Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bake Sale Cupcakes

Bake Sale by Sara Varon is a graphic novel for children that follows Cupcake, a cupcake who owns the Sweet Tooth Bakery, plays the drums, and wears a delicious cherry on his head whenever possible.  He's best friends with an eggplant named Eggplant (who sleeps with a sock monkey - I love that), and we also meet such characters as Sugar, Avocado, and Potato.  If you look closely, you might even spot a cameo by Mr. Peanut.

Over the course of the novel, we follow Cupcake as he runs his bakery, attends band practice, and daydreams about one day meeting his idol, famous pastry chef Turkish Delight.  When he finds out that Eggplant's aunt is best friends with Turkish Delight, and that Eggplant is planning a trip to Turkey to go visit, AND that he is also invited to go... well! Cupcake kicks things into high gear and starts saving up for a plane ticket right then and there.  He sells dog biscuits at the dog show, marzipan animals at the Blessing of the Animals, and peppermint brownies for Valentine's Day - anything to help pay for this trip!  But when he finds out that Eggplant has been laid off and might not be able to go to Turkey after all... what's a Cupcake to do?

I picked up Bake Sale because it looked like a fun read, but imagine my excitement when I found out that 7 of Cupcake's recipes are also sprinkled in the pages!  I was tempted especially by the peppermint brownies and the sugared flowers (how cool are those?!), but in the end, I needed to make cupcakes in honor of Cupcake.  (Can you blame me?)  The recipe for the cake and the frosting is right in the back of the book - page 148 in the copy I have here.

Bake Sale Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Line two 12-cup muffin tins with muffin papers.  ("If you make mini-cupcakes," the author says, "this recipe will make 96!"  So you may want to cut the recipe in half.  No matter how many cupcakes you make, mini-cupcakes will take about 1/3 less cooking time.)
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth.  Add the sugar gradually, and beat until fluffy, around 3 minutes.  (Kat's note: make sure all the sugar is integrated before proceeding, even if it takes longer than 3 minutes.  Trust me, if you don't, then your cupcakes won't come together right and will be all gummy and gross.)
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
4. Combine the flours in a smaller bowl and whisk together.  Add it to the butter mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla.  Beat well after each addition.
5. Spoon the batter into your muffin tins, so your cups are about 3/4 full.  (I used a measuring cup and scooped it in that way.  It was easier to handle.)
6. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched.  Mine came out perfectly after 20 minutes exactly.
7. Remove the cupcakes from the tin and let them cool completely before you frost them. 

 They came out perfectly.  Soft, barely golden brown around the edges, and smelling delicious. It was hard to let them cool, but somehow I managed.

For the frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
8 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Place butter in a large mixing bowl.  (I cut my butter into chunks first, but that may be personal preference.)
2. Add 4 cups of the sugar, all the milk, and the vanilla.
3. "Beat like crazy with electric mixer, until smooth and creamy."  (Love it!)  The author also notes that you should mix at a medium or high speed, but only after working up to it, because if you start on a high speed, the sugar will fly everywhere.
4. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the frosting is of the desired consistency.  You may not need to use all the sugar.

I have not historically had a heck of a lot of luck making my own frosting (which is, to be fair, my own fault for usually jumping right in instead of reading all the directions first, or for having a mixer that starts blowing smoke at me when I decide to mix with it - a problem since solved), so I was hesitant... but it came out perfectly!  It's so fluffy and delicious!  Ms. Varon states that you can store any unused frosting in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days.  I put my extra (about 3 cupcakes' worth, and I didn't skimp on the frosting) in a tupperware in the fridge, because sometimes I just can't help but be a rebel.
I actually cut this recipe in half and made 12 cupcakes instead of 24, but they came out perfectly.  Seriously, this was the tastiest cake batter I've ever licked off a rubber spatula.  And not too shabby baked, either!  (Good enough, in fact, that my official taster and I couldn't help ourselves from each eating one, though we had just come back from eating a huge dinner.)  Also, I didn't have any cherries, but so I substituted a strawberry. 

It's lovely, don't you think?

If you like Bake Sale,  Sara Varon also has a few other books, namely Robot Dreams, Sweater Weather, Chicken and Cat, and Chicken and Cat Clean Up.  You can visit her website at 

On a personal note, I'm sorry I haven't posted recently.  If I ever go this long again, please yell at me to write more.  You can email me with good comments, bad ones, requests, recommendations, or just to say hi at, or you can follow me on Facebook and talk to me there, OR you can leave me a comment here on the blog itself!  So many options!


  1. Yayyyyyy!! So happy to see a blog post again! The cupcakes look delicious! And, I absolutely love your cupcake spoonrest on your stove. :-)

  2. Thank you! Someone asked me what made them so tasty - "they're so simple!" But I think the simplicity is what makes them so delicious. I love fun combinations of flavors, but sometimes letting one flavor shine is all you need.

    That, and lots of butter.

  3. How do you replace the '1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour' ? I know you use flour,baking soda,and salt. but what about the measurements? My cupcakes always turn out flat and eggy.... how do you fix that?

    thaanks x