I was so excited that I didn’t have ANY baking orders to fulfill this past weekend. “I’m totally going to sleep in and just catch up on my TV shows!” I told myself.
Well Saturday morning rolled around and about an hour after waking up, I was already starting to get bored–so I decided to try out a new recipe. Honestly, I can’t escape it… baking is something I love to do and it’s a great hobby to keep me busy.
I’ve got a few holiday cake and cupcake orders coming up, so I figured I’d try to figure out a good gingerbread cake recipe to use moving forward. Gingerbread has all the yummy spices and flavors that pumpkin spice has, minus the pumpkin–which is awesome, because I don’t like pumpkin. It’s the cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon combined with a dark, rick molasses that I LOVE.
Also, I’m going to give away a little secret: sometimes I use leftover boxed cake mix to make my buttercream frosting. Hear me out. Typically, my buttercream frosting is just a ton of butter whipped up with a whole lot of powdered sugar. But this weekend I realized I only had a pathetic half of a bag of powdered sugar left in my pantry, and I was way too lazy to run to the store–I was going to have to figure out a tasty way to improvise.
The only other time I have tried this lazy “hack” was when I used red velvet dry cake mix to make red velvet buttercream, and it worked really well to make a deep red color with rich flavor. Fortunately, this time around I had a box of Duncan Hines vanilla cake mix, which I was able to mix in with the rest of the powdered sugar to make my buttercream. Since the cake mix was already vanilla flavored, I didn’t bother adding extra vanilla extract, but I did add hazelnut extract for the vanilla-hazelnut combo.
This time around, I’ll give the recipe for my classic vanilla buttercream with just powdered sugar. But if you’re ever look for an easy way to switch up classic vanilla frosting, try adding only half the powdered sugar as usual and replacing the second half with your choice of dry boxed cake mix flavor!
Also, if you want the adorable little gingerbread man and star adornments, THIS IS THE RECIPE I USED from the Kitchen Paper. This recipe honestly worked perfectly, and the cookies held their form, which was a big deal!
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Vanilla-Hazelnut Buttercream
Yields about 18-20 cupcakes
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup oil
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark molasses (my favorite brand is Brer Rabbit full flavor molasses)
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup (two sticks) salted butter, softened to room temperature
3-4 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp hazelnut extract
Cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two 12-cavity cupcake pans with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients (including the brown sugar). In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, vanilla extract, molasses and buttermilk until smooth. Pour your wet ingredients into your dry and stir until just combined and batter is smooth. Fill your cupcake liners just about halfway full and bake for 17-20 minutes. You know your cupcakes are done when they bounce back (don’t indent) when you press in the middle with your finger. Set aside to cool completely.
Buttercream recipe: Beat your two sticks of softened butter until creamy with a hand mixer. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar, vanilla and hazelnut extracts and milk and beat again until smooth and creamy. Add in more powdered sugar until you buttercream forms a thick, but creamy texture–it should not be runny, and when you lift your beaters out of the bowl, the frosting should remain standing.
Pipe your frosting onto your cooled cupcakes and adorn with gingerbread cutouts as desired–again, this is the recipe I would suggest for making gingerbread cookies! It worked perfectly.