I’ve recently accepted an opportunity to teach a holiday cupcake decorating class at the elementary school on Fire Island.   I am super excited to see who is going to sign up for my class (it’s in December) and even more psyched about sharing my recipes and techniques.

Baking is an activity that I jump to do at almost any chance I get.  My  mother’s mother and her mother were legendary in their baking skills and I’d like to think that their talent rubbed off on me too!  Over the years I’ve made family classics and developed my own recipes as well.  What really excites me though is creating new and updating old recipes with whole grains and less refined sugar without losing taste and texture.  I want my cupcake class to be decadent but with a side of wholesomeness.  I’ve been so disappointed in the past visiting well known bakeries and tasting nothing but too much sugar.  Most baked treats can be done successfully with a lot less sugar and do not suffer from replacing all purpose flour with white whole wheat (in my opinion at least).  I want to offer a chocolate and vanilla cupcakes for my students which I have devised to be vegan (no dairy/eggs) while the piping and decorating frosting will be a Swiss buttercream which is a fantastic frosting because most importantly it is rich but not too sweet and it is easily piped and/or spread.  It also does not form that crust that traditional American buttercream gets when it hardens.  Swiss buttercream is essentially egg whites which have been heated over a double boiler with some sugar until the sugar dissolves.  It is then popped into an electric mixer and whipped almost into meringue and then room temperature butter is added and beaten until creamy smooth.  It will go through a stage where it looks like cottage cheese and will scare you to death that it won’t come together.  Wait and keep whipping and it will.  I promise.  I used Smitten Kitchen’s helpful tutorial and recipe for my Swiss buttercream and you can view it here: http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/07/project-wedding-cake-swiss-buttercream/  It is awesome.

The cake recipe is an old popular Depression and/or World War II era recipe that was devised when many kitchens and their cooks lacked butter and eggs but still wanted to have their cake.  I’ve seen countless variations…vanilla, fruit infused, spice type cakes etc.  This cake is adaptable to many flavors and is know to some as “wacky cake”.  I’ve adapted a recipe I copied from an old cookbook in a second hand bookshop in Seattle many years ago.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 white whole wheat flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 t salt
1 t baking powder

1 c. unsweetened almond milk
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. melted coconut oil
1 T pure vanilla extract
1 T apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350F and line cupcake pan with liners.  Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl or in an electric mixer combine the wet ingredients and let sit for a few minutes.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until thoroughly combined.  Divide mixture evenly so 12 cupcake are made.  Each cupcake liner should be about 2/3 of the way filled.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Cool completely and then frost.