It's a Good Thing......

Michigan Memorial Day memories: it was the first day we were allowed to go swimming; the first day we could wear white shoes; the first day of summer….. well, we thought it was. We scrubbed down our porches and painted and put out the summer furniture. And I vividly remember something else for the gardeners among you: our porch was surrounded by bushes called viburnum carlesii. The wonderfully scented May blooms of this bush could be detected over 30 feet away- and it wafted through our home, perfuming the air. Sheer heaven and a welcome sign of summer after the long winter. Alas, it does not grow in Florida.

Then there were the picnics, parades and memorial services at the city cemetery, And the first swim of the season? Brrrrrr. The water in the lakes of Michigan is icy cold in May. OMG. But we were determined to take a dip- usually not much more than that though.

Florida's not all that different: we still celebrate with picnics, parades and memorial services. ( But, and I don’t mean to rub it in or anything, when we take a dip- it’s warm.) Anyway…this year I got an invitation to a barbecue and was asked to bring some cupcakes. I have to admit I don’t make a lot of cupcakes and maybe they don’t travel as well as cookies, but everyone loves a cupcake. So festive somehow.

Because it’s been raining like crazy down here all week I have been reading and watching a little more of the Food Network than usual which has resulted in my coming up with some novel ideas for my cupcakes. First of all: I actually do read Martha Stewart’s Living magazine. I’m fessing up because I’m going to tell you about one of her “good things”: parchment paper cupcake liners. But there’s a little more to this story. I also happened to catch Nigella Bites -a show I rarely watch. ( I had forgotten how funny Nigella is- cooking while giving slinky looks to the camera.) She made some cupcakes entirely in her food processor, baked them and then topped them with some royal icing and sugar flowers. They were smashing. I went right to the computer and printed out her recipe; really not like me because as I said, I don’t often even make cupcakes.

So now three coincidences came together: a novel idea for cupcake liners, a new cupcake recipe and an invitation to a barbecue with a request to bring cupcakes. And would you believe: I even had some red sugar roses in my pantry. Would rather have found some American flags or something, but let’s not get carried away. You’re going to love this idea, whether you use it for muffins or cupcakes. Take a look:

Let’s start with the cupcake liner idea. Instead of the boring old paper liners, Martha’s Living magazine suggested cutting white parchment paper into 5 inch squares. Then spray your cupcake tins with Pam and press the parchment squares into the muffin cup- folding in the sides neatly. It kind of ends up looking like a handkerchief.

Repeat for 12 muffins. You notice I say muffins because that is what was used in the article, ( see photo below, taken from the magazine) but I decided to make cupcakes, with frosting.

And now for the cupcake recipe; Nigella was telling the truth- it really was easily made in my processor.

Nigella's Cupcakes
(Adapted from Nigella Bites)

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Line your 12 muffin tin with parchment paper as described above. Preheat oven to 400°.
Put all your ingredients except the milk into your food processor. Pulse until smooth. Pulse while slowing adding the milk down the funnel to make a smooth dropping consistency. (I used the entire 3 tablespoons)
Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, divide the mixture into the 12 muffin tins- about 1/3 to 1/2 full. It takes less than you would think- I used 1/2 an ice cream scoop- which seemed to be the easiest thing to use when dealing with the parchment paper liners.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. They should have risen and be golden on top. Let them cool in their tins before frosting.

Royal Icing

2 large egg whites
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Combine the egg whites and the confectioners sugar in your electric mixer bowl. Beat on medium speed until opaque and shiny, about 5 minutes. Pour in the lemon juice and beat another couple minutes until spreading consistancy.


  1. I've been meaning to try that parchment trick since I saw that issue- yours look amazing! Thanks for stopping to say hello! :)

  2. I saw those in the MS magazine too. They look great. I don't bake much either, but those cupcakes sound very doable!



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