Yesterday was one of those days. I woke up ready to create a cute Valentine for my husband, and an awesome blog post for you all. And then things got rough…
Lets pretend you are experiencing this as it happened to me, completely oblivious to the future struggles
::D.I.Y. Cupcake Bouquet::
As promised today I have red velvet cupcakes made into a bouquet for Valentines Day. First, the supplies needed for this project:
- Vases (I used mason jars)
- Styrofoam balls, just small enough to fit in your chosen vase, but not too small to fall through.
- Hot Glue Gun
- Bamboo skewers, or heavy duty long toothpicks
- Any other decorations you want
I was seriously so excited to be on top of things for once, of course it all had to go wrong.
You’ll want to make a batch of cupcakes, any cupcakes will do. I made red velvet cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream. While cream cheese frosting is a favorite to pair with red velvet, it doesn’t pipe well, and to get it to a nice consistency was too much effort. I will say though that if you don’t like the heaviness of cream cheese frosting, but love red velvet cake, try a white chocolate buttercream. Seriously, it pairs so well i’m not sure how cream cheese became the classic!
This is where most of my problems began, with making the cupcakes. It was a new recipe and I ignored my instincts and chugged through, only to be disappointed.
Next you are going to want to decorate your vase (or leave plain). I chose to put a simple bow with the red and white lace ribbon on one, and for the bouquet for Joseph, I cut out paper hearts of varying sizes and wrote “reasons why I love you” on the larger ones and decorated the smaller ones. I filled the mason jar with them.
Once you have the inside and outside decorated, you want to hot glue the styrofoam ball to the top. The bottom tip of my 4 inch ball was sitting inside the jar.
Another huge factor in what happened!
Once assembled, I cut my bamboo skewers to be about 4 1/2- 5 inches long. Make sure whatever you choose is long enough to be secure in the styrofoam and go all the way through (but not poking out) of the cupcakes.
From there you want to start from the top center, and work your way around and down, by inserting two sticks per cupcake and then putting the cupcakes onto the skewers. When filled, begin to pipe your design. I choose rosettes.
There were a few issues doing this, which I will discuss below in my “What to do next time” section!
Just look how confident I was, and so happy that things were looking well!
Yepp, that is the entire top of a cupcake that decided it didn’t want to remain on the cupcake.
Silly me thought I could fix the situation by replacing the cupcake. I made 2 dozen for this reason, thinking that if there were any issues I had spares. I was still too confident.
Then it happened again, and again, and I finally called it quits and took off the remaining bottom cakes until all that remained was this…
I piped some leaves, because that fixes everything right???
Even after I took these pictures, two more cupcakes fell apart and there are currently four left on the bouquet. I didn’t even bother trying to assemble the other. I frosted the remaining cakes and called it a day.
One more picture, because why not!
:: What To Change Next Time::
Alright, so by the end of yesterday I was frustrated and super angry. Jethro had been pushing his limits, and the cupcakes all had a mind of their own. Lets start with the biggest issue: too soft of cupcakes.
I had never made red velvet cake from scratch before, and this new batter was unfamiliar to me. It had a thicker yet fluffy consistency that resembled my vanilla cake. I baked it as I normally would any cupcake. Filled 3/4 of the cup and baked until a toothpick inserted came out clean.
Well, 3/4 was way too much batter. These cupcakes grew to be about twice their size and overfilled the cups then flattened. Creating oversized flat tops that all connected. Not a huge deal, I’ve had it happen before. The other issue with this batter is the density. These cakes crumble at the sight. Just trying to lift them out of the pan felt like you were picking up air. They are super squishy and while baked through, don’t hold a shape whatsoever. In the future I would fill the cups half of the way, and if using a different batter I would under fill, so the tops of the cupcakes don’t stick out of the cups once baked.
The red velvet cake tastes amazing however, a recipe I like and will use again, but in order for it to be successful I will bake until just about burning. Seriously, you don’t want to run any risk of them falling apart. The few successful cakes were the ones that were the smallest of the bunch and just barely peeked over the paper cups.
And the cups! The cups I used were cheap flimsy paper cups. Fine for normal cupcakes, not durable enough to be suspended on a styrofoam ball. I have aluminum cups that are pretty and thicker, which probably would’ve been a better chose. I was seriously so close to choosing those when I got all my supplies out, like 85% of a chance. Should’ve trusted that instinct! Because of the flimsy cups, and too soft of cake, they had a difficult time skewering into the ball. I had to pre-poke holes and adjust and pretty much destroy the cake to get it to go on. And once on, despite the proper angle and 2 sticks, they felt as if they were going to fall off at any second, which they did once the added weight of the buttercream was on.
So, here is the shortened list of what to change:
- Make sure you use a denser cake, or slightly over bake and under fill cups
- Use thicker cups, or try the plastic cup method where you let the cakes rest inside of plastic cups skewered to the ball (which I will try next time)
- Use a smaller ball so you have less cupcakes and fewer at questionable angles (even with skewering at 45 degrees to offset)
There you have it, my Valentines Cupcake Bouquet!
Once the anger and frustration wears off, I still have one completed mason jar vase to fill with cupcakes. When I reattempt this, you’ll be the first to know!
Until then I think I’ll take a break and do some home decor and plan my birthday cake.