Words by Alessandra Sio
During this quarantine, a lot of us have been picking up new hobbies to keep ourselves either entertained or productive. The stay at home order and the closure of many restaurants and food sources have led many to take up cooking and baking. I have always been interested in picking up this hobby, and now was the perfect time to do so.
In our subdivision, the administration and guards have become live-in personnel to lower the risk of virus transmission during travel, to support their families, and to keep the villagers safe as well. So as a treat and to show our gratitude, I decided to make 40 cupcakes to give to the security personnel. This would be the first time for me to bake such a large batch but I was confident I could pull it off. Besides, I really wanted the support people to feel how much we appreciated their sacrifices. Below you will see the entire process from start to finish.
Here is the chocolate cupcake recipe I followed for reference.
To begin, lay out and measure all ingredients and wash the equipment to be used.
(95g all-purpose flour, 45g unsweetened cocoa powder, ¾ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, ¼ tsp of salt, 2 eggs at room temp, 100g of granulated sugar, 100g of brown sugar, 80ml vegetable oil, 2 tsp vanilla extract and 120ml of buttermilk)
For the baking process, to make 40-50 cupcakes you can quadruple the recipe. Begin by preheating your oven to 177C.
Sift all your dry ingredients together.
After sifting all your ingredients, thoroughly combine in your bowl.
Set aside your dry ingredients and bring together your eggs, vanilla, oil, and sugar.
Combine both the brown and white sugar in a bowl.
Beat the eggs into the sugar one by one.
Add in the oil and vanilla and mix till well combined.
The mixture will have this thick consistency.
For the next step, mix in half of the wet mixture and buttermilk into the dry mixture. After it being well incorporated, repeat the step till all mixtures are fully combined. Mix until there aren’t any lumps.
Pour the mixture into a measuring cup or any cup with a spout for easy pouring. The mixture will be thin, so having a measuring cup will make the distribution process easier. Line your cupcake tin with liners and fill halfway with the mixture.
Bake at 177C for 18-21 minutes.
Once a toothpick comes out clean, you can pull it out from the oven.
Place the cupcakes on a cooling rack and get ready to start the icing. The icing will be a swiss meringue and the recipe is based on this recipe but excluding the butter for a lighter texture.
Separate 6 large egg whites from the yolk and place in a thick glass or metal bowl.
Mix in 400g of granulated white sugar.
Fill a small saucepan halfway with water and wait for it to boil. Make sure the water in the saucepan doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Once the water is starting to boil, place the sugar-egg mixture over it while continuously mixing over medium heat for 4 minutes until thin. If you have a candy thermometer, wait for the mixture to reach 71C then take it off the stove. But if you don’t have a thermometer, wait for the 4-minute mark and ensure that the mixture has become very thin and there aren’t any more sugar crystals. To test this, dip a spoon and place a drop of the mixture between your fingers and it should feel smooth. Be careful as the mixture is hot.
Transfer the mixture into a different bowl to avoid additional heat retention in the bowl. Then set your stand mixer or hand mixer to the medium setting.
You’ll want your mixture to form stiff peaks, the picture above is an example of soft peaks. Continue to beat the mixture.
Once stiff peaks have formed, add in 2 tsp of vanilla extract and ⅛ tsp of salt.
Put your meringue in a piping bag with your tip of choice and begin piping.
Here are photos of the finished result.
You can then put them in tupperwares or boxes for easy transportation.
All done and delivered! I felt relief, pride, and fulfillment all at the same time. Taking photos one-handed, while making sure all the cupcakes turned out well, and finally seeing the grateful smiles of the guards made me realize that whatever challenges we may be facing right now, small or large, we can all make a difference when we put our minds to it.
The face of the guard had been blurred for privacy reasons.