Sunday, September 15, 2013

Buttercream, Cupcakes, and a Bridal Shower!

Well, it seems I can diet and bake, too. This weekend I made dozens of cupcakes without a hitch for a bridal shower for Stacey, my friend Lisa's soon-to-be daughter-in-law (that's a lot of hyphens!). The shower was held at The Inn at Saratoga, a lovely old hotel in downtown Saratoga Springs. I entered through the back patio, in awe of the beautiful space that was the setting for the shower. A grand canopy enclosed the open area, with a gorgeous chandelier suspended up high in abundant folds of sheer white fabric that transformed the space into something truly elegant. I have been to the hotel a number of times, have had great dinners there, but never realized what a lovely space they had hidden in the back. Lisa tells me they serve dinner out there on weekends in the summer. I can imagine beautiful parties and lovely weddings taking place. If you are in the area and have the opportunity to check it out, you should!

The Patio at The Inn at Saratoga
Saratoga Springs, NY


Lisa requested three kinds of cupcakes for the shower: vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet, all with buttercream frosting. She told me the colors for the wedding were champagne and navy blue. And then she let me decide what to do with that information. I decided to use sheer white cupcake liners to allow the colors of the little cakes show through. I made my traditional buttercream frosting (recipe follows) and to that added just the faintest touches of rose and gold paste food coloring, a bit at at time in the tiniest amounts, attempting to create that champagne color, and it worked very well. To that, I added about a teaspoon of edible gold dust to create a subtle sparkle. I piped the buttercream onto the cupcakes using a large star tip, high and tall, and the finishing touches were navy blue ribbon roses made from fondant. To get the navy blue color, I used white fondant and colored it (and my fingers!) with a deep blue and black paste food coloring. I rolled that out and then cut strips with a pizza cutter, and rolled those strips into little rosettes. Then I painted the rosettes with a mixture of gold dust and lemon extract (which evaporates very quickly, just leaving a sparkle). A portion of remaining buttercream was tinted with sage green food coloring and piped with a leaf tip. These were really a lot of fun to make. While I was working hard, Henry was at the other end of the table with a chunk of fondant creating his own work of art. I'm not sure what it was, but after adding food coloring and using every item in my utensil drawer, he was very happy with his sculpture - and then he took a bite of it - not something he can do with Play Doh!

Bridal Shower Cupcakes
with Buttercream and Fondant Rosettes
Pretty favors!


Lovely Duggan Ladies
(Beautiful Mother-of-the-Groom Lisa, far right)

The Beautiful Bride-to-Be, Stacey (center)
and her attendants!

Such a beautiful setting!

Now that the baking is done, today I have an appointment with the dietician who is working with the food study, and I am looking forward to that meeting. Other participants will be there as well. We will meet once a week to weigh in, discuss the program, any challenges, ask questions, and get a new batch of supplements. It's only day five for me, and in this first week, my scale says I've lost about a pound a day! I know that initial momentum will level off and that I can't expect that kind of result every week, but man-o-man is that motivation to keep going! Must say, at first it was tough to consume only liquids until dinner, but now I just do it and look forward all day (like a lioness on the hunt!) to dinner! Last night Russ was here, and we usually go out to dinner, but I told him I wanted to cook because that way I had a better awareness of what I was eating. We had a great dinner of poached salmon, brown rice, broccoli, and a giant salad with fresh tomatoes. If nothing else so far, this diet/study has made me appreciate GOOD food, the basic deliciousness and purity of food that is not processed, food that is simple and close to nature. My initial goal is to lose weight, of course, but the larger, long-term goal is to learn to eat this way, to not slip back into the life-long love affair I've had with bad carbs and sugar, which was, for me, not a balanced approach to food. My scale tipped deeply in favor of such things, and it's time to bring balance back. I am so optimistic that THIS diet, this time, will get me to that place. I'll keep you posted as I go.

But, for today, I am sharing that buttercream frosting recipe, 180-degrees in opposition to my new eating regime, but there is balance in this world. There will always be celebrations, and there will always be cupcakes. And I will always bake cupcakes, and other things, for my family and friends.

Makes enough to frost and generously decorate a large sheet cake or up to 6 dozen cupcakes

1 bar (4 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco) - provides fluffiness and stability
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 lbs. 10x Confectioners Sugar
1/2 cup milk, plus more if needed

In large mixing bowl, beat butter with shortening until completely blended.  Add vanilla extract. At very low speed, add half the confectioners sugar, mix well then add half the milk, mixing thoroughly. Add the rest of the sugar and as you beat it in, pour in the rest of the milk, a bit at a time. Beat on medium-high speed.  Now is the time to determine if you need more milk - check to see if it's creamy enough to spread. If you'd like it creamier, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time, until it's just right.

I hope you enjoy this post and all the beauty of the day! I'll be back with some great recipes that are keeping me happy on this diet, very soon!

Photos of bride's family and attendants from the mother-of-the-groom's facebook page...


  1. Jeannie, You're so right. The Inn at Saratoga is a beautiful venue. We had my parents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration there in June of 2000. We had cocktails and hors d'oeuvres on the patio and then moved inside for dinner and dancing. However, we did have use of both spaces throughout the evening. It is truly a wonderful memory. Last but, not least, the cupcakes look beautiful and yummy.

    1. That was absolutely beautiful! what a great job they do at the Inn all those special little touches. so romantic looking. Jeannie, you did a great job with cup cakes and your blog !

    2. Denise, that must have been a wonderful celebration for your parents! Thank you for sharing such a happy memory!

    3. Sharron, yes, the Inn is a beautiful place and they do a great job. Thanks for your kind comments about the blog, and the cupcakes!