After an excruciating wait for a little boy and many, many repeated questions of ‘How many sleeps?’ Alfie finally woke this morning to the day he had been waiting on for so many nights.
Yes, it was finally his birthday and being one of the youngest in his Year, he was excited to now be like all the rest – eight years old. There is a tradition at his school where if it is your birthday you are allowed to bring in a birthday treat for everyone in the class to share. Nothing with nuts is allowed, no cakes that require plating are allowed and lolly bags are frowned upon. In the past we have brought boxes of ice blocks; these are allowed and are quite a good choice during the hot days of summer. But having brought these the last two years, I thought we should go for a change and so this morning I woke at 5am to decorate the cupcakes I’d made the night before.
The cupcakes were vanilla flavoured and packed with organic eggs and flour and that necessity, sugar and plenty of it along with butter. I was sure these would be a hit with all the kids. In the early morning darkness I whipped up a butter cream frosting that I tinted to be the same blue as the cupcake holders (that were blue and red), and then piped red stars around the edges. Using my very handy tweezers, I added a silver cachous to the point of every star. They were no work of art but I thought they would be good enough for a crowd of eight-year olds.
Alfie and I did the usual walk to school with me holding the tray of cupcakes out in front of me but as we walked he said, ‘I’m not going to eat one, mum’.
‘Why not?’ I asked absolutely stunned.
‘I don’t like cupcakes. I like the icing but not the bread’.
‘You might have mentioned that before I got up at five to make them and there’s no bread; it’s bloody (I didn’t swear, I promise) organic eggs and vanilla extract and lots of other things you eat by the spoon like sugar’.
And then I realised I hadn’t packed his lunch. ‘Alfie! You don’t have any lunch. I can’t believe I forgot. I’ll get you a lunch order’.
And then Alfie had to line up with the other students from his class. One thing stood out to me and that was that Alfie was wearing the wrong uniform. He was in the standard light blue uniform but everyone else was in the dark blue sports uniform. ‘But sports day is on Tuesday, and this is Friday’, I said to my confused brain. Then Alfie’s teacher approached with a beaming smile and she offered to take the cupcakes from me and thanked me so much for making something so pretty.
‘That’s okay’, I said, ‘I hope there’s enough for everyone. But can I just ask you…why is everyone in sport’s uniform?’
‘It’s gymnastics today’.
Gymnastics? I had no idea Alfie was doing gymnastics. He said he’s doing cricket. On Tuesday’s. He’s said nothing about gymnastics. ‘How did everyone else know?’ I thought to myself, ‘Oh, that’s right, they had an Information Night. People go to those nights (I didn’t) because they get information’. So Alfie’s here at school on his birthday with no lunch and the wrong uniform but he has a tray of cupcakes.
And after farewelling him to his class I went to the canteen to order his lunch, opened my wallet and there was not a cent to bless myself with. Earlier that morning, that Arabella had raided my wallet for transport money to her uni (permanently broke, she is), and had taken the very last of my tiny stipend. Without telling me. So I had to hike down to the nearest ATM to withdraw enough cash to buy my ultra-thin child a sausage roll and sauce so he didn’t starve.
When I filled out the lunch order at the canteen I was charged an extra 10 cents for not providing my own brown paper bag (fair enough) but after paying the money I began walking off only to be recalled because I hadn’t put Alfie’s name on the lunch order. It’s quite embarrassing when you can’t even fill out the form for a lunch order correctly. ‘I just have a lot on my mind’, (that’s what I tell myself).
But the afternoon went much better because I was actually back at the school ahead of the bell and when it did ring, two gorgeous little girls came up to me and said, ‘Excuse me…thank you for the cupcakes. They were really nice and the best cupcakes we’ve ever had at school’.
‘Who are you?’ I asked, ‘What are your names?’
‘And I’m Monica’.
‘Well you need to go home and tell your mothers that Alfie’s mother said you are very polite and you have the best manners and you’ve made one very over-tired mother very happy. Can you do that?’
And off they ran and let me tell you, those two girls made my day – which was Alfie’s day of course!
And Alfie did confess to eating one of those vanilla cupcakes including ‘the bread’.
I won’t share the recipe unless you’re absolutely desperate for it; it was a great recipe and the cupcakes were super-delicious but I’m thinking you probably have many cupcake recipes at your disposal. If you would like me to share, let me know in the comments and I’ll update the post. Many thanks!
Okay, so apparently there are some of you out there who would like a really good vanilla cupcake recipe. And his is a good recipe so happy to share it…
Makes: 24 (or 30 small)
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: Just a few dollars
- 200g butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cups (370g) caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 4 eggs
- 2 3/4 cups (405g) self-raising flour
- 1 cup (250ml) milk
- 200g butter, softened
- 6 cups (900g) icing sugar mixture
- 1/2 cup (125ml) milk (I found that this was too much milk and made the frosting too runny. I would use 1/4 cup)
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 24 1/3 cup (80ml) muffin pans with patty cases.
Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla bean paste with an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined. Add the flour and milk in alternate batches and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
Spoon mixture evenly among the patty cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. (15-20 minutes? In what oven? Mine took 25 minutes). Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the icing, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until very pale. Gradually add the icing sugar while beating. Add the milk and beat until well combined.Divide frosting into small bowls and colour.
Use a small palette knife or round-bladed knife to spread the icing.
This recipe is from Taste.