I had such a great time this past weekend on my birthday. Granted, I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep, but I think that’s expected when you’re celebrating with friends and family. I felt so much love and I can’t thank them enough.
Really though, I still can’t believe I’m 25. However, thus far, I feel like I’ve accomplished much, matured, and gained some experience. And I’m only going upwards — things are really going well. But at times, I still feel like a kid! I even get told I still look underage. This is usually good, but it is sometimes annoying, especially when being checked for ID…over my sister who is 5 years younger! In fact, quite a few times people have thought that my sister looked older than I was — sorry, sis.
On my birthday, I went for brunch with my family at my favourite vegetarian restaurant, and won my family over. My sister said it was the best eggs benny she has ever had. They also have vegan options and can make any of the dishes vegan. I had a vegan benny, with a coconut oil based hollandaise. They also had a vegan sausage, which was SO good! And of course, no brunch is right without mimosas, which they served table side.
We went for ice cream afterwards at my favourite local and all natural ice cream place, Earnest Ice Cream, which rotates various flavours throughout the seasons. Their ice cream is the best I’ve had, with an amazing creamy texture, and they also have vegan options, which are coconut milk based! The vanilla is by far the best I’ve had. Favourite flavours so far are Cardamom, London Fog, matcha, and Vegan Chocolate (amazing!). They always have lineups out the door and around the block regardless of weather! That day, I opted for scoops of raspberry and matcha.
I hosted a BBQ the next day and did the whole menu from scratch. The BBQ sauce (which had blueberries as the sweetness), the coleslaw, sweet potato and turnip salad (as the potato salad), chicken wings, chicken/turkey sliders, veggie sliders (made with quinoa, mushrooms, beets), shrimp skewers, a gin cocktail with a blueberry-blackberry-rosemary syrup (delicious), and even mini pretzel buns for the sliders. Unforunately, I didn’t quite write down any of the measurements, so I can’t really share the recipes with you, but I do plan to make the items again, especially the potato salad, and then I can share them!
I really did outdo myself, but everyone loved the food. I even had a vegan pistachio-vanilla spelt cake from a local vegan natural bakery…however I did think the frosting was a bit too sweet. Still such a good cake.
I realize this is such a long-winded post, but now I will tell you about these cupcakes I made. These weren’t for the BBQ, but I made these on Saturday for my choir members at my church for which I play piano at as a birthday celebration. I didn’t feel like regular vanilla cupcakes, and so I decided to add earl grey leaves to the mixture (you can see the specks of tea throughout!). It tasted just like a London fog (which, apparently originated here in Vancouver — an earl grey and vanilla beverage). They were a big hit, so I had to share them with you! These weren’t quite vegan, as I used eggs for binding, but topped these with a vegan cooked flour buttercream, which turned out amazingly well (and one I used to frost an ombre birthday cake I made my sister last month). These cupcakes would be perfect for a party or birthday.
Adapted from here
Makes 12 cupcakes
- 1 and 1/3 cup flour, less 1 tbsp and 1 tsp (I used white whole wheat flour)
- 1 tbsp and 1 tsp of tapioca starch ***see note
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup coconut sugar (or cane sugar for whiter cupcakes)
- 1/4 cup vegan butter, room temperature
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 earl grey teabag
- 1 cup buttermilk (1 tbsp apple cider vinegar + almond milk to 1 cup)
Vegan Buttercream (adapted from here)
- 3 tbsp APF flour
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup vegan butter (1 stick of Earth Balance)
- 1/2 cup vegan shortening (1 stick of Earth Balance)
- 1 cup of castor (superfine) sugar ***see note
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Prepare the vegan buttermilk by combining the apple cider vinegar and almond milk. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cupcake tray. In a medium bowl sift the flour, starch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the leaves of the earl grey tea bag and set aside.
In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until it looks fluffy and creamy. Scrape down bowl using rubber spatula. Add egg and the extracts to mixer and mix until smooth.
Add the flour mixture and buttermilk in alternate, ending with the flour, and mixing after each addition until just combined.
Fill cupcake tray and bake for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting. You can also wrap them individually in saran wrap and refrigerate overnight and frost the next morning. It is important to frost the day you are using them!
To make the buttercream, whisk flour into the milk in a medium saucepan until smooth. Place over medium heat and stir constantly, cooking the mixture until it becomes very thick and begins to bubble.
Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Place a piece of waxed paper directly on the surface and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Using a mixer on medium high speed, whisk (or beat) the butter/shortening until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, whisking continuously until fluffy. Add the vanilla and whisk some more.
Add the cooled milk mixture, and continue to whisk on the medium high speed, until very smooth and noticeably whiter in color. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes (no less and no longer – set a timer!). Use immediately on cupcakes!
- Instead of the flour/starch combination, you can use 1 and 1/3 cup cake flour
- You can easily make superfine sugar (different from icing sugar) by grinding granulated sugar in a high-speed blender. It is possible to use icing sugar, but I have not tried this.
- If you have leftover buttercream, it freezes well. When you need to use it again, let it thaw overnight in the fridge and let it come to room temperature in the morning. Whip again and it’ll be good to go. If it seems a bit lumpy or broken, that means it is still too cold. Use these instructions to get it right!