We have two birthdays this week - Genevieve turns six tomorrow and Bridget will be nine on Friday. That means cake. Lots of cake.
So I've been baking like a madwoman today, here are 72 cupcakes to prove it.
This afternoon we'll ice and decorate half of them for Genevieve to take to school tomorrow, and we'll freeze the other half for Bridget's class on Friday.
Lots of people ask me about freezing cakes so here's my FAQ for cakes:
Can you freeze cakes? Do they taste the same?
Yes, most cakes freeze well and taste exactly the same after defrosting, just make sure you defrost your cake slowly on the kitchen bench.
Which recipe do you use?
For cupcakes or a plain cake, I use the 'Vanilla butter cake' recipe in the FROST BITE book. The recipe contains buttermilk and vanilla extract (far superior to vanilla essence) so they taste delicious. Often I'm caught out and don't have any buttermilk on hand so a good substitute is milk which is soured by white vinegar (1 cup buttermilk = 250ml of milk + 20ml vinegar).
And I normally ice my cakes with the 'Butter frosting' recipe in the book too.
If I am making a banana or carrot cake I like to ice them with a cream cheese frosting. It freezes very well too.
Do you freeze them iced or un-iced?
You can freeze them with or without icing but I normally freeze them un-iced. I do this for two reasons: I can pack them more tightly in the freezer (I place them in a container in two layers with baking paper between the layers). If they are iced/decorated they can't be packed in layers and they take up more room in the freezer. The second reason is because some decorations may run after they have thawed out.
What decorations are suitable to freeze? Do the colours run?
When food defrosts it creates condensation, or moisture, on the food. This moisture can cause the colour to run when you use decorations such as Smarties, M&Ms or 100s & 1000s.
You can decorate your cakes with nuts, mini marshmallows, silver cachous, toasted coconut, lolly snakes, jelly babies etc as they won't run.
Any other tips for freezing and defrosting cakes?
When I defrost a cake or cupcakes I normally remove any cling wrap, or remove the lid if they are stored in a container. The condensation from defrosting collects on the cling wrap/lid so I like to remove it. Once the cakes are fully defrosted and at room temperature, I re-wrap them or pack them in a container so they stay fresh.
Also, if you have some leftover cake, why not freeze it? I used to pig out on leftover cakes because I hate food being wasted, but now I freeze any leftovers and cut off a slice whenever I feel like a yummy treat or when friends pop in.
Or I might slice up a leftover cake, wrap the pieces in cling wrap and freeze them for lunchbox treats for my daughters.