A few Easters ago, my family and I were lucky enough to spend the holiday at my mother-in-law’s home in Ireland (and yes, I do say “lucky”, because yes, I do think my mother-in-law is pretty darn great).
I love the excitement this holiday brings to children. It’s also the only time of year where everyone collectively gets together to wear pastel colours. And well, that’s just pretty funny if you ask me.
In any case, that Easter I had the pleasure of putting together an Easter basket cake with my nieces and nephews.
We had a blast. Red velvet cake, with a lattice basket made of fondant, and Easter eggs, also made of fondant and decorated by these four lovely children. I especially loved the lightening bolt egg in the bottom left corner.
This year, I wanted to do something similar. Only this time I thought I’d try my hand with cupcakes.
I had a bit of pink, purple, yellow and white fondant leftover from making a birthday cake for the daughter of a good friend last year (yes, fondant does freeze that well), so I thought I’d use it up for the holiday. Nothing like a good freezer clean out to get your creative juices flowing!
Fondant is a fantastic edible mould for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, for heck, anything sweet that you can eat. I’m not the best at decorating, but I have so much fun with it that by the time I’m done I’m proud of what I’ve created regardless of how good it looks to others.
Be warned, for those wanting to make bows and other ornamental fondant pieces, give yourself several days to put everything together. Take your time – a few bows here, a few basket handles there, and before you know it you’ll be ready to go. And always be sure to use powdered sugar and wax paper as a base when rolling out fondant. It gets sticky quickly!
I followed various instructions for each part of the cupcake. For fondant, here’s an easy recipe using marshmellows.
For the bows, I followed this incredibly easy YouTube video (but resized the width of the bows to accommodate the cupcake size). A few minutes later, I had finished my bows, which I left out for several days to dry out. (I forgot to do this next part, but be sure to insert a small half toothpick into the bottom or sides of each bow to make it easier to insert into the cupcake later).
For the basket handle, I simply rolled out the white fondant, softly moulded them into two spaghetti-like straps, and then twisted them together. Secure with a half toothpick at each end to make it easy to insert into the cupcake, and viola, leave to dry alongside the bows.
So that was day one. On day two, I made the cupcakes and the cake balls. I love red velvet, but any cupcake recipe will do. Be sure to make enough for the baskets and enough for the cake balls. I baked six large cupcakes all together, three for the baskets and three for the cake balls. Plenty to go around.
Once your cupcakes are cooled, crumble up the ones you want for your cake balls in a medium-sized bowl, and set aside.
Now onto the frosting, both for the tops and the edges. A simple cream cheese frosting did the trick for me. It’s really hard in Basel to find cream cheese that is not pre-whipped, so instead of making traditional frosting which involves creaming butter, I cut out the middle man and made mine simply using whipped cream cheese, some powdered sugar, and a touch of vanilla.
Once the frosting is made, add a spoonful to the crumbled cupcake mixture, just enough to slightly wet it. Mix well, set aside, and put the remaining frosting in a covered container in the fridge.
Next up. The cake balls. Using a tablespoon, scoop up the mixture, pack tightly, then release into the palm of your hand and shape into a ball. If you made standard-sized cupcakes, considering using a teaspoon instead to shape your balls.Set aside on a plate lined with wax paper and continue until all the mixture is used. Pop in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, longer if you have the time.
To make the actual cake balls, I followed this YouTube video (this week’s blog is all about following directions if you haven’t noticed). Worked perfectly, and right before I placed them on the wax sheet I dipped them in my favourite toppings. All pastel, of course.
Now it’s time to put the fruits of your labour together. Feel free to do this on the third day as I did.
Take your cupcakes out of the fridge, and cut a small cylinder-shaped piece out of the top of each one. This will make it easier to add your cake balls to the centre.
Add a thin layer of cream cheese frosting to the sides and the top. Then roll your remaining fondant out, making one fairly long and the other a bit wider.
Using a pizza cutter (works amazing with fondant!), begin layering the cupcake as you would lattice a pie, except do it from the base upwards. Longer strips are used for the cupcakes length, shorter strips go vertical.
Step 1: Begin with the vertical strips, adding them to the cupcake one by one (make sure you have even numbers). Step 2: remove every other vertical strip, then add the horizontal strip beginning at the base. Once the horizontal strip is secured, carefully bring back up the vertical strips. Step 3: Repeat the process, alternating the vertical strips that you remove each time.
Confused yet? If you haven’t latticed a crust before, just watch it on YouTube. What a fantastic tool this social-video site is!
I know all of this looks very messy, but at the end of it, you’ll have this to appreciate…
Nearly done. The only thing left is to add the trimmings. Place the cake balls wherever you fancy, fill with some frosting, then stick the handle and bows on. Piece of cupcake!
This was nearly a week of work, done slowly here and there, and I’m so happy it all came together. The best part was taking these over to my friend’s house for her daughter, and seeing her eyes light up at the sight of this edible basket.
This is a great project to do with kids. Just make sure you save yourself some cake balls. Nothing like sitting down at the end of a long evening with a hot cup of tea and a cake ball or two.
Happy Easter all. May your holiday be all things magical… and of course… all things pastel.