So to be perfectly honest, before two weeks ago I had never heard of MOPS. I mean, I’ve heard of mops. But not MOPS. Aside from being a fun wet-based cleaning chore (the best chores are the ones with liquids: windexing, dishes, mopping, etc), MOPS is Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers. And it turns out, here in MD, I know someone who is part of MOPS.
And a couple of weeks ago, that someone asked if I could come to one of their meetings and do a little baking demo. After coming up with a number of not that good ideas and one or two decent ones, we settled on cupcakes.
I’ve made the pumpkins and the cookie monsters before, but the apples were a new one for me. The apple stem is a pretzel stick and the leaf is a fruit rollup folded into a leaf shape.
I have only ever tried to teach anyone to make or decorate cakes once before. That time I sort of winged it and this time was no different. In order to ease the disorder, I tried to come slightly prepared. Each person got their own cupcake and a little bag of icing. I just made a huge batch beforehand and doled it out into sandwich baggies. They actually do a pretty good job as piping bag stand-ins for those of you who don’t have the reusable or disposable piping bags. I would suggest the heavy duty bags though which seem to work better.
Each table also got a bunch of bowls with decorating supplies. Blue jimmies, red sanding sugar, and orange sugar crystals. A lot of that stuff can be found at your local craft store (I’m partial to Michael’s and Jo-ann Fabrics…because I have no other choices), or a cake decorating supply store. This time I hit up Cakes Plus. Fat pretzels were pumpkin stems, pretzel sticks were apple stems, and the weird things for the Cookie Monster eyeballs were given to me by Elise. The apple leaves were fruit roll ups, which, no joke, I had at least 65 of in my house.
After showing them how to pipe the icing, that was basically all of the prompting that was needed. I was all ready to give out step-by-step instructions, but as soon as the piping bags were in their hands, they were off and running. It was actually really cool to see everyone getting creative and I think my favorite part was looking around at all of the tables and seeing everyone pulling out their phones to take pictures of their creations.
I started baking cakes because I thought it looked fun. And I still think it’s fun. I really realized this the night I found myself up at 1 AM putting individual sugar crystals on cookies with a tweezers. I love the creative outlet it gives me and it’s always rewarding seeing the finished product and seeing how the person I’m making the cake for reacts. And I’m glad I got to share that with some new people. I had a really fun time and I hope the MOPS did too.
P.S. I’m not sure what’s up with those tiny hats, but they are pretty awesome.
adapted from The Joy of Baking
makes 12 cupcakes
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup of milk
Vanilla Buttercream Icing
makes approximately 2 1/2 cups
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp clear vanilla
- 2 tsp water
To make the cupcakes:
Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one.
Mix in the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add the flour mixture and the milk alternately to the butter mixture. Mix until combined.
Spoon the batter into cupcake pans until about 3/4 full and bake in a 350° for 17-20 minutes.
To make the icing:
Beat together the butter and shortening until combined. Add in the vanilla.
Mix in the powdered sugar slowly until combined. Add the water to thin out the icing. Additional water may be needed to reach desired consistency.