I've never been one for piping dainty little things on cupcakes, or even cupcakes in general. The last time I made cupcakes was a year ago and before that it was…never? They're just not my thing. Almost always they're too dry and too sweet and the frosting is too much and not enough flavour. Just not a good time overall.
But THESE cupcakes! So flavourful! Not dry! Not too sweet! The rhubarb compote is what makes these cupcakes - otherwise they'd totally be too sweet and maybe too dry. But the tartness and moisture from the compote create a wonderful little cupcake, marbled with bright red compote and laced with that tangy rhubarb-y flavour and laced with a bit of orange to brighten things up a little more.
I've also never piped a rose cupcake before (can you tell?) and originally, I wasn't planning on doing that. However, I tried to do one, just for fun, but then I wasn't happy with it, so I had to do it again. I mean, I kind of expected to be excellent at it without any practice ever and then I was disappointed when, in fact, I wasn't perfect at something I had never tried. The second one wasn't much better, so then I had to do a third, and a fourth, and so on, until I finished all of them. So that's just how the cupcakes were going to be decorated….
I don't know if I would even call them "rose" cupcakes 'cause they're not super rose-like. Maybe ranunculus? Or just….flowers. Some type of flower, I don't know, I'm a pastry cook, not a botanist. Feel free to pipe whatever design you so wish on these cupcakes, there's no wrong way to go about it.
Now, I'm off to go pack because I am headed to Portland in a few hours for an awesome food trip!
Rhubarb and Orange Cupcakes
200 g fresh or frozen and thawed rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch dice
50 g granulated sugar
2 g vanilla paste
2 oranges, juiced and zested
Recipe adapted from Dahlia Bakery Cookbook
215 g cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
135 g buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
127 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
300 g granulated sugar
2 oranges, zested
56 g eggs
35 g egg yolks
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
75 g egg whites
112 g granulated sugar
227 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2 inch dice
4 g vanilla paste
First, make the rhubarb compote. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat and cook until the rhubarb begins to break down, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.
In a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the salt and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract and set aside.
Combine the butter and sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle and cream on medium-high speed until pale, light, and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl and the paddle as needed. Add the orange zest and beat to incorporate.
Add the egg while beating on medium speed, then turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and paddle. Beat the batter on medium-high for 15 seconds. The batter should look very smooth. Add the yolks on medium speed, then turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for 20 seconds. The batter should be shiny and glossy. Scrape down the bowl and the paddle. It's important to scrape down the bowl and paddle thoroughly so that you can work the dry ingredients as quickly as possible without a lot of scraping the bowl.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and, folding by hand using a rubber spatula, add the dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with the vanilla-buttermilk mixture in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Work quickly and gently to fold everything together.
Add the rhubarb compote and gently fold until the compote is just partially incorporated.
Scoop the batter into the paper-lined muffin cups, dividing the batter evenly among the wells on the pan.
Place the muffin pan in the oven and bake until the cupcakes are lightly browned, slightly domed, and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. For the best rise, don't open the door for the first 20 minutes, after which you can open the oven door and check the cupcakes to see if they need more time. A wooden skewer inserted into a cupcake should come out with a few crumbs clinging but no batter. Remove the muffin pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before unmolding. Cool to room temperature.
For the buttercream, combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stander mixer set over a bain-marie. Whisking constantly, bring the egg whites to 60 C, until the mixture is no longer gritty when rubbed between your fingers. Place the whip attachment in the mixer and whip the egg whites until stiff and glossy, about 6 minutes.
Slowly add the butter piece by piece while the mixer is running. The mixture will look like it has split, but as you keep mixing it will come together. Once it is smooth and creamy, add the vanilla paste and mix to combine.
For the piping, Call me Cupcake has a great video tutorial for rose cupcakes that will explain it better than I can.