It’s a big birthday for my mum today. But you’d never know it looking at her. I can only hope I look half as good as she does when I’m her age. My mum’s been probably the biggest influence on my love of food and cooking. Much like my Nana, mum always had a meal on the table for family dinner, but her offerings tended to be a little more sophisticated than Nana’s.
Today, for mum’s birthday, I’m posting a recipe which combines two of my mum’s favourite things (and, well, mine!) – Champagne and cake. Specifically, champagne cupcakes with pink champagne frosting. Aren’t they pretty?
Mum’s been on a bit of a cupcake “kick” lately and she’s been searching for the perfect cupcake recipe. Actually what she’s been searching for is the cupcake recipe we used to make when we were little. Now, I’m sure that she didn’t use champagne in our cupcakes when we were kids (although….. might not have been such a bad idea!) but when I tasted these in the summer in Paris, they reminded me so much of the cupcakes of my childhood. Pale white cupcakes (these, delicately flavoured with Champagne) that, today, I have frosted with pink champagne frosting. Because it’s pretty.
The recipe is courtesy of my former boss and friend, Gail, who still lives in Paris and who always is up for some cakes and Champagne. My summers in Paris are punctuated with hilarious visits and outings with Gail and there is inevitably Champagne involved! This summer she was thrilled to invite me over to “bake cupcakes”. She “had a recipe” she told me proudly. And I had the piping bags. The perfect combination. When I arrived at Gail’s charming flat, Gail excitedly showed me to the kitchen, brandishing her recipe with all sorts of notes scribbled in the margins. All the ingredients listed in grams = awesome. But I noticed some of the amounts were a bit off. Like, not your sort of standard weights. So I asked Gail where this recipe had come from. “The Internet” she replied. Oh well, which site I asked her, so I could send the link to my mum who I knew would be interested. “A whole bunch of sites,” she responded. Because she wanted to make sure it had the most amount of Champagne possible (for the taste, you know!).
So apparently this recipe is a mish-mash of ideas. Ok, but what about the odd measures? “Well,” she explains “some of the recipes called for cups, how are you supposed to know what size cup to use?” she asked, showing me a selection of cups in various sizes in her cupboard. And all of a sudden, it hit me – the concept of baking cups in standard sizes is something that not everyone is used to. Actually during my time at La Cuisine Paris this summer, there were no cup measures and measuring spoons and I quickly realised that “cuillère à soupe” was nothing to do with what I thought of as a tablespoon and “cuillère à café” was in fact much more than a teaspoon. Who knew that the language of the kitchen was so complicated? In any case, we ended up eyeballing the measures and measuring using a digital scale.
In any case, using Gail’s scale and her mish-mash of recipe ideas and her collection of cups, we figured out the recipe. Well I don’t know if it’s THE recipe but it’s a pretty good one. The best part of this recipe is you’ll notice it does not require a whole bottle of Champagne. So, you know, you have to partake in the rest while you are cooking 😉
For the frosting, I used this classic buttercream frosting from Savory Sweet Live but replaced the milk/heavy cream with champagne. As you do. 😉
Happy Birthday Mum xo