by Katy Killilea
Our school principal recently sent a letter to parents encouraging us to celebrate kids’ birthdays in school by bringing in low-fat string cheese or a fresh fruit platter instead of cupcakes. The reason? Childhood obesity. I thought this was pretty ridiculous. Not childhood obesity, of course, because that’s a real and serious problem. But no birthday cupcakes in elementary school? Impossible!
So I was happy to see an Op-Ed piece in the town paper making fun of the principal’s letter. And I was even happier to see a recent New York Times article about the cupcake situation. Apparently, school banning of cupcakes is a nationwide trend that didn’t originate in Barrington, R.I. Imagine that.
Let’s agree not to let a birthday go by without a batch of cupcakes. Whether you risk bringing them in to school or you enjoy them in the privacy of your home, bake them well and often. You can make great cupcakes from scratch fast, with no special ingredients or hauling out of electrical appliances. Chocolate or vanilla, your choice — these come from ingredients you have on hand.
Fast Chocolate Cupcakes
(makes one dozen)
These cupcakes are very fast to put together; just remember to preheat your oven before you start measuring.
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners. In a large bowl, mix together dry
ingredients with a whisk or fork until completely uniform in color with no streaks.
2. Pour on all of the wet ingredients. Whisk together until completely blended.
3. Fill the 12 cups evenly with batter. Bake about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
4. Remove from pan. Cool completely on cooling rack before frosting.
Fast Yellow Cupcakes (thank you, Fannie Farmer Baking Book)
(makes one dozen)
6 T butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
2. Combine wet ingredients in a large bowl and beat well. Sift dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Beat together until perfectly smooth.
3. Spoon batter into prepared pan, filling each cup two-thirds full. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 2 minutes,then remove from pan and cool completely on a cooling rack.
Fast Frosting Options for Cupcakes:
– Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
– Beat together a stick of softened butter, or cream cheese, or a combination with 3 cups of confectioner’s sugar.
– Color the above frosting with food coloring.
– Decorate frosted cupcakes with sprinkles, m&m’s, jelly beans…
– Perch a small plastic Chewbacca, Polly Pocket shoe, dinosaur, or what have you on the frosted cupcake. (For children old enough to know not to eat plastic toys.)