It was with great excitement that I went to see my first Cirque de Soleil performance on the weekend. And it was seriously amazing – if you’re ever contemplating whether you should go or not, you absolutely must! We went with our very good friends and it was a hugely enjoyable evening. We’ve been talking about our Cirque night for weeks now, and in anticipation of the big event I thought what better way to fuel our excitement than celebrating with themed cupcakes!
The show we saw was OVO which is the very colourful and whimsical story about insects. And apart from the breathtaking acts, it had such an adorable storyline. Because of the beautifully vivid colours of the characters, I wanted to make cupcakes that was a small representation of this. And once I got going, things quickly started speeding towards over-the-top, which was perfectly okay. I had a lot of fun making these, sure recipes need to be adhered to, but normality need not (at least not always).
I came across some really helpful pointers in my search for the perfect crazy circus cupcake and achieving the vibrant colours of the batter and butter cream icing:
Pure white cake batter. To make the colours as vivid as possible you need to use a pure white cake batter, I used Martha Stewart’s White Butter Cake recipe which you can find here which came out very well. A pure white mix normally does not contain any egg yolks, which is what gives a normal butter cake that yellow/beige colour.
Tip: I have come across a few recipes lately which use cake flour. I have not been able to see any here in our supermarkets, but you can make your own by using all purpose flour, and for every cup remove one tablespoon of flour and replace with one tablespoon of cornstarch.
Food colouring gel. Along with using a pure white batter, using colouring gel instead of the normal liquid food colouring will make your colours really pop. It is slightly more expensive, but a little goes a long way and it really does make a difference to the brightness.
Pure vanilla extract. This is my latest food discovery and I absolutely love it (and yes, that does mean I now have four different types of vanilla in my pantry!). Pure vanilla extract (or clear vanilla extract) has no colour, so it will keep not only cakes beautifully white, but your icing as well. I got mine from Cakes Around Town, but noticed a couple of specialty online shops selling it as well.
Note: For the butter cream icing I just used 250g butter, 500g icing sugar and 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract. Beat the butter and vanilla together until light and fluffy and then start adding the icing sugar about half a cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
My advice would be to let your imagination loose, pick a theme, pick a colour scheme and go crazy.
…be fearless, and have fun!