never done before, but that was undoubtedly a prerequisite to entering a recipe contest — I tweaked a cupcake recipe to the point that it became entirely new and unrecognizable from the first! My OWN recipe! I’ve never felt more like a baker!

The final result: Lemon Almond Cupcakes filled with Lemon Curd and Almond Ice Cream and topped with Almond Buttercream Frosting and an Almond/Sprinkles Flower Topping.

Cupcake Recipe adapted from the-cupcakery-blog’s lemon cupcakes. Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • ½ tsp almond exract
  • zest and juice from two lemons
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Mix lemon zest with sugar and cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy
  3. Add eggs one at a time
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt
  5. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk to the batter a little bit at a time
  6. Add lemon juice and almond extract and continue to mix for a few minutes
  7. Divide batter among cupcake pan and bake for about 20 minutes (take out the cupcakes as soon as a wooden toothpick comes out clean to avoid over cooking)

Lemon Curd Recipe from, but following the directions on

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • zest and juice from 2 lemons
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  1. Mix zest in with sugar, and cream the butter and sugar until fluffy
  2. Add eggs one at a time
  3. then add the lemon juice.
  4. Once everything is mixed together, pour it into a pot and stir constantly over a low flame for 15 minutes (I ended up taking a break from stirring only twice: once to check my directions and make sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong, and once to step on an intruding ant)

Almond Buttercream Frosting adapted from good old Magnolia’s Bakery. Makes enough frosting for 12 cupcakes

  • 1 stick (½ cup) butter, softened
  • about 3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  1. Cream butter with about half of the sugar
  2. Add milk
  3. Add remaining sugar
  4. Add flavoring and food coloring (I chose Wilton’s lemon yellow)

For my ice cream filling, I couldn’t find any recipes that I had all the ingredients for or that I really loved enough to put in a full day’s worth of work, so I made up my own TOTALLY from scratch.

  • 1 ½ cups half and half + about 3 tablespoons for later
  • ½ cup almond milk + about 2 tablespoons for later
  • about 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  1. Blend all ingredients (except the extra half and half and almond milk) together on high until the air bubbles make the mixture appear to double in size
  2. Freeze for about 1-2 hours
  3. Blend on high for a few more minutes to break up ice chips
  4. Freeze overnight
  5. Defrost for about 1 hour in the refrigerator
  6. Mix in remaining liquids and refreeze for at least one hour

After trying out many combinations (I made two kinds of cupcakes and two flavors of buttercream frosting to sample) and working out how best to fill/top the cakes with the ice cream, I worked out the final version posted here. Enjoy!

Filling in the middle

And special thanks to my taste testing crew who diligently sampled all of my potential cupcake/frosting/filling combinations. They also wrote out careful notes, provided specific feedback, and most importantly, NEVER made fun of how nerdy I was acting throughout the process. You guys are the best!

All the samples

The greatest tasting crew!

P.S. My blog has moved! For more yummy recipes, check out!